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Sports >  Spokane Indians

Top prospects Zac Veen, Drew Romo open season with High-A Spokane Indians

There are a lot of reasons to enjoy a night out at a minor league baseball game. For baseball purists, one of the best reasons is to get a glimpse of potential big leaguers before they get promoted.

Fans in Spokane this spring and summer will be treated to some of the top talent the Colorado Rockies’ organization has to offer.

The Rockies’ Low-A affiliate, the Fresno Grizzlies, enjoyed a successful campaign on the field last summer. The Grizzlies were led on most nights by outfielder Zac Veen, the Rockies’ No. 1 prospect and No. 36 overall, and catcher Drew Romo, No. 2 in the system.

Veen was the ninth overall pick in the 2020 entry draft out of high school. In his first pro season in 2021, Veen hit .301/.399/.501 with 15 homers and 36 steals for the Grizzlies.

Just 20, the lanky 6-foot-4 outfielder hits from the left side with a “sustainable swing that did not require a ton of tinkering,” according to

Romo, 20, was the 35th pick in the 2020 draft. He’s a switch-hitter and has been praised as an above-average defensive player. He hit .314/.345/.439 in 79 games with Fresno last season with six homers, 47 RBIs and 23 steals.

While time will tell if the two are destined for the big leagues, they are both anxious to start the 2022 campaign in Spokane.

“I’m really excited, two days away from the first game,” Romo said on Wednesday before the home run derby the Indians put on as part of Fan Fest.

Veen loves being back with so many teammates from Fresno.

“We’ve got a good group and it’s gonna be a lot of fun,” he said. “There’s a lot of guys from last year’s team and I think we had really good team chemistry, so I think we’re gonna carry that into this year.”

After their first batting practice at Avista Stadium, both came away impressed.

“I really like it,” Romo said. “I think it’s a beautiful background, beautiful stadium and I love it.”

“The mountains in the background is something you don’t see in every park, so it’s a definitely a cool site,” Veen said.

Manager Scott Little is happy to have both of them.

“They’re very good baseball players,” Little said on Tuesday. “Very good competitors and people. (The Rockies) did a very good job scouting on these guys.”

Little singled out Veen’s mental approach.

“Nothing seems to bother him a whole heck of a lot,” he said. “He’s got a really good demeanor. He doesn’t get too up or too down. And he’s got a lot of skills.”

Romo carried a defense-first profile into the draft, but Little likes what he’s seen of his bat.

“He hit the ball really well in spring training,” Little said. “I hope that’s what we really have, because he’s already defending so well.”

Romo said the most important thing that stands out about him as a ballplayer is “I play the game hard.”

“I think that I’m a leader on the field and I’m going to do whatever it takes to win.”

As a catcher, he takes that leadership role seriously.

“I think it’s kind of a natural thing for me, but also just me developing as a catcher over the years ever since I was a kid,” he said. “Just kind of like filling in that role of being the catcher, being the leader of the team.”

Neither player puts much stock into lofty prospect rankings.

“You know, I just want to be the best Zac Veen I can be,” Veen said. “I think the rankings are cool for some people, but honestly, when you’re on the field they don’t mean anything. So I’m just gonna go out there and compete every day.”

“I mean, it’s cool to get the respect for all the hard work I’ve put in,” Romo said. “But at the end of the day, those rankings don’t mean very much. The most important thing is going out there and trying to win games for our team.”

The Indians and Grizzlies both made the playoffs last season in their respective classifications. It’s something the Rockies’ organization wants to see from their affiliates.

“Within our organization, winning is the No. 1 thing,” Romo said. “That’s the way it should be. And so we’re focused on winning a championship at every level – from the bottom all the way up to the big leagues in Colorado.”

“It’s all about winning,” Veen said. “We’ve got to go out there and do what we can every day to win.”

Along with Veen and Romo, the Rockies assigned three other top-30 prospects to the Indians.

Left-handed pitcher Joe Rock comes in at No. 15. The 6-6 starter was the highest-drafted pitcher out of Ohio University in school history when the Rockies took him No. 68 overall in the 2021 draft.

Rock, 21, pitched briefly in the Arizona Complex League and “stood out during instructional league play last fall,” according to

First baseman Grant Lavigne returns for a second stint with the Indians. He started last season with Fresno and was promoted midseason when Michael Toglia was promoted to Double-A and helped lead the Indians to the postseason. The 22-year-old is ranked No. 22 on the Rockies’ prospect list.

Infielder Julio Carreras earned the No. 25 spot on the Rockies’ preseason rankings. The 6-2 22-year-old had shoulder surgery in 2020, which slowed his start last season, but he hit .254/.306/.392 with seven homers and 15 steals in 94 games with Fresno.

Scouts like his arm and think he could handle shortstop or third base equally .

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