Thursday Rockpile: Five LHP that could be on the Colorado Rockies’ radar in the 2024 draft.

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If you weren’t already aware, the Colorado Rockies have a type when it comes to draft picks.

While undocumented factors like salary demands and college commitments are always a part of the process, their top selection (usually in the top ten overall) is generally reserved for whom they view as the player with the best tools available. It will likely be no different this year as they hold the third overall selection and could likely have the entire field available to them outside of Travis Bazzana and Charlie Condon.

We’ve already covered multiple players that are in consideration for that pick and will continue to do so as the draft is now less than a month away. But the Rockies have three picks in the top-50 – #3, #38 and #42 – along with the 77th overall selection in the third round so there is plenty of ground to cover when it comes to the numerous top-100 draft prospect lists.

This comes back to Rockies management having a type, and that type is collegiate left-handed pitchers.

In each of the past four years, Colorado has used a selection in this range to draft an arm of this archetype – Sean Sullivan (2023), Carson Palmquist (2022), Joe Rock (2021), Sam Weatherly (2020). There are plenty of options for them to choose from to make a fifth year-straight in 2024. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at who could be on the board after the first round for Colorado this year.

Jonathan Santucci – Duke

The highest-rated lefty in the group among prospect circles, Santucci has put himself in the conversation for the back of the first round with 90 strikeouts in 58 innings for the Blue Devils in 2024. His ceiling is viewed in even higher regard, though, as he was considered a mid-round pick before control hiccups paired with a growing injury history – elbow bone spur removal surgery in 2023 and a rib injury that knocked him out of his last three starts in 2024 – dropped his stock.

Still, the 6’2”, 205 lb hurler from Maryland has attracted plenty of attention with his high-grade stuff highlighted by a mid-90s fastball and low-80s slider – both grading in the 55-60 range. The changeup is a developing third offering that is a work in progress, but still shows flashes of potential.

The injury history can certainly be a cause for alarm. But, overall, Santucci is a high floor arm with low-motor mechanics controlled by his easy athleticism and high chance to become a mid-rotation big league starter with a floor of a two-pitch wipeout left-handed reliever.

Ryan PragerTexas A&M

Speaking of simple, fluid mechanics…Ryan Prager’s compact, over-the-top delivery is nearly as conventional as it gets. That is not a derogatory statement, as it keeps the ball well hidden and provides a boost to his three-pitch arsenal that grades below-average in terms of velocity.

A native Texan, the Aggies’ product has shown plenty of polish with his command – striking out 114 to just 19 walks over 87 innings in 2024. That refinement has proven necessary though, as his overall stuff has shown as very hittable at times — evident by his 12 HR surrendered in 2024 and 134 hits in 146 ⅓ IP in two NCAA seasons.

Still, there is a very high projectability with Prager, who had Tommy John surgery in 2022. He’s already a safe bet with his ability to command the zone and his arsenal and could make giant strides if he is able to develop more velocity in pro ball.

Gage JumpLSU

A top prep arm out of California in 2021, Gage Jump was slowed by an elbow injury during his freshman season at UCLA that ultimately led to Tommy John surgery – knocking him out in 2023.

Though his 6’0”, 197 lb is slighter than many other prospects, Jump seemingly punches above his weight in terms of stuff. He offers four pitches with a low-to-mid-90s fastball paired with control and differentiation of two breaking balls along and a changeup that is a work in progress.

A more violent and high-effort delivery, Jump has shown an impressive ability to attack hitters with plenty of a quality. His violent delivery and previous injury is a cause for alarm. However, he has the potential to make a major impact as a big leaguer.

Carter Holton – Vanderbilt

Like Jump, Holton possesses a slighter frame (5’11”, 191 lb) but generates plenty of force with his high-effort, back-side hitched delivery. He delivers from a ¾ arm slot, generating more arm-side run on a fastball that sits around the mid-90s and has topped at 98 mph.

A weekend starter for the highly-regarded Vanderbilt pitching factory, Holton showed incredibly in his first season but has slipped in the past two years. Still, he holds 251 punch-outs in an even 200 NCAA innings – a testament to his ability to finish hitters. On the other side of the coin, his control and command has wavered with 80 walks and 33 hit batters during that span.

Colorado has an attraction towards lefties that lean into deception, and Holton offers that with a high tick of velocity mixed in. He’s a more divisive pitching prospect than most, but offers plenty of upside as a supplemental/mid-round collegiate pitcher.

Josh HartleWake Forest

No arm may fit the Rockies’ preference for a deceptive lefty more than Wake Forest’s Josh Hartle. A teammate of Sullivan from the 2023 draft class, Hartle is very similar as a tall, lanky southpaw with below-average fastball velocity that is elevated due to his size and mechanics.

Hartle shined in his first two years with the Demon Decons and entered the year as a likely first-round selection after his 140 K’s and 2.81 ERA in 102 ⅓ IP in 2023. His stock dropped considerably this season though, as he posted a 5.79 ERA and closer to a strikeout-per-inning while also surrendering as many hits (91) as he did in 2023 despite throwing almost 30 less innings.

Still, Hartle has a track record of success and is cut from the same cloth as many other arms that Colorado has nabbed in recent years. That along with his four-pitch arsenal and tall, cross-fire delivery makes him a strong candidate to be viewed favorably by Colorado’s scouting department.

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On the farm

Triple-A: Oklahoma City 5, Albuquerque Isotopes 4

The Isotopes were on the wrong side of a back-and-forth affair against OKC, losing on a walk-off wild pitch by Jeff Criswell in the 11th inning. Grant Lavigne belted his 10th homer of the season while Jimmy Herron, Aaron Schunk and Hunter Stovall all record multi-hit games.

Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats 4, Harrisburg Senators 3

Yanquiel Fernandez’s two-run single in the ninth was the deciding blow for a Hartford victory on Wednesday. Braxton Fulford drove in the other two runs with his RBI single in the fourth inning. Alec Barger struck out five in two innings after relieving starter Carson Palmquist.

High-A: Spokane Indians 3, Eugene Emeralds 2 (Game 1)Emeralds 9, Indians 1 (Game 2)

Mason Green tossed five scoreless innings to help nab the win in game one of a double-header. The Indians were less impressive in game two, surrendering five runs in the top of the first inning to kick-start a blowout loss.

Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies 3, Stockton Ports 1

The Grizzlies struck out 12 times against Stockton pitching, but seven of the nine Fresno starting hitters recorded a hit — enough to get the team their 37th win of the year. Sam Weatherly tossed two scoreless innings to record his fifth save of the season.

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Title: Thursday Rockpile: Five LHP that could be on the Colorado Rockies’ radar in the 2024 draft.
Author: Kenneth Weber

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