New Isotope Tovar makes a blast of a first impression - Albuquerque Journal

New Isotope Tovar makes a blast of a first impression

As Karl Kauffmann hurled the first pitch at Isotopes Park on Friday night, the host team sat 17 games back in its division, and the parent club Colorado Rockies were 37 games back in the National League West.

The present may not be pristine for either team, but there is reason to believe the future, at long last, could offer some hope.

Ezequiel Tovar homered in his Triple-A debut Friday with the Isotopes. (Courtesy of the Albuquerque Isotopes)

Two national outlets have recently ranked the Colorado Rockies’ farm system in the Top 10 in baseball – a spot not seen in recent years.

And for the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes, a glimpse of that promising future is already here.

The organization’s No. 2 prospect – 21-year-old shortstop Ezequiel Tovar of Venezuela – got called up to the Isotopes for Thursday’s game and made his second start Friday night after rapidly progressing through the lower levels of the Rockies system.

“He’s a stud. I swear it was every game in Hartford he would do something cool,” said Isotopes teammate Jimmy Herron, who played 54 games earlier this season alongside Tovar at Double-A Hartford. “Defensively, with his glove, he’s amazing.”

Herron also played pregame psychic. In the third inning Friday night, Tovar launched a 443-foot home run off the scoreboard in left field – just a couple hours after Herron said: “(With the way the) ball travels here, I’m sure he’ll put one or two off the scoreboard at some point.”

Oklahoma was on the scoreboard often Friday night, outslugging the Isotopes 12-9 on a night Tovar’s new teammate, Wynton Bernard, hit the 14th Isotopes grand slam of the season, the highest team season total in minor league history, the Isotope say.

Tovar had been sidelined since June with a groin injury. He rehabbed in Denver, played a few games in Arizona and now is ready to get his feet wet in Albuquerque, where he’s well aware of the ballparks batter-friendly reputation.

“It doesn’t matter where I play. The approach needs to stay the same,” said Tovar in Spanish, through the interpretation of Isotopes bench coach Pedro Lopez, though Tovar speaks English well.

“The toughest thing to do is to make contact. I’m not going to change my approach. I don’t look at the ballpark being high altitude and the ball flying like Denver – I just want to keep the same approach I had before I got here. Make sure I make solid contact.”

While the bat is certainly part of the equation – he hit .318 in 66 games at Hartford with 13 home runs, 47 RBIs and stole 17 bases – its Tovar’s glove that has many saying he’s big-league ready.

“He’s smooth as a shortstop,” Isotopes manager Warren Schaeffer said. “He’s a natural shortstop, which you don’t see too often these days. His defense is what stands out to me.”

Jim Bowden, former general manager for the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals who now is a national writer for The Athletic, released his Top 50 prospects list (all players who have not yet been up to the majors) on Aug. 25.

In it, he ranked Tovar the 30th top prospect in baseball, writing: “His future has Gold Glove written all over it. There’s no doubt he’s going to hit for average, and he’s added strength to his 6-foot frame over the past year. He is major-league ready.”

But Tovar wasn’t the only Rockies player on Bowden’s or other prospect lists. Zac Veen, for instance, is a 20-year-old outfielder playing in Hartford who is the organization’s top prospect and was ranked No. 2 in all of baseball on Bowden’s list last month. All indications are he’ll be an Isotope in 2023.

The Rockies’ farm system in the past month was ranked No. 10 by Baseball America and No. 9 by MLB Pipeline, which ranked them No. 24 entering this season.

But the organization seems to have hit on several draft picks, some of them developing into budding stars.

“That’s good to see, man,” Schaeffer said. “I mean, kudos to our scouts for drafting the right guys. Kudos to the player development for getting them right. It’s always a combination.”


Vs. Oklahoma City

12:05 p.m., Isotopes Park, 610 AM/95.9 FM

PROMOTION: Fan Appreciation Day

PROBABLES: Dodgers LHP Robbie Erlin (5-3, 6.75) vs. Isotopes LHP Logan Allen (0-1, 4.50)

FRIDAY: Four Oklahoma City Dodgers homered in a 12-9 win over the host Isotopes.

Albuquerque’s Wynton Bernard in the 8th inning hit a grand slam, the 14th of the season for the team, setting a new Minor League record, breaking the mark of 13 by the 1995 Indianapolis Indians.

ON TO ARIZONA: Albuquerque Isotopes manager Warren Schaeffer was named the manager for the 2022 Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, it was announced Friday by Major League Baseball.

The Arizona Fall League is a six-team league of top prospects. Since its inception in 1992, the AFL has produced dozens of MLB All-Stars, Rookies of the year and MVPs.

Schaeffer will manage players from five MLB teams that will comprise the Rafters roster: Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Detroit Tigers St. Louis Cardinals, and Toronto Blue Jays.

The AFL season runs from Oct. 3-Nov. 12.

Box score: Oklahoma City 12, Albuquerque 9

Home » From the newspaper » New Isotope Tovar makes a blast of a first impression

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

Prep notes: Sandia cross country star West wins big ...
Featured Sports
Steven West was already New Mexico's ... Steven West was already New Mexico's cross country star runner this year. But last weekend, the Sand ...
Trout expects a motivated foe, hostile crowd in Friday ...
At age 37, Austin Trout could ... At age 37, Austin Trout could spend time pondering the inevitable end of his long and successful com ...
McGruder, strong finish leads UNM women over Abilene Christian
On a rainy Wednesday night with ... On a rainy Wednesday night with a late-arriving crowd, the UNM women's basketball team seemed to need a litte wakeup call in the Pit. ...
Sports Speak Up! Reader blasts New Mexico State's handling ...
Featured Sports
WE ALL should be quite concerned ... WE ALL should be quite concerned about how New Mexico State University coaching staff and administrators handled the aftermath of the deadly shooting incident ...
Emptying the Notebook: A Birima Seck appreciation article
ABQnews Seeker
UNM Lobo forward Birima Seck shoots ... UNM Lobo forward Birima Seck shoots over Western New Mexico's Isaiah White during Tuesday's game in the Pit . (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)Here are some extra ...
Lobos take care of business vs. Western New Mexico, ...
All 12 Lobos who played got ... All 12 Lobos who played got in the scoring column, including the walk-ons, and UNM cruised to remain one of the country's final 10 ...
Prep basketball: La Cueva girls end Volcano Vista win ...
Boys' Basketball
It was going to happen sooner ... It was going to happen sooner or later. And it finally happened Tuesday night. The Volcano Vista High School girls basketball team hadn't lost ...
Lobo football: Haulcy honored again; two players are leaving
A.J. Haulcy's standout true freshman season ... A.J. Haulcy's standout true freshman season for the New Mexico Lobos earned him another honor on Tue ...
UNM women brace for a different breed of 'Cats ...
Different bunch of Wildcats, different set ... Different bunch of Wildcats, different set of challenges. That’s what the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team will face when Abilene Christian visits ...