I know I am a little late on this final Colorado Rockies minor league showcase. I had this article partially done, but then some personal issues prevented me from finishing the series. As a makeup for missing an article, this will not be the finale of this series. The next article deals with a team that the Rockies own, but are no longer affiliated with, the Grand Junction Rockies.
Let’s take a look at the Colorado Rockies’ second new affiliate for the 2021 season, the Fresno Grizzlies.
League: Low-A West
Location: Fresno, California
The Rockies actually got a huge upgrade from their previous California League team, the Lancaster JetHawks, in the Fresno Grizzlies. In 2019, the Grizzlies were a Triple-A ball club. With the MiLB realignment of 2021, the MLB changed Fresno’s affiliation to Low-A while they contracted the JetHawks into MiLB nonexistence.
While not perfect, the Fresno Grizzlies were another good affiliate pick for the Colorado Rockies organization.
The Low-A West is another Western-based league that is still far from Denver but is the best for the Rockies out of what is available. No team in the Low-A West is going to expand team territory, especially when the teams are all in the MLB-saturated state of California, so you have to hope to have the team with the best facilities. In this case, the Grizzlies have facilities built for a Triple-A club. Colorado Rockies prospects can access these facilities for development much earlier than they would otherwise.
There is one major downside to the Fresno Grizzlies for the Colorado Rockies … the elevation. While far from the lowest in the league at about 300 feet, there are several teams in the Low-A West with elevations of more than 1,000 feet. Not quite the mile high that the Rockies are at, but enough to see the difference between them and the sea level-based clubs. An advantage that choosing one of these clubs would have had is to create a mini-Coors Hangover effect, helping players get used to large elevation drops that go all the way to sea level early in their careers. That said, this early on, it may not make as much of a difference as one would hope.
All in all, the affiliate is good, but what about the players?
Players to Watch: OF Zac Veen (1), C Drew Romo (10), 1B Grant Lavigne (12), LHP Sam Weatherly (18), RHP Tony Locey (20), SS Tovar Ezequiel (21), SS Mateo Gil (24)
More from Colorado Rockies Prospects
- Colorado Rockies: Has Sean Bouchard earned a second look in 2023?
- Colorado Rockies: Ezequiel Tovar to make his debut today
- Colorado Rockies: Potential players for September call-ups
- Colorado Rockies call up no. 14 prospect Michael Toglia
- MLB Pipeline: The Colorado Rockies’ farm system has strengthened … a lot
This may be the second most exciting roster of the Colorado Rockies affiliates, being only beaten out by the Spokane Indians. There is one thing that the Grizzlies have on the Indians, the only top 100 MLB prospect in the Rockies’ farm system in Zac Veen. Veen is the most exciting thing for the franchise’s farm since drafting Brendan Rodgers (who still has yet to pan out for the Rockies themselves). There is hope that Veen will not remain the only Colorado Rockies prospect in the top 100 after the next two drafts (or even the trade deadline), but only time will tell.
The other extremely exciting prospect on the Grizzlies is catcher Drew Romo. Catcher has always been a position that the Rockies have struggled with and to see a prospect with so much potential brings hope that one day Rockies fans will finally forget the franchise passed on JT Realmuto.
Other teammates who represent the MLB Pipeline’s top 30 include Grant Lavigne, Sam Weatherly, Tony Locey, Tovar Ezequiel, and Mateo Gil. It is hard to tell when a lot of these players will make it to MLB. While they may get there eventually, there are several prospects ranked ahead of them in their positions.
Finally, you may recognize the names, Mateo Gil and Tony Locey. I would watch these two players closely as they were some of the prospects sent over from St. Louis for Nolan Arenado. Who knows what these players may develop into? They are young and the future is bright for them in Denver. However, if you want to watch them right now, you better go to Fresno.
Note: Data and facts for this article were found using Wikipedia, Twitter, and MLB.com