There was a time when the Rockies had a glut of position players in their farm system – they were good, versatile, and young. Now, the pantry’s run somewhat bare.
Decisions will always pile on one another. Decide to eat a bagel for breakfast with cream cheese? Now a bagel sandwich for lunch is probably out.
The Rockies’ leader, Jeff Bridich, has made several decisions. He decided to make trades of players for minimal returns. He also decided to sign veterans who serve no purpose to the club besides holding back youngsters. Now, the club’s 40-man roster features roughly three players who could play first.
Grant Lavigne and Michael Toglia make up the farm system’s hopes of producing a quality first baseman in the future.
In the most perfect of worlds, Toglia, a switch-hitting first baseman who was drafted out of UCLA, would be the guy. He would’ve shot up through the system and be looking at an extremely early debut in the big leagues.
Instead, Toglia hasn’t even made it to Double-A, largely due to inexperience and the virus shutting down minor league baseball. For short-season Boise, he slashed .248/.369/.483 in 41 games. In the short sample, he also showcased a quality glove.
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He figures to make an impact at some point, but Toglia’s debut appears to be at least two years away. Lavigne hasn’t surpassed Single-A either, so he’s on the same timeline.
Enter, once again, Josh Fuentes (did you know he’s Nolan Arenado’s cousin?)
Family jokes aside, Fuentes represents a full-scale wild card. He’s hitting on a 16 at the casino. It could work out, but the odds of it busting are high.
If nothing else, he’s a very level-headed player. In conversations, he’s shown to be a very quiet, get-work-done player. The same type of personality is all over the Rockies’ clubhouse, so the fit makes sense.
Now, it’s about producing.
Fuentes, believe it or not, was third on the Rockies’ 2020 roster in bWAR (1.0). The usual suspects, both Arenado (1.4) and Trevor Story (2.1) led the way. Skeptics point to the club’s lack of talent for the lofty finish, which is fair.
Moving forward, Fuentes’ success against left-handed pitching most improve. He’s hit .204 against them in his career and only improved to .258 last year. The underlying numbers point to much of the struggles being valid, rather than by chance. As a right-handed corner infielder, the opposite splits need changing.
While teams across the league are shuffling in new and successful first baseman, the Rockies are at a standstill – Ryan Mountcastle isn’t walking through the west end of Coors Field.