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The Coors Effect


July 15, 2009 7:12 AM

Midseason review: Top 30 Prospects

As the third part of my midseason review, let's take a look ahead to the future.  Here's the Up in the Rockies list of the top 30 prospects currently in the Rockies system.

(Note: I'm not considering current major leaguers on this list, so that's why Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez, among others, are absent.  Also, not considering players who have exceeded Rookie of the Year qualifications, which explains Greg Reynolds's complete absence.)

1.  Jhoulys Chacin, RHP: Still the Rockies' best pitching prospects, at least until Tyler Matzek signs (still iffy.)  Groundball rate is still solid, though his command has dropped off a bit.  Profiles similar to Aaron Cook, but Chacin is more advanced than Cook was at 21.
2.  Christian Friedrich, LHP: Missed some time due to injury, but overall a solid campaign.  Stats look similar to Jeff Francis at this stage; perhaps that's a decent comp for Friedrich.  More of a solid mid-rotation lefty than an ace.
3.  Tim Wheeler, OF: Things really drop off after the top two, to the point that Wheeler (who's played 19 games as a professional) is the third-best prospect here.  His debut has been good so far, and he has enough potential that the Rockies spent a first-round pick on him.  Hasn't hit for power yet, but then Tri-City suppresses that.
4.  Esmil Rogers, RHP: Stock has gone way up since season started.  Rogers has upped his K/9 every year in the minors (5.7, 6.9, 7.3, 7.9) and also lowered his BB/9 (3.4, 3.2, 2.8, 1.8.)  That's nice progression.  Has electric stuff, and could be a starter or reliever.
5.  Rex Brothers, LHP: Has yet to play a professional game, but I'm confident enough in Brothers's stuff and college numbers to put him here.  The Rockies will certainly give him a shot at starting, but with a big fastball and plus slider, he could be a late-inning reliever.
6.  Eric Young, 2B: Great speed, good range at second, decent pop.  Young should get a crack at the starting 2B job in the spring.  Barmes will be difficult to supplant, but Young has the potential to be a much better player than Barmes.
7.  Michael McKenry, C: Very good defensive catcher with pop, though he's never hit for a high average despite good plate discipline.  With Torrealba likely gone after this season, McKenry will get a crack at being the backup catcher, though the Rockies would be well-suited to give him a full year in AAA.
8.  Hector Gomez, SS: Excellent tools, little refinement, doesn't draw walks.  The tools are enough to make him a top prospect, but the refinement suggests he'll be more of a Juan Uribe-type player.
9.  Connor Graham, RHP: Big strikeout numbers at Modesto, but command still needs work.  Could be a starter or reliever.
10.  Casey Weathers, RHP: The forgotten man among Rockies pitching prospects; Weathers is out for the season after Tommy John surgery.  Would probably be in the Rockies bullpen right now if not for that.
11.  Darin Holcomb, 3B: Struggled at first with the transition to Tulsa (he was skipping high-A), but things appear to be coming together now.  Has top-shelf plate discipline; I still like him a lot.
12.  Wilin Rosario, C: Stock has dropped due to poor performance at Modesto.  This is a case where the Rockies probably rushed him; he hit very well at Casper last year, but it's a big jump to the Cal League.  Rockies would have been better off sticking him at Asheville or even Tri-City.
13.  Charlie Blackmon, OF: Good tools, needs more refinement as evidenced by poor SB percentage (19 in 30 attempts) and lack of walks.  Biggest question is whether his power will develop -- he has 24 extra-base hits this year, but only three homers.  He's 23, older than most players who fit the "good tools, needs more refinement" description.
14.  Chris Nelson, SS: Started well at Tulsa, but now out for the season.  Injuries have largely prevented him from developing into the player the Rockies expected when they took him in the first round in '04.
15.  Daniel Mayora, 2B: Good hitter for average with a little pop.  Still has some defensive questions; probably more of a bench player.
16.  Brandon Hynick, RHP: Having a good season at Colorado Springs, which is hard to do, but he doesn't miss that many bats and doesn't get grounders.  Has exceptional command, though, which could make him a useful back-of-the-rotation starter.
17.  Samuel Deduno, RHP: Having a solid season at Tulsa.  Good stuff, still has mediocre command, and he's already 26; probably a reliever at this point, but you never know.
18.  Will Harris, RHP: Currently rehabbing from injury.  Has a live arm, and had good numbers in A-ball, but you never know what to expect when a pitcher gets hurt.
19.  Nolan Arenado, C-3B: Ranked here because of draft position more than anything, as he's only played two games as a professional.  Rockies like his bat, but it's not clear where he'll play.
20.  Chaz Roe, RHP: Performance has never matched his tremendous stuff.  But he's just 22, and still has time to put everything together.
21.  Jordan Pacheco, C: Interesting prospect because of the good year he's having with the bat.  Still learning to play catcher, and he's already 23.
22.  Juan Nicasio, RHP: Stock is rising with the excellent year he's having at Asheville (62 K, 13 BB in 54 IP), and he reportedly throws mid-90s heat.  But he's almost 23, which precludes a higher grade at this time.
23.  Delta Cleary, OF: Excellent raw tools, but he's struggling this year (.248/.305/.390 at Asheville.)  He's still just 19.  This is another case where the Rockies might have been better off bringing him along slowly, slotting him for Tri-City this year instead.
24.  Parker Frazier, RHP: Most notable for being the son of Rockies announcer George Frazier.  Has a heavy sinker that induces a lot of grounders, and good command for a 20-year-old, but isn't getting great results (does Asheville's infield defense stink?)
25.  Aaron Weatherford, RHP: Rockies are grooming him as a reliever; currently dominating at Tri-City.
26.  Kiel Roling, 1B: Having a good year with the bat at Asheville (.341/.421/.521), draws walks, and has some power.  Would rank higher if the Rockies had left him at catcher (where he played in college.)
27.  Scott Robinson, OF: Tremendous speed and good average are balanced by poor plate discipline (11/65 K/BB in 317 AB.)  Doesn't have great power; only 3 homers, but 21 doubles.  Is it developing, or is he legging out a lot of those doubles?
28.  Joey Williamson, RHP: Strong season at Modesto is getting him noticed; has worked mostly in relief, but the Rockies have been starting him lately, possibly to see what they've got on their hands here.  Was a 36th-round pick in 2007.
29.  Matt Reynolds, LHP: Another guy who's having an excellent season in relief: 58 K, 8 BB in 49 IP at Modesto got him moved up to Tulsa.  Also a late-round pick in '07; he's a big guy at 6'5" and 240, and it's hard to see exactly where he fits into the Rockies' plans.  Maybe a LOOGY?
30.  Shane Lindsay, RHP: Injured again (there's a shock.)  Has really electric stuff, but has had trouble harnessing it and staying healthy: in six years in the Rockies system, the highest number of innings he's pitched is 66.2 at Tri-City in '05.  He has a career 12.6 K/9 in the minors, which makes him very intriguing.

Other players I'm watching (in no particular order):

Matt Miller, OF: Has hit for average everywhere he's played, but is limited to the corner outfield spots, and doesn't hit for near enough power to play there.  Maybe a fourth outfielder -- but he's behind Spilborghs and Murton on the depth chart.
Jonathan Herrera, IF: Numbers have fallen off at Colorado Springs, but he still has a chance to be a utility infielder.
Ryan Mattheus, RHP: Enough potential that the Rockies felt the need to protect him on the 40-man this offseason; now hurt and out for season.  Will have Tommy John surgery, which precludes his inclusion in the top 30.
Cole Garner, OF: Has cut his strikeouts without losing too much power; still doesn't draw walks.  At the very least, he's worked himself into the outfield discussion for next season.
Keith Weiser, LHP: Excellent command but mediocre stuff; doesn't miss bats and doesn't get grounders.  Kind of a lefty version of Brandon Hynick, but he's not having nearly as good a season as Hynick is, and Tulsa is a much less difficult place to pitch than Colorado Springs.
Al Alburquerque, RHP: The player the Rockies got back for Jeff Baker.  Honestly, I don't know a whole lot about him since he's been in the system for a week and a half, but good strikeout numbers this year working in relief.
Scott Beerer, ?: Interesting because of hot start at Tri-City, though he's cooled off since moving up to Modesto.  He's 27, and he doesn't have a position (he's mostly been used as a DH.)
Bruce Billings, RHP: Big strikeout numbers make him interesting; Keith Law came away impressed after seeing him pitch.  Has been on the DL since mid-June, though I'm not sure why.
David Christensen, OF: Excellent tools, almost zero refinement.  .254 ISO power is very impressive, but he almost never walks and whiffs enough to power wind farms in southeastern Colorado.
Tyler Massey, OF: The Asheville outfield seems to be chock-full of young, toolsy outfielders with almost no refinement.  Massey is the least impressive of these, hitting .224/.264/.295.  After he hit .257/.278/.357 at Casper last year, I'm not sure why the Rockies thought he was ready for the Sally League (Cleary's performance was at least good enough that you could justify it, though I also think the Rockies should have sent him to Tri-City.)
Mike Zuanich, 1B: Clubbed 7 homers in 15 games at Tri-City, which earned him a callup to Asheville.  Impressive couple of weeks, but that's not enough, particularly when it's balanced with him hitting .185 (as a college draft pick) at Casper last year.
Kent Matthes, OF: Fourth-round pick after being the SEC Player of the Year as a senior at Alabama.  Strong arm in the OF and good power potential (he hit 28 homers as a senior), but I already have questions about his plate discipline (6/24 BB/K in 79 AB so far.)
Joseph Sanders, 3B: The Rockies liked him enough to make him their fifth-round pick out of Auburn.  Mediocre stats so far at Tri-City, but then almost everybody has mediocre stats there.  Defensive questions (7 errors in 18 games) suggest he may have to move to first at some point.
Joey Wong, SS: Late-round pick who the Rockies apparently see as a Clint Barmes type of player; then again, Wong draws too many walks to be Barmes.  Zilch power, but he's a good gloveman.
Ben Paulsen, 1B: Third-round pick recently signed and hasn't played yet.  His draft position suggests potential, but some scouts question his power -- and it's never a good sign when scouts are questioning a first baseman's power.
Rob Scahill, RHP: Excellent groundball rate and solid strikeout rate at Tri-City, but I'd like to see more.
Dustin Garneau, C: Off to a strong start at Casper, but 29 PA is too little a sample size to make a judgment.  Check back at the end of the year.
Nathan Hines, OF: 1.063 OPS with 5 homers, but he's a 23-year-old in the Pioneer League, so is he legit or is this just an advanced college player beating up on young pitching?
David Kandilas, OF: Toolsy Aussie outfielder is more of a project than anything; he's just 18.
Chris Balcom-Miller, RHP: Off to an excellent start at Casper, but like most of the recent draft picks, I'm going to hold off on judgment until I see more.
Alving Mejias, RHP: 17-year-old Venezuelan with excellent numbers in the DSL (36 K, 3 BB in 34.1 IP.)  Obviously he's a very long way off, but his U.S. debut (probably next year) should be worth a watch.

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