One of many oft-used axioms with regards to participant improvement is that the leap from Single A- to Double-A is the hardest one to make. Zac Veen, the Rockies’ prime prospect, came upon simply how true that may be.
The No. 9 total choose within the 2020 Draft spent the majority of his second full season with Excessive-A Spokane and put up strong sufficient numbers to get kicked as much as Hartford for the ultimate 34 video games of the season. The 2022 Futures Gamer and No. 24 prospect on MLB Pipeline’s Prime 100 discovered the transfer to the Japanese League, and the pitching he confronted, to be robust sledding.
“I’d say it’s rather more refined,” stated Veen, who hit .177/.262/.234 in 124 Double-A at-bats. “It’s a must to have much more self-discipline. It’s an adjustment to make, however it will likely be made.”
Even with the struggles, the 20-year-old outfielder factors to getting that have as one of many greatest highlights of his yr. And he’s hoping among the issues he realized can carry over into his time with the Salt River Rafters within the Arizona Fall League.
“In the end, it is the identical recreation, it’s only a bit larger of a stage,” Veen stated of the climb. “I’m simply studying the right way to management myself in that setting and the right way to regulate every day.
“A number of the blokes that I performed in that league are within the Fall League. I believe it is at all times good to go in opposition to one of the best expertise on this planet.”
If early returns are any indication, Veen is making a few of these changes. He’s off to a 6-for-12 begin over his first 4 video games within the AFL with a homer, a double and 4 RBIs.
He additionally has 4 stolen bases, which ought to now not come as a shock. Whereas he had extra of a fame as a left-handed hitter with appreciable energy potential as he entered professional ball from the Florida highschool ranks, Veen has proven he isn’t afraid to run as a professional, stealing 36 bases in 53 makes an attempt in his first full season, then upping that to 55 (in 64 makes an attempt) this previous yr.
“I knew I simply needed to go if I had the leap and it was there,” stated Veen, who felt that the principles in A ball that restricted pickoff strikes didn’t make it simple to run. “I didn’t need to get thrown out in any respect. I undoubtedly took that from final yr and needed to indicate my baserunning slightly bit extra.”
Whereas Veen did hit 12 homers in 2022, all however one with Spokane, the stolen-base totals may result in him being seen solely as a speedster. But it surely’s clear he needs to be greater than a one-trick pony.
“I need to be recognized for all of it,” Veen stated.
Rockies hitters within the Fall League
Warming Bernabel, 3B (No. 8): One of many youngest gamers within the AFL this yr, Bernabel is coming off a giant season during which he produced offensively throughout two ranges of A ball. The 20-year-old hit a mixed .313/.370/.499 with 14 homers and 23 steals. His time with Salt River will get him prepared for the higher ranges as he continues to study to refine his super-aggressive strategy.
Grant Lavigne, 1B (No. 13): Taken out of the New Hampshire highschool ranks in 2018, Lavigne struggled in his first full season as he bought out for energy an excessive amount of. He received again on observe some in 2021 and reached Double-A this yr as he continues to search out the stability between his superior strategy and really feel whereas tapping into his uncooked energy from the left aspect of the plate.
Braxton Fulford, C: A Texas Tech product taken within the sixth spherical of the 2021 Draft by the Rockies, Fulford is on the Salt River taxi squad to supply some catching depth. He’s a strong backstop who spent his first full season with Single-A Fresno, hitting 15 homers and stealing 13 bases whereas throwing out 36 % of potential basestealers.
Rockies pitchers within the Fall League
Blair Calvo, RHP: The Rockies signed Calvo as a 23-year-old senior out of Flagler School for simply $3,000 within the twenty third spherical of the 2019 Draft. Moved to the bullpen after signing, he spent 2022 in Double-A and struck out 12.1 per 9 in 35 innings at that degree.
Fineas Del Bonta-Smith, RHP: Noah Davis was supposed to move to the AFL, however when he received referred to as up, the Rockies changed him with Del Bonta-Smith. A Twenty second-round choose in 2019 out of San Jose State, the right-handed reliever spent a lot of the 2022 season in Double-A and struck out a mixed 10.3 per 9. He must work on preserving the ball within the ballpark as he allowed 11 homers in 57 complete innings.
Stephen Jones, RHP: One other late-round 2019 draftee (twenty first spherical), Jones was Samford’s nearer in his Draft yr and he’s continued to alleviate within the Rockies system. The 6-foot-4 right-hander picked up eight saves with Double-A Hartford this season, hanging out 10.4 per 9 and holding hitters to a .188 common.
Peter Lambert, RHP: Lambert made 19 large league begins in 2019, then had Tommy John surgical procedure in July 2020. He did return for a few outings in 2021, however elbow points restricted him to only 8 2/3 Triple-A innings this yr. A one-time top-five prospect within the system, Lambert is attempting to get again on observe and get some innings this fall with a watch on returning to Coors Subject in 2023.