The Coors Effect

July 15, 2010 11:26 AM

Midseason prospect report

While we're not exactly midway through the minor league season (it ends in early September, so we're actually well past the midpoint), right now is a good time to review the preseason top 30 prospects.  Who's impressing?  Who has really hurt their stock?

Note that this is not a new list.  At the end, we'll review some new draftees and other players outside the top 30 who are making a move.

1.  Christian Friedrich: 2-5, 4.94 ERA, 69/28 K/BB in 71 IP at Tulsa.  The record and the ERA aren't good, to be sure, but the peripherals are solid, and a .352 BABIP suggests that he's been having some bad luck.  It's not entirely bad luck, though, and there is some cause for concern.  His Line Drive % is at 22.5% (up from 13.3% last season), so the high BABIP could just be a result of him getting tagged and not any particularly bad luck.  And he did miss some time with an elbow injury, which he did last season as well.  There's reason to be concerned, as some pitchers do dominate in A-ball and then hit a roadblock in AA, but this could also just be a speed bump.

2.  Jhoulys Chacin: 3-0, 1.69 ERA, 21/11 K/BB in 21.1 IP at Colorado Springs; 5-7, 4.09 ERA, 80/35 K/BB in 77 IP for the Rockies.  As good of a debut as the Rockies could have hoped for, and Chacin will only get better -- of course, he won't be on the top prospect list any more as he's exceeded rookie qualifications.

3.  Tyler Matzek: 2-1, 2.44 ERA, 50/27 K/BB in 48 IP at Asheville.  Well, he walks too many people and gives up too many fly balls, but then this is based on exactly 48 innings as a professional.  Still no reason to think that Matzek doesn't have ace starter potential.

4.  Rex Brothers: 0-2, 2.68 ERA, 43/19 K/BB in 37 IP at Modesto; 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 6/3 K/BB in 4.2 IP at Tulsa.  At Modesto, Brothers had a 52.7% ground ball percentage, and opponents hit .164 against him.  Looks to be on his way to being a dominant reliever, though I still don't know why the Rockies didn't try him out as a starter.

5.  Hector Gomez: .167/.167/.167 in 6 AB at Tulsa.  Has not played since April 9.  Injuries are nothing new for Gomez, who missed all of 2008 as well.

6.  Wilin Rosario: .276/.332/.505, 46/15 K/BB in 210 AB at Tulsa; 12 homers.  Obviously very good for a 21-year-old in AA, and his defense behind the plate gets good reviews as well.  Should become the Rockies' starting catcher, possibly as early as 2012.

7.  Tim Wheeler: .260/.360/.397, 76/43 K/BB in 335 AB at Modesto; 8 homers; 16/22 SB attempts.  There's nothing particularly great about Wheeler's stat line, but he's drawing walks and while his strikeout rate is potentially problematic, it's not ridiculous.  A low line drive rate (11.5%) may be weighing down his batting average.  Wheeler still has the tools to be good, but so far has been unimpressive.

8.  Michael McKenry: .302/.366/.462, 44/20 K/BB in 212 AB at Colorado Springs; 5 homers.  The overall line is nice, but it's Colorado Springs -- he has a 1.090 OPS at home and a .566 OPS on the road.  But it's in line with what he did at Tulsa last season.  The bigger concern for McKenry is that he's currently blocked by Olivo/Iannetta at the major league level, and Wilin Rosario (who's potentially a better player) is coming up behind him.  McKenry could be trade bait for these reasons.

9.  Eric Young Jr.: .228/.302/.298, 17/6 K/BB in 57 AB at Colorado Springs; .250/.351/.344, 2/5 K/BB in 32 AB for the Rockies, 4/5 SB attempts.  Currently on rehab assignment.  Young does a lot of things well, especially getting on base and stealing bases, but he doesn't hit for much power and there are concerns about his defense.  I still think he's a better player than Clint Barmes, and the potential combination of him and Dexter Fowler (both good on-base guys with speed) at the top of the order should be too much to pass on.

10.  Esmil Rogers: 1-3, 7.23 ERA, 27/14 K/BB in 37.1 IP at Colorado Springs; 1-2, 4.85 ERA, 28/13 K/BB in 29.2 IP for the Rockies.  The Colorado Springs numbers are ugly, but then it's Colorado Springs, and his numbers for the Rockies suggest that he's still a decent pitching prospect.

11.  Nolan Arenado: .283/.319/.439, 19/10 K/BB in 173 AB at Asheville; 2 homers; 1/3 SB attempts.  Has cooled down considerably after a hot start, but I'm impressed by his ability to make contact (witness only 19 strikeouts in 173 AB) and developing power (only 2 homers, but 19 doubles.)  I've been fooled before by strong performances at Asheville, but I think Arenado is legit.

12.  Juan Nicasio: 8-5, 3.48 ERA, 106/24 K/BB in 111.1 IP at Modesto.  This is obviously good, though Nicasio (who turns 24 in August) is a bit old for the Cal League; in other words, he should be dominating.  Given that, I don't know why the Rockies haven't moved him up a level already.

13.  Charlie Blackmon: .275/.346/.458, 22/14 K/BB in 142 AB at Tulsa; 5 homers; 9/11 SB attempts.  Solid numbers all around, and Blackmon is a good fielder in CF to boot.  Stock rising.

14.  Samuel Deduno: 2-1, 3.66 ERA, 18/13 K/BB in 19.2 IP at Colorado Springs; currently injured.  Injuries and poor control are keeping Deduno from reaching his full potential, and both are ongoing problems.

15.  Chris Balcom-Miller: 1-5, 3.84 ERA, 60/12 K/BB in 58.2 IP at Asheville.  Also has a ridiculous 61.8% ground ball percentage.  This is obviously good, but Balcom-Miller (who was a 6th-round draft pick) is one of those guys who I really want to see at a higher level.  Could be a strong sleeper, but he could also be one of those guys who hits a wall at AA.

16.  Delta Cleary: .256/.307/.342, 25/8 K/BB in 117 AB at Asheville; 2 homers; 5/8 SB attempts.  It's not good that he's repeating a level, and it's even worse that he's not even equalling his numbers from last year at that level (.256/.315/.376.)  Stock down; while Cleary's tools are still impressive, his performance is not living up to expectations.

17.  Chaz Roe: 6-9, 5.91 ERA, 70/31 K/BB in 102 IP at Colorado Springs.  There's nothing really to get excited about here, other than a solid ground ball rate (51.1%.)  That alone could make Roe an interesting candidate for the starting rotation, but nothing else really jumps out at you about Roe.  He's only 23, and still could be a decent back-of-the-rotation starter, though.

18.  Jordan Pacheco: .331/.409/.450, 31/41 K/BB in 329 AB at Modesto; 4 homers; 4/10 SB attempts.  Strong numbers, but he's a 24-year-old in the Cal League, and he isn't a particularly good defensive catcher.  The Rockies should try to find a position where his bat will play; he was a second baseman in college, so why not move him back there?

19.  Kiel Roling: .218/.283/.341, 72/21 K/BB in 252 AB at Tulsa; 6 homers.  Blah.  The strikeouts are bad -- but how is a guy who's got a 25.7% line drive rate only hitting .218?  Something doesn't add up here.  There's still some hope here, but a .624 OPS doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

20.  Cory Riordan: 4-4, 3.82 ERA, 81/23 K/BB in 96.2 IP at Tulsa.  He's gotten better as the season has gone on: his ERA has successively dropped each month, from 5.79 in April to 2.25 in July, and his strikeout rate has actually improved from A-ball last season.  I like this guy.

21.  Parker Frazier: 1-3, 7.52 ERA, 15/8 K/BB in 20.1 IP at Tri-City.   Impressed with the quick recovery from Tommy John surgery; not so impressed with the numbers, particularly the drop-off in ground ball rate (from 51.9% to 46.7%), which is Frazier's calling card.

22.  Darin Holcomb: Has not played this season due to back problems.

23.  Chris Nelson: .330/.394/.545, 31/17 K/BB in 176 AB at Colorado Springs; 7 homers; 2/4 SB attempts.  Nelson finally appears to be living up to his considerable potential, though it's unclear why the Rockies think Jonathan Herrera is a preferable option (Nelson's .272/.325/.422 MLE line would be better than Herrera.)  Stock rising.  Could supplant Barmes as the Rockies' starting second baseman in 2011, though he'll have competition from Eric Young.

24.  Casey Weathers: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 21/5 K/BB in 11.2 IP at Tri-City.  Since has moved up to Modesto, where he's only pitched 0.2 innings.  His stock was down due to Tommy John surgery, which he's since recovered from.  Could still be a solid late-inning reliever.

25.  Al Alburquerque: 1-3, 7.16 ERA, 13/12 K/BB in 16.1 IP at Tulsa; out since May 28.  Blah.

26.  Shane Lindsay: Now in the Indians organization.

27.  Edgmer Escalona: 1-2, 7.50 ERA, 39/23 K/BB in 42 IP at Colorado Springs.  Tough to get a read on him given the difficult pitching environment at Colorado Springs.

28.  Matt Reynolds: 0-3, 2.22 ERA, 51/12 K/BB in 44.2 IP at Colorado Springs.  Excellent numbers all around; has a future as a lefty specialist in the bullpen (lefties are hitting just .172 against him.)

29.  Daniel Mayora: .286/.352/.440, 35/21 K/BB in 234 AB at Tulsa; 3 homers; 4/10 SB attempts.  Solid numbers, but he's repeating the level, and he turns 25 this month.  There's not much time left for him, though he still could be a useful utility infielder.

30.  Cole Garner: .290/.358/.488, 43/17 K/BB in 217 AB at Colorado Springs; 5 homers; 4/8 SB attempts.  Given that it's Colorado Springs, the numbers aren't particularly impressive, and there's almost no chance he can break into the Rockies' crowded outfield right now, particularly since his Colorado Springs outfield-mate Matt Miller is having a better year.

On the radar

Matt Miller
: .331/.410/.460, 62/43 K/BB in 326 AB at Colorado Springs; 8 homers.  Numbers are inflated by Colorado Springs (1.007 OPS at home, .730 away.)  And he's 27 and reportedly a bad fielder.

Ethan Hollingsworth: 6-7, 3.45 ERA, 106/23 K/BB in 109.2 IP at Modesto.  Strong numbers, though like Juan Nicasio he's a bit old for this level.  Also has a solid 48.3% ground ball rate.

Eliezer Mesa: .320/.385/.480, 60/29 K/BB in 294 AB at Asheville; 2 homers; 20/25 SB attempts.  Could just be a creation of Asheville's favorable home park (.996 OPS at home, vs. .696 on the road.)  But the overall numbers are solid.

Chad Rose: 5-5, 3.48 ERA, 61/17 K/BB in 51.2 IP at Asheville.  Reportedly throws hard; has the potential to be a lockdown reliever.  Keyword is "potential."

Chandler Laurent: .311/.369/.556, 23/9 K/BB in 90 AB at Tri-City; 2 homers; 8/11 SB attempts.  Solid start at Tri-City, though the strikeouts are a bit of a concern.  His .409 BABIP is a bit ridiculous, but he's hitting a lot of line drives and showing some pop.

Brett Tanos: .354/.416/.481, 17/7 K/BB in 79 AB at Casper; 1 homer.  Acknowledging the strong start, but want to see more than this.

Corey Dickerson: .325/.395/.545, 13/9 K/BB in 77 AB at Casper; 3 homers.  See above.

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