|Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects|
the 2007 Prospect Handbook|
30 scouting reports on every team
|1.||Troy Tulowitzki, ss Born: Oct. 10, 1984 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 205|
|Drafted: Long Beach State, 2005 (1st round) • Signed by: Todd Blyleven|
Tulowitzki was in the big leagues 14 months after he was drafted, the
quickest climb of any position player in Rockies history. He's part
of an impressive trio of first-round shortstops to come out of Long
Beach State this decade, sandwiched between Bobby Crosby (Athletics,
2001) and Evan Longoria (Devil Rays, 2006). Tulowitzki followed
Crosby at shortstop for the 49ers and starred for three seasons. He
missed 20 games with a broken hamate bone in his wrist during his
draft year of 2005, though that didn't turn off scouts. The Rockies
were both surprised and delighted to find him available with the
seventh overall pick and signed him for $2.3 million. Another injury,
this time a torn quadriceps, abbreviated his pro debut but he was
back at full strength in 2006.|
Strengths: Tulowitzki has inner confidence that allowed him to open his first full pro season at Double-A Tulsa and finish it in the big leagues, never looking overmatched. He has legitimate power, but what’s most impressive is he understands the need to use entire field and can drive the ball to right-center as easily as left-center. Tulowtizki spent most of his time in Double-A leading off. The Rockies don't envision him doing that in the majors, but it was a way to have him see more pitches and develop his plate discipline. He accomplished both goals. He has average speed and good baserunning instincts. He'll steal or take an extra base if the opportunity presents itself. At shortstop, Tulowitzki has one of the strongest and most accurate arms in the game. He has no fear defensively.
Weaknesses: At times, Tulowitzki can get too aggressive at the plate. He'll chase fastballs up in the zone and breaking balls in the dirt, though he improved as 2006 wore on. Most of the work he needs to do center around his defense. Like most infielders out of Long Beach State, he has a tendency to circle around grounders, which gives runners an extra step. He's also trying to improve his ability to make plays to his backhand. Tulowitzki has learned that pure arm strength isn't enough to make difficult plays in the majors, and he's trying to position himself better and get rid of the ball quicker. Given his size, he'll always have to work a little extra to maintain his agility.
The Future: Tulowtizki skipped Triple-A and assumed the everyday shortstop job with the Rockies in the final weeks of the regular season. He built off a solid September in the big leagues by being named the top prospect in the Arizona Fall League. Now he’s ready to establish himself as a big leaguer for good. Colorado will protect him by initially batting him toward the bottom of the order, but is counting on him evolving into a middle-of-the-lineup run producer. He also has the clubhouse mentality that will allow him to emerge as a leader on and off the field.
|2.||Franklin Morales, lhp Born: Jan. 24, 1986 • B-T: L-L • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 180|
|Signed: Venezuela, 2002 • Signed by: Francisco Cartaya|
Since posting a 7.62 ERA in his U.S. debut in 2004, Morales has made
major strides in each of the last two seasons. He ranked as the top
pitching prospect in the high Class A California League last year,
when he led the circuit in ERA and
Strengths: A legitimate lefty power pitcher, Morales can blow hitters away with a 94-95 mph fastball or a hard-biting curveball. He does a good job of maintaining his arm speed with his changeup and throwing it for strikes. He's still growing, and his stuff has taken off as he has added three inches in height in the last three years.
Weaknesses: Morales still hasn't learned how to repeat his mechanics effectively, in part because he's still filling out. As a result, his control and command waver. So does his concentration, which doesn't help. He tends to rush and overthrow when he gets into a jam. His changeup is still a work in progress.
The Future: Morales has all the ingredients to be a top-of-the-rotation starter. He'll make the move to Double-A in 2007 and figures to reach Coors Field by season’s end. He'll stick in the majors as soon as he shows the ability to consistently throw strikes.
|3.||Jason Hirsh, rhp Born: Feb. 20, 1982 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-8 • Wt: 245|
| Drafted: California
Lutheran, 2003 (2nd round) • Signed
by: Mel Nelson (Astros)|
The Rockies added a lot of youth and saved a lot of money when they
traded soon-to-be free agent Jason Jennings to the Astros in December
for Hirsh, Willy Taveras and Taylor Buchholz. Hirsh was the pitcher
of the year in the Double-A Texas League in 2005 and the Triple-A
Pacific Coast League in 2006. Last year, he started the Futures Game,
went 46 2/3 innings without giving up an earned run in June and July
and won his last 12 PCL decisions before making his big league
Strengths: Hirsh not only is intimidating at 6-foot-8 and 245 pounds, but he's also athletic for his size. He's more about polish than power, going after hitters with a 91-93 mph fastball, a late-breaking slider and an effective changeup he'll throw in any count. He has made huge strides with his slider and his ability to change speeds since signing in 2003.
Weaknesses: Hirsh likes to get a little more velocity by going to a four-seam fastball. When he does, he sacrifices movement and pitches more up in the zone, which proved to be a recipe for disaster in the majors. While he's confident, Hirsh tends to try to re-invent himself every time he reaches a new level. If he just pitches to his capabilities, he'll be fine.
The Future: Both Hirsh and Buchholz could open 2007 in Colorado's rotation. Hirsh should develop into a dependable No. 3 starter in time.
|4.||Dexter Fowler, of Born: March 22, 1986 • B-T: B-R • Ht: 6-5 • Wt: 187|
|Drafted: HS--Alpharetta, Ga., 2004 (14th round) • Signed by: Damon Iannelli|
Fowler and Rockies 2004 first-rounder Chris Nelson played together in
the highly regarded East Cobb program in suburban Atlanta. Fowler had
offers to play basketball at Harvard and baseball at Miami but
elected to pursue baseball full-time when the Rockies gave him a
$925,000 bonus in the 14th round. Colorado came up with the money
after trading Larry Walker to clear
Strengths: A legitimate five-tool prospect with great makeup, Fowler learned to switch-hit at Rookie-level Casper in 2005. A natural righty, he has made progress with his lefthanded swing and homers from each side of the plate on Opening Day in 2006. He has an athletic build and projects to add strength as he matures. His speed is well above average. Fowler evokes former Gold Glover Devon White for his defensive skills in center field, as he seems to glide in the gaps with his long strides. His average arm features good carry and accuracy.
Weaknesses: Fowler mainly needs experience. Still adapting to switch-hitting, he'll pull off the ball too often and lengthen his swing from the left side. He has stolen bases on pure speed but was caught 23 times last year, and he'll have to improve his awareness of situations and his leads at higher levels.
The Future: Ticketed for high Class A Modesto in 2007, Fowler could break into the Colorado lineup at some point in 2008 if everything clicks.
|5.||Ian Stewart, 3b Born: April 5, 1985 • B-T: L-R • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 215|
|Drafted: HS--Garden Grove, Calif., 2003 (1st round) • Signed by: Todd Blyleven|
The first high school position player ever selected by the Rockies in
the first round, Stewart went 10th overall in 2003 and ranked No. 1
on this list in each of the last two years. Both times, he ran into
adversity afterwards—battling injuries in 2005 and posting the
worst numbers of his pro career in Double-A in 2006. He married the
daughter of Asheville manager Joe Mikulik in
Strengths: There's legitimate power in Stewart's bat. He hit just 10 homers last year, but his 41 doubles showed how he can drive the ball. He has a quick bat and he has excellent plate coverage when he stays in sync. He has average speed but is an excellent baserunner. His strong arm is his best defensive attribute.
Weaknesses: Last year, Stewart got carried away trying to jerk pitches. He lost his timing mechanism with his open stance and turned so quickly that he couldn’t square up the ball on the bat. He also started to guess with pitchers and wound up getting overpowered by fastballs when he was looking for something offspeed. He has to get back to trusting his reflexes.
The Future: This is a big year for Stewart. He should open at Triple-A Colorado Springs, though there's an outside chance he could find himself back in Double-A to start the season. The biggest question is where he'll play down the road. Garrett Atkins took hold of third base in Colorado with a breakout offensive performance, so Stewart could move to an outfield corner down the road.
|6.||Ubaldo Jimenez, rhp Born: Jan. 22, 1984 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 200|
|Signed: Dominican Republic, 2001 • Signed by: Ronaldo Fernandez|
The Rockies overhaul Jimenez' mechanics last spring, and he adapted
surprisingly quickly. He toned down a hitch in his arm action, which
tipped off his pitches and created concerns about long-term stress on
his arm. He dominated Double-A and pitched well for a 22-year-old in
the thin air of Colorado
Strengths: Jimenez has a four-pitch repertoire built around a 96-97 mph fastball that has reached triple digits. He has a plus changeup that has become more deceptive thanks to his new arm action, and he also throws a slider and an overhand curveball. He improved his command and his ability to set up hitters.
Weaknesses: Jimenez went down with the beginnings of a stress fracture in his shoulder in 2004, and scouts still worry that his mechanics will hurt his durability. On a positive note, he hasn't missed a start in the last two years. His curveball has good spin but can be inconsistent. He needs to throw more strikes.
The Future: Jimenez figures to return to Triple-A to open 2007, with the idea that he'll be ready to make the move into the big league rotation as soon as midseason. His profile also would fit in the closer's role, which could save some wear and tear on his arm.
|7.||Greg Reynolds, rhp Born: July 3, 1985 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-7 • Wt: 225|
|Drafted: Stanford, 2006 (1st round) • Signed by: Gary Wilson|
Coming out of high school, Reynolds had offers to play quarterback at
Division I-A college programs. His decision to stick with baseball
paid off, as he received a $3.25 million bonus as the No. 2 overall
pick in 2006. His draft stock soared with an impressive streak of
three complete-game wins, including defeats of top-10 draft choices
Tim Lincecum and Brandon Morrow.|
Strengths: Reynolds maintained his 90-94 mph velocity on his fastball and the command of his solid-average curveball and changeup throughout his pro debut. He throws strikes with ease because he repeats his clean, athletic delivery so well. He doesn't try to overpower hitters, getting easy outs and keeping his pitch counts down. He competes well.
Weaknesses: Though he has the stuff to do so, Reynolds doesn't manage to miss many bats, which could become an issue at higher levels, especially in Colorado. He had no problems in the hitter's havens of the California League, however. In the past, he fell into ruts where he wasn't aggressive with his fastball, though that was less of an issue in 2006.
The Future: Reynolds figures to move into the Double-A rotation at the start of this season. His experience and mound savvy give him a chance to move quickly, with a shot at the big league rotation in 2008.
|8.||Chris Iannetta, c Born: April 8, 1983 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 5-11 • Wt: 195|
|Drafted: North Carolina, 2004 (4th round) • Signed by: Jay Matthews|
Part of a long line of big league catchers produced by North
Carolina, Iannetta reached the majors last August, barely two years
after signing as an unheralded fourth-round pick. He set career highs
with a .336 average and 14 homers in the minors, and hit his first
two big league homers of Jonathan Sanchez and Michael
Strengths: Iannetta has quality at-bat after quality at-bat, working counts and forcing pitchers to throw him strikes. He should be able to hit for average with decent pop in the majors. As a catcher, he has a strong arm and reliable receiving skills. He does a nice job of running a pitching staff.
Weaknesses: Though he's equipped to shut down the running game, Iannetta erased just 27 percent of basestealers in 2006. He has to get more consistent with his throws. Like most catchers, he's a below-average runner.
The Future: Iannetta's late-season performance convinced the Rockies that he's ready to stay in the majors. He'll be their primary catcher in 2007 and should develop into a solid regular.
|9.||Jeff Baker, of Born: June 21, 1981 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 220|
|Drafted: Clemson, 2002 (4th round) • Signed by: Jay Matthews|
Recruited as a shortstop at Clemson, Baker made way for Khalil Greene
and spent his college career at third base. With Garrett Atkins ahead
of him and Ian Stewart right behind him, Baker moved to the right
field in 2006. Signability and a poor history with wood bats dropped
him to the fourth round of the 2002 draft, but he received a $2
million big league contact and has hit .306 in pro
Strengths: Baker will go as far as his bat carries him. He has legitimate power and the ability to drive the ball to the opposite field. His professional approach at the plate allows him to stay on breaking balls. He has the arm strength and enough speed and athleticism to become a solid outfielder.
Weaknesses: Baker's development has been slowed by injuries, as he repeatedly missed time in his first three pro seasons with wrist and thumb ailments. Last year marked the first time he topped 400 at-bats in pro ball, and he finally achieved the success Colorado expected. He always has struck out frequently, which will be a tradeoff for his production. He's still learning the nuances of playing the outfield.
The Future: The Rockies will find a place for Baker, because he provides a valuable righthanded bat and the versatility to play at any of the infield and outfield corners. If he stays healthy, his bat will earn him more playing time.
|10.||Chaz Roe, rhp Born: Oct. 9, 1986 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-5 • Wt: 180|
|Signed: HS--Lexington, Ky., 2005 (1st round supplemental) • Signed by: Scott Corman|
Roe had a chance to follow his father’s lead and play quarterback
at Kentucky, but he opted to turn pro when the Rockies took him 32nd
overall in 2005 and gave him a $1.025 million bonus. He opened last
year in extended spring because Colorado doesn't have an extensive
track record of developing high school pitchers—Aaron Cook is their
best success story—and wanted to monitor his
Strengths: Roe's fastball has good life in the low 90s and tops out at 95, with the chance to add more consistent velocity as his body continues to fill out. His curveball is a definite plus pitch with good biting action. A loose-bodied athlete, he has a tall build that allows him to get a good downward angle in his delivery. Despite pitching last year in low Class A Asheville's McCormick Field, notorious for its short right-field porch, he allowed just four homers and produced plenty of groundouts.
Weaknesses: Roe tends to rush his delivery out of the stretch. He shows signs of a decent changeup but still is working on making it more consistent. He can get lazy at times with his curveball.
The Future: Roe is slated for a full season in high Class A. The Rockies will move him slowly, wanting to make sure he's physically developed to try and guard against injury. He could be in the big leagues as a starter by late 2009.
|Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects|
the 2007 Prospect Handbook|
30 scouting reports on every team
Tulowitzki: Andrew Wooley
Morales, Fowler, Stewart, Jimenez, Baker: Steve Moore
Reynolds: Bill Mitchell
Roe: Larry Goren