The Colorado Rockies are well out of contention. The team is hurtling towards 100 losses. The age of the veteran is over, the time of the rookie has begun. This time of year is always interesting thanks to the fact it's call-up season, giving fans and teams alike a preview of what the future could be for certain prospects if they are given the chance to showcase their talents. We’ve seen the Rockies call up Hunter Goodman and Evan Justice recently, but who else would we like to see get an audition in the twilight of 2023?
40-man roster hopefuls
It’s been a long journey for Riley Pint. After getting drafted with the fourth overall pick in 2016 by the Rockies, injuries and ineffective results led Pint to briefly retire from baseball in 2021. Surprisingly, he made a return in 2022 as a relief pitcher in the Rockies organization and has found some general success and a new life. His journey finally led to the Coors Field in 2023, but it was only for a brief moment, one out on 20 pitches to be exact.
Down in Triple-A Albuquerque this season, Pint has tossed 49 innings across 39 games. He has an unsightly 6.98 ERA, but one can look past that due to the nature of the league he pitches in. Pint has allowed just three home runs and opponents are batting just .223 against him. He has also tallied 71 strikeouts but his control has been an issue. He’s issued 45 free passes as well as 13 wild pitches while averaging 20 pitches per innings pitched. Still, Pint is worth a legitimate look in the bullpen even if only for a chance at closure on his journey with the Rockies
Unlike his teammate in Albuquerque, Coco Montes has a slightly bigger sample size at the big league level. He made quite the impression in his big league debut, going 2-for-3 with a home run, but sporadic and limited playing time left him unsuccessful. After 38 at-bats Montes had just seven hits, batting .184/.244/.316 with 12 strikeouts and two walks.
The story has been different in Triple-A. In 88 games Montes has batted .317/.399/.552 with 18 home runs and 71 RBI. Thus far he has 104 strikeouts to 50 walks, a quite manageable ratio, while providing superb defense on the field. The Rockies have already cut ties with Jurickson Profar, so it’s not out of the question that Harold Castro could end up on the chopping block with players returning from injury and rosters expanding, making room for Montes if the opportunity arises.
Victor Vodnik (No. 26 PuRP)
Since acquiring him from the Atlanta Braves in the Pierce Johnson trade, the Rockies have been quite high on Victor Vodnik. There’s good reason for it too as he has a lively heater that flirts with triple digits and can induce weaker contact with a complimentary changeup. He’s had some success this season in the minors. Between the Braves and Rockies organizations, he has a 2.91 ERA across 40 games with opponents batting .205 against him. His 69 strikeouts at the time of writing tie his career high in a single season.
However, much like Pint, control has been an issue for Vodnik in his career. A move to the bullpen has been beneficial, but he has still averaged a 4.96 BB/9 this season. In Albuquerque, he’s only pitched six innings but has walked three and struck out four. He’s got an exciting and electric arm that could prove to be a useful kind of arm in the Rockies bullpen moving forward.
Aaron Schunk (No. 25 PuRP)
Early this season I wrote about Aaron Schunk’s progress in Albuquerque, since then he has continued to find success. In 95 games this season, Schunk is batting .291/.345/.484 with 13 home runs, 97 strikeouts, and 32 walks. He made some minor tweaks to his mechanical setup at the plate and it has paid off dividends to his progress and offensive output. There is still a decent amount of swing-and-miss to his game, but it’s manageable enough that it’s worth a look at the big-league level. Add in strong defense and third base and second base and the Rockies have a helpful piece.
Adael Amador (No. 1 PuRP)
Adael Amador has followed the trajectory of Ezequiel Tovar this season. He started off hot to begin the season, then had things halted due to injury. He’s recently been activated and promoted to Double-A Hartford where he’s only played in a handful of games. In High-A Spokane, Amador batted .302/.391/.514 with nine home runs in 54 games. The switch-hitting middle infielder plays superb defense and has incredible vision at the plate. Once again, he has more walks than strikeouts, a trait that I can’t wait to see transfer to the big-league level.
It’s not as likely he will make the jump to the big leagues this season, but in theory, he could have a real chance in 2024.
Carson Palmquist (No. 16 PuRP)
Lastly, Carson Palmquist is another candidate who was recently promoted to Double-A and could have a potential outside shot at pitching in Colorado before the season is over. In High-A he made 15 starts and pitched a 3.73 ERA with 106 strikeouts and 28 walks in 70 innings pitched. He doesn’t have an overpowering arsenal, but his command and movement of his pitches have made him quite effective. In his first start in Double-A, he tossed seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts. The Rockies will continue to develop him as a starter, but a relief role is also in the cards.
Who is next?
September is the time to experiment and get a leg up on the 2024 season for teams like the Rockies. Rather than send out veterans with no future with the team, it’s best that the Rockies see what they have as they shape the roster for the coming days.
What other prospects would you like to see get a look at this season?
If you need an update and refresher on two of the pitching prospects the Rockies acquired from the Los Angeles Angels at the deadline, check out this article on the Rockies Blog that highlights how they are doing and some solid info about what they bring to the table.
Injuries will play a role in how the roster forms in the coming month, so this article is always helpful to know who guys are progressing on their way back.
On the Farm
Wynton Bernard had himself a night at the top of the Isotopes lineup to lead the way offensively, going 3-for-5. Roman Quinn and Sean Bouchard both added home runs and drove in four runs combined. Chase Anderson made a rehab start and tossed three scoreless innings, but did struggle with his command, issuing four walks. P.J. Poulin, Nick Mears, and Dugan Darnell combined to allow one hit over six innings to secure the shutout victory.
The Yard Goats managed to rally in the bottom of the ninth to score two runs and win the game on a walk-off single thanks to Jordan Beck. Connor Van Scoyoc made the start on the mound, allowing three runs in six innings of work with five strikeouts. The bullpen kept Richmond at bay, allowing Hartford to rally back late in the game. Adael Amador hit his first Double-A home run while Braxton Fulford also hit a home run. Kyle Datres was the only player with multiple hits, going 2-for-3.
It was a tough night for pitching for Spokane. Evan Shawver started on the mound, allowing five runs on four hits in 3 2⁄3 innings with four walks and five strikeouts. The bullpen continued to struggle, giving up the other six runs. Offensively, Ryan Ritter and Nic Kent combined for four hits to lead the way while Robby Martin Jr. drove in a pair of runs.
Fresno scattered six hits with Aidan Longwell tallying a double and Jake Snider hitting a triple. Gabriel Barbosa started on the mound for a solid outing, going 5 2⁄3 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits with three strikeouts, and left the game with the lead. Braxton Hyde was stung for two runs in 1 1⁄3 innings and took the loss. The Rawhide were able to tack on three more unearned runs off of Carlos Torres to put the game well out of reach.
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