2017 Colorado Rockies Midseason Top 10 Prospects
What began as the Rockies’ dream season is starting to feel a bit tenuous.
|Rockies Midseason Top 10|
|1. Brendan Rodgers, SS|
|2. Raimel Tapia, OF|
|3. Riley Pint, RHP|
|4. Ryan McMahon, 1B/2B/3B|
|5. Colton Welker, 3B|
|6. Tom Murphy, C|
|7. Ryan Castellani, RHP|
|8. Peter Lambert, RHP|
|9. Yency Almonte, RHP|
|10. Garrett Hampson, 2B/SS|
Still, the Rockies are in position to reach the postseason for just the fourth time in the franchise’s 25-year history, and they have a budding young core to be excited about.
Rookies Antonio Senzatela, Kyle Freeland, Jeff Hoffman and German Marquez have taken turns starring in the rotation, while second-year righthander Jon Gray recently returned from the disabled list to take his place atop the staff.
Center fielder Charlie Blackmon has emerged as a legitimate MVP candidate. Nolan Arenado, D.J. LeMahieu and Trevor Story are all 28 or younger, as are promising outfielders David Dahl and Raimel Tapia.
Years of smart drafting and astute trades have begun to pay off for the Rockies at the big league level, and more talent is on the way. Brendan Rodgers has emerged as one of the elite prospects in the game at age 20, Ryan McMahon and Tom Murphy await in Triple-A, and the next wave of promising arms is at Double-A Hartford.
Whether the Rockies choose to use some of that prospect depth in trades to bolster the big league club or call them up to help directly will be up to them.
Even if the Rockies can’t hang on down the stretch, the season has marked a turning point for a franchise that has a bright window of opportunity ahead.
1. Brendan Rodgers, SS Double-A Hartford Age: 20
The No. 3 overall pick in 2015 delivered a half-season for the ages at high Class A Lancaster, hitting .400 with 12 home runs, 46 RBIs and a 1.119 OPS in 48 games before being promoted to Double-A. Even though he benefited from hospitable hitting conditions, Rodgers showed the ability to barrel any velocity while maintaining excellent rhythm, balance and plane in his swing. Most impressive was his work on the defensive side, where he showed plus arm strength, excellent instincts and reliable hands at shortstop. Rodgers was already considered a future All-Star shortstop, and that projection has only been solidified.
2. Raimel Tapia, OF Triple-A Albuquerque Age: 23
Tapia reached the majors for the second straight year and contributed as a high-average, lightning-quick outfielder. He moved into the starting lineup with David Dahl, Ian Desmond and Gerardo Parra on the disabled list, and hit .314 with an .850 OPS. While Tapia’s ceiling may be limited by his merely solid power potential, he remains a solid big league contributor on a playoff contender.
3. Riley Pint, RHP Low Class A Asheville Age: 19
Pint’s stuff remains electric with a 97-101 mph fastball, a potential plus slider and a curveball and changeup flashing above-average. His problem has been poor command, which is an outgrowth of Pint’s struggles to get his limbs in sync and find a repeatable delivery. The result has been a 2-9, 4.02 mark with 39 walks and 53 strikeouts in 62.2 innings.
4. Ryan McMahon, 1B/2B/3B Triple-A Albuquerque Age: 22
McMahon bounced back from a subpar 2016 and is tearing the cover off the ball in Triple-A. He is driving the ball to all fields, handling pitches on the outer half and showing the ability to adjust quickly. McMahon has further added defensive versatility, playing first and second base more than his natural third base this season.
5. Colton Welker, 3B Disabled list Age: 19
Welker was running away with the South Atlantic League batting title with a .365 average before going on the disabled list with an abdominal strain on June 16. Welker consistently squared balls up, producing 17 doubles and a .532 slugging percentage, and showed reliable hands and a plus arm at third base.
6. Tom Murphy, C Triple-A Albuquerque Age: 26
A fractured forearm in spring training cost Murphy the first two months of the season and he found himself behind Tony Wolters on the Rockies’ depth chart when he returned. The Rockies recently sent Murphy down to Triple-A to get everyday at-bats and still consider him a part of their big league future.
7. Ryan Castellani, RHP Double-A Hartford Age: 21
Castellani struggled keeping his fastball down ball initially at Double-A but has improved recently. He went 2-4, 6.37 in his first eight starts but 4-4, 3.99 in his next nine. Castellani is still showing strong command and durability, throwing two-thirds of his pitches for strikes and averaging more than six innings per start during his most recent nine-start stretch.
8. Peter Lambert, RHP High Class A Lancaster Age: 20
Evaluators have been impressed with how well the 20-year-old is handling the challenges of Lancaster and the California League. Lambert’s stuff has been solid across the board, with a 91-94 mph fastball and a curveball and changeup that both draw future above-average-to-plus grades. His intangibles, including his competitiveness and ability to thrive in pressure situations, have further drawn strong reviews.
9. Yency Almonte, RHP Double-A Hartford Age: 23
Almonte continues to blossom and become one of the Rockies’ top prospects. The 23-year-old has a 2.21 ERA in 13 starts at Double-A Hartford, which would lead the organization if he had enough innings to qualify. Almonte had two separate disabled list stints for arm fatigue and knee soreness, but returned in time to pitch in the Eastern League All-Star Game.
10. Garrett Hampson, 2B/SS High Class A Lancaster Age: 22
Dynamic and electrifying atop Lancaster’s lineup, Hampson has impressed evaluators with his plus run times, above-average contact ability and athleticism to play both second base and shortstop effectively. Hampson’s below-average power limits his ceiling, but scouts inside and outside the Rockies system consider him a future big leaguer, likely as a utility player.
• LHP Breiling Eusebio is sitting 94-97 mph with life on his fastball and earned a quick promotion from short-season Boise to low Class A Asheville.
• 1B Brian Mundell hit like always at high Class A Lancaster and was promoted to Double-A Hartford, where he posted an .858 OPS in his first 18 games.
• OF Yonathan Daza changed his approach to use the whole field more rather than try to pull everything and leads the California League with a .354 batting average.
• C Dom Nunez’s batting average continues to decline every level he climbs and has cratered to .192 at Double-A Hartford this year.
• OF Manuel Melendez is not getting on base enough to utilize his plus speed. He has 58 strikeouts and seven walks in 76 games at low class A Asheville, culminating in a .301 on-base percentage.
• Welker has no set timetable to return from his abdominal strain.
• OF Forrest Wall is out for the season after dislocating his left shoulder diving for a ball in the outfield on May 2.
• 3B Tyler Nevin missed nearly two months with right wrist soreness before returning to Asheville on July 7.
• RHP Robert Tyler is working through dead arm and has no timetable to return.
• OF Vince Fernandez has missed four weeks with an oblique strain but is expected to return by the end of July.
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• Righthanders Jeff Hoffman, German Marquez and Antonio Senzatela and lefthander Kyle Freeland have formed one of MLB’s most promising rookie starting pitching quartets in years and played a huge role in the Rockies charge to playoff position.