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Matzek emerged as the top high school pitcher and top lefthander in the 2009 draft class, but his reported bonus demands and Oregon commitment drove him down many draft boards. The Rockies had a reputation for being conservative in the draft, but in their first major deviation from their previous draft philosophy, they took Matzek 11th overall. Though he had told teams he was looking for "unprecedented money," Colorado was able to land him for a club-record $3.9 million at the Aug. 17 deadline. He signed too late to make his pro debut, though he did make a strong impression in instructional league. The Rockies kept him in extended spring training for the first six weeks of the 2010 season, in an attempt to keep his innings down in his first pro season. Matzek didn't make his first start at low Class A Asheville until May 24, and even in August he worked with an 85-pitch limit. He also was slowed by biceps tendinitis at season's end, though he still ranked as the No. 3 prospect (and top pitching prospect) in the South Atlantic League. Matzek has a legitimate four-pitch assortment, with strong present stuff and plenty of room for improvement. His fastball sits at 88-92 mph and touches 96. He throws his fastball with good angle, and it jumps on hitters with late life. He pitched in the mid-90s more frequently toward the end of the season, and he flashed upper-90s heat leading up to the 2009 draft. At 20, he should get stronger as he fills out. Matzek is still developing feel for and consistency with his secondary pitches. He presently has more feel for his decent curveball, but his slider should develop into his more reliable breaking ball, a potential plus offering and perhaps a legitimate out pitch. His changeup shows promise in bullpen sessions, but he doesn't use it enough in games. Eventually he'll learn that he needs the changeup to combat righthanders, though for now he noticeably slows his arm when he throws it. Matzek has good arm action and a nice release, but he opens up too soon in his delivery and lands on a stiff front leg, which is why he has been so inconsistent with his command. He averaged 6.2 walks per nine innings in his pro debut, which makes his 2.92 ERA a testament to his ability to dominate hitters. A quality athlete, Matzek fields his position well. His biggest challenge has nothing to do with his physical ability, as he must do a better job of not showing his emotions on the mound. Having never dealt with failure, he got frustrated at times last season. He also got himself in trouble by being too analytical. He's meticulous in his approach, but Colorado would like him to simplify things and not outthink himself. Matzek has all the stuff to pitch at the top of a rotation, but he also has a lot to learn. If his control and command come together, he could move more quickly than a typical Rockies high school draft pick. He'll start 2011 at high Class A Modesto, with a midseason move up to Double-A Tulsa and a big league ETA of late 2012 not out of the question.
Rosario was in the midst of a breakout year when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a rundown in early August. He had just played in the Futures Game and won the Double-A Texas League's player-of-the-month award for July when knee surgery ended his season. Colorado added him to its 40-man roster in November. Rosario is a rare catcher with an impact bat. He has a compact swing and can turn on any fastball, and he showed improvement handling breaking balls last year. He has power to all fields and could hit 20-30 homers a year if he taps into his strength, though he'll need to improve his strike-zone discipline. While he's a well below-average runner, Rosario has the athleticism to be a quality defensive catcher. He moves well behind the plate and blocks and receives balls well. He has a strong arm and threw out 44 percent of basestealers in 2010. He's refining his game-calling and working on keeping up his energy behind the plate even when he has a bad game at bat. The Rockies hoped Rosario could reach the major leagues sometime in 2011, but the knee injury probably pushes that timetable back a year. His rehabilitation was progressing well, and he could be able to participate in spring training. When he's ready for action, he'll head to Triple-A Colorado Springs.
The Rockies drafted Arenado 56th overall and signed him for $625,000 because of his bat. He hit .529 as a high school senior and then .300 in his pro debut, when he was the second-youngest everyday player in the Rookie-level Pioneer League. He got off to a slow start in 2010 because of a groin injury, reporting to Asheville on May 21, but still batted .308 and finished second in the South Atlantic League with 41 doubles. Arenado is strong and makes consistent, hard contact, so he should have above-average power. His inside-out stroke serves him well in two-strike situations, though there's some stiffness in his swing. He has a situational approach that allows him to turn on fastballs thrown on the inner portion of the plate. A middle-of-the-lineup hitter, he admits he has to draw more walks. A shortstop in high school, Arenado has moved to third base as a pro and has a strong, accurate arm. He needs to work on his first-step quickness to develop better range, and he could end up at first base. He's not athletic and has below-average speed. Arenado will move up to high Class A to open the 2011 season, but if he hits he could earn a second-half promotion. He'll stay at third base for now, but he profiles as the eventual heir to Todd Helton at first base.
Undrafted out of a suburban Chicago high school, Friedrich went 25th overall in the 2008 draft and signed for $1.35 million after three years at Eastern Kentucky. He ranked second in the minors with 12.0 strikeouts per nine innings in his first full season, but he has missed a month in each of the last two years with elbow inflammation. His 2010 season ended on Aug. 19 because of a strained lat muscle. Friedrich offers a pair of plus pitches and mixes his entire arsenal well. His fastball ranges from 89-93 mph, touching 95, and he loves to challenge hitters with it. His curveball has big bite when he finishes it but needs to get more consistent. He shows feel for a changeup and locates it well, and he has worked on a slider to give hitters a different look. Tulsa pitching coach Bryan Harvey worked with Friedrich to get him to stay back longer in his delivery, allowing him to create a better downhill plane on his pitches. His main challenge is to stay healthy. Provided he's durable enough, Friedrich can be a No. 3 starter, and he's nearly ready for the big leagues. He'll open 2011 in Triple-A and figures to reach Colorado before the season ends.
Jason Marquis won 15 games and made the all-star team in his lone season with Colorado, but his legacy well could turn out to be Tago, selected 47th overall in the 2010 draft with a compensation choice the Rockies received for losing Marquis to free agency. Of Samoan descent, Tago initially committed to UCLA and looked headed to Cal State Fullerton until he signed for $982,500 hours before the Aug. 16 deadline. Tago has the size and stuff to be a frontline starter. He first caught the attention of scouts when he hit 90 mph with his fastball at age 14. He now works at 91-93 mph, with a frame and arm action that portend more velocity, and he hit 98 in predraft workouts. His curveball has promise but needs tighter spin, and he's working on a changeup after not using it much as an amateur. Tago has a smooth, relaxed motion, but he needs to do a better job of incorporating his lower half in his delivery. He throws strikes and has a good demeanor on the mound. Tago got his first taste of pro ball in instructional league and spent a month at the team's facility in the Dominican Republic. The Rockies don't rush young arms, but he could force his way into the Asheville rotation in 2011.
In 2009-10, Parker became the first player in NCAA Division I history to throw 20 touchdown passes and hit 20 homers in the same school year. The 26th overall pick in the 2010 baseball draft, he declined a $2.2 million offer from the Rockies in mid-July that would have required him to immediately give up playing quarterback at Clemson. He signed for $1.4 million at the Aug. 16 deadline with the agreement that he would play one more season of college football before focusing on baseball--he was already participating in fall practice with the Tigers at the time. Parker's final football season was a disappointment. He threw 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a 6-6 Tigers team. His disappointing fall reaffirmed his decision to focus on baseball starting this spring. His father Carl is a former NFL wide receiver. Parker hit 46 homers in three seasons at Clemson and has tremendous bat speed to go with strength, so scouts think his power is legitimate. He shows a great feel for the game and improved his discipline last spring, giving him the ability to hit for a solid average as well. He's a good athlete but not an overwhelming one. He has average speed, range and arm strength and will fit on an outfield corner. The leadership he showed at quarterback translates into a no-nonsense mentality on the baseball field. Parker's experience playing at the highest level of college baseball should allow him to hit the ground running in full-season ball, and he'll probably make his debut at Asheville. Colorado will fast-track him if he can handle it.
The 34th player taken in the 2009 draft, Brothers has moved quickly since signing for $969,000. Converted to a reliever after turning pro, he reached Double-A in July of his first full pro season, struggling initially but finishing with a 1.50 ERA and 18 strikeouts in his final 12 innings. He continued to perform well in the Arizona Fall League, where he appeared in the Rising Stars Game. Brothers has just two pitches, but they're both nasty and he goes right after hitters with them. His fastball touches 97 and sits comfortably in the low to mid-90s with running movement. His mid-80s slider has dramatic late tilt, allowing him to use it as an out pitch against both lefthanders and righthanders. Command and control are all that stand between him and a big league promotion. Tulsa pitching coach Bryan Harvey helped smooth out Brothers' mechanics, getting him to eliminate a shoulder rotation that caused his pitches to stay up in the zone. Harvey draws compares Brothers to Billy Wagner. The Rockies will give Brothers a long look in big league camp after nearly promoting him to the majors last September. The team's closer of the future, he'll probably open 2011 in Triple-A and reach Colorado during the season.
Nicasio is a late bloomer, signing out of the Dominican Republic at age 19 and making his full-season debut three years later. He took a major step forward in 2010, leading the high Class A California League in wins (12), innings (177) and strikeouts (171). Despite blowing away his previous career high of 112 innings, he finished with a flourish, going 4-1, 2.30 ERA with just four walks in 43 innings over his final six starts. Nicasio has the stuff and size to pitch near the front of a big league rotation, and one Cal League scout compared him to a young Ubaldo Jimenez. Nicasio has an 89-94 mph fastball and the ability to reach back and hit 97. He throws two versions of a breaking ball, a true curveball and a slurvier version that some scouts call a slider. He's developing a changeup that elicits swings and misses at times. Nicasio posted a 5.5 K-BB ratio last year, and at times he's around the strike zone too much. He had more success one he adjusted and began pitching inside more, moving hitters off the plate. Nicasio will take his four-pitch mix to Double-A in 2011. If all goes well, he could challenge for a job in Colorado's rotation by mid-2012.
An eighth-round draft choice coming out of high school in 2007, Bettis was among seven Astros picks in the first 15 rounds that year who did not sign. He showed versatility at Texas Tech, working as a starter as a freshman, reliever as a sophomore and in both roles last spring. He also starred in the bullpen for Team USA in the summer of 2009, and signed for $477,000 as the 76th overall pick last June. An excellent competitor, Bettis has the fluid delivery and quick arm to allow him to look effortless while generating velocity and movement. He usually pitches at 92-94 mph with his fastball, and he has hit 98 out of the bullpen. His slider is a plus pitch at times, but it lacks consistency and he tends to overthrow it. He has a developing changeup that he uses against lefthanders. Bettis relies too heavily on his secondary pitches and needs to use his fastball more. He throws strikes and works down in the zone, giving up just one homer in 67 pro innings. Bettis could open his first full pro season in high Class A and pitch his way to Double-A by midseason. While he has the stuff and resilience to thrive as a reliever, the Rockies will develop him as a potential middle-of-the-rotation starter.
Injuries have slowed Gomez the last three years, but he had a much more significant obstacle to overcome last year. His first son, Hector Jr., died shortly after his birth in late June. Gomez also dealt with a stress fracture in his right leg, sustained in the second game of 2010. He fouled a ball off his left leg in the first game of 2008, then blew out his elbow while rehabbing a stress fracture and required Tommy John surgery. In 2009, he missed a month with a groin strain. Gomez has the prototypical tools of a modern shortstop. He has tremendous arm strength, soft hands and quick feet, which allow him to cover ground and make off-balance plays. His focus tends to wander on routine grounders, however. At the plate, Gomez can turn on any fastball and shows at least 15-homer potential. He's impatient and vulnerable to breaking pitches, which dents his average. He has plus speed but is still learning as a basestealer. The Rockies believe most of his deficiencies can be alleviated with playing time. The two things holding Gomez back are his health and his position. With Troy Tulowitzki entrenched at Coors Field, Gomez will have to move to second base if he stays with Colorado. First on his agenda is getting in a full season of at-bats in Double-A.
Drafted twice as a pitcher (by the Marlins out of high school and Red Sox out of junior college), Blackmon moved to the outfield while playing in a summer league after the 2007 college season, and wound up as the Rockies' second-round draft choice the next June. He had a setback out of spring training last year, suffering a strained hamstring that sidelined him the first two months--the result of an ill-advised attempt at bulking up in the offseason--but finished strong in Double-A and then played in the Arizona Fall League. Blackmon's compact stroke and ability to drive the ball into gaps keeps him from extended slumps. His contact approach serves him well against lefthanders. His above-average speed returned as his hamstring healed, and he has stolen 62 bases in the minor leagues while being caught 27 times. He is working on getting better jumps in center field and needs to streamline his throwing mechanics. He has a tendency to wind up. Blackmon will make the move to Triple-A this year and figures to see time in the big leagues by September, if not sooner.
Herrera is the latest find for the Rockies' Latin American scouting department, signing for $800,000 in the summer of 2009. After making his debut in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League in 2010, he was invited to instructional league in the fall, which underscores how the organization feels about his future. His numbers aren't eye-popping, but Herrera shows great enthusiasm to play, regardless of his struggles on the field. A switchhitter who projects to have power as his lean body fills out, Herrera showed surprising plate discipline, averaging more than nine at-bats per strikeout. He has pull power from both sides of the plate and shows the ability to drive the ball into the gaps. Colorado has smoothed out Herrera's throwing motion, and he already has a solid arm, and plus range. His hands are average but figure to soften as he gains playing experience. If he outgrows shortstop his skills should fit in center field. Herrera will make his domestic debut with Rookie-level Casper in 2011. Given his youth and lack of experience, the Rockies will take a cautious approach for a couple of years. Given his size and focus, he already has drawn comparisons to Troy Tulowitzki.
After two years in the Dominican Summer League, Campos earned Pioneer League pitcher of the year honors in 2010. He never issued more than two walks in any of his 15 starts, and he finished strong, working at least six innings in each of his final seven starts. He has a physical frame with long, strong legs and room to fill out in his upper body. Despite his inexperience, Campos has a quality three-pitch mix. His fastball sits anywhere from 88- 93 mph, averaging 90-91, and he gets a good downhill plane from his high three-quarters arm slot. His curveball is an out pitch with good bite and arm speed, and he throws it with some power, in the upper 70s. During the 2010 season at Casper he developed a changeup with good fade action that he can use against lefties. Campos needs to use his lower body more to ease strain on shoulder. He's a solid athlete who controls the running game with consistently quick times to the plate. Campos may just need innings to learn how good he can become, and could have a breakout year at Asheville in 2011.
Weathers did not begin pitching until his second year in junior college, having been an outfielder prior to that. Drafted by Detroit in the 25th round after his junior year at Vanderbilt, Weathers made the decision to return to college for another year to develop as a pitcher. Initially projected to be in the big leagues by sometime in the 2009 season, if not sooner, Weathers' development has been slowed by Tommy John surgery. His operation was on Oct. 21, 2008, and he is still working his way back. After missing the entire 2009 season, he began the 2010 season in extended spring training, reworking his mechanics. He has a power fastball that will sit at 95 mph and touch 99, and he complements it with a hard slider. Weathers gets himself in trouble by losing his balance on his back side. The Rockies are working to lower his leg kick to alleviate that. Colorado thought enough of Weathers' comeback to add him to the 40-man roster this offseason for the first time, protecting him from the Rule 5 draft.
Spending 2010 in Modesto meant Scahill had a chance to watch the Giants on television, and he should benefit from that. Watching a slow-motion video of how Tim Lincecum held his changeup, Scahill adopted a similar style late in the season and then went to the Arizona Fall League to perfect the pitch, which he had thrown too hard with his previous grip. Scahill jumped over low Class A and had his struggles in the first half with Modesto, but he rebounded in his final 14 starts to go 7-3, 3.41, and he followed it up with a five-hit, 11-strikeout, nowalk effort against Stockton in the playoffs. The key for Scahill, besides an improved changeup, was a refinement of mechanics that gave him better command of his fastball and hard-breaking slider. He has a power arm, with an easy delivery that produces a 90-94 mph fastball that touches 96. His slider has real power, with reports of it hitting 88 mph. He also benefitted from the development of a slow curveball. The curve is significantly behind the slider, but it has the potential to be a fringe-average pitch as well. Scalhill generally has life down in the strike zone and gets his share of groundballs while keeping the ball in the ballpark. Scahill is a breakout candidate if he maintains his second-half improvements, and he'll report to the Tulsa rotation.
Each year Rockies scouting director Bill Schmidt looks for a player who slipped in the draft, with the idea that he can make a late push for the player if the budget allows. Swanner was the focus in 2010, and shortly before he was supposed to head to Pepperdine the Rockies signed him for $490,000, roughly third-round money. Swanner has raw power, and with guidance from personal hitting coach Deron Johnson Jr., son of the 1965 National League RBI leader, he has developed the ability to use all fields. He has good bat speed, but will get in a hurry and collapse his back side. He wasn't terribly selective in his debut and will have to control the strike zone against better-quality pitching for his raw power to play in games. Swanner has a good frame, shows legitimate catching actions and has arm strength. His throwing motion is long, and he struggled with the faster pace of the pro game, failing to throw out a basestealer in seven tries and committing four passed balls in eight games. Swanner has exciting tools, but like most catchers he may need time to develop, so it's not a lock that he'll report to low Class A in 2011.
A summer teammate of Dexter Fowler during their high school days in Georgia, Nelson actually was clocked at 99 mph with his fastball while pitching in the Connie Mack World Series after his junior year. The debate over infield or pitching, however, ended when he tore the ligament in the elbow during the Connie Mack event that year. Injuries have slowed Nelson's pro career, too. After a breakthrough season at high Class A in 2007, Nelson broke his left hamate bone in 2008, tore a ligament in his right wrist in 2009, and tore his left oblique at the end of last spring, costing him a shot at a big league promotion early in the season. He made it up for a week in the majors in June, and another trip to Colorado as a September callup. He provided one of the Rockies' highlights of the season by stealing home to beat the Reds on Sept. 9. Nelson has Gary Sheffield bat speed and can hit any fastball. He is still adjusting to offspeed and breaking pitches, but for a middle infielder he he has good power. Nelson has a tremendous arm and soft hands but has to keep his focus. With Troy Tulowitzki at short for the long term, the Rockies have given Nelson exposure at second and third. The trade of Clint Barmes to the Astros opens second base for competition between Nelson, Jonathan Herrera, Eric Young Jr., and perhaps Jose Lopez. Nelson will need to have a huge spring, because he has an option left. If he doesn't win the everyday job, he likely will return to Triple-A so he can continue to work on his game.
Pacheco was the Mountain West Conference player of the year in 2007 for New Mexico, when he was a second baseman. He stayed in the infield his first year in pro ball, but in 2008 made the move behind the plate. Pacheco is an accomplished hitter, though he doesn't have a great deal of power. He has a game plan at the plate and works counts, controls the strike zone and uses the whole field. A career .310 hitter in pro ball, he opened last year in high Class A but moved to Double-A when Wilin Rosario injured his knee and was lost for the season. He finished with a turn in the Arizona Fall League and earned a 40-man roster spot. The debate is over whether he can refine his catching game enough to be a regular at the position. He is still learning his footwork and has made adjustments in his throwing mechanics, helping him throw out 34 of the 100 basestealers who tested him in 2010. Scouts like his soft hands and consistent 2.0-second pop times, and he should be the regular at Tulsa in 2011. Looking long-term, however, right now he projects to be a super-utility player in the big leagues because of his background in the middle infield.
Wilson has been a living contradiction at North Carolina State. He has been a three-year starting quarterback and an all-Atlantic Coast Conference choice in football and a platoon player in baseball, even though he is going to play baseball professionally. He passed for 3,288 yards and 26 touchdowns in the 2010 regular season as N.C. State went 8-4. On the diamond last spring, however, he made just 25 starts at second base and the outfield, playing almost exclusively against lefthanders. Wilson was drafted by the Orioles out of high school in the 41st round in 2007, when he turned down six-figure overtures from other clubs. He signed as a fourth-round pick for $200,000 last summer, with the Rockies allowing him to return to quarterback N.C. State. He has the athleticism and aptitude that gave scouts reason to believe he could be a quality infielder. He has game-changing speed but has to learn the subtleties that will allow him to turn it into an asset. He understands the offensive game, hitting the ball the other way and incorporating the bunt into his game, and scouts have long liked his fairly compact swing. Wilson shows plus range with good hands and a solid arm but needs reps in the infield and will have to adjust to the speed of the game. He did get into 32 games at short-season Tri-City last summer before returning to college and will play in low Class A this year. While the Rockies are counting on 2010 being his final football season--and N.C. State honored him on its senior day, even though he is a junior in football eligibility--it remains possible that he could return for another season of football. He has expressed a desire to reach the major leagues in both sports.
He may have been a 20th-round draft pick, but Reynolds was the first member of the Rockies' 2007 draft class to get to the big leagues, earning a mid-August callup last year when Colorado needed bullpen help down the stretch. He exceeded expectations in his 20 appearances, allowing 10 hits and five walks in 18 innings. Reynolds doesn't overpower hitters, but he has a live fastball that's a deceiving 90 mph, at times hitting 92. He uses his height to get the downward action on his pitches. He has a usable breaking ball, alternately described as a slider or curve, but it is his split-fingered pitch that gives him a weapon against righthanders. A starter in college, Reynolds has the resilient arm and full-speed-ahead mentality that have allowed him to fit into a relief role in pro ball. His late-season audition was a success and Reynolds earned a big league job for 2011.
Wheeler was challenged in his first full pro season, skipping a level and going to high Class A. His production numbers weren't impressive, but the Rockies were encouraged as the season went along, and he got what he needed most: playing time. Wheeler was a pure pull hitter when the season started, trying to get to his plus raw power, but hitting coach Duane Espy worked to get him away from hanging over the plate and taught him to drive the ball to the bigger part of the ballpark, particularly against lefthanders. Wheeler's biggest challenge at the plate is learning to recognize breaking pitches from southpaws. He hit .206 with 43 strikeouts in 141 atbats against lefties at Modesto, compared to hitting .266 with 71 strikeouts in 369 at-bats against righthanders. Wheeler has a solid major league arm and could remain in center field, although given the wide-open spaces at Coors Field it is more likely he will wind up in a corner spot. With his solid-average arm, right field is a possibility. He does need to work on his first step and must streamline his routes. He's a plus runner who should continue to steal bases as he moves up the ladder. A willing worker who addresses his shortcomings, Wheeler most likely will move to Double-A for 2011.
Best known as a high school teammate of Ian Stewart and Ian Kennedy, Garner has battled his way to the point that he's on the verge of joining them in the big leagues. He was one of three position players--along with catchers Wilin Rosario and Jordan Pacheco--added to Colorado's 40-man roster in the offseason. Garner signed as a 26th-rounder in 2003, and his career initially was slowed by shoulder surgery, resulting in his pro debut being delayed until 2005. He then had an ill-fated experiment with switch-hitting. A power bat, Garner has never had problems hitting fastballs or hanging breaking balls, but has shown a propensity to chase breaking pitches out of the zone. With the help of veteran Jay Payton and Colorado Springs hitting coach Rene Lachemann, he finally showed an ability to adjust during at-bats. He also became more consistent in driving the ball the other way. He could become more than an extra outfielder but will need to get better jumps and read the ball off the bat better, and he tends to shy away from walls. Garner will get a shot as a righthanded backup in the corner positions in the big leagues this year.
Deduno hit another speed bump in his development during the 2010 season, suffering a stress fracture in his right elbow that forced him to sit out three months. He made four starts prior to the injury and then two more after returning to the active roster and before being promoted to the big leagues. That came after he missed the entire 2008 season following Tommy John surgery. Deduno worked out of the bullpen with the Rockies in September, which is his most likely destination in the big leagues. He has a fastball that will sit at 88-93 mph and a hard curveball, but he's still working on the changeup he needs to get lefthanders out. Deduno, who won the pitching triple crown in the Double-A Texas League in 2009, can dominate hitters when he throws strikes, but he still doesn't throw consistent quality strikes. Basic control has been an issue throughout his career, and at 27, Deduno may be best suited as a long reliever or set-up man.
Frazier's 2010 season was all about him getting back on the mound and showing that he is healthy. Frazier was back pitching nine months after having Tommy John surgery. The son of former big league reliever and current Rockies television analyst George Frazier, Parker is a strike thrower, which is why he figures to benefit from reaching higher levels in the minors, as he gets more consistent umpires. He did fairly well anyway after he settled in against high Class A hitters, throwing strikes and getting the movement he needs on his fastball. He yielded only one homer in 46 innings in the hitter-friendly California League. Frazier features a hard, heavy sinker that sits in the low 90s when he's at his best and induces plenty of ground balls. He uses a hard slider as his best secondary pitch but needs to refine his changeup if he's going to stay in the rotation. While Frazier rushed back from elbow surgery, Colorado won't rush him in 2011, and he'll likely open the season back at Modesto.
Riordan had a successful college career at Fordham, becoming the first Rams pitcher with 100 strikeouts in a season since 1939. He has a four-pitch mix and primarily has started in pro ball. He has proven to be a workhorse, throwing 500 innings the last three seasons, and his work in 2010 earned him a spot on the 40-man roster. None of Riordan's pitches stands out from the pack, but he throws strikes with his 87-93 mph fastball, often cruising in the upper 80s with sink on his two-seamer, then reaching back for the 93 with his four-seamer when he needs it. He uses his curveball and slider well, with scouts generally preferring the curve, and he's more effective against righthanders. His changeup is usable but more of a fringy pitch than a true weapon against lefties. Riordan works with a quick tempo but sometimes loses focus and can get homer-prone. He's set to help anchor the Colorado Springs rotation in 2011 and profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter or long reliever.
The Rockies obviously liked what they saw in Dickerson. After drafting him in the 29th round in 2009 and failing to sign him, they drafted Dickerson again last June and this time signed him away from a Mississippi State commitment for $125,000. Coming off a junior college all-America season for Meridian (Miss.) CC, in which he hit .459 with 21 home runs and 71 RBIs, Dickerson made an impact in his pro debut, hitting .348 and leading the Pioneer League with 61 RBIs and 175 total bases. Dickerson has quick hands and big-time bat speed. His offense is what will carry him to the big leagues. He profiles as a left fielder with fringy speed and a below-average arm that has yet to rebound from 2007 surgery for a torn right labrum. Given his age, he could play his way onto the Modesto roster in the spring.
Escalona is strictly a reliever, and he has yet to start a game in six minor league seasons, covering 212 appearances. He can dominate hitters with a heavy, sinking fastball that runs between 92-96 mph. His slider is a decent No. 2 pitch at times but no more than average. His inability to command a split-fingered pitch denies him the offspeed pitch he needs to be effective against lefthanders. He has the size to be durable. The biggest problem for Escalona has been his inability to become consistent with his delivery, and his poor arm action makes it hard for him to find a consistent release point. After two years of showing marked improvement in command, Escalona took a step backward in 2010, giving up 32 walks and an alarming 17 homers in 69 innings in Triple-A. He did get a late-season call to the big leagues and kept his 40-man roster spot this offseason. He's projected to return to Colorado Springs unless his control improves in the spring.
At Clemson, Paulsen played for his father, assistant coach Tom Riginos, who since has become the head coach at Winthrop. Paulsen's pure hitting ability prompted the Rockies to jump him to high Class A for his first full pro season, and he handled it well. He led the team with 83 RBIs and hit .311. Paulsen has big-time power potential, although he has only 13 home runs in pro ball, thanks to his hand-eye coordination and a textbook swing. He already understands the value of using all fields, and his strong enough to hit the ball out of any spot in a ballpark. He'll have to be more selective for his power to play more often. He's a below-average runner. He shows range and agility, particularly for his side, but his footwork around first base needs work, and he has to be more aggressive in throwing. After spending his first two pro seasons with teams with pitcher-friendly parks, Paulsen could get a chance to show some power at Tulsa in 2011.
Field is the old-fashioned baseball player. He's not going to overwhelm observers, but he gets the job done. He profiles as a utility infielder in the Jamey Carroll mold, capable of playing second, third and shortstop at the big league level. Field got to show off his glove in the Arizona Fall League, making a dazzling play to squelch a ninth-inning threat in the championship game for Scottsdale. Field only got to go to the AFL due to a back injury that sidelined Hector Gomez. He shows some pull power and led Modesto with 15 homers in 2010. Given his limited size, he does need to develop a better two-strike approach and make more consistent contact. Field is considered a plus runner under way but takes such a big swing that he's below-average out of the box. He has been too tentative on the bases to be a basestealing threat. He does have an average arm, and decent range thanks to his feel for the game. Field will move to Double-A in 2011.
An older Latin American signee--he was a few months shy of 21 when the Rockies signed him in 2008-- Cabrera pitched his way to the United States in his first professional season. After back-to-back seasons spent in Rookie ball, Cabrera made the move to Tri-City in 2010 and led the short-season Northwest League in strikeouts (87) and strikeouts per nine innings (10.7). He has a solid fastball that sits at 91-92 mph, and his out pitch is a changeup he can throw in any count. He understands how to set up the changeup, and has been able to replicate his fastball delivery when throwing the pitch. Cabrera is still working to refine and focus on a breaking pitch he is going to need to be a starter at higher levels, but he has flashed some ability to spin the ball. Cabrera is projected to move to low Class A in 2011.
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