Under normal circumstances, Zac Veen and Drew Romo would probably spend a couple of days in Denver in the next week or two, sign their professional contracts with the Colorado Rockies, take in a game and then head west over the Rocky Mountains to Grand Junction.
These are not normal circumstances.
Major League Baseball is on hiatus because of COVID-19, as is all of Minor League Baseball. Veen, a high school outfielder from Spruce Creek (Florida) High School, and Romo, a prep catcher out of The Woodlands, Texas, would likely start their pro careers in Grand Junction.
No decisions have been made on any level of the minor league system for this season, General Manager Jeff Bridich said during a Zoom meeting with the media after the first round.
“Quite frankly, we’re not sure yet, to be honest.” Bridich said of plans for players out of the draft and all developmental levels.
“We’ve brainstormed a number of different potential things. We’re not entirely sure yet what any of baseball is going to look like this year, from the major league level and player development level.
“There are some rumors that there may be some sort of developmental Arizona Fall League down the road. There are certain hurdles, not just for the Rockies, but the entire industry, we have to get over first. … It’s tough to commit to anything right now.”
Veen was drafted ninth overall by the Rockies, with Romo the No. 35 overall pick, the Rockies Competitive Balance A selection. The final four rounds of the shortened draft are today.
Veen has committed to play at Florida next season, but said his decision to sign will be “a question that’s going to get answered a little later. I love the Rockies organization and I’m happy they gave me an opportunity.”
The 6-foot-4 left-handed hitter has put on 45 pounds the past two years, going from a slender 160 pounds to 205, which has increased his power production.
He hit .500 with three home runs in 11 games before his senior season was canceled, with 17 stolen bases, and said he’s been working out ever since, preparing either for college or pro ball.
“I’m a good all-around baseball player,” he said when asked to describe himself. “Somebody who plays with a lot of passion, somebody who never takes a play off and doesn’t get outworked.”
The Rockies are trying to find their catcher of the future — former GJ Rockies catcher Dom Nunez is one of their top prospects, and mock drafts listed Romo, who has signed with LSU, as the No. 1 defensive catcher in the draft. The Rockies didn’t shy away from drafting prep players with their first two picks.
“It comes down to the maturity of the kid and is he ready to handle what’s thrown at him and probably failing for the first time in his life, and are they prepared for that,” said Bill Schmidt, the Rockies’ vice president of scouting.
Romo is a switch-hitter and his bat is considered a bit behind his defense, but the Rockies liked the way he played on elite under-18 national teams.
“The defense right now is a little ahead of the offense but we like his swing, we like what he brings at the plate, not just behind it,” Bridich said. “There’s going to be a lot of development from him in all areas, the leap from high school to professional baseball, you never know how it’s going to go. … This kid is extremely well-equipped to make this leap and excel.”