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Rockies Prospects

Moderator: Tracy Ringolsby compiled the Rockies top 10 list and will field your questions about the organization.

 Q:  Jeff Brainard from Denver, CO asks:
Hi Tracy, Thanks for putting the Rockies list together, I've been counting the seconds until it came out. A quick question about Garrett Atkins: He didn't even make the Best of the Rest section. Same with J.D. Closser. In my opinion, it looked like a pretty tough place to hit in Carolina, and those guys hung in there. Are both of them going to start in AAA? If so, wouldn't you anticipate BIG numbers from both of them? Thanks a bunch, I'll be reading your columns all year in the Rocky.
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: Spring training will be a deciding factor for both, but going into the spring, expectations are that Closser will return to Double-A and Atkins will go to Colorado Springs. Atkins got caught up with power concerns early last year, and made some adjustments in his approach at the plate. He struggled and could be considered the biggest disappointment in the first half of last season. In the second half, however, Atkins got back to the type of hitter he is, and got back on track. He has excellent pure hitting skills and just has to allow the power to come. He still has some work to do defensively. Closser has some power, and needs to stay aggressive, but he also needs to maintain better control of his body. He overswings. He has made strides defensively, but still needs some refinement and the manager at Tulsa will be former catcher Marv Foley.

 Q:  Jeff Brainard from Denver, CO asks:
Hi again Tracy, Thought I'd lob in a couple of questions to see if I make the chat. Concerning Brad Hawpe: Considering his age and tremendous season in A-ball, doesn't it make sense for him to skip AA at this point? Why don't the Rockies push him to AAA Col. Springs and see how he handles LF? Thanks again, and keep up the good work.
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: Hawpe could be a midseason move to Colorado Springs, but isn't likely to move immediately. The outfield situation with the SkySox figures to be intriguing with Choo Freeman, Rene Reyes and two of three from Jack Cust, Ben Petrick and Luke Allne, if not all three of those. Hawpe most likely will see sometime in left and at first base at Tulsa. He played a little left field in winter ball, but his season was cut short by a strained muscle and then the political unrest in Venezuela.

 Q:  Dave from Chestertown asks:
What is the future of Jeff Baker?
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: Baker is the No. 1 third base prospect in the system. He will be on a fast track to the big leagues. He will be moved up as quickly as he shows he can handle each level. He is a legit power hitting prospect, although he will have to make some adjustments in pro ball. He has the defense to play third in the big leagues. I wouldn't, however, expect him in the big leagues before the end of next season.

 Q:  James from The Great Southwest asks:
Hello Tracy, I really enoy your work with B.A. My question is the up side of a few Prospects with the Rockies they are Tony Miller, Rene Reyes, and Ubaldo Jimenez? Also is the Prospect hand book out yet? Thanks.
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: Tony Miller is forcing himself into the picture. He's a raw baseball talent, considering his emphasis at Toledo was on football. He has made major strides in his 1 1/2 pro seasons. He has tools to be exciting. It's just a matter of playing and becoming consistent. Reyes is the best hitting prospect, hands down, in the organizaiton. The challenge with Reyes is keeping him challenged. He can get a little lackidasical. He has great hitter instincts, quick hands and strength from both sides of th eplate. He has adapted well in the outfield.

Jimenez is a personal favorite. Outstanding stuff. Young and inconsistent. He has a the stuff to be a top of the rotation guy, but he has a ways to go.

Moderator: The Prospect Handbook is being printed right now. It should arrive at BA World Headquarters in Durham by the end of the month, and will be shipped out from there.

 Q:  Jim Whip from New York asks:
How much upside does Jeff Baker have, I have heard comparisons to Pat Burrell in terms of Raw Power and Bat Speed which is a huge comparison is this a fair comparison, Also do you think he can handle the hot corner defensively.
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: As I mentioned earlier Baker is being counted on heavily. He does have raw power, but he has to shorten his swing to be successful in the big leagues. Defensively, he should be fine.

 Q:  Jeremy from Clayton, NC. asks:
When do you think Jeff Baker will become the Rockies 3b if ever? Has he been able to adapt to wood bats or is that still a problem for him that concerns the Rockies?
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: Baker's ETA as a regular would be 2005. We'll see about wood bats. He hasn't played a pro game yet. Batting practice is batting practice.

 Q:  John Davidson from Starkville, MS asks:
I was wondering the whereabouts of where Chris Young(18th,02) will end up this summer. He was impressive as a starter and reliever in the Northwest League this summer. Does that give the advantage to move up to High A this summer or because hes not a supposed "prospect", does he go to Low A and work his way up? Thanks for your work.
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: Most likely he will go to Asheville, but just because that's the normal progression, and the Rockies do have depth in pitching in their system. With the change in leadership in the farm department I'm suspecting that players will move a bit more during the season if they show they have mastered a level.

 Q:  Guillermo from Palma de Mallorca asks:
Is Choo Freeman legit or is he just another great athlete who cannot sustain success long enough to be considered more then a pinch runner or late inning defensive replacement in the majors.
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: This is a critical year for Freeman. He made immense strides defensively two years ago, and last year put together his best offensive season. The key will be how he returns offensively this season.

 Q:  Brian from California asks:
I followed some of Colorado's prospects in the AFL and was impressed with RHP Ryan Cameron's numbers. Do these numbers reflect his potential and where do you see him fitting in the organization this year?
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: Cameron is a guy who has proven he can win at each level. He's not overpowering, but does pitch well. He should get a shot at Colorado Springs, but it could be simliar to last year at Carolina where he split time between starting and releiving.

 Q:  todd from ohio asks:
I see that Tony Miller had a great year last season. Where do you believe he will be this year and what is ceilingexpected arrival date in the big leagues. I coached him in Connie Mack and there are no harder working players out there.
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: Only time will tell with Miller. He has exceeded expectations of some already, but the scouts aren't surprised at what he has done. They talked from Day 1 about his athletic abilities and work ethic. It's just a matter of making up for the lost time when he played football in college.

 Q:  rob from orlando asks:
What's your thoughts on the ceiling for Freeman now? He struggled the first few years than improved greatly this year. Is he still the 20 homer 50 stolen base threat originally envisioned or just another Jay Payton?
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: Still feel Freeman has potnetial to be an impact player. He's made good strides the last two years. What gets lost a lot of the time is the fact that while he is from Dallas, he played at Dallas Christian High School, which is far from the big-time and intensity of players who come from programs like Duncanville or Arlington Martin. He was a bit rawer than some may have thought when he signed, and a very quiet young man. Scouts last year likened him to Torii Hunter and Ellis Burks.

 Q:  Brian Blackbird from Indianapolis asks:
If players sign minor league contracts who used to play with other teams, are they eligible for the top ten prospect list? Are any players like this on your list?
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: If they have rookie status they are eligible. None are on the Rockies list.

 Q:  john from bethlehem, Pa asks:
Hey Jim great job on the prospects list. What's the story on the outfield situation in Colorado. Cust, Petrick, Kapler, and will Freenman be roming center field in 2004?
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: Kapler will be the fourth outfielder. Cust and Petrick are competing with Luke Allen for the fifth spot. Freeman most likely will be broken in slowly. The grand plan would be for him to be an extra outfielder in 2004. Preston Wilson is signed through 2005, which gives Freeman some breathing room instead of a feeling he needs to be rushed.

 Q:  Gerald Lee from Taipei, Taiwan asks:
Will Chin Hue Tsao get a shot to make the Majors in the late season? What's about his already recognized widely high-talented ceiling? will he be an allstar or even a Cy Young Award winner someday in the very near future? Whom does he looks alike most when referring to make a comparison between him and the current MLB starting pitchers? also, could you please say something about the other young kid Chin Long Lo, who was signed by the Rockies from Taiwan 2 years ago?
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: There is every expectation that Tsao will be in the big leagues by late in the season. He showed in the second half last season that he is full recovered from the elbow surgery. He has the ability to be recognized among the game's elite, but face it, pitchers and awards are not synonmous with Colorado. I also wouldn't be surprised if he wound up being a closer instead of a starter. Lo is very highly regarded in the organization, but he not anywhere near as polished as Tsao was when he signed. Lo has a live arm, but the first challenge for Lo is to build up his body. The Rockies are taking a caustious approach to try and avoid any arm problems with such a young pitcher.

 Q:  Will from Chapel Hill, NC asks:
Will the changes the Rockies made in their minor league affiliates have any change on their developmental plans for their young players?
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: None

 Q:  Chris from Denver, CO asks:
I was shocked not to see the Rockies' 2001 Minor League Player of the Year Garrett Atkins on The Top 10 Prospect list, especially after his successful season in the Arizona Fall League. How come he was left off the Top 10 list?
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: He was ranked 13th. Two things that Garrett will have to address are the emergence of power and whether he will be a big-league third baseman.

 Q:  Frank from Golden, CO asks:
Can Pablo Ozuna hold down 2b? Or is he another Jose Ortiz?
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: Ozuna is a different type player. He is a put the ball in play, speed offensive player, who is much more advanced than Ortiz in overall approach at the plate, although he doesn't have Ortiz's power. Defensively he is not a Gold Glove candidate but should be adequate.

 Q:  Timmy from Aspen asks:
What's O'Dowd's latest plan? All this shuffling has been like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Every year brings new moves and different directions but the same results.
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: The results began before O'Dowd showed up. He has tried shuffle the roster to figure out a way to be competitive, and stay afloat until the farm system comes to life. In the ealry years of the franchise, scouting was shortchanged by GM Bob Gebhard, but beginning in 1998 ownership stepped up and gave Pat Daugherty the fianncial backing to go sign top players. From '98, with Daughtery, until now, with Bill Schmidt, the Rockies drafts have markedly improved. It, however, takes time for the impact of those drafts to be felt at the big-league level, and that has led to the Rockies looking for stop gaps. This year they have returned to a desire for power, but they also added a defensive element that wasn't a part of things in the past.

 Q:  Shad from Frostburg St. University asks:
Hi, Will Choo Freeman get a legitimate shot of making the outfield this year in Spring training? What are your projections for him this year? Thanks
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: Choo is headed to Colorado Springs. It should provide him with a chance for a big offensive year.

 Q:  Derrick from Los Angeles asks:
Hey Tracy, what roles do the Rockies see Dragon Lo and U. Jiminez eventually filling on their pitching staff? It seems to me Jiminez might be better suited to take over his namesake's position of closer. Any thoughts?
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: Both can be projected as top of the rotation starters, but they are both young and coming out of rookie ball so the projections are just that.

 Q:  Steve from Houston asks:
Cory Vance made it to the majors last year. How do you gauge his future? How are the Rockies set for lefthanders?
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: Vance was in a tough situation when he was called up in laste September. He had been home for a few weeks and wasn't sharp. He is most likely headed to Colorado Springs this season and will be given long-term consideration in the rotation. The two lefties in the organizaiton who stick out are Zack Parker and Jeff Francis.

 Q:  Derrick from Los Angeles asks:
The Rockies had a couple of college players, Ryan Shealy especially, but also Brian Barre, do well at Casper and I was wondering what their future upside is. I know they were old for the league, but their numbers seemed solid. Do they project as regulars, utility players or marginal prospects at this point?
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: Shealy, actually, was a Rockies draft out of high school, too. They both did what they were being counted on to do at Capser -- provide some offense and stabilize an otherwise very young team. They were old for the league and they will need to make a quick move to higher levels and show simliar success to get serious prospect consideration.

 Q:  Paul from Philadelphia asks:
AAA RHP Mark DiFelice is from this area and he was moving steadily through the Rockies systems until injuries last season. Do you see him in Denver in 2003?
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: I wouldn't expect Mark to pitch in Denver this season. This is a season where it will be important for him to get healthy and get back in a groove.

 Q:  Taylor from Denver asks:
How come the Rockies third round draft pick in 2000 - Chris Buglovksy -- is never mentioned as a top prospect when he has consistently posted excellent numbers on the mound?
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: Believe it or not, one thign the Rockies have is depth in the pitching prospects. Buglovksy is highly regarded. He is ranked 18th this year, which makes him No. 8 among the pitchers in the Rockies system.

 Q:  Bob from Las Vegas, NV asks:
I am wondering how Jeff Baker has become the top third base prospect in the system when he has not played a day of pro ball? Is that really fair to him?
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: As much as anything that says something about the lack of depth the Rockies have at the position. As far as whether it's fair to him, making him the top prospect at a position in an organization is a label, but has nothing to do with the work he is assigned, and how he goes about his job. If he becomes a good big-league player he will have to deal with pressures a lot more severe than a label as a top prospect at a position.

 Q:  David from Ohio asks:
Did Garett Atkins come close to making the list ?
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: He ranked No. 13.

 Q:  John M. Perkins from Macon, GA asks:
Does Cory Vance project enough to make the backend of a future Rockie rotation, or swing man, or long relief?
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: A lot will depend on Vance's approach. He could initialy be a swing man or long reliever, much like Buddy Black was when he came up. Black, however, wound up pitching a long time as a big-league starter, and was a key part of the rotation for the 1985 world champion Kansas city Royals.

 Q:  Baseball Fan from Baseball City, U.S.A. asks:
Is Matt Holliday a forgotten prospect in the system. What has been the greatest influence in the system that has allowed the Rockie system get better. Also dont you think the Rockies should field teams in high altitude parks so prospects can adjust better both at home and on the road when they reach Coors?
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: Holliday isn't fogotten. A year ago he was given a major league contract to avoid having him go to college football. He, however, does need to put together a legitmate offensive year. He is at a stage in his career where results are going to matter. What's really helped the Rockies system was ownership's decision in 1998 to make sure scouting was able to sign the best available players. In the first six drafts, GM Bob Gebhard made the deicsions on signability more than physical ability. The Rockies are at Colorado Springs for that reason, but I don't think you want to go overboard in that direction. Young players need success to develop confidence, particularly when they are facing so many adjustments to pro ball. There also are only so many high altitude teams to affiliate with.

 Q:  Daniel Eberwee from Colorado Springs asks:
How does Garrett Atkins who batted .354 in the Arizona Fall League not even make the Best of the Rest section? That just doesn't seem right.
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: He is ranked No. 13

 Q:  Kari from Salem asks:
Where is Clint Barmes on the Rockies Top Prospect List? Is he an overachiever or a legitimate prospect or both?
 A: 

Tracy Ringolsby: Barmes is ranked No. 24. He has played himself into prospect status. An outfielder at Indiana State, he has become a quality shortstop in the minors. Odds are he will make it to the big leagues as a second baseman.

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