The New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series powered by Program 15 Sports was proud to help send four players to the big leagues over the last two seasons, starting with Bo Naylor debuting late in the 2022 season, who was joined by Tyler Soderstrom, Grayson Rodriguez and Kyren Paris last year.
The ball is rolling, and the next wave of FSS alumni set to make their major-league debuts are making their case.
After starting off by taking a look at Tink Hence, here’s another player who might just be next, as well as the path they took through the Future Stars Series to get there.
OF Zac Veen, Colorado Rockies (Highest Level: AA)
Veen began his journey through the New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series with three appearances in 2019, starting with a Scorpions Scout Day. A 6.75 runner 60 runner at the time who graded out well and was identified as a future pro prospect by the FSS scouting staff upon a first look, Veen was said to “(have) tools and aptitude to be successful” at the time, and the development staff were eager to get another look at him.
That wouldn’t happen again until the summer, when Veen and the Scorpions showed up for the national tournaments, which were then held in Cypress, Texas. Somewhat overshadowed at the time by more-hyped teammates and fellow future first-rounders Drew Romo and Dylan Crews, Veen performed well, although he was limited defensively due to an injury at the time.
The notes in his scouting report from July were indicative of a player who was going to get invited to International Week in September: “Good Looking Prospect with Plus Skills & tools on both sides of the ball. The Bat features a Smooth Lefty Stroke that drives the ball to all fields. He should be an extra base hit machine. Didn’t see him on defense because he had an hip issue. But ran the bases well so I know he can move on defense. Overall potential to be an impact player on both sides of the ball.”
That’s exactly what happened, as Veen joined Scorpions teammates Crews, Michael Brooks and Jackson Nezuh at the first IW ever held at Fenway Park. The event was actually held at three separate venues, however — the workout was at Boston College — and the first game took place in Pawtucket, where Veen showed out. He hit only the second-ever homer in event history — only Sean Guilbe accomplished the feat before him in 2017; some say he actually hit two that day, as a ball that was ruled a double appeared to perhaps go off a trash can beyond the outfield wall and back into play.
Then a University of Florida commit, Veen ultimately went at No. 9 overall to the Colorado Rockies in the 2020 MLB Draft, then the highest-drafted FSS alum ever before Crews ultimately surpassed him at No. 2 overall three years later. Since then, he’s been universally regarded as one of the game’s top prospects — he’s ranked at No. 15 in the most recent FSS Plus Top 100 — and started his pro career the following year with a huge year in Low-A Fresno despite being just 19 years old at the time.
Veen kept it going in 2022 with another big year that culminated with an appearance in the prestigious Futures Game, and was also promoted to Double-A Hartford, host of several FSS signature events. After a sluggish end to his season, he began the 2023 season back with the Yard Goats, but an injury-plagued year ended in June after wrist surgery.
With that said, it’s difficult to project exactly where he might begin the 2024 season, although he is expected to have made a full recovery in plenty of time for spring training. With the thought initially that he could have made his big-league debut as early as the end of last year had things gone well, Veen, who will be 22 on Opening Day, could see an abbreviated stint back in Double-A to start the year before a call-up to Triple-A Albuquerque, with an MLB ETA still sometime in 2024.
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