The Rockies have added some talent to the system with the addition of their new top prospect Drew Pomeranz and that piles onto a solid crop of talent behind him. It’s not a stretch to believe the Rockies could have a number two starter, a three hitter, a starting catcher and two regular corner outfielders in close proximity to the big leagues.
1. Drew Pomeranz (LHP)
This high-powered lefty was the top prize in the deal that sent Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians last summer. He offers an outstanding power package that starts with a great frame, a fastball that can reach 95 mph at its peak, a curveball that draws rave reviews and a change-up that flashes as average. If the command and control continue to evolve for Pomeranz he could be a number two starter in Colorado.
2. Nolan Arenado (3B)
Arenado was long considered a bat-first guy that could hit for average and work the count. In 2011 he showed improved defense and improved power. He should stick at third base where his strong arm plays well. He has a chance to hit .300 regularly at the big league level and could also sport 20 home runs a season with tons of doubles. Arenado will get the biggest challenge of his career in 2012 with his first test of Double-A and more advanced pitching. If he handles that, he could be in the big leagues for good in 2013.
3. Wilin Rosario (C)
Rosario came back strong after a minor knee injury in 2010 and cemented himself as the catcher of the future in the Rocky Mountains. Rosario has the plus defensive potential necessary to be a serious starting candidate at the big league level, highlighted by an elite level arm. His bat profiles for modest average but above-average power, making him a solid sixth or seventh hitter in the lineup. With the trade of Chris Iannetta to the Angels, Rosario should get a solid chance in the big leagues this year.
4. Chad Bettis (RHP)
His first full season as a pro was a resounding success in the offensive heavy California League. Bettis has a mid-90s fastball and a filthy slider that is consistently a plus pitch. He mixes in two below-average pitches in his curveball and change-up and he will need one of the two to step forward to reach his ceiling. Bettis has a chance to get to the big leagues quickly and that could happen with either a number three starter or closer ceiling.
5. Tim Wheeler (OF)
Wheeler exploded in 2011 with a 33 homer season at Double-A. He has solid-average to above-average power that should show in game situations. He lacks good contact ability and really struggles to hit left-handers, leaving many scouts to question his if he’ll hit more than .250-.260 with plenty of strikeouts. Wheeler profiles as a corner outfielder with an above-average arm and he should be solid defensively. He may be ready to help in Colorado in 2012 and his ceiling could be a solid regular on either outfield corner.
6. Kyle Parker (OF)
Though he has his critics throughout scouting circles, I am a huge fan of Parker and I contemplated putting him higher on this list. Parker has legitimate plus raw power to all fields though his hitting ability is still a work in progress. He swings early and often in his at-bats and struggles with breaking balls. Though he is a below-average runner he is a solid athlete with decent range in the outfield and a good arm. Though he has a lot of boom or bust to him, Parker could develop into a power right fielder down the line.
7. Trevor Story (SS)
The Rockies top pick in June, Story has a wealth of tools that could make him a big league regular. He can make easy contact and should hit for a solid average as he develops. His power has some potential and he could hit 15-18 home runs down the line. He has good range and a strong arm at shortstop and is an above-average runner with uncanny instincts for his age. He will take some time to develop but he could be an up the middle regular.
8. Tyler Anderson (LHP)
Some felt Anderson would go higher in the 2011 draft but ultimately his lower ceiling moved him down draft boards. He has an average fastball that can reach 93 mph at times and he manipulates and commands it very well. He will throw both a curveball and a slider with the curveball potentially becoming an above-average pitch. His best pitch is his plus to plus-plus change-up that eats both righties and lefties alive. While some scouts will project him as a number three starter more see him as a potential back of the rotation arm.
9. Rafael Ortega (OF)
Ortega is a plus runner that will post better times than that on occasion. He also has the potential for plus hitting ability and fringe-average power. All told he could be a .280 hitter with 12-14 home runs and 25-plus stolen bases. His approach at the plate holds him back at times and he needs to develop better pitch recognition skills. He can handle center field but he is still developing his ability to fully utilize his speed.
10. Charlie Blackmon (OF)
An injury cut Blackmon’s season short in 2011 but he should still fit into the Rockies’ long term outfield plans. His offensive tools give him a chance to hit .280-.290 with 15-18 home runs and more than 20 stolen bases. Though he is stretched in center field Blackmon is a solid defender on the corners with a solid-average arm. He may not be a star but he should help a big league club on both outfield corners with a well-rounded offensive game.
11. Josh Rutledge (SS)
Rutledge’s hitting ability is his best tool and he has a chance to hit over .300 regularly. He has doubles power and could hit 35+ doubles at his peak. Scouts that saw Rutledge for extended periods this summer walked away with the idea that he is better suited for second base. His offensive potential should support that move and he could be ready for the big leagues at some point in the 2013 season.
12. Tyler Matzek (LHP)
Matzek had an absolutely brutal year in many respects. He completely lost his mechanics and as a result lost the strike zone. His stuff regressed as well. The Rockies allowed him to go home to work with his high school pitching instructor and when he returned to the organization he showed signs of improvement. Though he carries incredible risk at this point, Matzek will still flash a plus-plus fastball and a filthy curveball. If the progress he made late in 2011 carries over to 2012 he could shot back up this list next year.
13. Peter Tago (RHP)
Some pitchers are the epitome of a project and that certainly applies to Tago. With a dreamy frame that can make scouts do a double take, Tago can get his fastball up to the mid-90s while sitting in the low 90s, though his velocity was generally on the lower end of that range in 2011. The rest of Tago’s arsenal is just as difficult to figure, with his curveball remaining very inconsistent and his change-up all but non-existent. While he offers plenty to dream on, Tago is an enormous project and an enormous risk for the organization.
14. Rosell Herrera (SS)
While he may not be a shortstop long term, the 6-foot-4, 185 pound Herrera offers an enticing offensive package. He has good bat speed from both sides of the plate though he is better from the left side. He has a knack for hard contact and he wears out the middle of the diamond. At his peak, Herrera has a chance to pile up 15-18 home runs and lots of doubles to go along with a .290-plus batting average.
15. Hector Gomez (SS)
The numbers have rarely been pretty for Gomez but the scouts I spoke with still hold out some hope because of his raw tools. He is still developing as a defender but his cannon arm, improving footwork and soft hands should allow him to handle shortstop. He is a plus runner and has average raw power though both tools don’t always translate to the game. He lacks the hitting ability to take advantage of his power and may be a low average, low-OBP guy with 15 home runs. He as to do something in 2012 to remain on the prospect radar.