Colorado Rockies: Top 10 Prospects

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TOP TEN
PROSPECTS
1. Tyler Matzek, lhp
2. Christian Friederich, lhp
3. Wilin Rosario, c
4. Jhoulys Chacin, rhp
5. Hector Gomez, ss
6. Eric Young Jr., 2b/of
7. Tim Wheeler, of
8. Rex Brothers, lhp
9. Esmil Rogers, rhp
10. Nolan Arenado, 3b
BEST
TOOLS
Best Hitter for Average Nolan Arenado
Best Power Hitter Kent Matthes
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Darin Holcomb
Fastest Baserunner Eric Young Jr.
Best Athlete Eric Young Jr.
Best Fastball Tyler Matzek
Best Curveball Christian Friederich
Best Slider Rex Brothers
Best Changeup Jhoulys Chacin
Best Control Matt Reynolds
Best Defensive Catcher Michael McKenry
Best Defensive Infielder Jonathan Herrera
Best Infield Arm Hector Gomez
Best Defensive Outfielder Chris Frey
Best Outfield Arm David Christensen
PROJECTED 2013
LINEUP
Catcher Chris Iannetta
First Base Brad Hawpe
Second Base Hector Gomez
Third Base Ian Stewart
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki
Left Field Seth Smith
Center Field Dexter Fowler
Right Field Carlos Gonzalez
No. 1 Starter Ubaldo Jimenez
No. 2 Starter Tyler Matzek
No. 3 Starter Aaron Cook
No. 4 Starter Christian Friederich
No. 5 Starter Jorge de la Rosa
Closer Rex Brothers
TOP PROSPECTS
OF THE DECADE
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Choo Freeman, of Out of baseball
2001 Chin-Hui Tsao, rhp Royals
2002 Chin-Hui Tsao, rhp Royals
2003 Aaron Cook, rhp Rockies
2004 Chin-Hui Tsao, rhp Royals
2005 Ian Stewart, 3b Rockies
2006 Ian Stewart, 3b Rockies
2007 Troy Tulowitzki, ss Rockies
2008 Franklin Morales, lhp Rockies
2009 Dexter Fowler, of Rockies
TOP DRAFT PICKS
OF THE DECADE
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 *Matt Harrington, rhp Out of baseball
2001 Jayson Nix, 2b
(1st round supp.)
White Sox
2002 Jeff Francis, lhp Rockies
2003 Ian Stewart, 3b Rockies
2004 Chris Nelson, ss Rockies
2005 Troy Tulowitzki, ss Rockies
2006 Greg Reynolds, rhp Rockies
2007 Casey Weathers, rhp Rockies
2008 Christian Friederich, lhp Rockies
2009 Tyler Matzek, lhp Rockies
LARGEST BONUSES
IN CLUB HISTORY
Tyler Matzek, 2009 $3,900,000
Greg Reynolds, 2006 $3,250,000
Jason Young, 2000 $2,750,000
Troy Tulowitzki, 2005 $2,300,000
Chin-Hui Tsao, 1999 $2,200,000
ROCKIES
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Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects
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Colorado Rockies

After making their first World Series appearance and winning Baseball America’s Organization of the Year award in 2007, the Rockies plummeted to 74 wins as an encore. A month after their disappointing season ended, they traded their best player, Matt Holliday, a year before he became a free agent in a move that appeared to signal the beginning of a rebuilding process.

Colorado stumbled to an 18-28 start in 2009, costing manager Clint Hurdle his job as it appeared the club was headed for another disappointing season. But the Rockies suddenly reversed course, going 74-42 after bench coach Jim Tracy replaced Hurdle. They won a franchise-record 92 games and advanced to the playoffs for the third time in their history.

Just as homegrown players had sparked the World Series run two years earlier, they keyed the turnaround this time. Colorado was the only team to field an Opening Day lineup consisting solely of players it had originally signed and developed.

Following an injury-plague second season, Troy Tulowitzki reclaimed his place as one of baseball’s elite shortstops. Ubaldo Jimenez blossomed into a legitimate ace. Rookie Dexter Fowler, who ranked No. 1 on this list a year ago, injected speed and athleticism into the lineup after claiming the center-field job.

More talent is on the way. Lefthander Christian Friedrich, who surprisingly lasted 25 picks in the 2008 draft, ranked second in the minor leagues in strikeouts per nine innings (12.0) and may push for a big league audition by the end of 2010. Righthanders Jhoulys Chacin and Esmil Rogers made cameos in Colorado, providing further evidence that pitching shouldn’t be in short supply. Second baseman Eric Young Jr. earned a spot on the postseason roster with his speed and defensive versatility.

Rockies scouting director Bill Schmidt and his staff further stocked the system with a 2009 draft rated as the industry’s best by Baseball America. Lefthander Tyler Matzek slipped through the first 10 picks primarily because he had let it be known that he was looking for “unprecedented money,” and Schmidt pounced with the 11th overall choice. At the Aug. 17 signing deadline, Colorado was able to land Matzek for $3.9 million, the biggest bonus in franchise history but not an extraordinary sum for a player rated by some clubs as the second-best talent in the draft.

Schmidt said he didn’t think taking Matzek despite his questionable signability was a gamble, because the Rockies also owned the 32nd and 34th overall selections, compensation for the loss of free agent Brian Fuentes. They got two more talent values with those choices in a pair of college players with upside in outfielder Tim Wheeler and lefthander Rex Brothers.

In his decade on the job, Schmidt has proven to be conservative and productive in his drafting approach. His first draft, in 2000, produced nine big leaguers, including Garrett Atkins, Clint Barmes and Brad Hawpe, who still were playing important roles in Colorado last season.

The Rockies also continue to get a huge return on their modest investments in their Latin American program. Jimenez, a Dominican, has emerged the last two seasons as their No. 1 starter, while Franklin Morales, a Venezuelan, is their best lefty reliever. Four of their best minor league prospects were signed out of the Dominican Republic (catcher Wilin Rosario, shortstop Hector Gomez and Rogers) and Venezuela (Chacin).

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