2012 Colorado Rockies Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2011.

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Coming off consecutive winning seasons for only the second time ever, the Rockies entered 2011 with playoff expectations. They started the season 11-2 but went just 62-87 afterward in one of the most disappointing performances in the franchise's 19-year history.

Colorado wound up 21 games behind the Diamondbacks in the National League West and just two games ahead of the last-place Padres. The pitching staff shouldered most of the blame, finishing next-to-last in the NL in runs allowed.

In the midst of a season gone wrong, the Rockies made a seismic trade. They shipped Ubaldo Jimenez, who set franchise records for wins and ERA and threw the franchise's first-ever no-hitter in 2010, to the Indians for four youngsters in July. The two biggest prizes were first-round picks Drew Pomeranz and Alex White, who finished the season in the big league rotation and should resurface there at some point in 2012.

Several factors led to the Jimenez deal, the most significant being Colorado's desperation to add young pitchers who were close to being major league-ready.

"We've had some draft issues as it relates to some of the pitching," GM Dan O'Dowd said, "and those holes have started to show up a little bit now."

The Rockies have reaped surprisingly little from their 2006-08 drafts, even though they took a pitcher with their top choice each year. They picked Greg Reynolds over Evan Longoria with the No. 2 overall selection in 2006, then tabbed Casey Weathers at No. 8 in 2007 and Christian Friedrich at No. 25 in 2008. All three have had injury issues since signing, and the team may not get a single big league regular out of those three drafts.

Colorado also invested a franchise-record $3.9 million bonus in a first-round pitcher in 2009, but Tyler Matzek regressed so much in 2011 that he got demoted to low Class A Asheville and left the team in June for two weeks to work with his youth coach. The Rockies haven't drafted and developed a pitcher who had sustained major league success since selecting Jeff Francis ninth overall in 2002, faring better with arms from their Latin American program such as Jimenez, Jhoulys Chacin and Juan Nicasio.

Marcel Lachemann, who had been a special assistant to O'Dowd for 10 years and his most trusted adviser, resigned in October because he disagreed with how the organization was developing pitchers. Other staff changes included senior director of baseball operations Jeff Bridich taking over as farm director for Marc Gustafson, who was given a role in the scouting department, and Triple-A Colorado Springs pitching coach Doug Linton trading places with roving pitching instructor Bo McLaughlin.

Fortunately for Colorado, its most recent drafts look more productive. Even if Matzek turns into a bust, the 2009 crop already has sent Rex Brothers to the big league bullpen and features three of the system's top position prospects in third baseman Nolan Arenado and outfielders Tim Wheeler and Kent Matthes.

The 2010 group includes a promising arm in Chad Bettis and two more bats in Kyle Parker and Josh Rutledge. Potential five-tool shortstop Trevor Story, a supplemental first-rounder, looks like one of the steals of the entire 2011 draft.

1. Drew Pomeranz, LHP Born: Nov 22, 1988 B-T: R-L Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 230
Drafted: Mississippi, 2010 (1st round). Signed by: Chuck Bartlett
Drew PomeranzBackground: In his first pro season in 2011, Pomeranz pitched for two organizations at three different levels, including the majors. He had set the career strikeout record at Mississippi and earned Southeastern Conference pitcher of the year honors in 2010. He was the centerpiece of the July deal in which Cleveland sent him and three other prospects (righthanders Alex White and Joe Gardner, first baseman/outfielder Matt McBride) to the Rockies for Ubaldo Jimenez. Because he couldn't officially be traded until the one-year anniversary of his signing for $2.65 million, Pomeranz had to spend two weeks in limbo at Cleveland's spring-training complex. He made his first appearance with his new organization at Double-A Tulsa on Aug. 17, 23 days after his last outing. Pomeranz calmly went out and pitched six perfect innings before allowing two singles in the seventh. He underwent an emergency appendectomy three days later, then returned to throw three perfect innings in Tulsa's season finale. His overall 1.78 ERA would have led the minors if his layoff hadn't cost him the innings he needed qualify. Pomeranz became the fifth player from the 2010 draft to reach the majors, working five scoreless innings against the Reds in his Sept. 11 debut. They were pleased with the way he handled an eventful season but disappointed when he was arrested in mid-October for disturbing the peace in Oxford, Miss.

Scouting Report: Pomeranz threw a 91-95 mph fastball at the start of the season in the high Class A Carolina League, where he ranked as the top pitching prospect, but he was down to 87-92 mph by the time he joined the Rockies. His fastball still played well at the lower velocity, because he keeps it down in the zone and his size and long arms add deception to his delivery. When he's back at full strength, he should have a plus fastball going forward. His curveball is his best swing-and-miss pitch, a tight hammer that likewise wasn't as sharp at the end of 2011. He's still refining his changeup, but it has a chance to become a solid-average offering. Pomeranz's biggest need is to throw more strikes and locate his pitches with more precision. His delivery isn't the most fluid and has a stabbing motion in the back, which hampers his control and command at times. Unlike many young pitchers who overthrow when they first get to the majors, he actually threw more strikes during his brief big league stint than he had in the minors. Pomeranz looked and acted like a major league pitchers despite lacking experience and his best stuff.

The Future: Pomeranz still can improve his changeup, control and command, but he'll get the opportunity to make  Colorado's rotation in spring training. At worst he'll begin the year at Triple-A Colorado Springs. He has better stuff than most lefthanders and projects as an eventual No. 2 starter.

'11 Kinston (HiA) 3 2 1.87 15 15 0 77 56 22 16 2 32 95 .195
'11 Akron (AA) 0 1 2.57 3 3 0 14 10 4 4 1 6 17 .192
'11 Tulsa (AA) 1 0 0.00 2 2 0 10 2 0 0 0 0 7 .063
'11 Colorado (MAJ) 2 1 5.40 4 4 0 18 19 11 11 0 5 13 .257
Major League Totals 2 1 5.50 4 4 0 18 19 19 11 0 5 13 .260
Minor League Totals 4 3 1.78 20 20 0 101 68 68 20 3 38 119 .183

2. Nolan Arenado, 3B Born: Apr 16, 1991 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 205
Drafted: El Toro HS, Lake Forest, Calif., 2009 (2nd round). Signed by: Jon Lukens.
Nolan ArenadoBackground: After missing the first six weeks in 2010 with a groin injury, Arenado broke out in 2011, leading the minors with 122 RBIs and flourishing in the Arizona Fall League. He also improved dramatically on defense, ending talk that his range and first-step quickness would prompt a move from third to first base.

Scouting Report: Arenado has exceptional hand-eye coordination and very quick, strong hands. He entered pro ball with an advanced two-strike approach and has learned to turn on pitches when he gets the opportunity. His swing has a flat path, but he gets good extension and has shown an increased ability to hit balls with backspin, which should lead to solid or better power. He controls the strike zone well and is starting to draw more walks. Arenado dropped 20 pounds last offseason, resulting in average range at third base despite his lack of quick feet. He has soft hands and plenty of arm strength, with plus accuracy and a very quick release from any angle. He's a well-below average runner. Arenado's has the work ethic necessary to maintain his defensive skills.

The Future: A potential No. 3 hitter, Arenado should open 2012 in Double-A, with a second-half promotion to the big leagues a possibility. He could be ready for a regular role in Colorado by 2013.

'09 Casper (R) 203 28 61 15 0 2 22 16 18 5 2 .300 .351 .404
'10 Asheville (LoA) 373 45 115 41 1 12 65 19 52 1 3 .308 .338 .520
'11 Modesto (HiA) 517 82 154 32 3 20 122 47 53 2 1 .298 .349 .487
Minor League Totals 1093 155 330 88 4 34 209 82 123 8 6 .302 .346 .483

3. Chad Bettis, RHP Born: Apr 26, 1989 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 193
Drafted: Texas Tech, 2010 (2nd round). Signed by: Dar Cox.
Chad BettisBackground: Bettis both started and reliever at Texas Tech, which could be helpful because his ultimate role has yet to be determined, He has had nothing but success as a starter in two pro seasons, going 18-6, 2.70 overall and earning high Class A California League pitcher of the year honors in 2011. He led the league in innings (170), strikeouts (184), WHIP (1.10) and opponent average (.225).

Scouting Report: Bettis pitches at 94-95 mph with his fastball, easily gets to 98 mph and maintains his velocity in the late innings. His tight slider reaches the upper 80s and gives him a second plus pitch. His lack of height raises concerns that he'll work on a flat plane and have trouble the third time through a lineup unless he develops a softer pitch so he can change speeds as well as locations. That offerling likely will be a curveball that's better than his below-average changeup. Bettis is extremely aggressive but did a better job of staying back in his delivery in the second half of the season. He throws strikes and works the bottom of the zone.

The Future: If his secondary stuff develops, Bettis can become a solid No. 3 starter and perhaps more. If he ends up in the bullpen, he profiles as a possible closer and could rise quickly to the majors. He'll open 2012 in Double-A.

'10 Tri-City (SS) 4 1 1.12 10 9 0 48 44 11 6 0 10 39 .233
'10 Asheville (LoA) 2 0 0.96 3 3 0 19 14 2 2 1 3 17 .200
'11 Modesto (HiA) 12 5 3.34 27 27 0 170 142 72 63 10 45 184 .218
Minor League Totals 18 6 2.70 40 39 0 237 200 200 71 11 58 240 .220

4. Wilin Rosario, C Born: Feb 23, 1989 B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 200
Signed:Dominican Republic, '06. Signed by: Felix Feliz/Rolando Fernandez.
Wilin RosarioBackground: Rosario had the best year of his career in 2010, but his season ended in August when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a rundown play in August. The Rockies brought him back slowly in 2011, sending him back to Double-A, where he didn't hit as well but nevertheless played in his second straight Futures Game and reached the majors in September.

Scouting Report: Rosario's two carrying tools are his exceptional arm and plus power. He also has good hands and a quick release, enabling him to throw out 41 percent of basestealers in his minor league career and five of the eight who tested him in the big leagues. He still needs work blocking balls, moving laterally and calling a game. Rosario has a short stroke and showed he could hit major league fastballs. But too often he sits on fastballs and looks to pull, leaving him vulnerable to breaking pitches. He's also impatient at the plate,. He's a well below-average runner but athletic for a catcher.

The Future: Rosario never has played in Triple-A and could open 2012 there. Even if he does, he's the Rockies' catcher of the future and should get considerable big league playing time next season.

'06 Rockies (R) 213 28 53 7 0 3 25 16 56 5 2 .249 .309 .324
'07 Casper (R) 115 11 24 4 0 2 9 11 38 2 2 .209 .283 .296
'08 Casper (R) 263 48 83 15 3 12 49 24 57 4 3 .316 .371 .532
'09 Modesto (HiA) 203 17 54 12 2 4 33 10 55 2 1 .266 .297 .404
'10 Tulsa (AA) 270 42 77 13 1 19 52 21 57 1 0 .285 .342 .552
'11 Tulsa (AA) 405 52 101 15 3 21 48 19 91 1 2 .249 .284 .457
'11 Colorado (MAJ) 54 6 11 3 1 3 8 2 20 0 0 .204 .228 .463
Major League Totals 54 6 11 3 1 3 8 2 20 0 0 .204 .228 .463
Minor League Totals 1469 198 392 66 9 61 216 101 354 15 10 .267 .316 .449

5. Tim Wheeler, OF Born: Jan 21, 1988 B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 205
Drafted: Sacramento State, 2009 (1st round). Signed by: Gary Wilson.
Tim WheelerBackground: The final pick of 2009's first round, Wheeler signed for a below-slot $900,000 and didn't do much in his first two pro seasons. He surprised the Rockies by finishing second in the minors with 33 homers in 2011, the most by a Tulsa player since Irving Burns hit 36 in 1929. Wheeler hit his 29th homer on July 25 but pressed so much to get to 30 that he didn't reach the milestone until Aug. 24.

Scouting Report: Wheeler has very flexible, quick hips and generated more power by doing a better job of getting his hands out front to turn on pitches. He can get pull-happy, which was the case between his monthlong homer drought. He tends to drop his head at the plate, resulting in him missing hittable pitches and struggling against lefthanders. He may strike out too much to hit for a high average. Wheeler has solid speed and has played center field in the minors, but he profiles as a corner outfielder in the majors. He has enough arm for right field and should have average range once he refines his reads and routes. He has terrific makeup and runs out ever ball.

The Future: Wheeler will begin 2012 in Triple-A and could reach the majors later in the year. Some scouts see him as a 20-20 player, while others wonder if he'll be a platoon player because he hasn't hit lefties.

'09 Tri-City (SS) 273 44 70 13 3 5 35 29 60 10 4 .256 .332 .381
'10 Modesto (HiA) 510 88 127 21 6 12 63 60 114 22 8 .249 .341 .384
'11 Tulsa (AA) 561 105 161 28 6 33 86 59 142 21 12 .287 .365 .535
Minor League Totals 1344 237 358 62 15 50 184 148 316 53 24 .266 .349 .446

6. Trevor Story, SS/3B Born: Nov 15, 1992 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 175
Drafted: Irving (Texas) HS, 2011 (1st round supplemental). Signed by: Dar Cox.
Trevor StoryBackground: Octavio Dotel pitched just eight games for Colorado in 2010, but his departure as a free agent gave the Rockies the 45th overall pick in 2011 draft as compensation. They took Story, the first time they used a top-100 choice on a shortstop since taking Troy Tulowitzki seventh overall in 2005, and signed him for $915,000. He ranked as the top prospect in the Rookie-level Pioneer League, where he split time at shortstop with Rosell Herrera and played 15 games at third base.

Scouting Report: Story has unusual presence for such a young player and a chance to have five average or better tools. He has a solid middle-of-the-field approach, good bat speed and the ability to drive the ball. He could have 20-homer power once he gains size and strength. He makes steady contact but can get overly aggressive and drop his back shoulder and get under balls. Story's above-average speed and instincts give him basestealing ability and solid range at shortstop. He has smooth actions and a plus arm that will play better once he upgrades his footwork. Eight of his 15 errors at Casper came on throws.

The Future: Story can handle the jump to low Class A Asheville as a 19-year-old. Tulowitzki eventually will block him at shortstop, but Colorado will develop Story there for the time being. He should have enough bat for second or third base if needed.

'11 Casper (R) 179 37 48 8 2 6 28 26 41 13 1 .268 .364 .436
Minor League Totals 179 37 48 8 2 6 28 26 41 13 1 .268 .364 .436

7. Tyler Anderson, LHP Born: Dec 30, 1989 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 185
Drafted: Oregon, 2011 (1st round). Signed by: Jesse Retzlaff.
Tyler AndersonBackground: Drafted in the 50th round by the Twins in 2008, Anderson opted to become part of the resuscitated baseball program at Oregon, where he set school records for strikeouts in a game (14), season (114) and career (285). The Rockies drafted him 20th overall last June, making him the third lefthander they selected in the first round in the last four drafts, following Christian Friedrich (2008) and Tyler Matzek (2009). Anderson signed him for $1.4 million at the Aug. 15 deadline, too late to pitch in the minors, and threw just one bullpen session in instructional league before getting shut down with pelvic soreness.

Scouting Report: Anderson isn't overpowering but succeeds by commanding a deep repertoire. His best pitch is a changeup. He also has two- and four-seam fastballs, which range form 89-93 mph and feature good life, and he throws two breaking balls, with his slider ranking ahead of his curveball. He fills the strike zone and creates deception with the backswing and leg kick in his delivery.

The Future: The combination of his lefthandedness, stuff and command made Anderson one of the most big league-ready players in the 2011 draft. He may start his career in low Class A, but he may not need more than two years in the minors. He has the upside of a No. 3 starter.

Did Not Play

8. Kent Matthes, OF Born: Jan 08, 1987 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 215
Drafted: Alabama, 2009 (4th round). Signed by: Damon Iannelli.
Kent MatthesBackground: Matthes hobbled through 21 games in 2010 before undergoing surgery on a torn patellar tendon in his left knee, an injury that occurred while working out before spring training. He came back to win the California League MVP award and lead the circuit in slugging (.642) in 2011, though his season ended when a pitch broke his left hand on Aug. 3.

Scouting Report: Matthes' bat speed and power are as good as any Rockies farmhand's. He has more of a flat than an uphill swing, and his homers tend to be high line drives. He has very strong hands but lacks a fluid, easy stroke. It's better than the aluminum-bat swing he brought into pro ball, which led to excessive strikeouts in his first two pro seasons. Matthes does a good job of covering all quadrants of the strike zone, though he still has to prove he can handle quality offspeed pitches. While he doesn't chase many pitches, he also walks infrequently. Despite his knee injury, Matthes still has solid speed. He has one of the strongest arms in the system and average range, though he sometimes loses focus in right field.

The Future: Because he signed as a college senior and lost a year to injury Matthes will be 25 when he gets to Double-A in 2012. Colorado wants to see how he handles more advanced pitching to get a better read on him.

'09 Tri-City (SS) 239 39 69 23 1 5 35 21 77 6 4 .289 .364 .456
'10 Asheville (LoA) 81 9 15 7 1 1 11 5 32 0 0 .185 .261 .333
'11 Modesto (HiA) 371 70 124 39 3 23 95 22 80 7 4 .334 .378 .642
Minor League Totals 691 118 208 69 5 29 141 48 189 13 8 .301 .359 .541

9. Kyle Parker, OF Born: Sep 30, 1989 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 200
Drafted: Clemson, 2010 (1st round). Signed by: Jay Matthews.
Kyle ParkerBackground: The 26th overall pick in 2010, Parker turned down a $2.2 million offer in mid-July that stipulated he immediately give up football. Instead, he signed for $1.4 million at the Aug. 15 deadline with the stipulation that he was allowed to play his final season at quarterback for Clemson. The son of former NFL wide receiver Carl Parker, Kyle is only player in NCAA Division I history to throw 20 touchdown passes and hit 20 homers in the same school year. He sustained broken ribs in his final football game but was ready for spring training.

Scouting Report: Parker has plus bat speed and strength to go with an aggressive mentality, too aggressive as evidenced by his 133 strikeouts in 117 pro games. His swing gets long and he struggles with breaking balls, notably sliders on the outer half of the plate. He has above-average raw power but will have to tone down his approach to make the most of it. Parker is a below-average runner with solid arm strength and range that fits in right field. Colorado would like to see him show more urgency about maximizing his talent.

The Future: Making the transition from football to baseball with little time off, Parker was worn out by the end of 2011 but managed to hit .300/.393/.535 in the second half. He could put up big numbers in the hitter-friendly California League in 2012.

'11 Asheville (LoA) 445 75 127 23 1 21 95 48 133 2 0 .285 .367 .483
Minor League Totals 445 75 127 23 1 21 95 48 133 2 0 .285 .367 .483

10. Josh Rutledge, SS Born: Apr 21, 1989 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 190
Drafted: Alabama, 2010 (3rd round). Signed by: Damon Iannelli.
Josh RutledgeBackground: Signed for $295,000 after a solid career at Alabama, a wrist injury limited Rutledge to 11 games at short-season Tri-City in his 2010 pro debut. He skipped a level to  jump to high Class A Modesto in his first full season. After a nondescript .260/.352/.313 first half, he exploded to hit .410/.459/.664 with all nine of his homers in the second half, putting together a 27-game hitting streak.

Scouting Report: Rutledge has outstanding hand-eye coordination and a compact stroke, albeit with some stiffness. He takes a quick, flat path to the ball and uses the whole field. He has good balance, and improving his load and weight shift in the second half enabled him to center more balls and unlock more of his power. He has the tools to hit for a high average with at least gap power. A solid runner, he can steal a few bases as well. Rutledge has improved at shortstop, but he has trouble at times making plays on balls to his left and throws from deep in the hole. He has soft hands and the range for shortstop, but his average arm likely will push him to second base. He throws flat-footed too often.

The Future: Troy Tulowitzki eventually would force him off shortstop anyway, so Rutledge may start seeing some time at second base in 2012. He'll open the year in Double-A with a chance to hit his way to Triple-A if continues to produce like he did at the end of 2011.

'10 Tri-City (SS) 39 6 5 0 0 0 4 4 10 1 0 .128 .227 .128
'11 Modesto (HiA) 460 91 160 33 9 9 71 41 91 16 3 .348 .414 .517
Minor League Totals 499 97 165 33 9 9 75 45 101 17 3 .331 .399 .487