Right field depth has been acceptable for the Colorado Rockies for long stretches in the franchise’s history. The position was Larry Walker’s when he began his march towards Cooperstown and Carlos Gonzalez took over after him. The current starter is Charlie Blackmon, but he won’t be in the position long given his age. The team desperately needs to find a quality replacement when Blackmon inevitably moves to the designated hitter position when the NL adopts it in the next CBA. Who are the men who will take over after that shift?
Colorado Rockies Right Field Depth
Major League Level
Blackmon is the only real story here for as long as the team wants him to prowl in right field. The 34-year-old is one of the best players in franchise history and is aging somewhat gracefully. His offense did dip below expectations by the time the year ended, but the .303/356/448 slash line was still acceptable. The slugging was the biggest culprit behind the lackluster numbers as it fell over 100 points from .576 in 2019. It’s certainly possible the former second-round pick is fading, but we won’t know based on just 247 plate appearances. Yonathan Daza will chip in from time to time despite being primarily a center fielder.
AAA & AA
Jimmy Herron may see the major league field in 2021 if anything happens to Blackmon and Daza. The majority of his minor league defense has been spent in center, but he spent a good amount of time in right in 2019 in High-A. The former third-round pick isn’t a top prospect, but he did slash .241/334/373 in 450 plate appearances in his last pro season. Seeing how he opens in 2021 will dictate just how close he is to the majors.
High-A & Lower
2021 is key for former sixth-round pick Niko Decolati. The Loyola Marymount product struggled in 2019, hitting just .265/337/399. This was after a promising rookie year where he slashed .327/414/532. It’s frustrating and uneven, but he has average power and ability to swipe bases; he does have 32 successful steals in 146 minor league games. Decolati looks like a versatile player that the organization needs to support starting immediately in 2021.
Keep an eye on Cade Harris and Jack Yalowitz as well. Both are 10th round draft selections from 2018 and 2019, respectively. Harris is the more versatile of the two and has a better eye at the plate, while Yalowitz has more power in his swing that didn’t translate in his first professional season. It’s a long way for both of these two, but one might make an impact in two or three years if the development continues smoothly.
It’s honestly tough to evaluate this group. It has more intrigue than left field, but nobody is a star. The problem is that while Colorado does draft players intended for right field, most of them have very little experience. Even Herron, perhaps one of the future options closest to the majors, has been out of school for only three years. It’s simply too early to tell how many of these will be serious prospects moving forward.
One thing should be clear with all three outfield positions and that is that the organization has focused so little on the position group from a draft perspective. Baseball is obviously unique in that teams cannot focus solely on one position group when drafting, but the amount of neglect is obvious at this point. It’s something that needs to be addressed in-depth in the next few seasons with how little talent exists in the system. Pitching will always be a key area of concern in light of Coors Field, but they need offensive stars too.
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