Top Rockies’ prospect Zac Veen posted an image of himself in the hospital (on Twitter) after an apparent left arm surgery this evening. Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports the procedure was to address ligament damage in his hand (Twitter link). According to Harding, Veen is expected to be out of action until December.
Obviously, that ends his 2023 campaign. Had Veen been healthy, the 2020 first-round pick had a shot to make his MLB debut this year. He reached Double-A Hartford late last season and returned there to start this year. Regarded as a borderline top 50 prospect by each of Baseball America, Keith Law of the Athletic and Kiley McDaniel of ESPN, the left-handed hitter was seeking to hit his way to Coors Field by year’s end.
That won’t happen, as it seemed Veen was hampered by the hand issue all season. According to Harding, the young outfielder first felt discomfort midway through last summer. Veen’s numbers plummeted following a late-season bump from High-A to Double-A. While the higher caliber of pitching presumably played a role, the injury offers an additional explanation.
Veen’s 2023 numbers lend support to that possibility. Hand or wrist injuries can diminish a hitter’s power. Veen’s batted ball quality has evaporated this year. He connected on only two home runs over 46 contests and 201 plate appearances. Prospect evaluators have credited the 6’3″ corner outfielder with significant raw power potential. A lofty 47.7% grounder rate hasn’t helped his power output, but it stands to reason he wasn’t hitting the ball with as much authority as he would’ve had he been fully healthy.
The 21-year-old had a .209/.303/.308 batting line overall. He walked at a strong 11.4% clip while striking out at a roughly average 21.4% rate. While Veen’s plate discipline numbers were fine, a meager .260 average on balls in play and the lack of home run pop led to the dismal overall results.
Charlie Blackmon, Jurickson Profar and Randal Grichuk are all slated for free agency after this season. Kris Bryant will be assured one corner outfield spot if healthy, but the rest of the Rox’s future outfield is unsettled. Even if Nolan Jones builds off his strong start to lock himself into right field, Veen could have a path to DH reps next season depending on Colorado’s offseason activity. Colorado doesn’t have to add Veen to their 40-man roster until after the 2024 season, though they’d presumably be happy to get a look at him before then if he mashes in the upper minors to start the year.