8 Future Stars for the Colorado Rockies

Derek StaudtContributor IIIJuly 12, 2012

8 Future Stars for the Colorado Rockies

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    No matter how difficult a season can be, the promise of the future always provides hope for saddened fanbases. The Chicago Cubs have made "Wait 'til Next Year" the club's unofficial motto.

    The Colorado Rockies are nowhere near the tortured souls at Wrigley Field, but the mounting seasons of underachievement are leaving the Coors Field faithful anxious at the new wave of prospects.

    For the first time ever, we are about to witness a true changing of the guard. Todd Helton's retirement is approaching, and his No. 17 will soon grace the outfield walls of the park he spent his entire career. The Rox new stars will have the opportunity to follow in Helton's footsteps and create their own legacy in the Mile High City.

    Todd and the Toddlers is in the past. Tulo and the Toddlers is the next chapter. Who are the next Rox players who could join Carlos Gonzalez in future All-Star Games? Read on for more.

David Dahl, Outfielder

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    Current Level: Rookie League, Grand Junction

    David Dahl instantly became one of Colorado's most prized prospects when he was selected 11th overall in the 2012 draft. Scouts view him as a perennial five-tool player. Dahl is remarkably athletic, and is as solid in the field as he is at the plate. A player with such assets is custom made for the rolling outfield at Coors Field.

    The Alabama native hasn't disappointed in the rookie league. He leads his squad in RBI while posting a .329 batting average. Interestingly enough, the power hasn't even surfaced just yet. Dahl has just one homer to his credit. Don't be surprised if Dahl quickly shoots up the minor league ranks and is knocking at the gates of Coors Field within the next three seasons.

Max White, Outfielder

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    Current Level: Rookie League, Grand Junction

    Max White is a carbon copy of David Dahl, and was coincidentally the Rockies’ subsequent selection in the 2012 draft. Therefore, Dahl and White may always be seen as partners in crime, and their performance will always be stacked against each other.

    White is on the short end of the stick now, and experienced a rough transition to Rookie League ball. But scouts were enamored by his raw ability in high school ball. Now, it’s likely just a matter of time before White adjusts to the learning curve. He has blinding speed and was a great hitter at the amateur level. At just 18 years old, the native of Florida will find his niche soon enough.

Nolan Arenado, Third Base

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    Current Level: Double-A Tulsa

    Arenado is Colorado’s most revered prospect, and fans have been pounding the table for the youngster to receive his call to the big leagues. Management has been very cautious with his development, and insists he isn’t quite ready for such a promotion. Arenado is an extremely disciplined hitter and ever-improving infielder, and while he may not be ready to be introduced at Coors Field, a call-up before 2013 is almost inevitable.

    Arenado started out strong in Tulsa, but a difficult month of June bruised his offensive numbers. Spending the rest of the season in the minors may help the 21-year-old polish up some consistency issues. Regardless, the Rockies definitely have Arenado tabbed as a mainstay in the infield for years to come. Of all the prospects, Arenado possesses the most All-Star potential.

Seth Willoughby, Pitcher

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    Current Level: Short League Single-A, Tri-City

    Seth Willoughby’s rapid ascension up the pitching ranks began his freshman year at the University of Xavier. Strangely enough, he never considered pitching until his new coaches tossed him the idea. Years later, he left Xavier as the school’s all-time saves leader.

    Willoughby has shined in his short time at Tri-City, and is armed with three different pitches to compliment his mid-90s fastball. Next season will likely create a better idea of his future, as Willoughby will embark on his first full semi-pro season. The college grad may definitely have some surprises up his sleeve.

Chad Bettis, Pitcher

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    Current Level: Double-A Tulsa

    The Rockies view Bettis as a potential closer, but the former Texas Tech Raider proved himself fully capable as a starter in Single-A Modesto last season. The hard-throwing righty compiled a 12-5 record and struck out four times as many batters as he walked. His go-to pitch is a nasty slider and has great stamina, hurling pitches at the same speed throughout his starts.

    Bettis was rewarded with a well-deserved promotion to Double-A last season, but has been unable to hit the field due to nagging shoulder problems. Bettis is held in high regard by scouts, and is ranked the 66th best minor league prospect by MLB.com. If the flame thrower can rebound from his lingering injury, the future is bright for Colorado’s second draft choice of 2010.

Tim Wheeler, Outfielder

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    Current Level: Triple-A Colorado Springs

    Arguably Colorado’s most MLB-ready prospect, Wheeler was a force in Double-A Tulsa and has not missed a beat at Triple-A. His home run numbers have severely dropped off, but batting average has soundly improved, which is actually a decent trade-off. He’s currently hitting at a .297 clip and is lauded for his defense. Some scouts assume he carries a low ceiling due to his lack of high end talent, but none can criticize him for playing without energy or desire.

    If not for a logjam in Colorado’s outfield, Wheeler’s debut with the parent club would be imminent. Michael Cuddyer’s name has been whispered in trade circles, and if he is in fact shipped out, it would take a position change for Tyler Colvin before the former Sacramento State star can make the bigs. Given the current state of the season, the Rox may elect to give Wheeler a shot anyways.

Trevor Story, Shortstop

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    Current Level: Single-A, Asheville

    If you’re looking for a player with raw ability, look no further than Trevor Story. The 19-year-old is a dynamite talent with a tremendous arm, and can also take care of business in the hitting department. He is so lauded by the Rockies and their fans that some have wondered aloud if Story would force a position change for Troy Tulowitzki within the next few years. His athleticism alone gives him an advantage over the average ball player.

    A few of Story’s weaknesses have been exposed in his stay with the Asheville Tourists, but he still has plenty of time to round out his deficiencies. For starters, Story has been haunted by lefties thus far, posting a measly .176 average. Versus righties, he’s hovering around .300. His strikeout rate, which is roughly 25 percent, is also alarming. The 2011 draft pick jumped out to a quick start in his 2012 rookie campaign, but has cooled off of late. His potential is still very intriguing, to say the least.

Edwar Cabrera, Pitcher

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    Current Level: Double-A Tulsa

    Cabrera didn’t fare too well in his major league debut, and only lasted one start before being shipped back to the Double-A affiliate in Tulsa. The tough outing didn’t stick with Cabrera, who has won his past two starts since the demotion. One game included a two-hit, 13 strikeout gem in nearly seven innings of work. Cabrera may not have the tools to be a bona fide go-to starter, but appears to have all the ability to be a rock-solid No. 3.

    He relentlessly attacks the strike zone and owns a knee-buckling changeup, but has a bad tendency to leave the ball up in the zone. Thus, he is plagued by the long ball, and averages a home run roughly every four innings. The same problem surfaced in his debut with the Rockies, but the issues could be attributed to rookie jitters. Cabrera will make a return to the Rockies soon enough, and this time, it won’t be temporary. He presents a great change of pace pitcher to the Rox paired pitching system.