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Colorado Rockies

Prospects Overview

Top 30 Prospects

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Player Reports

  1. 1. Chin-Hui Tsao | RHP
    Chin-Hui Tsao
    Born: Jun 2, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 210
    Minors: 3-2 | 4.54 ERA | 38 SO | 8 BB | 35.7 IP

    Tsao became the first Taiwanese pitcher and just the second Taiwanese player to appear in the majors when he pitched 61⁄3 innings to beat the Brewers on July 25. Overall, he survived his first taste of the big leagues despite allowing first-inning homers in four of his eight starts. He missed nearly a month when he went on the disabled list with a strained hamstring, which kept his innings down enough so that he retained his rookie eligibility. Because Tsao was on the DL at the end of August, however, he couldn't be sent to the minors and thus be allowed to pitch for Taiwan in the Asian Games, the qualifying event for the Olympics. The Rockies had agreed to make Tsao available in order to have the government waive his mandatory 18 months of military service, but there was no way around Major League Baseball's rules. Taiwan went on to earn a berth in the Olympics, along with Japan. Colorado's first major international signing, Tsao received a $2.2 million bonus in 1999. He has mastered English and has shown he has fully recovered from Tommy John surgery in 2001. Before joining the Rockies, he made a strong impression in his half-season at Double-A Tulsa, ranking as the top prospect in the Texas League. Tsao has a devastating slider, though he has been limited in how he can use it since his elbow surgery. The Rockies don't want him to overextend himself with the slider, which has given him more opportunity to refine his changeup. He has an exploding fastball that can run up to 96 mph and usually sits in the low 90s. He can add and subtract from his heater, depending on what the situation calls for. Just as important as his stuff, Tsao has command of the strike zone. He has averaged 10.5 strikeouts and just 2.3 walks per nine innings during his minor league career. He is athletic and moves off the mound quickly. He also is a good baserunner, able to challenge an outfielder's arm. Pressure isn't an issue for Tsao. He's carrying the hopes of an entire nation, so what's a baseball game? Tsao's focus came under question in Colorado. Until arriving at Coors Field he always had been so much more talented than his competition that he was able to excel with ease. In the big leagues, he's going to have to develop game plans. He must adjust to what the advance scouts, pitching coach and catcher believe he should do instead of continually shaking off his catcher. He needs to get stronger and develop more stamina so he can carry his stuff later into games. Projected as Colorado's future ace, Tsao will go to spring training with a solid chance to be part of the Rockies rotation. However, he'll have to earn the job. If not, the Rockies won't hesitate sending him to Colorado Springs for Triple-A seasoning. He skipped that step on his way up and could benefit from time with pitching guru Bob McClure.

  2. 2. Ian Stewart | 3B
    Ian Stewart
    Born: Apr 5, 1985
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 225
    Minors: .319/.398/.594 | 30 HR | 19 SB | 505 AB

    Stewart set local records with 16 homers and 61 RBIs last spring, helping La Quinta High win 30 games and an 11th consecutive league championship. After signing for $1.95 million, Stewart earned top prospect honors in the Rookie-level Pioneer League. A legitimate run producer, Stewart had no problems adjusting to wood bats. He started hitting the day he got to Casper, driving the ball out of the ballpark in all directions. He has quality plate coverage and is strong on the inner half of the plate. He has below-average speed but excellent instincts on the bases. Stewart may have to move to first base. While he's not a slick fielder, the Rockies say he can become a solid third baseman. As a defender, Rockies adviser Walt Weiss compares him to Chipper Jones with the potential to be Scott Rolen. The key is that Stewart accepts instruction and is driven to succeed. Most important, he wants to play third. Within three years, Stewart could be in the middle of the Colorado lineup. He figures to start 2004 at low Class A Asheville, but he'll move as quickly as he handles the challenge of each level.

  3. 3. Jeff Francis | LHP
    Jeff Francis
    Born: Jan 8, 1981
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'5" Wt.: 220
    Minors: 16-3 | 2.21 ERA | 196 SO | 29 BB | 154.7 IP

    Francis was the ninth player selected in the 2002 draft, making him the second-highest Canadian selection ever. His pro debut was cut short when he sustained a concussion after being hit in the head with a liner while sitting in the Asheville dugout. He struggled to start the 2003 season, but went 10-1, 1.06 in his final 13 starts, including 15 shutout innings in two playoff wins. Francis has excellent command of a solid fastball. He pitches at 90 mph and figures to add velocity as he builds upper-body strength. His curveball is a plus pitch at times. He has fluid mechanics that will allow him to advance quickly. His strong finish highlighted his ability to deal with adversity and move forward. Francis needs more consistency with his curveball. He also is working on his changeup, which will be a critical pitch as he reaches higher levels. Francis will open the 2004 season at Double-A Tulsa. He could follow the paths of righthanders Jason Jennings, Aaron Cook and Chin-Hui Tsao, finishing his first full season above Class A in the majors.

  4. 4. Ubaldo Jimenez | RHP
    Ubaldo Jimenez
    Born: Jan 22, 1984
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'5" Wt.: 210
    Minors: 4-1 | 2.23 ERA | 61 SO | 12 BB | 44.3 IP

    In his first year in the United States, Jimenez posted a 6.53 ERA in the Pioneer League. In his second, he put together such a strong second half at Asheville that he was promoted to high Class A Visalia at age 19 for the California League playoffs. Jimenez has legitimate power-pitcher potential. He has a four-seam fastball that reaches 96-97 mph, and a two-seamer with excellent running action. He also throws a big, sharp-breaking curveball that buckles righthanders, and he uses it against lefties as well. Jimenez needs to develop a third pitch. He shows a big league changeup in side sessions but hasn't taken it to the mound yet. Like most young pitchers, he'll have to improve his command. He should be able to make these adjustments with experience. Jimenez figures to start the 2004 season at Visalia but could reach Double-A by the middle of the year. Once he develops his changeup he'll have the stuff to pitch at the top of a big league rotation.

  5. 5. Jayson Nix | 2B
    Jayson Nix
    Born: Aug 26, 1982
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'11" Wt.: 195
    Minors: .213/.292/.346 | 14 HR | 14 SB | 456 AB

    The brother of Rangers outfielder Laynce Nix, Jayson was a star shortstop/ righthander in high school in Texas. He was moved to second base in instructional league following his 2001 pro debut, and adapted well enough that talk about a possible conversion to catcher was tabled. He tied for the minor league lead with 46 doubles in 2003. Able to drive pitches into either gap, Nix has plus power potential for a middle infielder. He has an excellent sense of how to play the game and is able to make adjustments. He shows leadership and is never intimidated. He'll be known as an offensive player, but his range and speed at second base are solid-average and he has a strong arm. Nix swings and misses more than he should when he gets too pull-conscious. He's still learning the nuances of positioning himself at second base. Nix hit in the first three spots in the Visalia lineup and will be best suited for hitting second or third in the majors. He'll move up to Double-A in 2004 and should be in the big leagues to stay the following year.

  6. 6. Rene Reyes | OF
    Rene Reyes
    Born: Feb 21, 1978
    Bats: B Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'11" Wt.: 175

    Originally signed as a catcher, Reyes moved to the outfield after shoulder and knee surgeries. A former MVP in the Rookie-level Arizona and low Class A South Atlantic leagues, he played in the Futures Games in July 2003 and received his first big league callup shortly afterward. He topped all minor league switch-hitters in batting in 2003. He doesn't have a picturesque swing, but Reyes can hit. He gets the bat head through the zone and makes solid contact, with a career .329 average in the minors. He has gap power now and should pull more pitches as he matures. He runs well enough to steal some bases and shows fringe-average ability in center field, though he's better suited for an outfield corner. Reyes can get lackadaisical until he's challenged. He needs to show a desire to get better rather than be satisfied with getting by. He puts the bat on the ball so easily that he rarely walks. Reyes figures to be a fourth outfielder in Colorado to open the 2004 season. With his bat, he should be ready to claim a starting job on one of the corners the following year.

  7. 7. Jason Young | RHP
    Jason Young
    Born: Sep 28, 1979
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'5" Wt.: 210

    The Rockies were set to take Young in 2000's first round, but went for Matt Harrington when he slid to the No. 7 overall pick. While Colorado couldn't sign Harrington, it landed Young in the second round and signed him for a franchise-record $2.75 million. He pitched in the Futures Game in 2001 and 2002, and had eight brief big league stints in 2003. Young uses the entire strike zone with four pitches. His top pitch is a 92-93 mph four-seam fastball, and he has refined a Vulcan changeup that he'll throw in any count. He's intelligent and mature, and he's an excellent competitor. Young still is trying to decide on his breaking ball. The slider is easier to learn, but because its velocity is too similar to that of his two-seam fastball, his curveball is more useful as an offspeed pitch. Young also needs more upper-body strength and added deception with his delivery. Projected as an eventual starter, Young will get a look as a reliever in big league camp. More likely, though, he'll begin 2004 in Triple-A.

  8. 8. Zach Parker | LHP
    Zach Parker
    Born: Aug 19, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 205
    Minors: 4-8 | 5.84 ERA | 45 SO | 33 BB | 91.0 IP

    Parker could be the best San Jacinto lefthander since Andy Pettitte, but he needs to stay on the mound to realize his potential. He has pitched just 285 innings as pro. He was shut down early in 2001 because of his juco workload and again in 2003 with bone spurs in his elbow. In between, he won 16 games in low Class A in his one healthy season. Parker commands a 90 mph fastball that should bump up a notch or two as he gets stronger. He backs it up with a solid changeup and an intense competitive drive. He has totally shackled lefties in two years in Class A, holding them to a .180 average and two homers in 233 at-bats. Because he has spent so much time on the sidelines, Parker's breaking ball is still a project. He has toyed with both a curveball and slider, and lately he has focused on the curveball. He'll have to prove he can stay healthy over the long haul. After full seasons in Double-A and Triple-A, Parker should get to Colorado in 2006. For now, the Rockies hope he can hold up for the entire year at Tulsa.

  9. 9. Matt Holliday | OF
    Matt Holliday
    Born: Jan 15, 1980
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 240
    Minors: .364/.481/.864 | 2 HR | 2 SB | 22 AB

    The Rockies signed Holliday for $840,000 out of high school, when he was a premium quarterback prospect. When the Miami and Tennessee football programs tried to lure him in 2001, Colorado gave him a six-year big league contract with a $700,000 guarantee. He finally began to live up to expectations in the second half of 2003, and he played so well in the Arizona Fall League that he was added to the U.S. Olympic qualifying team. Though the numbers don't add up, the Rockies see considerable physical potential. Holliday has legitimate big league power despite never hitting more than 12 homers in a season. A former third baseman, he has worked hard to become a solid left fielder. To unlock his power in games, Holliday needs to get his hands in a cocked position so he's ready to hit more quickly. He's still rebuilding his arm strength after having Tommy John surgery in July 2001. After two years in Double-A, Holliday will move to Triple-A in 2004. If he shows consistent power, he'll be called up.

  10. 10. Ching-Lung Lo | RHP
    Ching-Lung Lo
    Born: Aug 20, 1985
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'6" Wt.: 190
    Minors: 4-3 | 5.05 ERA | 49 SO | 30 BB | 62.3 IP

    Lo signed for $1.4 million out of Taiwan's Koio Yuan High, the same school that produced Chin-Hui Tsao. Lo tied for the short-season Northwest League in losses in 2003, but his 10th-place finish in ERA is more telling of how well he pitched. The Taiwanese national team hoped to use Lo in the Asian Games, but the Rockies denied permission so they could limit his workload. Lo enters his third pro season at 18 and he already throws an 89-90 mph sinker. He can turn his velocity up in key situations and should add more as he fills out his upper body. He has improved his changeup in his two seasons in the United States. He also has the mental toughness to battle through mistakes and adversity. Lo's slider is inconsistent, though it shows flashes of being a plus pitch. He needs to throw it more often in order to improve it. As with many tall, thin athletes, he can look awkward and have difficulty repeating his delivery at times. The Rockies won't rush Lo as they let him build up strength. Headed to Asheville for his first year of full-season ball, he may not get to Colorado until late 2007.

  11. 11. Brad Hawpe | OF
    Brad Hawpe
    Born: Jun 22, 1979
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 190
    Minors: .322/.384/.652 | 31 HR | 3 SB | 345 AB

    The question about Hawpe isn't whether he can hit, because it's obvious that he can. Whether he can play the outfield is the key for him, because he's not going to move Todd Helton off first base in Colorado. Hawpe tied the NCAA Division I record with 36 doubles in 2000, when he won a College World Series with Louisiana State, and he was the high Class A Carolina League MVP in 2002. Hawpe's bat is going to carry him. He generates legitimate power with bat speed, and he understands the value of using all fields. He does need to be more selective, particularly against lefthanders, if he expects to play every day. A below-average runner with good instincts, he can take the extra base but isn't a threat to steal. Hawpe is better suited for right field than left, where he still has some problems with the angle of the ball off the bat. Having played first base, he's more accustomed to seeing balls hit to the right side. At best, he'll be an adequate defender wherever he plays. Hawpe missed six weeks late in the 2003 season with a separated shoulder but made a solid return in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .359 after a 4-for-34 (.118) start. He'll move to Triple-A this year with expectation of being ready for the big leagues within a year.

  12. 12. Jeff Baker | 1B
    Jeff Baker
    Born: Jun 21, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 220
    Minors: .321/.417/.536 | 15 HR | 2 SB | 358 AB

    The start of Baker's pro career has been a struggle. After falling to the fourth round of the 2002 draft because of a lackluster junior season, a checkered history with wood bats and signability concerns, he signed that October. After landing a $2 million big league contract with a $50,000 bonus, Baker was set to make his debut last year. But ongoing problems with his left wrist have resulted in two surgeries since he signed (he had a third while at Clemson) and limited him to 70 games in 2003. Baker hits the ball hard and has big-time power, but he needs to do a better job of making contact. He has good hand-eye coordination and balance at the plate, but pitch selection is a challenge for him. His strength is in the middle of the field and he has the ability to turn on hanging breaking balls. Baker has legitimate third-base tools. He has nice hands, quick reflexes and a strong arm. He moves around well enough that he could wind up at second base, which could be needed with Ian Stewart coming behind him. Baker most likely will open 2004 in high Class A, but if he's healthy and plays as expected, he'll move quickly to Double-A.

  13. 13. Garrett Atkins | 1B
    Garrett Atkins
    Born: Dec 12, 1979
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 215
    Minors: .366/.434/.578 | 15 HR | 0 SB | 445 AB

    Atkins was converted from first to third base in 2002 because of the presence of Todd Helton at Coors Field. He had played third in high school and early in his career at UCLA, where he set a school record with a 33-game hitting streak. Atkins is a career .303 hitter in the minors. His brief big league audition last year didn't go as well, however, and exposed some holes in his game. Some question how driven he is to address his deficiencies, particularly on defense. Those who believe in Atkins are convinced he has a desire to succeed but just doesn't let it show. His footwork is a major problem at the hot corner, affecting his ability to field grounders and make throws. He does have offensive ability. Atkins is very good at recognizing problems in his swing. He has some raw power, but he prefers to use a line-drive approach and doesn't project to hit enough homers to carry him at third base unless he becomes at least average in the field. He'll get a look in spring training but figures to open the season back in Triple-A.

  14. 14. Scott Dohmann | RHP
    Scott Dohmann
    Born: Feb 13, 1978
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 200
    Minors: 1-0 | 1.64 ERA | 31 SO | 7 BB | 22.0 IP

    The top winner on Louisiana-Lafayette's College World Series team and the Sun Belt Conference pitcher of the year in 2000, Dohmann won in double figures and led his league in starts in each of his first two full pro seasons. After four starts in 2003, however, Dohmann was moved to the bullpen. He welcomed the change, feeling it would speed his path to the big leagues. He didn't have much of a ceiling as a starter but opened eyes out of the bullpen. His fastball, which had sat at 89 mph, suddenly moved to 93-95. He has a slider and used the Arizona Fall League to work on his changeup, a pitch he'll need against lefthanders. Dohmann can get out of whack with his delivery and suffer through spurts where he battles his command. He has toned his motion down and generally has good control. Dohmann will get a chance to make the Rockies out of spring training, but likely will open the year in Triple-A.

  15. 15. Oscar Materano
    Oscar Materano
    Born: Nov 18, 1981

    Materano is the next in the line of Caribbean shortstops produced by Colorado, and he has better tools than predecessors Neifi Perez and Juan Uribe. Materano has plus arm strength and the ability to go into the hole and make outstanding plays. The Rockies also like his offensive potential, though he has yet to hit much. He has a live bat that will produce some extra-base pop once he develops a better knowledge of the strike zone. He's overaggressive at the plate and out of control in the field. Style, not substance, is his priority, and he hasn't shown the maturity to make adjustments. Though he has big hands, they are a bit stiff. He's an average runner. Materano will repeat low Class A in 2004, a move designed to make him realize that he has to develop better focus.

  16. 16. Neil Wilson | C
    Neil Wilson
    Born: Dec 7, 1983
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 190
    Minors: .240/.312/.389 | 7 HR | 1 SB | 334 AB

    Wilson is a sleeper who has been a catcher for just two years. He played shortstop in high school in 2001 because he was a year behind Pirates draftee Chris Torres. Wilson, whose older brother Andy is an outfielder in the Mets system, has been limited to 60 games in his two pro seasons. He shared the catching job at Casper in 2002, then had his 2003 season truncated by a right wrist injury. Wilson has the offensive potential to be a run-producing catcher. He can drive the ball and showed improved plate discipline last year. The key will be how well Wilson develops behind the plate. He does move well and has excellent arm strength. He's still learning the mechanics behind the plate and trying to smooth out his footwork, the biggest reason why he has thrown out just 18 percent of basestealers as a pro. He has benefited from spending the last two years with Casper manager P.J. Carey, one of the best catching instructors in the game. Wilson should move to low Class A in 2004.

  17. 17. Choo Freeman | OF
    Choo Freeman
    Born: Oct 20, 1979
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 200
    Minors: .297/.350/.478 | 10 HR | 7 SB | 360 AB

    Freeman set a Texas high school record with 50 touchdown receptions and was Texas A&M's top wide receiver recruit in 1998. He turned down the Aggies to sign for a then- Rockies record $1.4 million. His baseball skills were unrefined, so he has made a slow climb through the system, similar to his cousin Torii Hunter's rise with Minnesota. Freeman had a breakout season in 2002 but had trouble repeating it last year. He missed three weeks after his mother-in-law died, and another three weeks with an ankle injury. Freeman has a tremendous work ethic and doesn't cheat himself. He's very athletic and continues to translate that ability to the baseball field. His best tool is his speed, which helps him take extra bases and cover ground in center field. He's still honing his basestealing instincts, however. Similarly, he has raw power but has yet to unleash it much in games. His arm is below average but is getting stronger. Freeman will return to Triple-A this year, with the Rockies hoping he can recapture his 2002 form.

  18. 18. Juan Morillo | RHP
    Juan Morillo
    Born: Nov 5, 1983
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 190
    Minors: 3-2 | 2.98 ERA | 73 SO | 41 BB | 66.3 IP

    After two seasons in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League, Morillo came to the United States last summer and created much more excitement than his statistics would indicate. He struggled early with the cultural differences, but began to turn things around at the end of the season and then in instructional league. Morillo has a big-time fastball. He usually pitches in the mid-90s and will hit 98-99 mph a few times each game. He has a free arm action and, when he follows through, great extension. He already has drawn comparisons to Bartolo Colon at the same stages of their careers. Morillo's hard slider is inconsistent but shows upside. He's learning a changeup and needs to throw a lot more strikes. He's a long-range projection who has the fastball to close games and the potential to develop into a frontline starter. The Rockies may play it conservatively and send him to short-season Tri-City in 2004.

  19. 19. J.D. Closser | C
    J.D. Closser
    Born: Jan 15, 1980
    Bats: B Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'10" Wt.: 205
    Minors: .299/.384/.440 | 7 HR | 0 SB | 298 AB

    Considered the lesser prospect in the January 2002 trade that sent Mike Myers to Arizona, Closser will do more for the Rockies than Jack Cust, who was considered the key to the deal. Cust since has been passed on to the Orioles, while Closser projects as Colorado's starting catcher in 2005. He has benefited from playing for catchers-turned-managers P.J. Carey and Marv Foley the last two seasons, earning Texas League all-star honors in 2003. Closser is a switch-hitter with power from both sides. He overswings at times, which is unnecessary because he has the bat speed to hit good fastballs, though he has shown the patience to draw walks. Closser plays full speed ahead. He's good at blocking the plate as well as balls in the dirt, and he has improved his game-calling. He has ample arm strength but is erratic with his throws because he needs better footwork and mechanics. Nevertheless, he ranked fifth in the Texas League by erasing 33 percent of basestealers. He has below-average speed but runs better than many catchers. Closser is ready for Triple-A after two years at Double-A and a winter assignment in the Dominican Republic.

  20. 20. Jeff Salazar | OF
    Jeff Salazar
    Born: Nov 24, 1980
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 195
    Minors: .296/.381/.472 | 14 HR | 27 SB | 538 AB

    Signed as a college senior out of Oklahoma State, where Matt Holliday's father Tom was the coach, Salazar led the South Atlantic League in homers and RBIs in his first full pro season. He nearly put together a 30-30 year. While his power numbers were embellished by the short right-field fence at Asheville's McCormick Field, Salazar has legitimate life in his bat. He'll hit for average with at least gap power in the majors. He uses all fields and controls the strike zone. A plus runner, he's learning how to bunt. He gets himself in trouble when he gets too pull-happy. Salazar is a good center fielder who's technically proficient at the position. His arm is below average. The Rockies love his attitude, as he shows up at the ballpark ready to work every day. Based on his success and his age, he could jump to Double-A this year.

  21. 21. Clint Barmes | SS
    Clint Barmes
    Born: Mar 6, 1979
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 200
    Minors: .328/.376/.505 | 16 HR | 20 SB | 533 AB

    Two years ago, the thought was that Barmes, a center fielder at Indiana State, could be a quality utility infielder. A year ago, there was talk he could become an everyday second baseman. Now, the Rockies are convinced he could be a solid shortstop, along the lines of Walt Weiss, a special adviser for the team. Barmes is an acquired taste. He's best appreciated when you watch how hard he works and how consistent he plays. Barmes can hit for a decent average with gap power. He has to stay on the ball and drive it into right-center to be successful at the plate. He does have a lot of movement in his batting stance, and would benefit if he simplified it and got into hitting position quicker. When his timing is good he can handle breaking balls, but he gets in trouble when he rushes himself. More selectivity also would help. Barmes has good speed and great instincts on the bases. At shortstop, he has enough arm and positions himself well enough to offset his limited range. Barmes will get a chance to compete for Colorado's shortstop job in the spring and could make the team as a utilityman. If he isn't assured ample playing time, he'll head back to Triple-A to get experience.

  22. 22. Cory Sullivan | OF
    Cory Sullivan
    Born: Aug 20, 1979
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 200

    Sullivan has handled the challenges of going directly from Wake Forest, where he was a two-way star and earned a degree in psychology, to full-season baseball. He led the Texas League in hits in 2003. He doesn't have a particularly eye-opening skill, but is a very capable center fielder with leadoff skills. He handles the bat and runs well, and he has a good understanding of situational baseball. He uses a line-drive approach and has good speed. Offensively, he needs to draw more walks and refine his basestealing ability. He gets excellent breaks on balls in the outfield and has an above-average arm for center. Sullivan has an innate feel for the game and doesn't make mental mistakes. He'll go to Triple-A in 2004 with the expectation he'll be at least a fourth outfielder in the big leagues by the following year.

  23. 23. Mike Esposito | RHP
    Mike Esposito
    Born: Sep 27, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 190
    Minors: 10-6 | 3.33 ERA | 90 SO | 35 BB | 143.3 IP

    One of the top college pitching prospects entering 2002, Esposito scared off teams when he developed forearm stiffness late that spring. He already had Tommy John surgery two years earlier, and he dropped to the 12th round. When the Rockies were unable to sign second-rounder Micah Owings away from Georgia Tech, they used the money earmarked for him to give Esposito a $750,000 bonus. He signed too late to pitch that season, but after a tuneup in instructional league, he went directly to high Class A for his pro debut. Esposito has solid command of four average pitches. His two-seam and four-seam fastballs range from 88-93 mph, and he also throws a curveball and changeup. He still needs to learn to trust himself. Esposito pitches away from contact early in the count, rather than aggressively challenging hitters. At 6 feet tall, he doesn't generate much downhill plane on his pitches, though he does generate good sink on his two-seamer. He'll make the move to Double-A to open 2004.

  24. 24. Tony Miller | OF

    Miller is younger than his 23 in baseball terms. A defensive back at Toledo, he hasn't put in as much time on the diamond as most players his age. Miller has the tools to be a center fielder who bats at the top of the lineup, but his game still needs refinement and a hyper-extended left knee in 2003 cost him half the year. If he perfects his bunting, he has a chance to be a .300 hitter. Compared to Cory Sullivan, he has more pop, more speed and more patience for drawing walks. Sullivan has an advantage in plate discipline and defensive ability. Miller gets good breaks on balls and has a slightly below-average arm. Coming off an impressive showing in instructional league last fall, he'll return to Double-A and try to make up for lost time.

  25. 25. Aaron Miles | 2B
    Aaron Miles
    Born: Dec 15, 1976
    Bats: B Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'8" Wt.: 180
    Minors: .333/.345/.389 | 0 HR | 2 SB | 54 AB

    Miles needed two years to get out of Rookie ball and three more to escape low Class A. His perseverance finally paid off in 2003, when he made his major league debut with the White Sox. Following a December trade for disappointing Juan Uribe, Miles could be the Rockies' Opening Day starter at second base. Though his big league résumé consists of a 4-for-12 performance with three doubles last September, Miles is a better hitter than his competition, which consists of Benji Gil, Denny Hocking and Damian Jackson. He broke through with an MVP season in the Double-A Southern League in 2002, and he encored with a rookie-of-the-year performance in the Triple-A International League last year. He's not big and looks like a David Eckstein-style pest at the plate, but he has legitimate gap power. He's a tremendous contact hitter from both sides of the plate, though he doesn't draw many walks. IL managers rated him the league's best defender at his position, but he's really an offensive second baseman. His speed, range and arm are ordinary, though he does have soft hands. He has superb instincts and does the little things well, which is how he survived in the minors as long as he did. If Miles can't make Colorado's starting lineup, the Greek Olympic team wants him for theirs. His great-grandfather was born in Greece, which could be Miles' ticket to the Athens Games if he's not in the majors in August.

  26. 26. Sandy Nin | RHP
    Sandy Nin
    Born: Aug 13, 1980
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 170

    Rather than face arbitration with Justin Speier, the Rockies gave him up in a three-team trade that landed Joe Kennedy from the Devil Rays and Nin from the Blue Jays. Nin led the Dominican Summer League in wins and strikeouts in his 2001 pro debut and hasn't slowed down since arriving in the United States. He pitched in tough luck last year in low Class A, and finished up with a quality start in Double-A--at age 19. Nin has a strong arm, with a 90-93 mph fastball and a power slider. His changeup has potential but still needs improvement. He doesn't get as many strikeouts as his stuff would indicate he should because he's just 6 feet tall and his pitches arrive at the plate on a flat plane. He should make his Rockies debut in high Class A.

  27. 27. Justin Hampson | LHP
    Justin Hampson
    Born: May 24, 1980
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 205
    Minors: 10-9 | 3.49 ERA | 104 SO | 63 BB | 170.3 IP

    Hampson took a little while to get going as a prospect. Selected in the 28th round in 1999, he didn't sign as a draft-and-follow until the following year. He went 1-8 in his pro debut and spent his first two seasons in short-season ball. He has continued to improve over the last two years, leading the system with 14 victories and making the California League all-star team in 2003. Hampson ranges from 87-91 mph on his fastball, sitting primarily at 88-89, and he pitches inside to both lefthanders and righthanders. His best pitch is his changeup, though he needs to be more aggressive and not nibble at the strike zone with it. He also must refine his fastball command and his curveball. He sometimes dips his front shoulder in his delivery, which puts his curve on the same plane as his fastball. He's ready for Double-A.

  28. 28. Ben Crockett | RHP
    Ben Crockett
    Throws: R

    Crockett set every conceivable strikeout record at Harvard, and his ability to throw strikes has carried over from college to the pros. He has averaged 1.8 walks per nine innings as a pro. Crockett's biggest assets are his command and his intelligence. He adjusts from at-bat to at-bat with a hitter, never making the same pitch twice. He's very efficient with his pitches, which include a four-seam fastball that hits 91-92 mph, a two-seamer that sits around 86 mph and a cut fastball with similar velocity. He throw his changeup in any count. Crockett is inconsistent with his curveball, which is more a slurve than a true breaking hammer. He doesn't project to get much better and has a ceiling as a fourth or fifth starter. He tore an elbow ligament in 2001 but didn't require surgery and hasn't had any problems since. Crockett will open 2004 in high Class A with a chance to move to Double-A in the second half.

  29. 29. Justin Huisman | RHP
    Justin Huisman
    Born: Apr 16, 1979
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 195

    Huisman played with his brothers Jason (a former outfielder in the Angels system) and Josh at Mississippi, where he was a shortstop/closer. He has made a smooth transition to full-time pitcher, posting a 1.85 ERA in his pro debut and a 2.22 mark in his four-year career. Huisman's high-80s two-seam fastball isn't overpowering, but it fools hitters because it doesn't look like a sinker until it drops straight down when it gets to the plate. He also has an average slider and pinpoint command. There's a little violence to Huisman's delivery, but it's deceptive. He needs to improve his changeup, which also sinks, to help him against more advanced lefthanded hitters. Huisman will be in big league camp this spring, but he most likely will open the season at Triple-A.

  30. 30. Aaron Mardsen

    Like fellow North Dakotan Darin Erstad, Marsden starred at Nebraska. He was the Big 12 Conference pitcher of the year in 2003, when he also earned academic All-America honors with a 3.95 grade-point average in finance. Marsden's strong suits are his command and plus-plus slider. He has average velocity on his two-seam and four-seam fastballs, which run away from lefthanders. He also throws a changeup with sinking action and a curveball. He's tough on hitters because he's a big lefthander with a deceptive delivery, though there's a bit of effort to it. The Rockies were impressed with how he took a leadership role in the short-season Tri-City clubhouse. He should jump to low Class A in 2004 and could move quickly.

View Players 11-30

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