Major League Baseball's offseason is in full swing, and that means everyone is thinking about the future. In most cities, that means next season; in some, though, it means the bigger picture, the next three to five years. You're either selling wins or you're selling hope, the old saying goes. We here at CBS Sports like to provide as much hope as we can around this time of the winter by evaluating each team's farm system.
Of course, that doesn't mean every team has an equally good farm system -- some, as you'll find out throughout this process, are lacking in that respect. It does mean, nevertheless, that CBS Sports will be spending the next few weeks examining the top three prospects in each organization. We define "prospects" as retaining their rookie eligibility for the 2023 season, so if a young player is missing that's likely why.
These lists and evaluations are formed following conversations with scouts, analysts, and player development types. There's also firsthand evaluation and bias thrown into the mix. Keep in mind that player evaluation is a hard task, and it's fine if you disagree with the rankings. These are opinions, and they have no real bearing on the future..
With that in mind, let's get to it by dissecting the Colorado Rockies.
1. Ezequiel Tovar, SS (2023 seasonal age: 21)
Tovar forced his way to the majors just weeks after celebrating his 21st birthday by hitting a combined .319/.387/.540 across Double- and Triple-A. He didn't take quite as well to big-league pitching, but it was across all of nine games so who cares. Besides, scouts like his bat-to-ball skills enough to envision him hitting for average and some power at his peak. Even if Tovar never finds himself batting cleanup, he should enjoy a lengthy career thanks to his glove. He's a fluid defender with a good arm who makes it look easy. Tovar should serve as the Rockies starting shortstop in 2023 and if his offense can catch up to his glovework, he'll be a dark horse contender to win Rookie of the Year.
2. Zac Veen, RF (2023 seasonal age: 21)
There's one question worth asking about Veen: where's the power? He split his year between High- and Double-A, hitting 245/.340/.384 in 126 games. His .439 slugging percentage in Spokane, the affiliate where he spent most of his year, ranked seventh among batters on that team with at least 100 plate appearances. He then walked nearly twice as often as he struck out in 21 Arizona Fall League Games, though he continued the theme by posting an underwhelming .111 ISO. It's important to contextualize his numbers by noting that he was between two and four years younger than his average competition. Still, it's fair to write that Veen's lack of pop is a surprise. This is someone who elicited Jayson Werth comps on draft day, after all, and not just because of his gangly frame. Veen still has ample time to get the train on the tracks, of course, but it'll soon be time to reconsider his outlook if he continues to lack thump.
3. Adael Amador, SS (2023 seasonal age: 20)
There's plenty of stuff to pick at the Rockies over, but give them credit: they aren't wanting for talented young shortstops. The switch-hitting Amador excelled last season in his first showing outside of a complex league, batting .292/.415/.445 with 26 steals (on 38 attempts) and 20 more walks than strikeouts in 115 A-ball games. Amador is more than a speedy contact hitter: in most other orgs, he would have a real chance to stick at shortstop thanks to his range and good arm. Should he remain with the Rockies, he'll likely move to second out of deference to Tovar. It won't matter if Amador hits like he can.