The Rockies have a very talented young team led by Troy Tulowitzki, who I expect to bounce back from a very disappointing season. They also have a couple of 2007 top 50 prospects on the roster in Ian Stewart, who is a great all around player, and Carlos Gonzalez - who was with Arizona last offseason, then traded to the Rockies via the A's in the Holliday trade.
I created this blog series to get the casual fan acquainted with their favorite team's top prospects. My rankings are constructed by me using a variety of factors: what a prospect's potential can be, how the prospect has performed in the past, how well the prospect performs in 2008, age, and the minor league level (MLL) the prospect is currently playing at. The success of teams like the Tampa Bay Rays, and the World Series champions, the Philadelphia Phillies has stressed the importance of having a good farm system, and impact prospects. So, I have made it my task to pull out the top 15 prospects of every organization, and analyze them for you.
One thing I like is interaction from different members, and readers. So, if you do read the article, please just leave a comment at the bottom. I am perfectly ok with the comment ranging from your suggestions, to total disgust of my negative thoughts about your favorite team's future. I am not an expert, and am bound to make some mistakes, so if you see one point it out. I would like to this blog to have a forum style atmosphere, if you feel I am missing a prospect, or overvaluing/undervaluing a prospect, tell me, and tell me why you think so, also if you have any questions leave them for me, and I will answer to the best of my ability.
Colorado Rockies Top 15 Prospects
1. Dexter Fowler OF Age: 22 MLL: AA
I could make a case for either Fowler, or Chacin to be top prospect. Fowler is a five-tool outfielder with exceptional defense, and offensive upside. In 2008 Fowler hit .335, with a 431 OBP, and .515 Slugging % (SLG). Despite only 9 HRs Fowler has some power, hitting 49 XBH (extra base hits), and, because he is only 22, a surge in power could still come. His K:BB ratio is about 1.5/1. Fowler also stole 20 bases, and will steal more as he gets older, and his instincts improve. I think Fowler is one of the very best prospects in baseball; all five of his tools are above average, and his defense, and speed are already plus tools. Fowler will be given a chance in Spring Training with the departure of , even if he starts the season in AAA, he will end it as the Rockies’ centerfielder.
2. Jhoulys Chacin RHSP Age: 20 MLL: A
Chacin came out of nowhere last season, and ended up being one of the very best pitchers in the minor leagues. He led the minors with 18 wins. Chacin pitched in 177 innings with an ERA of 2.03, and striking out 160 batters. Chacin throws a heavy sinker up to 94 mph; he also throws a plus changeup – his best pitch – with late drop, and an average curveball. Chacin is a future number two or three starter, and if he continues to pitch as well as he has he could be in Colorado in a couple years, at the young age of 22, or 23.
3. Wilin Rosario C Age: 19 MLL: R
Rosario had a great summer in rookie league; he hit .316, with .371 OBP, and .532 SLG. He has above average power – possibly plus in the future – hitting 12 homeruns in 263 at bats but, still needs to work on his plate patience, recording a K:BB ratio of over 2:1, but that should improve over time as he is only 19. Rosario is also above average defensively, with a very strong arm, he threw out 46% of would be base stealers when he was behind the plate last season. Rosario has all the tools needed to become an elite catcher, he just has to repeat the success he has had this year.
4. Christian Friedrich LHSP Age: 21 MLL: A-/a
The Rockies’ first pick in the 2008 draft, Christian Friedrich excelled in his first couple months as a pro baseball player. He pitched 48 innings striking out 65, and holding opposing batters to a .239 batting average. Friedrich throws his fastball between 93, and 89 mph, his best pitch is his 12-6 plus curveball, he also throws a cutter in the mid 80s, and a changeup every once in awhile. Friedrich is already this system’s best left-hander – now that Morales is officially a bust, don’t bother looking for that guy on this list – he is no worse than one of the better number four starters, and I think he can be a middle of the rotation starter with four pitches which grade as average or better.
5. Mike McKenry C Age: 23 MLL: A+/w
McKenry is an above average defensive catcher, with a plus arm – he threw out almost half of those trying to steal bases off him last season. I am also believe he has some potential on offense. McKenry possesses above average – plus power – hitting 27 homeruns in 2008, and hitting 64 XBHs, which accounted for 48% of his hits. McKerny does, however, lack even average contact skills, he also strikes out twice as many times as he walks. I believe that McKerny can become an average everyday catcher – with great defense – or, he could be more if he drops his K%, and hits for a better contact. He [McKenry] will be ready for the majors before Rosario, and if he plays well in Colorado he will have an edge over Rosario, who has more upside – both McKerny, and Rosario have similar tools; they both have plus power, and a plus arm, to go with above average defense, and lackluster hitting skills.
6. Casey Weathers RHRP Age: 23 MLL: AA
First thing to say is, Weathers will miss all of 2009 with Nonetheless, Weathers was solid in AA in 2008 pitching 44 innings – all in relief – with a 3.05 ERA, and striking out 54 batters. Weathers’ stuff translates to the back-end of the bullpen; he throws his fastball anywhere between 96, and 91 mph, with some late break. He also throws an inconsistent slider in the mid 80s with late break. I expect him to come back in 2010, and almost immediately make an impact in the Rockies’ bullpen, he probably will not, however, close games with stationed in the ninth – for now..
7. Eric Young Jr. 2B Age: 23 MLL: AA
Son of former major leaguer, and Baseball Tonight analyst Eric Young, Jr. is a highly versatile, high speed player – sounds like his father, eh? – Young is one of the most polished players in this system. He does not have as many tools as some of the players further done on this list, but he is very polished, his K:BB rate last season was nearly 1:1 - 77Ks-61BBs – and he hit .290, with a .391 OBP. Young, however, does not possess much power, his was .392 in 2008, and he tallied only a 26 XBH%. Young is good defensively at second, but his “stocky” build limits his lateral range, so even though he is lightning fast, he does not have the range to play shortstop. The Rockies are trying him in centerfield with the plan to make him a super-utility guy, and free up the logjam in the middle infield. I think Young can be an everyday second basemen because of his solid defense, and his high OBP, he does have the ability to have doubles power, but I do not think he needs too to be a good starter, because if he gets a single, or draws a walk, there is a very good chance he is stealing second –Young stole 46 bases in 2008, he stole 73 in 2007, and 87 in 2006. If not a second basemen – or centerfielder I guess, although I see the prospect of him there everyday less likely – Young will be one of the best super-utility players in the league, so I feel confident placing him high on my list.
8. Brandon Hynick RHSP Age: 23 MLL: AA
Another lower ceiling player, but I like Hynick – and by and large like SURE THING middle ceiling, fourth, and fifth starters, closers, average everyday players, over the high upside very high risk players, especially when those players have red flags, like injury problems, or if they are not developing like they should. Anyways in AA in 2008 Hynick pitched 172 innings accumulating a 4.44 ERA but, striking out only 97 batters. He has average stuff, throwing his fastball around 90, but also throwing a splitter, changeup, and curve/slider. My favorite part about Hynick, he has exceptional command. Although he does not have a plus pitch, his command makes him an extremely effective pitcher, who does not usually allow himself to get deep into counts, which allows him to be a workhorse pitcher – he has pitched over 170 innings the last two seasons. This gives me hope that he can a number 4, or 5 starter who pitches close to, or over 200 every year.
9. Hector Gomez SS Age: 20 MLL: A+
Gomez missed all but one game in 2008 due to a series of injuries. Gomez is a very good defender, with above average range, and a plus arm. However, his offensive ability is very raw, and, at least in my opinion, very limited. He has below average plate discipline, and below average contact ability. His power potential does grade as average, but I have yet to see him produce it. This placement is mostly based on potential, he is still only 20, and has plenty of time to develop his offensive ability. Gomez can be an average, or better shortstop, with great defense, and average or below average offense.
10. Darin Holcomb 3B Age: 23 MLL: A+
Holcomb is a little old for his league, but put up some absolutely great numbers. He hit .318, with a .400 OBP; he also walked five more times than he struck out – 60 strike outs, to 65 walks. Holcomb also put up a solid .491 SLG, and .891 OPS. He hit 14 homeruns – the Rockies think he can hit 20 or more HRs in the future - and 60 total XBHs, which accounted for 37% of his hits. Holcomb’s place in the big leagues will depend a lot upon where Ian Stewart ends up – second or third – and also the development of guys like Hector Gomez, and Chris Nelson.
11. Charles Blackmon OF Age: 22 MLL: a
Blackmon was the second pick for the Rockies in 2008. He has a good set of tools with average contact skills, about average power potential, and above average fielding potential, with a plus arm, and plus speed. He played great in 290 at bats this past summer hitting .338 and .390 OBP. We have yet to see Blackmon produce any real power hitting only a 29 XBH%. He also stole 13 bases in his 290 at bats. Blackmon could become an average centerfielder, maybe even higher if he ever hits for power.
12. Chris Nelson SS Age: 23 MLL: AA/A+
Nelson had a breakthrough year in 2007 improving his power, and bat discipline. However, Nelson was hampered by a hand injury in 2008, and claims he never felt right, which caused his numbers to flat out suck. He hit .230, with a .315 OBP, and .657 OPS. He hit an XBH% of 32%, which is not bad, but also not the kind of power Nelson has been touted with. He is only a so-so fielder in my opinion, and is likely to make a shift to second with likely occupying short for the foreseeable future. Nelson still has great tools, and a lot of potential, but it is looking less likely that he will reach it, but I am not ready to drop him below the 26 year olds.
13.1B Age: 26 MLL: AAA
The last two seasons Koshansky has just smashed the ball. In 2008 he hit .300, with a .380 OBP, and .600 SLG%. He hit 31 HRs, and 71 XBHs, which were 52% of his total hits. Koshansky has the bat to play in the majors right now, but with Atkins likely to shift to first when Helton’s done there it seems as though the best he will eve be is an above average pinch hitter.
14. Dan Mayora 2B/SS Age: 23 MLL: A+
Mayora is a super-utility player who can play every infield position. In 2008 he hit .288, with a .360 OBP, and 33 XBH%, he also had a K:BB rate of over 2:1. His ceiling is not that high, but he should help out the major league team at some point.
15.OF Age: 26 MLL: AAA
Smith was apart of the Rockies team which made the World Series in 2007, however, he has yet to accumulate 130 at bats in a season, thus his inclusion here. In 248 AAA at bats Smith hit .323, with a .426 OBP, and .524 SLG%, he also hit 10 HRs in that time and stole 11 bases. If given the chance to play a full season as an everyday player I believe Smith would be at least average, and with the Holliday trade he may get a chance if they think Fowler needs some time in AAA before coming to Colorado. Otherwise he is just a AAAA player, who may or may not ever make a considerable contribution to the big league team.
Honorable Mention: Conor Graham RHSP Age: 23 MLL: A- Cory Riordan RHSP Age: 22 MLL: A-
Strengths: Fowler is an absolute star, and he could be ready to start the season in Colorado’s outfield – he and Carlos Gonzalez are going to make an exciting young duo of outfielders. They also have a few really nice starters in Chacin, Friedrich, and Hynick. They also –like the Brewers- have two catching prospects capable of being major league starters. The Rockies also have good depth, which includes a couple of high upside guys in Nelson, and Gomez, as well as some older guys capable of helping the major league club in case of injury in Smith, and Koshansky.
Weaknesses: Weaknesses? I would not call it a weakness, but this Rockies list would be better if did not fall off the map, and if Nelson and Gomez had not declined/were not injured. Otherwise the major league club is already a pretty young team, include a lot of exciting players, hopefully Tulo will bounce back for them. Do not forget about Ian Stewart, who graduated to the majors last year, he is going to be a star as well.
Next Up: the Las Angeles Dodgers