by Eric Stashin

The Rockies may not be viewed as a team with an impressive farm system, though they have a slew of players on the precipice of making an immediate impact (and a few others who may not be far behind). The future appears to be bright, and while the bulk of the talent appears to come from position players there are also a few pitchers you don’t want to ignore. Who are the players who could soon make an impact? Let’s take a look:

1) Brendan Rodgers – Shortstop/Second Baseman
Grade – B+
ETA – 2019

Rodgers was impressive at Double-A, hitting .275 with 17 HR and 12 SB over 357 AB.  He added 23 doubles and 2 triples, yielding a .493 SLG.  While he may not be able to replicate those numbers at the highest levels, playing half his games at Coors Field is it impossible?

A promotion to Triple-A led to significant struggles, as he hit just .232 with 0 HR over 69 AB.  He did struggle to make consistent contact overall (11.7% SwStr%), and while the number didn’t balloon upon his promotion it still sat at 11.1%.  After a 13.8% mark in 2017, you could argue that the improvement was a positive, though it obviously doesn’t eliminate the risk of strikeouts.

That’s going to create more of a .270ish hitter with 25 HR and a little bit of speed (and a .290/30 season isn’t out of the question), though would anyone complain about that?  There’s a clear path to playing time at second base, unless fellow prospect Garrett Hampson refuses to relinquish it. 

2) Colton Welker – Third Baseman
Grade – B+
ETA – 2021

Welker played the year at High-A hitting .333 with ample power potential.  While he managed just 13 HR over 454 AB, he added 32 doubles and with further maturation, added strength and learning to pull pitches a little bit more (38.6% Oppo%)  it’s easy to imagine some of the doubles starting to clear the fences.  Maybe he’s not a 30 HR hitter, though in Coors Field seeing him reach 25+ isn’t a stretch.

Now pair that a solid approach, which is impressive at his age.  You can argue that there was a little bit too much swing and miss (11.3%), especially since that mark could rise as he moves up against more advanced pitching.  However his willingness to use the entire field and ability to hit the ball hard (26.4% line drive rate) trump that risk, especially since he played the year at 20-years old.

Where Welker fits in Colorado is also a question, though with his bat that should work itself out.  Maybe he shifts across to first base, and he did appear in 6 games there last season, but his bat could easily play.

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3) Garret Hampson – Second Baseman
Grade – B+
ETA – Already Arrived

Barring some surprising maneuvering it appears that Hampson will get the first opportunity to claim the second base job, though Rodgers will push him for the role before long.  Hampson’s carrying tool is his speed, with 36 SB over 444 AB in the minors last season, though there’s a lot to like in his approach as well:

  • Groundball Rate – 51.1%
  • SwStr% – 6.4%
  • Walk Rate – 10.1%

For a player who utilizes his speed, a good approach and a willingness to put the ball on the ground is an ideal combination.  Of course he’s also not void of power, with 41 extra base hits between Double and Triple-A (including 10 HR).  Playing half his games in Coors Field, is a 12/35 middle infielder impossible to imagine?  Playing time could ultimately be the biggest issue, with the potential for Hampson to fall into a super utility type role.  If he’s playing, though, he’s going to make an impact.

4) Peter Lambert – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – 2019

Lambert is an easy pitching prospect to overlook, considering where his future home lies and a miniscule 6.45 K/9.  That said he showed elite control last season (1.64 BB/9) while also flashing more than enough groundball stuff (49.7%).  There’s more upside in his strikeout rate, and he did have a 7.28 K/9 over 92.2 IP at Double-A last season.  Things took a turn after his Triple-A promotion, including a 5.04 ERA and 5.04 K/9, though a .345 BABIP and 57.5% strand rate screams of awful luck.  He’s better than what he showed at the level, and set to turn 22 in April it’s highly believable that he continues to gain strength/velocity.  If that happens, and the strikeout rate jumps into the 8.00 K/9 range (if not better), he’s going to evolve into a solid option even pitching at Coors.

5) Riley Pint – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – 2021

It was a forgettable 2018 for Pint, who threw just 8.1 IP after dealing with a pair of injuries (forearm stiffness and a strained oblique).  Pitching at Single-A in ’17 he did show groundball stuff (58.3%), which will play well in Colorado, but he still needs to learn how to harness it.  While there’s more upside in his 7.65 K/9, a 5.71 BB/9 over 93.0 IP is concerning.  He needs to take a significant step forward this season, or the calls for him to transition to the bullpen (where he could emerge as a lights out reliever) are going to start.

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The Rest:

6) Grant Lavigne – First Baseman (Grade – B)
Selected 42nd overall in 2018, Lavigne showed a tremendous approach for his age (he turned 19 in August), with a 7.8% SwStr% to help him to a 15.5% strikeout rate and 17.4% walk rate in his first taste of professional baseball.  If he can maintain those types of marks, to go along with the power potential that put him on radars on draft day, this selection could prove to be a huge win for the Rockies.  Obviously seeing him chip in 12 SB is also a plus, though it’s hard to envision him maintaining that type of production.  Regardless, a good approach with potentially elite power makes him a highly intrigue prospect to watch.

7) Ryan Rolison – Left-Handed Pitcher (Grade – B-)
The Rockies’ first round selection in 2018, Rolison gave a great first impression with a 10.55 K/9 (courtesy of a 14.6% SwStr%), 2.48 BB/9 and 64.1% groundball rate over 29.0 IP in Rookie Ball.  That’s not to say that there aren’t questions, as there were concerns about his control entering the draft.  Time will tell if he can truly put it all together, but he got off to a tremendous start.  If he continues like this, the grade will improve at least to a B (with more possible).

8) Ryan Vilade – Shortstop (Grade – B-)
There was a lot of hype surrounding Vilade heading into 2018, and while you can argue that he fell short of expectations he did manage to hit .274 with 5 HR and 17 SB over 457 AB at Single-A.  The two big questions are if the power will develop (he added just 20 doubles and 4 triples) and whether or not the Rockies can teach him to be more efficient on the base paths (17-for-30 in SB attempts).  He won’t turn 20 until February so time is on his side, and an 8.2% SwStr% helps show the tools are still there.  It wouldn’t be surprising to see his grade jump significantly with a strong 2019 campaign.

9) Tyler Nevin – Third Baseman (Grade – B-)
The son of Phil Nevin, Tyler played the year at High-A and put up some impressive numbers (.328 with 13 HR and 62 RBI over 378 AB).  The question is going to be whether or not he can fully develop his power, or if he is going to be more of an 18-23 HR type instead settling for a slew of doubles (25).  He did show a good idea at the plate (10.1% SwStr%), but let’s see how the numbers/production translate to Double-A.

10) Niko Decolati – Outfielder (Grade – C+)
This is a stretch, but the sixth round pick put on a show in Rookie Ball hitting .327 with 11 HR and 17 SB over 263 AB.  He is now 21-years old, so you can argue he was old for the level, and a 13.6% SwStr% is going to raise a red flag.  He does have an idea, with an 11.2% walk rate, and there’s no questioning the athleticism.  Time will tell if he’s just a flash in the plan, but there’s an intriguing skillset.

Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, MILB.com, Baseball Reference

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Make sure to check out all of our 2019 Top 10 Prospect Lists:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants



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