Minors : : General
Tuesday, November 13, 2012

BP Top Prospects: Colorado Rockies

Jason Parks        
Photo: Perfect Game
This story originally appeared on BaseballProspectus.com.  To view the full, original story, please visit this link.

State of the Farm: “That is you can't you know tune in but it's all right, that is I think it's not too bad.”

Prospect rankings primer

The Top Ten

  1. SS Trevor Story
  2. OF David Dahl
  3. 3B Nolan Arenado
  4. LHP Tyler Matzek
  5. RHP Chad Bettis
  6. Will Swanner
  7. LHP Tyler Anderson
  8. OF Kyle Parker
  9. LHP Jayson Aquino
  10. OF Rafael Ortega

1. Trevor Story

Position: SS
DOB: 11/15/1992
Height/Weight: 6’1’’ 175 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1
st round, 2011 draft, Irving High School (Irving, TX)
2012 Stats: .277/.367/.505 at Low-A Asheville (122 games)
The Tools:  Shows all five-tools; arm is 6

What Happened in 2012: The teenager made a successful full-debut in the Sally League, showing a well-rounded tool collection and propelling himself up to the top of the team’s prospect rankings.

Strengths: Very good baseball skills; feel for the game; swing is easy; hands work very well; plus bat speed; hit tool projects to solid-average; power already showing in games; propensity for loud contact; power could play at 6 at maturity; runs well; clean actions at shortstop; good range; plus arm.

Weaknesses: Lacks impact tool; hit tool features some swing-and-miss; will expand zone; struggles against soft and spinning; chewed up by left-handing pitching; gets power happy and sells out swing mechanics and approach.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; tools are mature for his age/level; shows advanced feel and instincts for the game.

Fantasy Future: Story could hit .265-plus with some on-base ability, 15-20 homers, 25-plus doubles, and 10-plus steals from a premium defensive position. That’s a monster player.

The Year Ahead: Moving to the California League will only add gasoline to his improving game power, and as the numbers inflate, the prospect status will follow suit. Story is the rare middle-of-the-diamond prospect who has the tools and instincts to remain at that position up the chain, which makes the promise of the bat all the more special. Story might lack all-star level tools, but the total package has the chance to play at that level because of his position on the field and the pop in his bat.

Major-league ETA: 2015

2. David Dahl

Position: OF
DOB: 04/1/1994
Height/Weight: 6’2’’ 185 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1
st round, 2012 draft, Oak Mountain High School (Birmingham,
2012 Stats: .379/.423/.625 at short-season Grand Junction (67 games)
The Tools: Average or better futures across the board; 7 potential hit

What Happened in 2012: Drafted 10th overall in 2012, Dahl signed and then quickly started embarrassing short-season pitchers, hitting just shy of .400 in his final 34 games.

Strengths: Preternatural barrel-to ball relationship; simple and smooth line-drive stroke; excellent bat speed; excellent bat control; projects for high batting average; plus run; above-average defensive profile in centerfield at present; arm is strong for position; polished for age.

Weaknesses: Not many; future power utility has been questioned; might be more gap-to-gap than over the fence; mightonly be an average defensive center fielder at maturity; small professional sample; numbers put up in hitter-friendly environment; speed plays down in game action; reads and routes need improvement.

Overall Future Potential: 7; all-star

Explanation of Risk: High risk; polished for age with now game skills, but ceiling is lofty and a long way off.

Fantasy Future: .300-plus hitter with good secondary skills (OBPSB), scary amount of doubles, and enough defensive chops to stick in center field. Add the friendly home confines of Colorado into the mix and you can supersize that order.

The Year Ahead: Dahl will make the jump to full-season ball, but he is going to keep raking at a high level. His swing is balanced and short to the ball, and he can drive to all fields against all types of offerings and locations. He is a pure hitter and the numbers will continue to back up that claim. He has the highest ceiling in the Rockies system and falls just short of the top spot because of the enhanced risk involved with his profile and a small sample size of professional production.

Major league ETA: 2015

3. Nolan Arenado

Position: 3B
DOB: 04/16/1991
Height/Weight: 6’1’’ 205 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2
nd round, 2009 draft. El Toro High School (Lake Forest, CA)
2012 Stats: .285/.337/.428 at Double-A Tulsa (134 games)
The Tools: Plus hit; solid-average power potential; plus arm

What Happened in 2012:
 The jump from High-A to Double-A can shine an invasive light on the blemishes of a prospect, as Arenado can attest; his performance was solid enough to warrant attention yet uneven enough to create doubts about his ultimate ceiling.

Strengths: Good hit tool; balanced setup and clean, efficient stroke; makes consistent contact; has a plan at the plate; can square velocity; very line-drive capable; good actions at third; hands play soft; arm is plus; arm is accurate; profiles at third base.

Weaknesses: Lacks prototypical profile for third base; swing shows linear plane; stays in zone a long time, but not designed to lift balls; struggled against RHP; weak contact and problems with vertical movement; well below-average speed; range at third is merely adequate.

Overall Future Potential: 5; solid-average regular

Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; tools nearing maturity; major-league-quality hit tool; ready for Triple-A (higher); some makeup whispers.

Fantasy Future: The offensive environment in Colorado could expand Arenado’s reach, giving him more power than his present utility suggests; hit tool should allow for batting average (.280); big doubles hitter; 10-15 homer type at maturity; don’t expect stolen bases.

The Year Ahead: Arenado has a chance to play a sizable role at the major-league level in 2013, so the focus will have to be sharp and skin thick. He hasn’t blown away the competition in recent years, despite playing in friendly environments, and the chorus of voices questioning his future offensive output are growing. The bat is good--but not great--and the swing doesn’t pack the type of middle-of-the-order punch his profile originally suggested. He has contact ability against both arms, but will need to improve against righties to avoid exposure at the highest level.

Major league ETA: 2013

4. Tyler Matzek

Position: LHP
DOB: 10/19/1990
Height/Weight: 6’3’’ 210 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2009 draft, Capistrano Valley High School (Mission
Viejo, CA)
2012 Stats: 4.62 ERA (142.1 IP, 134 H, 153 K, 95 BB) at High-A Modesto
The Tools: Potential for three plus pitches

What Happened in 2012: After a disastrous 2011 season, Matzek returned to the California League, where he saw his command woes continue and his first-round stuff return, as Matzek missed 153 bats in 142 innings.

Strengths: Big arm strength; great size; fastball could work easy plus; touch higher; pitch can show good, late movement to the arm-side; excellent angle to the plate; deep arsenal; curveball, slider and changeup will flash plus; mechanics are simple and efficient (believe it or not).

Weaknesses: Well below-average command; release point issues; doesn’t finish pitches; fastball velocity fluctuates; works off the plate; secondary arsenal is inconsistent; neither breaking ball has stepped up as alpha offering; will take himself out of games when he starts to struggle.

Overall Future Potential: High-6; no. 2 starter

Explanation of Risk: High risk; excellent raw stuff, but command issues have been career long problem; keeps taking the ball; keeps working towards goal; mechanical profile and athleticism should take to adjustment (no idea why that hasn’t occurred yet).

Fantasy Future: Deep arsenal that can miss bats; frame and delivery to support innings; could develop into an Edwin Jackson type of erratic survivalist at the highest level.

The Year Ahead: Huge. Matzek is 22 years old and ready for the Double-A level, where the command will need to be refined if the stuff is going to shine. Scouts still love his raw stuff, and who wouldn’t with his lively fastball that works comfortably in the low-90s and touches higher; a tight curveball that can jelly-leg hitters; a slider with slice that is tough on lefties; and a changeup that has the action and velocity separation of a plus pitch. The arsenal isn’t the problem anymore; the ability to throw strikes is cutting him off at the waist. The delivery isn’t bad, but he loses his release and he slips under the ball, and once it starts to go bad it really goes bad. If the light turns on and he can stay consistent, his ultimate ceiling is still very high. Big test in 2013.

Major league ETA: 2014

5. Chad Bettis

Position: RHP
DOB: 04/26/1989
Height/Weight: 6’1’’ 200 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2
nd round, 2010 draft, Texas Tech University (Lubbock, TX)
2012 Stats: Injured; did not play
The Tools: Plus-plus fastball; easy 6 slider

What Happened in 2012:
 Did not play; injured

Strengths: Big arm strength; repeatable delivery; fastball is easy plus offering; can work low-mid 90s without max effort; can touch near-elite velocity in bursts; pitch has some life; multiple fastball looks (two/four/cut); shows strike-throwing ability; slider is second plus pitch; some scouts put a 7 on its future; high velocity offering; sharp tilt; very difficult pitch to right handers; bat-missing ability.

Weaknesses: Coming off injury to throwing shoulder; never developed quality changeup; because of height, needs to work low in the zone; previous issues with pace and sequence won’t be issues out of the ‘pen.

Overall Future Potential: 6; frontline setup role

Explanation of Risk: High risk; injury red flag; stuff will play if healthy

Fantasy Future: Out the bullpen, Bettis has the potential to be a top-flight setup arm, and possible closer, with two bat-missing pitches that will play at the highest level. He could rack up plenty of Ks, holds/saves.

The Year Ahead: Assuming a full return to health--and the reports have been positive--Bettis has the type of short-burst stuff to fast-track to the majors. He features all the necessary characteristics of a high-leverage arm, from the plus-plus fastball, to the plus-plus potential secondary offering; to strike-throwing ability, to the bulldog mentality of a nasty late inning weapon. It all hinges on health, but a healthy Bettis can help the major-league team at some point in 2013.

Major league ETA: 2013

6. Will Swanner

Position: C
DOB: 09/10/1991
Height/Weight: 6’2’’ 185 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 15
th round, 2010 draft, La Costa Canyon High School (Carlsbad, CA)
2012 Stats: .302/.385/.529 at Low-A Asheville (88 games)
The Tools: 6+ raw power; 5 (projected) hit tool

What Happened in 2012:
 As a 20-year-old, Swanner jumped to the full-season level, where his bat did all the talking, ripping 41 extra-base hits in only 88 games.

Strengths: Excellent raw power in the bat; can spray balls to all fields; strong wrists; makes hard contact; hit tool has some life; could develop into average tool; quality arm strength.

Weaknesses: Limited projection as a catcher; heavy footwork; slow pop times; arm doesn’t play up to raw strength; receiving issues; swing has length; approach opens up holes; well below-average speed; limited defense options.

Overall Future Potential: 5; solid-average regular

Explanation of Risk: High risk; unlikely to stick behind the plate; bat would be fringe at 1B/DH with big grade jump on hit tool.  

Fantasy Future: Has strength and bat speed to show some power; could hit 15-20 bombs; fringe batting average; no speed.

The Year Ahead: Moving to the California League should keep the offensive numbers looking legit, and positive opinion that he could stick behind the plate will push his prospect status up a notch. But the numbers will disguise the reality of the profile, as Swanner lacks the defensive quality of a major league catcher and his bat will struggle to play off the position. He has a major league future if the hit tool reaches (or exceeds) its potential, but it’s not an easy profile to bet on.

Major league ETA: 2016

7. Tyler Anderson

Position: LHP
DOB: 12/30/1989
Height/Weight: 6’4’’ 215 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 1
st round, 2011 draft, University of Oregon (Eugene, OR)
2012 Stats: 2.47 ERA (120.1 IP, 102 H, 81 K, 28 BB) at Low-A Asheville
The Tools: Solid-avg. fastball; 6+ changeup; pitchability

What Happened in 2012:
 Making his professional debut for Asheville in the Sally League, Anderson lived up to his pre-draft profile, forcing weak contact by keeping hitters off balance with a deep arsenal, but not missing a lot of bats.

Strengths: Good size; body has strength; long arms; advanced pitchability and poise on the mound; shows deep arsenal of playable offerings; good command profile; changeup is plus pitch; excellent action; excellent deception from the fastball; can throw it both LH/RH; knows how to manipulate the ball; change speeds; set hitters up.

Weaknesses: Lacks electric stuff; fastball velocity in the fringe range (plays up because of good extension and movement); breaking balls aren’t sharp bat-missing pitches; lacks arsenal projection; limited profile.

Overall Future Potential: Low 5; no. 4 starter

Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; despite an early injury, Anderson is built to log innings; delivery allows for strike-throwing ability; mature feel for the mound should carry him to majors; high floor/low ceiling.

Fantasy Future: He’s not going to miss a lot of bats; will make his bones on weak contact, limiting damage; has the body and delivery to log 200-plus innings a season at league-average ERA; lacks the stuff to be much of a fantasy stud.

The Year Ahead: Anderson has the pitchability and present stuff to move fast, possibly reaching Double-A in short-order. The inability to miss bats is going to limit his effectiveness as he climbs, so the command and arsenal depth will have to remain top qualities. Pitchability isn’t just a magic trick, so Anderson deserves some praise for being able to command a deep arsenal, changing sight lines, using sequence to keep hitters off their timing, using his changeup to keep righties off the fastball. The numbers might look pedestrian at times, especially the strikeout rates, but the ability to log innings and keep you team in the game has tremendous value at the highest level, and Anderson fits that sort of profile.

Major league ETA: 2014

8. Kyle Parker

Position: OF
DOB: 09/30/1989
Height/Weight: 6’0’’ 200 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1
st round, 2010 draft, Clemson University (Clemson, SC)
2012 Stats: .308/.415/.562 at High-A Modesto (102 games)
The Tools: Plus power potential; above-average arm

What Happened in 2012:
 After a solid campaign in Low-A in 2011, Parker moved to Modesto and improved his offensive performance across the board, looking more like a future major leaguer than a college bat taking advantage of the environments of the low minors.

Strengths: Greatest strength is lack of glaring weakness; shows plus bat speed; hands work very well; control the barrel; shows contact ability and pop; raw power is plus; should play at 5 or better; arm is strong and plays in RF; shows good baseball skills and feel for the sport; has a plan at the plate; good athlete.

Weaknesses: Lacks loud offensive tools; hit tool a 5; fringy profile for a corner spot; below-average speed; physically mature; can refine, but tool growth is limited.

Overall Future Potential: 5; solid-average regular

Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; he is what he is; no big developmental surprises on the way; major league ceiling/high minors floor.

Fantasy Future: Not the greatest corner profile; could hit for some average (~.270); some pop (15 HR, 20-plus 2B); not a stolen-base threat.

The Year Ahead: The former Clemson QB will be moving to the Double-A level, where pitchers are better equipped to exploit average offensive tools. The swing-and-miss that was once heavily featured in Parker’s game could make a return, as the secondary proficiency of some of the arms will allow them to expand the zone and force Parker to chase. If he can continue to refine his approach, staying short and staying inside the ball, Parker just might continue to hit for average and power. Ultimately, his profile lacks a first-division ceiling, but a solid 2013 season will go a long way in helping to establish the height of his floor.

Major league ETA: 2014

9. Jayson Aquino

Position: LHP
DOB: 11/22/1992
Height/Weight: 6’1’’ 170 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2009, Dominican Republic
2012 Stats: 1.52 ERA (65 IP, 45 H, 74 K, 9 BB) in Dominican Summer League; 1.87 era (43 IP, 32 H, 36 K, 11 BB) at short-season Grand Junction
The Tools: Solid-average fastball with projection; plus potential changeup

What Happened in 2012: After dominating the Dominican Summer League, Aquino made the jump to rookie-level Grand Junction, where his performance continued to spread his name across the prospect landscape.

Strengths: Arsenal has some projection; delivery is loose and easy; fastball already works in the upper-80s/low-90s; lively pitch; shows good feel for a fading changeup; good command profile.

Weaknesses: Lacks high ceiling; breaking ball has yet to find consistency; despite feel for command, lacks polish.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3/4 starter

Explanation of Risk: High risk; only 43 innings of stateside ball; long developmental journey ahead; lacks frontline stuff, so error margin isn’t large.

Fantasy Future: At maturity, Aquino could have the arsenal and command profile to be an effective big league starter. He doesn’t electric stuff, but it plays and he has the physical strength to get more than the average command/control back-end type.

The Year Ahead: Aquino will pitch the entire 2013 season at the age of 20, so bumps are to be expected in the road, especially if he jumps to the full-season level. The stuff needs polish, but he has a good feel for pitching and he’s a left-hander with an improving arsenal, so his stock could be on the rise.

Major league ETA: 2016

10. Rafael Ortega

Position: OF
DOB: 05/15/1991
Height/Weight: 5’11’’ 160 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2008, Venezuela
2012 Stats: .283/.344/.410 at High-A Modesto (114 games); .500/.667/.500 at major league level (2 games)
The Tools: Plus-plus speed; plus defensive profile in center field

What Happened in 2012:
 Ortega continued to impress in the field, and to continued take steps forward at the plate, putting up a respectable .754 OPS in the California League, and even getting two games worth of coffee at the major league level.

Strengths: Plus-plus runner; very good range in the outfield; good glove; reads and routes continue to improve; arm is strong; profiles as above-average at the position; controls the bat well at the plate; has strength in the swing; can drive the ball.

Weaknesses: Needs to find comfort in his offensive role; contact approach, but can’t fall in love with the fences; limited offensive upside; questionable feel for base running despite big speed; needs tool refinement across the board.

Overall Future Potential: 5; solid-average regular

Explanation of Risk: High risk; wide gap between present/future; offensive skills might fall short of league average

Fantasy Future: Has plenty of speed, but needs to up his base running execution; should end up a good stolen base threat; contact ability should help with batting average; won’t hit for much power; will be able to stick in center field at highest level, so has value at position.

The Year Ahead: Those who question the legitimacy of Ortega’s bat point to his upcoming Double-A campaign as the test that will expose his weaknesses. With his speed and bat control, he should be able to make contact and force the defense to make plays. He gets caught loading up for power, and the higher he climbs, the more vulnerable that will make him. He can clearly go get it in center, so the bat doesn’t have to be special for him to develop into a regular.

Major league ETA: 2015

Prospects on the Rise:

1.     RHP Eddie Butler: A supplemental first round pick in 2012, Butler brings a jumpy fastball with plus velocity and a plus potential slider to the table. The stuff can be really sharp, and Butler should see his prospect status elevate after a good full-season debut in 2013.

2.     RHP Peter Tago: On the radar since the Rockies popped him in the first round in the 2010 draft, Tago has yet to put the package together at the professional level. From a loose, whippy arm, the projectable 20-year-old can work his fastball in the low-mid 90s with excellent sink. Now that he’s tasted failure and fallen back to a slower pace on the developmental track, many believe 2013 is the year he starts to figure things out and takes a big step forward.

3.     Wilfredo Rodriguez: A seventh-round pick in the 2012 draft out of the Puerto Rican Baseball Academy, Rodriguez is a catcher out of central casting: he’s 5’10’’ and 200 lbs; can already show sub-1.9 pop times; good receiver. The bat isn’t shabby either, as the 18-year-old hit .319/.370/.452 in his first taste of professional ball for rookie-level Grand Junction.

Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2013)

1.LHP Edwar Cabrera: The diminutive lefty with the crazy good changeup might lack a sexy ceiling, but he knows how to maximize his fringy raw stuff and could be an option at the back of the rotation in 2013. He will always have to walk a fine line, but with good command, the ability to change speeds, and a changeup that doubles as an out pitch, Cabrera has a chance to stick around.

2.OF Tim Wheeler: For some, Wheeler, profiles as an everyday outfielder with a power/speed combo that will play in a corner position. While he does have power in the bat, and he does possess the speed to swipe some bases, for others, the profile seems more like a fourth outfielder who might play a few years as at the second-division level. Wheeler has good defensive versatility, but the bat might end up as a tweener, coming up a little short for the typical corner profile.

3.OF Corey Dickerson: Massive gamer profile that is considered one of the toughest outs in the system. Dickerson can square velocity and do so with authority. He doesn’t profile as a major-league regular; limited to left field/ lacks high-end offensive upside. But he is a catalytic player who should be able to carve out a career as a reserve outfielder. One scout put it best: “Dickerson is the type of player you discount until they show up out of nowhere in a World Series and get eight hits. Hard to explain, but sometimes it just happens.”

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/87 or later)

  1. Trevor Story
  2. David Dahl
  3. Drew Pomeranz
  4. Nolan Arenado
  5. Wilin Rosario
  6. Tyler Matzek
  7. Alex White
  8. Rex Brothers
  9. Jhoulys Chacin
  10. Chad Bettis

2012 casted a mixed forecast as to the outlook of the Rockies organization. On the hill, Drew Pomeranz logged 96 2/3 innings pitched with varying success. His curve remains a legit swing-and-miss offering, but is more effective against lefties than righties, both because of pitch angle and a sweepy backside that can flash more clearly to righties. His upside remains that of a no. 2, but it is far more likely his fringy change-up, flat fastball and L/R splits lead to mid-rotation production. Alex White and Jhoulys Chacin had disappointing campaigns due to production and injury, respectively. Each could top out as a mid-rotation arm, but likely fit best at the back-end of a rotation. Tyler Chatwood could fit into the back-end of the rotation, as well, with a little more refinement.  Rex Brothers should be a fixture in the late innings and could fit well in the ninth as a second-tier closer. Wilin Rosario had a breakout summer with the bat but remains a liability behind the plate, dimming his overall value some. Josh Rutledge brought some energy and offense to the club upon promotion, as well as a see-the-ball-hit-the-ball approach that will need to be reined in some to play at the highest level, long term.—Nick Faleris

A Parting Thought: This system might lack flash, but the depth is built on players with realistic major-league ceilings, not just prospects who are minor-league dreams.

Link to last year's Rockies rankings

*Special thanks to Nick Faleris, Jason Churchill, Mark AndersonChris Mellen, and Doug Thorburn for their input and influence on this list.

Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus.  
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

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