Rockies fans attending spring training in Arizona this year will have a chance to get a glimpse at the organization’s future via the team’s 26 non-roster invitations — plus some guys who are looking for another chapter in their major-league careers.
Eight of Colorado’s former first-round picks (counting competitive balance round and compensation selections) will be in camp in catcher Drew Romo, outfielders Zac Veen, Jordan Beck and Benny Montgomery, first baseman Grant Lavigne, utility Sterlin Thompson, and pitchers Karl Kauffmann and Joe Rock.
Romo, Veen and Beck could be part of the Rockies’ lineup in the near future.
Romo finished 2023 in Triple-A and projects as the organization’s next starting catcher after Elias Diaz’s contract expires at the end of this season. He could very well be in the majors by the end of the summer.
Meanwhile, Veen is looking to bounce back after his ’23 was derailed by season-ending wrist surgery. Beck is coming off a promising campaign that culminated in winning the Northwest League MVP, and Montgomery is coming off a solid performance in the Arizona Fall League after an outfield collision somewhat derailed his season with High-A Spokane.
Lavigne still has a lot to prove, both at first base and in the box, but showed some power with 17 homers for Double-A Hartford in 2023 and likely has another season of development ahead of him with Triple-A Albuquerque.
Thompson is on the up-and-up, as the natural outfielder has seen time at third and second in the minors and was an Arizona Fall League All-Star after batting .338 for the Salt River Rafters. He was selected No. 31 overall in 2022 as the Rockies’ compensation pick for Trevor Story leaving the club in free agency.
Kauffmann debuted last year and posted an 8.23 ERA in 11 games (three starts). With the back end of the Rockies’ rotation again looking questionable, especially the fifth spot, this year’s spring training is a chance for him to prove his big-league worth. It’s also a big opportunity for Rock after the southpaw posted a 4.50 ERA in 19 starts for Hartford last year before ending the season in Albuquerque.
Other top prospects to watch as non-roster invites this spring include shortstop Ryan Ritter (the 2023 California League MVP for Low-A Fresno) and right-hander Jaden Hill (a second-round pick in 2021 whom the Rockies projected as an eventual rotation piece, but struggled to a 9.48 ERA with Spokane last year).
Plus, there are some familiar faces with experience at Coors Field.
Southpaw Ty Blach is out to win a job on the opening day roster (again), as the Regis Jesuit product flashed some consistency last year with a 3.71 ERA in five August starts. And infielder Alan Trejo is trying to re-establish himself in the organization after being designated for assignment on Jan. 5, in conjunction with the Rockies signing free agents Dakota Hudson and Jacob Stallings.
Of the 26 invites, three join Colorado from different organizations: right-handers John Curtiss, Geoff Hartlieb and Kyle Wilcox.
The former two have big-league experience. Curtiss has pitched for six different teams, including a 4.58 ERA in 15 appearances out of the Mets’ bullpen last year. Most of Hartlieb’s service time came over three seasons in Pittsburgh, and he appeared in two games in relief for the Marlins last year. Curtiss missed all of 2022 recovering from Tommy John, while Hartlieb spent that entire season in the minors.
List of Rockies’ 2024 non-roster invites
Ty Blach, Carson Palmquist, Joe Rock
Chance Adams, Matt Carasiti, Jeff Criswell, John Curtiss, Geoff Hartlieb, Jaden Hill, Karl Kauffmann, Matt Koch, Kyle Wilcox
Braxton Fulford, Willie MacIver, Drew Romo
Connor Kaiser, Grant Lavigne, Ryan Ritter, Aaron Schunk, Alan Trejo
Jordan Beck, Benny Montgomery, Bladimir Restituyo, Zac Veen
Coco Montes, Sterlin Thompson
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