5 Key Players Moving Forward for the Colorado Rockies

David A. Cucchiara@@cucch22Correspondent ISeptember 30, 2012

5 Key Players Moving Forward for the Colorado Rockies

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    This year the Colorado Rockies have looked like a team in desperate need of rebuilding. While there hasn't been much for fans to cheer about this year, the Rockies have displayed an impressive core nucleus of young talent worth building around next season.

    This 97-loss team has been plagued with injuries and underachievement. All-star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki’s groin has left him out for most of the year, while outfielder Carlos Gonzalez’s hamstring has been in question.

    This season hasn’t been a complete waste. With these injuries has come a chance for Rockies’ youth to excel in their roles.

    This Rockies team is going to need to make key offseason moves if they’re going to have a chance at being competitive next season.

    Here are five key players the Rockies need to build their franchise around moving forward.

Troy Tulowitzki

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    Yes, the man with the groin made of glass is the Colorado Rockies X-factor towards a successful season next year.

    Last season Troy Tulowitzki batted .302 with 30 home runs and 105 RBIs, the centerpiece of a strong offensive lineup. The Colorado shortstop was also selected to start the 2011 MLB All-Star Game.

    In just 47 games this season, Tulowitzki batted .287 with eight home runs and 27 RBIs.

    Tulowitzki’s health has made him a topic of discussion and rumors of even possibly trading the superstar shortstop have emerged as a result.

    It’s going to be difficult to trade someone who’s been the face of a franchise since breaking into the league. He was an important part in the Rockies’ historic World Series run in 2007, his rookie year.

    The “Tulo chant” will continue to be a staple of Coors Field as Troy Tulowitzki will remain in Colorado for many years to come.

Carlos Gonzalez

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    Carlos Gonzalez, 27, is the owner of one of the sweetest swings in all of baseball.

    After being traded to Colorado from Oakland in 2009, Gonzalez has been the strongest offensive player on this team. In 2010 Carlos made a name for himself batting .336 with 34 home runs and 117 RBIs. That season he finished third in MVP voting in the National League behind the Cincinnati Reds’ Joey Votto and St. Louis Cardinals’ Albert Pujols.

    This season, Gonzalez is batting an impressive .303 with 22 home runs and 85 RBIs, numbers actually a little down from his average output. Without his production in the middle of the lineup, the Rockies’ 97 losses may have looked a lot worse.

    This is the most talented player on this Colorado roster, and it’s imperative he remain the purple pinstripes next season. 

Wilin Rosario

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    This is by far the biggest surprise of the season for Colorado.

    Rosario has provided great offensive production from a position that has been offensively lacking in previous years for the Rockies.

    Rosario is batting .274 and leading all National League rookies with 27 home runs and 70 RBIs. Rosario has done a nice job filling the offensive void left by the injury to Tulowitzki early in the season.

    Since Rosario is only 23 years old, the Rockies need to sign him to a long-term contract somewhere in the five-year, $10 million range. This would end the team’s habitual hole at the catcher position.

    Rosario deserves to be in this year’s National League Rookie of the Year discussion. He’s proved to be one of the better catchers in all of baseball in only 437 career at-bats.

Josh Rutledge

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    Alabama alumnus and third-round draft pick Josh Rutledge has exceeded expectations at shortstop this season.

    Taking over for the injured Tulowitzki, Rutledge has put up very respectable numbers. In 69 games, he’s batting .286 with eight home runs and 36 RBIs.

    Upon becoming the Rockies everyday shortstop in June, Rutledge went on a tear-ending August, batting an impressive .345.

    Rutledge has proved himself to be an everyday starter in this league. He’s offensively capable of being a .300 hitter next season and will be an important part of this Rockies lineup.

Drew Pomeranz

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    If we’ve learned anything about Drew Pomeranz this season, it’s that he is capable of being great pitcher on any given day.

    Pomeranz, 23, was rushed into the majors in a desperate attempt by the Rockies to find successful starting pitching. His poor numbers are the product of that.

    When it comes down to it Pomeranz can pitch. Prior to the 2012 season, he was the 30th ranked prospect overall by Baseball America. In his two seasons in the minors, he posted an outstanding 1.96 ERA in thirty starts and averaged 5.6 strikeouts per game over that stretch.

    Pomeranz struggled this season posting a 5.01 ERA in 91.2 innings pitched. Looking past the numbers, he had some promising pitching performances this season including his last start where he went five innings of three-hit ball.

    With an offseason to rest, Pomeranz will be a young, viable asset to this Rockies rotation next season.