Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in the Colorado Rockies' Farm System

Mike RosenbaumMLB Prospects Lead WriterDecember 20, 2012

Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in the Colorado Rockies' Farm System

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    Headed into the 2012 season, I ranked third baseman Nolan Arenado as a top-25 overall prospect and believed that he’d reach the major leagues late in the season. However, the 21-year-old regressed across the board, especially in the power department, and turned in an inconsistent season at Double-A Tulsa.

    Arenado’s struggles ultimately opened the door for two high-ceiling prospects, shortstop Trevor Story and outfielder David Dahl, to supplant him at the top of the rankings.

    However, beyond the aforementioned three players, the Rockies lack projectable depth on the farm. More specifically, their inability to develop pitching prospects in recent years has been a serious problem and affected how they conduct business at the major league level.

    While their first-round draft pick from 2009, left-hander Tyler Matzek, has the highest ceiling of any arm in their organization, his lack of control is still disconcerting and will prevent him from reaching the major leagues for at least a few more seasons. Their other left-handed pitching prospect, Tyler Anderson, definitely has a future in the major leagues, but is regarded as more of a high-floor player.

    Meanwhile, the rest of the Rockies’ top 10 is comprised of young, inexperienced hitters with only modest ceilings. And don’t be surprised if a few of them are ultimately traded to improve the quality of on-field talent in the major leagues.

    While the Rockies have several intriguing prospects, it’s a weak system overall that ranks in the bottom-third in the game. For most of the players on this list, 2013 will be a telling year, and one crucial towards development.

10. SS/3B Rosell Herrera

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    Position: SS/3B

    DOB: 10/16/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 180

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted/Signed: July, 2009 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Wiry 6’3”, 180-pounder has a projectable frame with room to fill out; opened age-19 season at Low-A Asheville; struggled at the plate, batting .202/.271/.272 in 63 games; led to a demotion to Short-Season Tri-City, where his bat picked up; batted .284/.332/.351 in 47 games; has tools, needs experience.

    Switch hitter offers more projection from the left side; in general, swing involves too much wasted movement; needs to simplify leg kick and pre-pitch load; present gap power, but not much else; could be a double-digit home run guy if he adds strength to his lanky frame.

    Split time between shortstop and third base between two levels last season; ability to stick at shortstop will ultimately depend how much he develops physically; speed is slightly above-average, but he’s a raw base stealer; overall, big gap between present and future ability.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A Asheville

9. OF Rafael Ortega

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 5/15/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 5’11”, 160

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted/Signed: Jan. 2008 (Venezuela)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Twenty-one-year-old outfielder possesses excellent athleticism highlighted by 70 speed; spent most of the season a High-A Modesto, where he batted .283/.344/.410 with 39 extra-base hits and 36 stolen bases; promoted to major leagues directly from High-A in late September; was 2-for-4 with a walk in stolen base in two big-league games.

    Speed is easily his loudest tool; lends to his plus range in the outfield and gives him a chance to stick in center field; glove is solid and he should be able to stick in center field; has enough arm strength for all three outfield positions.

    Left-handed hitter has barrel control and drives the ball across the whole field; amount of current swing-and-miss hurts his projection as a top-of-the-order presence; not an efficient base stealer, but should always post fairly high SB totals due to natural speed; approach is raw and will need to be refined in coming seasons; enjoyed hitting in California League, so 2013 at Double-A Tulsa should be a telling season.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Tulsa

8. OF Kyle Parker

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 9/30/1989 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’0", 200

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010 (Clemson)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Former Clemson quarterback improved across the board last season at High-A Modesto; batted .308/.415/.562 with 23 home runs and 88/66 K/BB in 102 games; right-handed hitter showcases plus bat speed with excellent bat-to-ball ability; not tall, but possesses plenty of present strength; plus raw power; employs a consistent approach at the plate; has some swing-and-miss to his game, but also knows how to work a walk; future success likely tied to the development of his hit tool.

    Prototypical right fielder with big power and a plus arm; although he’s athletic, Parker’s speed is below-average and he’ll never steal many bases; limits him to a corner outfield position; seems more likely to be a high-floor than high-ceiling prospect.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Tulsa

7. LHP Tyler Anderson

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 12/30/1989 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 215

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Oregon)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Made professional debut in 2012 for Low-A Asheville; registered a 2.47 ERA, 6.1 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 120.1 innings; left-hander has a projectable frame at 6’4”; pitchability; mature presence on the mound; knows how to induce weak contact and keep opposing hitters off balance; effectively changes eye levels; feel for sequencing.

    Has a power frame, but is nothing close to a power pitcher; fastball consistently works in the high-80s, low-90s; adept to adding/subtracting when necessary; changeup is his only plus offering; excellent fading action and ability to spot it to both sides of the plate; has two breaking ball in a curve and slider; latter is the better, more effective offering; curveball just offers a different look on occasion; deep arsenal, but it lacks projection; should be a solid innings-eater in the major leagues as a backend starter.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Modesto

6. RHP Chad Bettis

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 4/26/1989 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 200

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2010 (Texas Tech)

    ETA: 2013

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Missed entire 2012 season with injury to throwing shoulder; profiles as a high-level reliever and potential dominant late-inning force out of the bullpen; closer potential; misses plenty of bats with two-plus pitches; candidate to be fast-tracked to major leagues once he proves he’s healthy.

    Fastball is a plus pitch that registers in the mid-90s; can juice it up to flirt with triple-digits; uses both a two- and four-seam for different looks; pitch has late life and jumps on hitters; needs to consistently throw it on downward plane and avoid lingering up in the zone; throws plenty of strikes; slider is an easy plus offering; thrown with velocity and fast arm action; swing-and-miss offering with tilt and depth; ideal 1-2 combo; lacks a changeup but won’t need it; only thing holding him back from the major leagues is his health.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Tulsa

5. C/1B Will Swanner

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    Position: C/1B/DH

    DOB: 9/10/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 185

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 15th round, 2010 (La Costa Canyon HS, Calif.)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Spent first two pro seasons in the rookie-level Pioneer League and posted a .925 OPS in 61 games; bat didn’t skip a beat in full-season debut with Low-A Asheville; batted .302/.385/.529 with 41 extra-base hits and 101/38 K/BB in 88 games; right-handed hitter with plus raw power; drives the ball across entire field; physically strong; quick wrists; hit tool could be average with better plate discipline; approach creates too much swing and miss; swing can drag through the zone when he gears up for a pitch.

    Defensive projection behind the plate is sketchy; slow, choppy feet; minimal present speed; incredibly raw receiving skills that haven’t developed as expected; arm is average, but plays down due to wasted movement; consistently poor pop times; may not be long until he sees more playing time at first base; power projects favorably, other tools/skill sets do not.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Modesto

4. LHP Tyler Matzek

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 10/19/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 210

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2009 (Capistrano Valley HS, Calif.)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Bounced back from a dismal 2011 season in which he walked the world and even took a short break; spent entire 2012 season at High-A Modesto and registered a 4.62 ERA and 9.7 K/9, though it was somewhat tainted by a 6.0 BB/9; still a big fan of his frame and pure stuff; a lot of his struggles are mental this point; mechanics are surprisingly efficient; fails to repeat release point with consistency; doesn’t utilize lower half in order to execute pitches.

    Command is still below-average, though he does boast a deep, swing-and-miss arsenal; potential for three above-average-to-plus pitches; fastball is a present plus when he can command it, though his velo varies from start-to-start; curveball and slider both have depth and flash plus potential with tight break; love the different in speed between fastball and changeup; there’s something to be said for his eagerness to work through issues without skipping starts.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Tulsa

3. 3B Nolan Arenado

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    Position: 3B

    DOB: 4/16/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 205

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2009 (El Toro HS, Calif.)

    ETA: 2013

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Pre-2012 top-25 prospect had a solid but disappointing season, batting .285/.337/.428 with 12 home runs a 58/39 K/BB in 134 games; big drop-off from his .298/.349/.487 with 20 home runs at High-A Modesto in 2011; hit tool receives higher future grade than power; makes loud contact to all fields; bat travels through zone on unique, flat path; advanced plate discipline; impressive hand-eye coordination; swing is efficient with little wasted movements; still makes too much weak contact.

    Size is a clean fit at third base; clean actions since losing weight last season; instinctual player with good reactions; range is limited, but enough for the hot corner; soft, giving hands; plus arm strength is an asset; has a path to playing time in Colorado, where his production could be inflated; plate discipline and hit tool should make him a major-leaguer despite the lack of power.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A Colorado Springs

2. OF David Dahl

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 4/1/1994 (Age: 18)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 185

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Oak Mountain HS, Ala.)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: 10th overall draft pick in 2012 made a strong impression in his professional debut with rookie-level Grand Junction; named the Pioneer League MVP after batting .379/.423/.625 with 106 hits (41 extra-base hits), 12 stolen bases and 42/21 K/BB in only 67 games; chance for a true plus hit tool; overall high ceiling; tremendous hand-eye coordination and barrel-to-ball ability; left-handed hitter boasts plus bat speed with barrel control; balanced setup and swing; comfortable hitting all pitches and using entire field; refined approach relative to age; will have better-than-expected power, but not a ton; plus runner but raw base stealer.

    Speed translates better in center field than on basepaths; plays position with confidence; potential to be above-average defensively; more than enough arm strength for the position; room for improvement in his jumps and routes; top-of-the-order and up-the-middle potential gives him incredibly high ceiling.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A Asheville (maybe even High-A Modesto)

1. SS Trevor Story

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 11/15/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 175

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Irving HS, Texas)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Admittedly one of my favorite prospects in the game; turned in monster full-season debut at Low-A Asheville in age-19 season, batting .277/.367/.505 with 67 extra-base hits (18 home runs) and 15 stolen bases; potential for at least above-average tools across the board; considerably more athleticism and natural ability than his size portends; baseball skills are advanced for his age and experience.

    6’1”, 175-pound shortstop has a smooth, effortless right-handed swing; plus bat speed results in loud contact; drives the ball especially well to right-center; understands how to drive through the baseball; raw power with developing power frequency; mashes fastballs; potential for above-average hit tool; need to improve against southpaws; present swing-and-miss tendency should be ironed out over time; don’t be surprised if he has an Arenado-like (circa 2011) at High-A next season.

    Shortstop does everything in the field; above-average speed results in similar range in all directions; already showcases big-league defensive actions; intuitive player who positions himself according to in-game scenarios; no doubt in my mind that he can stick at the position and handle it at the highest level; plus arm is more than enough for the position; if he develops as expected, Story could supplant Tulowitzki or Rutledge (depends on Tulo’s health) at shortstop in Colorado in a few years.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Modesto