|Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects|
|Pre-Order the 2008 Prospect
30 scouting reports on every team
|1.||Franklin Morales, lhp Born: Jan. 24, 1986 • B-T: L-L • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 190|
|Signed: Venezuela, 2002 • Signed by: Francisco Cartaya|
After leading the high Class A California League with a 3.68 ERA and
179 strikeouts in 154 innings in 2006, Morales found success harder
to come by at the beginning of the 2007 season. Thirteen starts into
the year, he was winless at Double-A Tulsa and had just given up six
runs in two-thirds of an inning in his latest outing. Selected to
pitch in the Futures Game as part of the All-Star Game festivities,
he hit 97 mph with his fastball and struck out Rockies DH Ian
Stewart, Twins second baseman Matt Tolbert and Reds outfielder Jay
Bruce in an inning of work. The outing seemed to give Morales
confidence, as he went 3-0 in four starts at Tulsa afterward, then
won two of his three starts at Triple-A Colorado Springs and made the
jump to the big leagues. At 21, Morales became the fourth-youngest
player in Rockies history, but quickly proved he belonged. He tied a
franchise record for starters by spinning 20 straight scoreless
innings. He made starts in the first two rounds of the playoffs
before pitching out of the bullpen in the World Series. Morales
wasn't as sharp in the postseason, getting tagged for 11 earned runs
in 10 innings. The Rockies first spotted him as an outfielder but
immediately converted him to the mound after signing him for $40,000.
The first big league lefthander to come out of Colorado's Latin
American program, he has posted a winning record in each of his five
Strengths: Morales can reach the upper 90s with his fastball, but he achieves his best command and life when he pitches at 92-93 mph, still plenty hard for a lefthander. He features two curveballs, a slower version that he throws for strikes and a harder, sweepier one that hitters will chase. He made major strides with his changeup in 2007. The Rockies consider Moraels a big-game pitcher who gets better with a challenge. He has a short-term memory and is able to shake off struggles, make adjustments and move on in his next start. He shows the athleticism of a position player, and his experience as an outfielder is evident when he's at the plate. He went 4-for-13 (.308) in the big leagues.
Weaknesses: Morales still has to work on throwing more consistent and more quality strikes. He can make a pitch when he has to, but he can cut down on his walks and refine his command. His hard curveball isn't as reliable as his slower bender, and he needs to smooth out his arm action and add deception to his changeup. An improved changeup would help him against righthanders, who hit .273 off him in the majors (compared to a .129 average by lefties). Morales can get a little to emotional at times on the mound. When he first got to the majors, he got himself into trouble by becoming so obsessed with videos and scouting reports that he lost touch with his own strengths.
The Future: Morales has the ability to be a top-of-the-rotation starter. He projects as Colorado's No. 4 starter in 2008, but the spot won't be handed to him. Because he'll be 22 and has spent just one year above Class A, the Rockies would have no qualms about sending him to Triple-A if he doesn't have a strong spring.
|2.||Ian Stewart, 3b Born: April 5, 1983 • B-T: L-R • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 210|
|Drafted: HS—La Quinta, Calif., 2003 (1st round) • Signed by: Todd Blyleven|
Teaming with Ian Kennedy to help La Quinta High win the 2003
California Southern section title, Stewart set Orange County records
with 16 homers and 61 RBIs. The 10th overall pick that June, he
signed for $1.95 million and ranked No. 1 on this list in 2005 and
2006. He made his big league debut late last season, primarily
serving as a pinch-hitter in the Rockies' pennant
Strengths: Stewart hasn't had a strong followup to his 2004 breakout in low Class A Asheville (.319, 30 homers), but he has big-time power potential along the lines of Matt Holliday, who failed to put up big numbers in the minors. Stewart has a quick bat and good plate coverage. Because he grew up hitting against his father, a lefty, he had good feel against southpaws and hit .312 with a .522 slugging percentage against them in 2007. He's a gifted athlete with a strong arm, allowing him to make spectacular plays at third base. He has average speed and some basestealing instincts.
Weaknesses: Stewart's swing can get a bit long and he can become too pull-conscious. He needs to develop more patience and trust his ability to drive balls to the opposite field. He get lackadaisical on routine plays, leading to careless errors.
The Future: Because Garrett Atkins is at the hot corner in Colorado, Stewart has worked out at second base and in center field. He fits best as a run-producing third baseman, however, and soon may force the Rockies to make room for him. He'll return to Triple-A to begin 2008.
|3.||Dexter Fowler, of Born: March 12, 1986 • B-T: B-R • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 175|
|Drafted: HS—Milton, Ga., 2004 (14th round) • Signed by: Damon Iannelli|
Fowler projected as a possible first-round talent in the 2004 draft,
but teams shied away from him because his college options included
playing basketball at Harvard or baseball at Miami. The Rockies took
a flier in the 14th round, and after they saved $2 million by dealing
Larry Walker to the Cardinals that August, they signed Fowler for
$925,000. He has played in just 164 games the last two years because
Strengths: Fowler is a graceful athlete, particularly in center field, where he has plus range and a slight above-average arm, which will be assets at spacious Coors Field. He began switch-hitting after signing and now has a technically stronger swing from the left side. He has well above-average speed, intriguing power potential and a willingness to draw walks.
Weaknesses: An ankle sprain in 2006 and a broken hand in 2007 have cost Fowler much-needed at-bats. He needs to make more consistent contact, and quieting his swing would be a step in that direction. He still needs to get stronger, which would allow him to drive balls more often. He can make better use of his speed by bunting more.
The Future: Fowler will move to Double-A, and a strong first half could put him in Triple-A. Colorado's center fielder of the future, he could be ready by mid-2009.
|4.||Hector Gomez, ss Born: March 5, 1988 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 160|
|Drafted: Dominican Republic, 2004 • Signed by: Felix Feliz|
In his first year in a full-season league, Gomez was a low Class A
South Atlantic League all-star at age 19. The best of a deep crop of
Rockies shortstop prospects, he recovered from a .227 start in April
to bat .317 over the next three months before tiring in
Strengths: Gomez has the physical tools to be an exceptional shortstop. His range and arm strength are both above average. He has plus speed, getting from the right side of the plate to first base in 4.2 seconds. His bat isn't as advanced as his glove, but he has some pop and should have average power once he fills out.
Weaknesses: At this point, Gomez is too aggressive and pull-happy at the plate. As long as he can reach a pitch, he's not worried if it's a strike. He needs to improve his basestealing after getting caught 10 times in 30 tries, and his defensive consistency after making 39 errors.
The Future: With Troy Tulowitzki entrenched in the majors, Colorado has no need to rush Gomez. He'll move one level at a time, with high Class A Modesto his next step.
|5.||Greg Reynolds, rhp Born: July 3, 1985 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-7 • Wt: 225|
|Drafted: Stanford, 2006 (1st round) • Signed by: Todd Blyleven|
Recruited to play quarterback by several college programs, Reynolds
opted instead to pitch at Stanford. That decision paid off when he
went second overall in the 2006 draft and signed for $3.25 million.
He made just eight starts in 2007 because of rotator-cuff
inflammation that led to minor surgery in
Strengths: Reynolds has a 91-93 mph that he can spot to both sides of the plate and elevate in the strike zone when he wants. His curveball gives him a second plus pitch, and his changeup is an effective third offering. He's athletic and repeat his delivery easily, giving him good command. He has a good sense of himself and how good he can become.
Weaknesses: After working once a week in college, Reynolds must adapt to pitching every fifth day in pro ball. He can aggravate his shoulder problem when he puts too much torque on the joint when he throws his curveball. His fastball doesn't have a great deal of movement, so he doesn't get a lot of strikeouts.
The Future: If he hadn't gotten hurt, Reynolds would have been called up to Colorado for the stretch drive. A likely No. 3 starter, he's expected to be fully healthy for spring training and to open the season in Triple-A.