There’s plenty going on in the baseball world at the moment, but none of it concerns the Colorado Rockies. As the calendar flips to 2024, there’s little to do but sit and wait for Spring Training to arrive so we can start seeing if there is any evident progress from last year’s 103-loss campaign.
With little roster change expected, there’s not much breath-holding going on. But the silver-lining of the terrible previous season is Colorado holds the third-overall selection in the 2024 draft. The class is preliminarily headlined by three collegiate bats but plenty will change before now and June.
While a position player may be the best choice for the Rockies when the time comes, it’s no secret they have heavily favored pitching in recent drafts. That could be the case again in 2024, with the Rockies possibly being in a position to select the best arm in the class. With that said, let’s take a look at three candidates for the honor based on initial scouting lists.
Brody Brecht – RHP, Iowa
Already anointed with the top stuff in the class, Iowa righty Brody Brecht could very well hold that distinction all the way up to draft day. Comparable to last year’s top arm Paul Skenes – who went first overall to the Pittsburgh Pirates – Brecht features both a 70-grade fastball and slider.
Consistently approaching triple-digits with his heater and wipeout slider that can also touch the 90’s, Brecht has been a strikeout-machine in his collegiate career – racking up 153 in just under 100 innings to this point. That said, control issues are a major red flag as he walked 86 during that same time frame.
If he can harness his incredible ability in 2024 and learn to command the strike zone, Brecht could easily become a slam-dunk for the top arm available in this class.
Chase Burns – RHP, Wake Forest
A former Tennessee teammate of Colorado’s top selection in 2023, Chase Dollander, Chase Burns is also in the conversation for the top pitcher in early draft previews.
Consistently sitting in the 95-97 MPH range, his fast has reached as hot as 102 but has been viewed as hittable despite its gaudy readings. Burns’ true calling card is his slider, which generated a 61% swing-and-miss rate in 2023.
After a strong showing in 2022 out of the rotation with a 2.91 ERA and 103 strikeouts to just 25 walks in 80 ⅓ IP, Burns fell back to earth in 2023 and was moved to the bullpen during the season. The move paid dividends as his performance greatly improved afterwards, however it casts doubts on his ability to thrive as a starter in the professional ranks.
If Burns can recapture his 2022 form this upcoming season in the Wake Forest rotation, he could easily shoot to the top of draft boards around the league.
Cam Caminiti – LHP, Saguaro HS (Arizona)
Not the son of former big-leaguer Ken Caminiti but a cousin, Cam Caminiti has the potential to be an elite two-way prospect but has best caught the eyes of scouts with his work on the mound.
At 6’2” and 205 pounds, the LSU commit has already touched 95 MPH and could be sitting in the mid-90’s in his age-18 season. Overall, he has shown a polished four-pitch mix and the athleticism that leads many to believe he can maintain a clean, repeatable delivery on the mound and command an impressive arsenal.
Prep arms are always riskier, and the Colorado Rockies are especially gunshy to that demographic, but Caminiti has the potential to be a can’t-miss arm for any franchise this spring.
Jac Caglianone – 1B/LHP, Florida
Speaking of two-way prospects, Jac Caglianone has established himself a genuine dual-threat in his time with the Florida Gators. Over two seasons in Tallahassee, Caglianone holds a .314/.376/.687 slash line at the dish but didn’t pitch during his first year after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
He made 18 starts in his 2023 sophomore season, displayed big stuff in his 74 ⅔ innings with 87 punch-outs, a minuscule 6.1 H/9 and allowing just six homers. At 6’5” with a consistent ability to hit triple-digits, Caglianone is divisive as a pitching prospect but could be a genuine top-of-the draft talent on both sides of the ball come June.
Hagen Smith – LHP, Arkansas
A Tommy John victim as a high school sophomore, Hagen Smith has displayed some of the best talent from a LHP in the class to this point. Offering three plus pitches with a fastball that has touched 98 MPH, a heavy slider and upper-80s splitter, Smith has all the trademarks of a high-floor prospect.
With a big 6’3” frame and cross-fire deception baked-in to his delivery, Smith checks many of the boxes the Rockies have pursued in recent drafts and could emerge as a candidate for the top arm in the draft if he can find consistency with the Razorbacks this spring.
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Former Rockies RHP Chris Flexen signed a one-year deal with the Chicago White Sox. After getting waived by the Seattle Mariners, Flexen joined the Rockies last season and posted a 6.27 ERA in 60 1⁄3 IP for Colorado.
Thomas Harding looks at the growth of Brenton Doyle, Nolan Jones and Ezequiel Tovar in his latest newsletter while also highlighting an exciting crop of position players the reached Double-A in 2023 — headlined by Adael Amador.
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