As the Colorado Rockies trudge unwaveringly towards their first 100-loss season in franchise history with only four more losses to go, it’s worth noting that the future is potentially a lot brighter than it feels right now. Down on the farm young Rockies prospects have been working all season to make their mark. As the Minor League Baseball season draws to a close, All-Stars and award winners will be named. The Low-A and High-A seasons ended on September 10th, and while neither the Fresno Grizzlies nor the Spokane Indians made the playoffs—despite the Grizzlies finishing with the best record in the California league—both affiliates had plenty of players to take home post-season honors.
Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies, California League
Low-A Fresno Grizzlies manager Steve Soliz took home the California League Manager of the Year award after leading his squad to a league best 78-54 season in his first year as the Grizzlies’ manager. Soliz has been with the Grizzlies since they became the Rockies’ Low-A affiliate in 2021, where he started as the team’s development supervisor. He was the Grizzlies’ bench coach in 2022 prior to being promoted to Manager for the 2023 season.
We've always known we have the best in the game - now it's official! Our very own Steve Soliz has been crowned the 2023 California League Manager of the Year! pic.twitter.com/y4nDiqnSQt— Fresno Grizzlies (@FresnoGrizzlies) September 19, 2023
Shortstop Ryan Ritter (no. 32 PuRP) was named a post-season All-Star in addition to taking home the honor of California League MVP. Ritter was selected by the Rockies in the fourth round of the 2022 MLB Draft out of the University of Kentucky, where he showed off excellent glove work but was still developing his hitting tools. Develop them he did, as Ritter turned in a dominant 65 game performance in Fresno. He hit .305./405/.606 with 58 RsBI, 14 doubles, three triples, and an impressive 18 home runs (tied for second in the California League). Ritter earned a promotion to High-A and ended the season with the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats.
️ MVP! MVP! MVP!— Fresno Grizzlies (@FresnoGrizzlies) September 19, 2023
For only the 3rd time EVER, a member of the Fresno Grizzlies is the league’s Most Valuable Player. Congratulations, Ryan Ritter pic.twitter.com/UDqXNtDMnd
Joining Ritter as California League postseason All-Stars are left-handed starting pitcher Michael Prosecky and right-handed reliever Zach Agnos.
Prosecky (no. 29 PuRP)—taken in the sixth round of the 2022 draft—made 21 starts in 22 appearances for the Grizzlies with California League best marks in ERA with 2.72 and strikeouts with 125 over 109 innings pitched.
Agnos, a former two-way player at East Carolina, was a tenth round draft pick in 2022. Focusing exclusively on pitching with the Grizzlies he became an excellent closer. Agnos turned in a league-leading 27 saves—the third most in Grizzlies history—with an excellent 2.02 ERA over 47 appearances and 52 1⁄3 innings.
All-Star team selections are here! Congratulations to Ryan Ritter, @michaelprosecky, and @AgnosZach for being named the top players in their positions by the California League managers! pic.twitter.com/ykDxsCByeH— Fresno Grizzlies (@FresnoGrizzlies) September 19, 2023
High-A: Spokane Indians, Northwest League
The 2023 High-A Spokane Indians may missed the playoffs with a 62-67 record, but they tied Seattle Mariners affiliate the Everett AquaSox for the most Northwest League postseason All-Stars with five out of 16 total spots. Leading the way is All-Star and Northwest League MVP Jordan Beck (no. 5 PuRP). The Legend of “Mike Honco” grew exponentially in 2023 as he slashed .292/.378/.566 over 76 games. He hit the second most home runs in the Northwest League with 20 and drove in the third most runs with 72 RsBI. He also hit 19 doubles and one triple while walking 43 times to just 71 strikeouts. Beck was promoted to Double-A where he played 50 games with the Yard Goats to finish out the season.
Despite struggling with injuries, Rockies top prospect Adael Amador was named postseason All-Star and Northwest League MLB Top Prospect for 2023. Amador (no. 1 PuRP) played 55 games for the Indians and hit .302/.391/.514 with 35 RsBI, 14 doubles, three triples, and nine home runs. He also accomplished the feat of having less strikeouts than he did walks with 26 to 31 in 259 plate appearances. Amador finished the season in Double-A.
Amador and Beck’s fellow Northwest League postseason All-Stars are outfielder Yanquiel Fernandez, left-handed starting pitcher Carson Palmquist, and Longmont, Colorado’s own third baseman and outfielder Sterlin Thompson.
Yanqiuel Fernandez (no. 3 PuRP) tore the cover off the ball in High-A, hitting .319./355/.605 in 58 games with 14 doubles, three triples, and 17 home runs while driving in 64 runs. Fernandez was later promoted to Double-A, where he hit an additional eight home runs.
Palmquist (no. 16 PuRP), a third round pick in 2022 out of the University of Miami, struck out 106 batters in just 15 starts for the Indians and 70 innings pitched. He posted an ERA of 3.73 before being promoted to Hartford to finish up the season.
Thompson (no. 7 PuRP) was the 31st overall pick in the 2022 draft, the compensatory pick received with the departure of Trevor Story. Born in Longmont, Colorado and drafted out of the University of Florida, Thompson hit .323/.399/.520 in 60 games with the Indians and hit 22 doubles, a triple, and seven home runs. He played both third base, right field, and designated hitter for the Indians before being promoted to Double-A where he added second base to his repertoire.
Congratulations to all of our A-Level Award Winners and All-Stars!
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As discussed in this week’s episode of Affected by Altitude, journeyman veteran Chase Anderson has been pitching well since returning from the IL and has had an overall solid season with the Rockies after being claimed on waivers. With at least two open spots in the rotation next season, the Rockies could bring back Anderson to fill in the gaps.
Each team’s prospect whose stock most improved in ‘23 | MLB.com
Sam Dykstra of MLB Pipeline examines which prospect for each team had their evaluations boosted by a strong 2023 campaign. For the Rockies he chose none other than Northwest League All-Star Yanquiel Fernandez, who hit 25 home runs this season and has made it all the way to Double-A at just 20 years of age.
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On the Farm
The now-eliminated from playoff contention Isotopes’ pitching staff gave up 13 runs on 13 hits, including three home runs, in this PCL shootout. Only Justin Bruihl escaped unscathed, pitching 1 1⁄3 scoreless and hitless innings with two strikeouts. At the plate, new arrivals Drew Romo and Braxton Fulford knocked their first Triple-A extra base hits. Romo went 2-for-5 with a triple, scoring twice and driving in one run as the designated hitter. Aaron Schunk continued his strong season with a 3-for-5 night, and Coco Montes hit the Isotopes’ ninth grand slam of the season.
It's a little chilly, so you know what that means...it's HOT COCO TIME!!! Montes crushes a grand slam 455 feet to deep center!! Our ninth salami of the season. pic.twitter.com/OZpf9jEl3r— Albuquerque Isotopes (@ABQTopes) September 21, 2023
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