by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We all know that it’s difficult to value Rockies’ pitching prospects, with pitching half their games in Coors Field hanging over them. The team actually has some prospects who look capable of overcoming that, though time will tell. They also have the potential heir apparent to Troy Tulowitzki, as well as a few outfielders who could add to an already wealthy position for the team.
How does it all shake out? Let’s take a look at our current Top 10 rankings:
1) Brendan Rodgers – Shortstop
Grade – A
ETA – 2018
The third overall pick in the 2015 draft, you can argue that he was actually the premier prospect available. In his first taste of professional baseball he hit .273 with 3 HR, 20 RBI and 22 R over 143 AB, adding 8 doubles and 2 triples in the process. There is power in his bat and has the allure of playing in Coors Field in his future.
While he struggled with strikeouts initially (23.3% in Rookie Ball), he didn’t turn 19 until August and is going to need time to adjust. Expectations are that it shouldn’t be an issue and he brings five tool potential to the table. Once he arrives, in a few years, he should emerge as the “new” Troy Tulowitzki, though for now we will have to be patient and allow him to develop.
2) David Dahl – Outfielder
Grade – B+
ETA – 2017
He hit .278 with 6 HR and 22 SB over 288 AB at Double-A last season, missing time after suffering a ruptured spleen in an on-field collision. The power should continue to grow, after posting 41 doubles, 8 triples and 14 HR between two levels of Single-A in ’14 (he had 16 doubles and 3 triples at Double-A last season). The big concern has been his approach at the plate, as the strikeouts have risen with each promotion, while the walks have dropped:
- Single-A (422 PA) – 15.4% // 5.5%
- High-A (125 PA) – 21.6% // 4.0%
- Double-A (302 PA) – 23.8% // 3.6%
With power and speed there’s a lot of potential, but he needs to fine-tune his approach to take advantage of it.
3) Raimel Tapia – Outfielder
Grade – B+
ETA – 2017
He has a ton of athleticism and upside, with 20/20 potential written all over him. While he’s aggressive at the plate, as his 4.0% walk rate at High-A shows, it will be interesting to see if he can continue to make consistent contact (17.7% strikeout rate). If he can, there’s .280+ upside. While he hit “just” 12 HR in 544 AB last season, he added 34 doubles and 9 triples showing that there is some power in his bat. Throw in 26 stolen bases (33 at Single-A in ’14) and the total package is there. While there is a bit of risk, there is also a lot of reward possible.
4) Jeff Hoffman – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B+
ETA – 2016/2017
Acquired from the Blue Jays as part of the Troy Tulowitzki trade, Hoffman had a strong showing as he returned from Tommy John surgery. Over 104.0 IP he posted a 2.3 BB/9 and 1.37 GO/AO. While the strikeouts weren’t there, 6.5 K/9, the stuff is better than that. He has the prototypical size teams look for, at 6’5” and 225 lbs., and could emerge as a top-of-the-rotation arm. He may have gone earlier in the draft had it not been for the injury, though the fact that the Blue Jays were still willing to use the ninth overall selection on him speaks volumes about his potential.
5) Jon Gray – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B+ (borderline B)
ETA – Already Arrived
You could argue that Gray is a better prospect than Hoffman, but his lack of groundballs and pitching in Coors Field is a bit of a concern. At Triple-A last season he posted a 0.97 GO/AO (0.85 in his minor league career) and he posted just a 43.2% groundball rate in the Majors. It was only 40.2 IP in the Majors, but he was also hit hard (24.0%). Sure there was some poor luck (.384 BABIP, 67.3% strand rate), and he showed strikeouts (8.85 K/9), but there is reason to be skeptical. Of course you can say that about any pitcher in Coors Field…
6) Forrest Wall – Second Baseman
7) Mike Nikorak – Right-Handed Pitcher
8) Trevor Story – Shortstop
9) Ryan McMahon – Third Baseman
10) Antonio Senzatela – Right-Handed Pitcher
(Note – He showed the full array of skills we look for from a pitcher, especially one who could call Coors Field home, with an 8.36 K/9, 1.93 BB/9 and 1.12 GO/AO pitching as a 20-year old. It was a jump in strikeouts, but he owns a career 2.0 BB/9 and 1.26 GO/AO and could start to garner more attention quickly.)
Just Missed – Tom Murphy (C)
Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference
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Grading System (still in development):
Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On
Make sure to check out all of our Top 10 Prospect Lists: