2013 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.

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Colorado Rockies

The Rockies plumbed new depths in 2012, compiling the worst record in franchise history at 64-98, so significant changes were probably to be expected.

After reaching the playoffs in 2009 when Jim Tracy took over as manager in May, Colorado has been in steady decline, going from 92 wins to 83 to 73 to 64. After trying various fixes without success, the organization got radical in 2012.

In mid-June, the Rockies implemented a four-man rotation and alloted each starter about 80 pitches. That plan reduced the opportunity for valuable sidework between starts, among other problems, and was scrapped after two months.

The pitching staff ended the season with a 5.22 ERA, the highest in the majors and the team's worst since 2004, as the organization continues to struggle with the vagaries of playing at altitude. Colorado's 35-46 record at Coors Field last season was its worst ever, and its starters' ERA at home was 6.70.

In August, general manager Dan O'Dowd and assistant GM Bill Geivett essentially switched responsibilities, with O'Dowd shifting his focus to player development and scouting while keeping the GM title. Geivett became senior director of major league operations and established an office in the clubhouse conference room, from where he exerted significant influence over just about everything associated with the team except game management.

Uncomfortable with his reduced authority under the new front-office arrangement, Tracy resigned after the season, walking away from the $1.4 million salary he had coming in 2013. To replace him, the Rockies hired Walt Weiss, the shortstop on their first-ever playoff club in 1995 and a former special assistant to O'Dowd for seven years, most recently in 2008. Weiss hasn't managed or coached professionally, and he had coached a Denver-area high school team for one successful season when hired.

Colorado has a long history of loyalty to its employees, so the one-year deal Weiss received is less significant than it seems. He has the pedigree of playing most of his career for Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox, and he's familiar with the organization.

Amid the rubble, there was some good news. Injuries created big league opportunities for a host of relatively inexperienced position players. Charlie Blackmon, Tyler Colvin, D.J. LeMahieu, Chris Nelson, Jordan Pacheco, Wilin Rosario, Josh Rutledge and Eric Young Jr. got the at-bats to show that they have major league value.

However, the big leagues were a struggle for young starters Tyler Chatwood, Christian Friedrich, Drew Pomeranz and Alex White. In another effort to solve their pitching conundrum, the Rockies hired Mark Wiley to the newly created position of director of pitching operations in October. He's another former special assistant to O'Dowd and will work closely with him to find a way to develop effective pitchers in Colorado.

Four of the Rockies' six U.S.-based affiliates made the playoffs in 2012 as the organization puts three highly unproductive drafts from 2006-08 further in its rear-view mirror.

Closer-in-waiting Rex Brothers and third baseman Nolan Arenado (the system's top prospect) were drafted in 2009, followed by outfielder Kyle Parker, righthander Chad Bettis (its best pitching prospect) and Rutledge in 2010. Lefthander Tyler Anderson and shortstop/third baseman Trevor Story were the top selections in 2011, while 2012 first-rounder David Dahl won Rookie-level Pioneer League MVP honors in his pro debut.

1. 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: Arenado earned an invitation to his first big league spring training last year after leading the minors with 122 RBIs in 2011 at high Class A Modesto and then winning MVP honors in the Arizona Fall League. He went 5-for-26 in 12 Cactus League games, including just three hits in his final 19 at-bats as he tried too hard to make a good impression. It turned out to be a prelude to Arenado's most challenging season since he turned down an Arizona State commitment to sign for $625,000 as the 59th overall pick in the 2009 draft. Having gotten a whiff of the major leagues last spring and hearing from people outside the organization that he might be in the big leagues as early as June, he spent too much time wondering when he might get called up. He watched other players in the Double-A Texas League get promoted, including Tulsa teammate Josh Rutledge in mid-July. During a midseason conference call with Rockies season-ticket holders, GM Dan O'Dowd said that Arenado's "maturity level still hasn't caught up with his ability level," which sent the player into another funk. But after hitting .165/.252/.272 in July, he snapped out of it and batted .358/.375/.569 in August.

Scouting Report: Arenado has a knack for making steady contact and getting the barrel of his bat to the ball. His swing gets long through the ball, so his finish looks unorthodox, but he has great hand speed. With his balance and hand-eye coordination, he has been difficult to strike out throughout his career. He derives his power more from bat speed than muscle at this point, and as he gets stronger he should be capable of hitting 20 homers annually. Arenado entered pro ball with an opposite-field stroke but has learned to turn on inside pitches, sometimes to a fault because he strays from hitting to the center of the field. Nevertheless, he should always be able to hit for high averages. After the 2010 season, the Rockies expected Arenado to move to first base because he was such a defensive liability at the hot corner, with minimal range and no feel for the position. But he got in better shape, worked hard on his first-step quickness and has blossomed into a quality third baseman. He lacks speed but compensates by reading and reacting to balls instinctively. He has a strong arm, throws accurately from various angles and has become adept at charging balls and fielding them barehanded. He can get caught flat-footed at times but still gets to balls that a lot of other third basemen don't. Arenado has terrific feel for the game in all phases, even on the bases despite his below-average speed. Maximizing his agility, an area of emphasis this offseason, may make him a half-step quicker. He's generally a hard worker but the Rockies want to see him improve his focus and give more consistent effort.

The Future: Arenado will start 2013 at Triple-A Colorado Springs and should reach Colorado during the season. Former first-round pick Chris Nelson played well at the hot corner for the Rockies last year, but Arrenado has a higher ceiling offensively and defensively. The final step of his development will be to take a more mature approach when dealing with the failure so inherent in the game.

'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
'12 Tulsa (AA) 516 55 147 36 1 12 56 39 58 0 2 .285 .337 .428
Minor League Totals 1609 210 477 124 5 46 265 121 181 8 8 .296 .343 .466

2. David Dahl, of Born: Apr 1, 1994 B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 185
Drafted: Oak Mountain HS, Birmingham, 2012 (1st round).  Signed by: Damon Iannelli
David DahlBackground: The Pirates agreed to a predraft deal to take Dahl with the No. 8 pick in the 2012 draft, then switched gears and opted for Mark Appel, who didn't sign. The Rockies grabbed Dahl at No. 10, making him the first high school outfielder they've ever taken with their first pick and their first prep position player in the first round since Chris Nelson in 2004. After signing for $2.6 million, Dahl won MVP honors in the Rookie-level Pioneer League after topping the circuit in batting (.379), hits (106), extra-base hits (41), total bases (175) and slugging (.625).

Scouting Report: Dahl is a pure hitter with exceptional hand-eye coordination and the rare ability for a young player to make adjustments from at-bat to at-bat and even pitch to pitch. He also offers power that will include a lot of doubles and triples and 15-20 homers per year in the big leagues. He hits lefthanders well, and his above-average speed will lead to leg hits that will further boost his average. He needs to get better reads to steal bases. Dahl has a plus arm and covers a lot of ground in center field. His routes and reads need work, but he has the potential to be a Gold Glove outfielder.

The Future: Dahl profiles as a No. 3 hitter with five-tool ability. He should be able to handle the jump to low Class A Asheville at age 19.

'12 Grand Junction (R) 280 62 106 22 10 9 57 21 42 12 7 .379 .423 .625
Minor League Totals 280 62 106 22 10 9 57 21 42 12 7 .379 .423 .625

3. Trevor Story, ss 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: After Story went 45th overall in the 2011 draft and signed for $915,000, he ranked as the Pioneer League's top prospect in his pro debut. He moved up to low Class A in 2012 and rated as the South Atlantic League's best position prospect. He shared time with Rosell Herrera at shorstop and third base early in the year, then became the full-time shortstop when Herrera was demoted in early July.

Scouting Report: Story has more all-around ability than most shortstops. He recognizes breaking pitches well for his age, is adept at staying inside the ball and has impressive bat speed. He led the SAL with 43 doubles and 67 extra-base hits as a 19-year-old. He has a knack for driving the ball the other way, though he can become too pull-conscious. Better pitchers took advantage of his aggressiveness last year, and he ran up high strikeout totals, though the Rockies expect he'll make more contact as he learns his swing. Managers rated Story as the SAL's best defensive shortstop, though some scouts questioned his actions and arm strength. He's a calm, instinctive defender who covers ground and rarely makes ill-advised throws. He does lay back somewhat on balls hit right at him. He's a solid runner.

The Future: He might outgrow shortstop, but Story has the tools to develop into an all-star at third base or second. He'll play in high Class A at age 20.

'11 Casper (R) 179 37 48 8 2 6 28 26 41 13 1 .268 .364 .436
'12 Asheville (LoA) 477 96 132 43 6 18 63 60 121 15 3 .277 .367 .505
Minor League Totals 656 133 180 51 8 24 91 86 162 28 4 .274 .366 .486

4. 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: A former Clemson quarterback, Parker is the only player in NCAA Division I history to throw 20 touchdown passes and hit 20 homers in the same school year. The son of former NFL wide receiver Carl Parker went 26th overall in the 2010 draft. He turned down a $2.2 million offer that would have forced him to give up football, signing instead for $1.4 million and playing one more fall at Clemson. Though wrist and thumb injuries limited him to 102 games last year, he bashed 23 homers and topped the high Class A California League with a .415 on-base percentage.

Scouting Report: Parker's standout tool is his tremendous raw power, especially to right center, and he has become a much better overall hitter in his two pro seasons. His strike-zone awareness improved last year, as he let the ball travel deeper and took it to the opposite field more often. He can wait before deciding to swing because of his quick wrists and quiet approach. Parker has a solid, accurate arm but he fits in left fielder because he's a below-average runner. He's a subpar defender right now, but the Rockies think he'll improve with time and practice. If he doesn't, first base is a possibility.

The Future: Parker showed more intensity last season and will move up to Double-A Tulsa to open the season, and if can stay healthy he could reach the majors in 2014.

'11 Asheville (LoA) 445 75 127 23 1 21 95 48 133 2 0 .285 .367 .483
'12 Modesto (HiA) 390 86 120 18 6 23 73 66 88 1 2 .308 .415 .562
Minor League Totals 835 161 247 41 7 44 168 114 221 3 2 .296 .390 .520

5. Chad Bettis, rhp Born: Apr 26, 1989 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 200
Drafted: Texas Tech, 2010 (2nd round).  Signed by: Dar Cox
Chad BettisBackground: A seventh-round draft pick out of high school by the Astros, Bettis headed to Texas Tech and boosted his draft stock, becoming just the fourth Red Raider to be selected in the first two rounds of the draft. Bettis was the 2011 California League pitcher of the year after going 12-5, 3.34 and leading the league in innings (170), strikeouts (184), WHIP (1.10) and opponent average (.225). But he hasn't pitched in an official game since. He strained a muscle behind his shoulder in his second Cactus League outing last spring, sidelining him until instructional league.

Scouting Report: Bettis is tenacious and attacks hitters with everything he throws. His fastball ranges from 91-96 mph and sits at 93, and he got back up to 96 in instructional league. He throws a tight, two-plane slider that gives him a second plus pitch. His changeup is average and has the potential to get better. Bettis has good command and works the bottom of the zone consistently. His height creates concerns about a lack of a downhill plane for his pitches that might make it more difficult to get through a lineup three times, but his ability to hold his velocity means he'll continue to start for now.

The Future: Bettis will open 2013 in Double-A and could be a solid No. 3 starter or more in the majors. If he moves to the bullpen, he could get to Colorado faster and wind up as a closer.

'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

6. Eddie Butler, rhp Born: Mar 13, 1991 B-T: B-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 180
Drafted: Radford, 2012 (1st round supplemental).  Signed by: Jay Matthews
Eddie ButlerBackground: Butler became just the third player to head to Radford after being drafted out of high school, as the lanky righthander was picked in the 35th round of the 2009 draft by the Rangers, from the same high school that produced B.J. Upton. As compensation for the loss of Mark Ellis to the Dodgers as a free agent, the Rockies got the 46th overall pick in the 2012 draft. They used it on Butler, who signed for $1 million before leading the Pioneer League in ERA (2.13), WHIP (1.06) and opponent average (.230). He allowed just one homer in 68 innings.

Scouting Report: Butler's stuff is electric. He touched 99 mph in instructional league with his fastball after hitting 97 several times during the season. He usually pitches at 94-96 mph with his fastball, and its sinking action makes it even more effective. Butler throws two breaking balls, a solid slider and an average curveball. He overmatched Pioneer League hitters who geared up for his fastball by getting them to chase sliders off the plate. His changeup is improving but is behind his other pitches. He commands his arsenal well. It didn't happen to often during his banner debut, he shows too much emotion when things don't go his way.

The Future: Butler proved even better than advertised, showing a ceiling of a No. 2 starter. He'll advance to low Class A for his first full pro season.

'12 Grand Junction (R) 7 1 2.13 13 12 0 68 59 18 16 1 13 55 .225
Minor League Totals 7 1 2.12 13 12 0 68 59 59 16 1 13 55 .224

7. Tyler Anderson, lhp Born: Dec 30, 1989 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 215
Drafted: Oregon, 2011 (1st round).  Signed by: Jesse Retzlaff
Tyler AndersonBackground: A 50th-round pick out of high school, Anderson headed to Oregon after the school's 29-year hiatus and stepped right into the rotation as a freshman. As a junior, he became Oregon's all-time strikeout leader and was the Ducks' highest-pick since 1980. The 20th overall pick in the 2011 draft, Anderson signed for $1.4 million at the deadline and made his pro debut in 2012. Despite pitching with a sports hernia, he led the South Atlantic League in ERA (2.13) and WHIP (1.06). He had surgery in September and will be ready for spring training.

Scouting Report: Anderson has no single pitch that stands out, but his command makes his whole repertoire better. He's smart and analytical, traits that will help him as he faces more advanced hitters. Anderson sits at 89-90 mph with a fastball that has good tilt to the plate. His best pitch is a plus changeup with good deception and fade, and he also throws a solid cutter and an average curveball that has more sweeping than downward action. He hides the ball well and is quick to the plate.

The Future: Anderson profiles as a No. 4 starter, though as a lefty with fine pitchabilty, he might exceed that expectation. Now that he's fully healthy, he could move fast and possibly skip a level to open 2013 in Double-A.

'12 Asheville (LoA) 12 3 2.47 20 20 0 120 102 43 33 5 28 81 .220
Minor League Totals 12 3 2.48 20 20 0 120 102 102 33 5 28 81 .221

8. Tyler Matzek, lhp Born: Oct 19, 1990 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 210
Drafted: Capistrano Valley HS, Mission Viejo, Calif., 2009 (1st round).  Signed by: Jon Lukens
Tyler MatzekBackground: Matzek received a franchise-record $3.9 million bonus as the 11th overall pick in the 2009 draft and has struggled to live up to it. He took time off during the 2011 season to go home and work with his youth pitching coach. He finally showed signs of coming around late last season after he stopped being overly analytical, recording a 1.14 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 32 inning in his final five starts (including two playoff elimination games). He led the California League in both strikeouts (153) and walks (95).

Scouting Report: Matzek still has better stuff than most lefthanders. He averages 91-92 mph and reaches 95 with his fastball. He has raised his lead arm in his delivery, giving him more leverage and downhill plane. That has helped his curveball immensely, and it's now a plus pitch. Matzek worked on softening his changeup in instructional league and threw some at 85 mph, notable improvement from his usual 89 mph. His control and command have improved but still need to get a lot better. He has become more receptive to coaching, which the Rockies see as a sign of maturity.

The Future: Advancing to Double-A will provide a stiff test to see how consistently Matzek can throw strikes and handle adversity. With better command, he could be a No. 2 or 3 starter.

'10 Asheville (LoA) 5 1 2.92 18 18 0 89 62 31 29 6 62 88 .188
'11 Modesto (HiA) 0 3 9.82 10 10 0 33 34 37 36 5 46 37 .256
'11 Asheville (LoA) 5 4 4.36 12 12 0 64 45 35 31 3 50 74 .190
'12 Modesto (HiA) 6 8 4.62 28 28 0 142 134 85 73 7 95 153 .239
Minor League Totals 16 16 4.64 68 68 0 328 275 275 169 21 253 352 .218

9. Jayson Aquino, lhp Born: Nov 22, 1992 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 170
Signed: Dominican Republic '09 Signed by: Rolando Fernandez/Jhonathan Leyba/Frank Roa
Jayson AquinoBackground: After two years in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League, Aquino came to his first minor league spring training in 2012. He looked too heavy, his work ethic and intensity were lacking and he didn't pitch well, so the Rockies sent him back to the DSL. He got the message, dominated the DSL and pitched well when he came to Rookie-level Grand Junction in August. Among Pioneer League pitchers with 40 innings, Aquino had the lowest ERA.

Scouting Report: Aquino used to show fear on the mound, but he was a different pitcher in the Pioneer League. His 88-89 mph fastball is a good pitch that he can locate well to his glove side, but he needs to throw it more. He tops out at 91 mph and could gain velocity because he's young and getting stronger. His curveball and changeup both show the potential to become plus pitches. Because he's so adept at throwing his curve and changeup for strikes, Aquino uses them too often. As he gains experience, he should have above-average command of all three pitches.

The Future: Aquino profiles as a No. 4 starter, and he could be more if his velocity improves. He'll get his first full-season assignment to low Class A in 2013.

'10 Rockies (R) 4 3 1.02 12 12 0 62 35 10 7 0 9 59 .159
'11 Rockies (R) 8 2 1.30 14 14 0 90 55 21 13 1 22 80 .170
'12 Rockies (R) 6 1 1.52 9 9 0 65 45 12 11 1 9 74 .188
'12 Grand Junction (R) 4 0 1.87 7 7 0 43 32 13 9 2 11 36 .198
Minor League Totals 22 6 1.38 42 42 0 260 167 167 40 4 51 249 .176

10. Ryan Wheeler, 3b/1b/of Born: Jul 10, 1988 B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 235
Drafted: Loyola Marymount, 2009 (5th round).  Signed by: Hal Kurtzman
Ryan WheelerBackground: Wheeler, who spent most of his college career as a first baseman, made the shift to third base in 2010 and has improved his offensive profile each year. He was one of the top hitters on a Reno squad that won the Triple-A National Championship in 2012, batting .351/.388/.572 before getting called up in mid-July. The Diamondbacks traded him to the Rockies for Matt Reynolds in November.

Scouting Report: Wheeler has strong wrists and gets good leverage with his swing. While he has the ability to drive the ball to the opposite field, he's working on developing more pull power. He makes consistent contact, though somewhat at the expense of drawing walks. Wheeler made strides defensively in 2012, showing a strong arm and working on his agility and mobility in order to increase his range. He won't ever be an asset at the hot corner, but he can make the routine play and has cut down on his errors. He also has seen time in the outfield, but his well below-average speed doesn't provide him with much range.

The Future: Wheeler may not have enough glove to profile as an everyday third baseman or enough power to be a regular at first base. He'll get a chance to make the big league club in spring training as an extra bat off the bench, but more Triple-A time may be in his future.

'09 Yakima (SS) 234 44 85 20 3 5 36 37 28 7 4 .363 .461 .538
'09 South Bend (LoA) 29 4 10 1 1 1 5 5 4 0 1 .345 .472 .552
'10 Visalia (HiA) 465 62 132 25 2 9 57 35 98 3 1 .284 .340 .404
'10 Mobile (AA) 67 8 17 3 0 3 10 5 16 0 0 .254 .315 .433
'11 Mobile (AA) 480 69 141 30 2 16 89 45 102 3 4 .294 .358 .465
'12 Reno (AAA) 362 56 127 27 4 15 90 26 67 3 1 .351 .388 .572
'12 Arizona (MAJ) 109 11 26 6 1 1 10 9 22 1 0 .239 .294 .339
Major League Totals 109 11 26 6 1 1 10 9 22 1 0 .239 .294 .339
Minor League Totals 1637 243 512 106 12 49 287 153 315 16 11 .313 .376 .482