The switch-hitting first baseman has a lot of power in his bat, but can he cut down on the swing-and-miss?
4. Michael Toglia (342 points, 13 ballots)
Michael Toglia is a switch-hitter (lefty thrower) with power who should provide good defense at first base and could maybe be a corner outfielder if needed. The 22-year-old had a breakout junior year for UCLA in 2019, hitting .314/.392/.624 after a slow start to the season. Though he was ranked more in the pick 40-50 range by MLB.com and FanGraphs for the draft, the Rockies couldn’t pass up drafting Toglia 23rd overall in the first round after picking him but not signing him three years earlier as a high schooler.
Toglia signed in mid-June for a just under slot $2.7 million and was assigned to Short Season-A Boise. Against pitchers who were on average about 0.8 years older in a pitcher-friendly Northwest League, Toglia produced a .248/.369/.483 line with 16 extra base hits (9 HR) in 176 PAs before getting shut down in early August. Though he struck out 25.6% of the time (walking 15.9%), Toglia produced a 142 wRC+ at the level. Defensively, Toglia spent his time at first base, committing two errors at the position.
All told, Toglia’s 2019 plate appearances yielded one of the Three True Outcomes 46.6% of the time. The 6’5”, 225-pound slugger was far less potent against lefties (.509 vs. .945 OPS against righties) albeit in a small sample. The swing-and-miss is something that prospect watchers will certainly be keeping an eye on as he moves up to higher levels, but the ability to take walks is a plus.
A switch-hitter, Toglia made some small adjustments to his right-handed swing in particular and it showed up in games, with three homers over the last couple of weeks in simulated games, all from the right side.
Here’s a video of Toglia during his time with UCLA courtesy of 2080 Baseball, including a look at both his left and right-handed swings:
A switch-hitter, Toglia’s power from both sides of the plate stands out. The 6-foot-5 first baseman can drive the ball to all fields with tremendous raw pop. The question has always been his ability to make enough contact to tap into that power in games consistently because even though he draws walks, he does swing and miss quite a bit. He did make some small adjustments, particularly to his right-handed swing, at the Rockies’ alternate training site last summer, with positive results in terms of in-game power production.
Very athletic, especially for his size, Toglia could play an outfield corner, something he did at times in college and on the Cape, but he’s a very good defender at first with an above-average arm and excellent hands. If he can continue to make adjustments at the plate, he should fit the profile of a power-hitting, run-producing first baseman in the big leagues quite well.
The above evaluation is highlighted by a 60 field grade with 55s on power and arm.
Toglia was 4th in the Baseball Prospectus org ranking pre-2021. Here’s Steve Givarz on Toglia:
Toglia is a switch-hitter with plus power. He can drive the ball all over, but the swing-and-miss became more of an issue as he transitioned from college to the pros. Three true outcome hitters don’t typically rank high on a team prospect list, especially when they are playing mostly first base. The defense there is plus, at least, and he is athletic enough that they will give him opportunities in the outfield to add some versatility.
The lack of a 2020 season—where you would have hoped for his advanced college bat to power its way to Double-A—leaves us without answers to just how much the big pop will play in games against better competition. Toglia will have to wait for 2021 to make his full-season debut, which will likely be in a less hitter-friendly park than Lancaster’s. He will move through first base and the two outfield corners, but wherever he stands he will have to tighten up the plate discipline to project for long term impact with the bat.
Baseball America ranked Toglia 4th in the system prior to 2020:
A switch-hitter with power from both sides of the plate, Toglia is a potential middle-of-the-lineup bat. He has an impressive understanding of the strike zone for a young player and is a tough out when his timing is right in the batter’s box. His swing plane gets inconsistent and affects his ability to make contact, but when he’s right he gets red hot and hits for both average and power. He controls the zone and figures to get better as he moves up because pitchers will have better control. Toglia has the soft hands and easy actions of a plus defender at first base. He is the type of first baseman who makes other infielders better.
Toglia ranks 4th on FanGraphs’ system ranking with a 45 Future Value tag:
Toglia had a poor Cape statline and then came out of the gate very slowly during his junior year. He was hitting .207 when PAC-12 play began and his draft stock had taken a plunge but for whatever reason, he started raking during conference play. By the end of the year, he was hitting .315 and had reached base in 29 straight games. Toglia has a rare combination of traits and skills. He’s a switch-hitting first baseman with power who is also a plus defender, which puts him in a small, 21st century team picture with Lance Berkman, Mark Teixeira, and Carlos Santana. That’s an intriguing group. We think teams hopped off of Toglia too quickly because of bad early-season looks and that he might be poised for a breakout 2020.
The athleticism to play the outfield and switch-hitting prowess separate Toglia from the other similar first base prospects in the system. He’s still a risky prospect given the increased stress on the bat to succeed, but he’s also got a ceiling that’s a cut above the others in that group due to his ability to translate raw power into game power. I ranked Toglia fourth on my personal PuRPs ballot with a 45 FV grade as an offense-first player with tremendous, middle of the order potential, though I worry about whether he’ll be able to handle advanced pitching and maintain his high walk rates.
The offensive profile is certainly an enticing one, and we’ll see if the Rockies end up trying Toglia in an outside corner as he moves up the minor league ladder due to the presence of plenty of first base mashers in the system. Ultimately I think Toglia will end up as Colorado’s next long-term first base solution. I think Toglia probably begins 2021 in High-A with some time in Double-A this year a distinct possibility.