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In his first pro season in 2011, Pomeranz pitched for two organizations at three different levels, including the majors. He had set the career strikeout record at Mississippi and earned Southeastern Conference pitcher of the year honors in 2010, when the Indians made him the first college pitcher drafted (fifth overall). He was the centerpiece of the July deal in which Cleveland sent him and three other prospects (righthanders Alex White and Joe Gardner, first baseman/outfielder Matt McBride) to the Rockies for Ubaldo Jimenez. Because he couldn't be traded until the one-year anniversary of his signing for $2.65 million, Pomeranz had to spend two weeks in limbo at Cleveland's spring-training complex. He made his first appearance with his new organization at Double-A Tulsa on Aug. 17, 23 days after his last outing. With Colorado GM Dan O'Dowd and assistant GM Bill Geivett in the stands, Pomeranz went out and pitched six perfect innings before allowing two singles in the seventh. He had an emergency appendectomy three days later, then returned to throw three perfect innings in Tulsa's season finale. His 1.78 ERA would have led the minors if he had the innings to qualify. Pomeranz became the fifth player from the 2010 draft to reach the majors, working five scoreless innings against the Reds on Sept. 11 and pitching well in three of his four starts for the Rockies. They were pleased with the way he handled an eventful season but disappointed when he was arrested in mid-October for disturbing the peace in Oxford, Miss. Pomeranz threw a 91-95 mph fastball at the start of the season in the high Class A Carolina League, where he ranked as the top pitching prospect, but he was down to 87-92 mph by the time he joined the Rockies. His fastball still played well at the lower velocity, because he keeps it down in the zone and his size and long arms add deception to his delivery. When he's back at full strength, he should have a plus fastball. His curveball is his best swing-and-miss pitch, a tight hammer that likewise wasn't as sharp at the end of 2011. He's refining his changeup, but it has a chance to become a solid-average offering. Pomeranz's biggest need is to throw more strikes and locate his pitches with more precision. His delivery isn't the most fluid and has a stabbing motion in the back, which hampers his control and command at times. Unlike many young pitchers who overthrow when they get to the majors, he threw more strikes during his brief big league stint. Considering all the attention focused on him, Pomeranz also showed tremendous poise. He looked and acted like a major league pitcher despite lacking experience and his best stuff. Pomeranz will get the opportunity to make Colorado's rotation in spring training. At worst he'll begin the year at Triple-A Colorado Springs, but he likely wouldn't be there long. He has better stuff than most lefthanders and projects as a No. 2 starter.
After missing the first six weeks in 2010 with a groin injury, Arenado broke out in 2011, leading the minors with 122 RBIs and flourishing in the Arizona Fall League. He won AFL MVP honors after batting .388 and leading the league in hits (47), doubles (12) and extra-base hits (18). He also improved on defense, ending talk that his range and first-step quickness would prompt a move from third to first base. Arenado has exceptional hand-eye coordination and very quick, strong hands. He entered pro ball with an advanced twostrike approach and has learned to turn on pitches when he gets the opportunity. His swing has a flat path, but he gets good extension and has shown an increased ability to hit balls with backspin, which should lead to solid or better power. He controls the strike zone well and is starting to draw more walks. Arenado dropped 20 pounds last offseason, resulting in average range at third base despite his lack of quick feet. He has soft hands and plenty of arm strength, with plus accuracy and a quick release from any angle. He's a well below-average runner. Arenado has the work ethic to maintain his defensive skills. He's competitive but can show his youth by getting emotional at times. A potential No. 3 hitter, Arenado should open 2012 in Double-A, with a second-half promotion to the big leagues a possibility. He could be ready for a regular role in Colorado by 2013.
Bettis started and relieved at Texas Tech, which could be helpful because his ultimate role has yet to be determined. He has had nothing but success as a starter in two pro seasons, going 18-6, 2.70 overall and earning high Class A California League pitcher of the year honors in 2011. He led the league in innings (170), strikeouts (184), WHIP (1.10) and opponent average (.225). Bettis pitches at 94-95 mph with his fastball, easily gets to 98 mph and maintains his velocity in the late innings. His tight slider reaches the upper 80s and gives him a second plus pitch. His height raises concerns that he'll work on a flat plane and have trouble the third time through a lineup unless he develops a softer pitch so he can change speeds as well as locations. That offerling likely will be a curveball that's better than his below-average changeup. Bettis is aggressive but did a better job of staying back in his delivery in the second half of the season. He throws strikes and works the bottom of the zone. If his secondary stuff develops, Bettis can become a solid No. 3 starter and perhaps more. If he ends up in the bullpen, he profiles as a possible closer and could rise quickly. He'll open 2012 in Double-A.
Rosario had the best year of his career in 2010, but his season ended in August when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a rundown play in August. The Rockies brought him back slowly in 2011, sending him back to Double-A, where he didn't hit as well but nevertheless played in his second straight Futures Game and reached the majors for the first time in September. He started 14 of Colorado's final 21 games. Rosario's two carrying tools are his exceptional arm and plus power. He also has good hands and a quick release, enabling him to throw out 41 percent of basestealers in his minor league career and five of the eight who tested him in the big leagues. He still needs work blocking balls, moving laterally and calling a game. Rosario has a short stroke and showed he could hit major league fastballs in September. But too often he sits on fastballs and looks to pull, leaving him vulnerable to breaking pitches. He's also impatient at the plate, so he probably won't hit for a high average. He's a well below-average runner but athletic for a catcher. Rosario never has played in Triple-A and could open 2012 there. Even if he does, he's the Rockies' catcher of the future and should get considerable big league playing time this season.
The final pick of 2009's first round, Wheeler signed for a below-slot $900,000 and didn't do much in his first two pro seasons. He surprised the Rockies by finishing second in the minors with 33 homers in 2011, the most by a Tulsa player since Irving Burns hit 36 in 1929. Wheeler hit his 29th homer on July 25 but pressed so much to get to 30 that he didn't reach the milestone until Aug. 24. Wheeler has very flexible, quick hips and generated more power by doing a better job of getting his hands out front to turn on pitches. He can get pull-happy, which was the case during his monthlong homer drought. He tends to drop his head at the plate, resulting in him missing hittable pitches and struggling against lefthanders. He may strike out too much to hit for a high average. Wheeler has solid speed and has played center field in the minors, but he profiles as a corner outfielder in the majors. He has enough arm for right field and should have average range once he refines his reads and routes. He has terrific makeup and runs out every ball. Wheeler will begin 2012 in Triple-A and could reach the majors later in the year. Some scouts see him as a 20-20 player, while others wonder if he'll be a platoon player because he hasn't hit lefties.
Octavio Dotel pitched just eight games for Colorado in 2010, but his departure as a free agent gave the Rockies the 45th overall pick in 2011 draft as compensation. They took Story, the first time they used a top-100 choice on a shortstop since taking Troy Tulowitzki seventh overall in 2005, and signed him for $915,000. He ranked as the top prospect in the Rookie-level Pioneer League, where he split time at shortstop with Rosell Herrera and played 15 games at third base. Story has unusual presence for such a young player and a chance to have five average or better tools. He has a solid middle-of-the-field approach, good bat speed and the ability to drive the ball. He could have 20-homer power once he gains size and strength. He makes steady contact but can get overly aggressive and drop his back shoulder and get under balls. Story's above-average speed and instincts give him basestealing ability and solid range at shortstop. He has smooth actions and a plus arm that will play better once he upgrades his footwork. Eight of his 15 errors at Casper came on throws. Story can handle the jump to low Class A Asheville as a 19-year-old. Tulowitzki eventually will block him at shortstop, but Colorado will develop Story there for the time being. He should have enough bat for second or third base if needed.
Drafted in the 50th round by the Twins in 2008, Anderson opted to become part of the resuscitated baseball program at Oregon, where he set school records for strikeouts in a game (14), season (114) and career (285). The Rockies drafted him 20th overall last June, making him the third lefthander they selected in the first round in the last four drafts, following Christian Friedrich (2008) and Tyler Matzek (2009). Anderson signed for $1.4 million at the Aug. 15 deadline, too late to pitch in the minors, and threw just one bullpen session in instructional league before getting shut down with pelvic soreness. Anderson isn't overpowering but succeeds by commanding a deep repertoire. His best pitch is a changeup. He also has two- and four-seam fastballs, which range form 89-93 mph and feature good life, and he throws two breaking balls, with his slider ranking ahead of his curveball. He fills the strike zone and creates deception with the backswing and leg kick in his delivery. The combination of his lefthandedness, stuff and command made Anderson one of the most big league-ready players in the 2011 draft. He may start his career in low Class A, but he may not need more than two years in the minors. He has the upside of a No. 3 starter.
Matthes hobbled through 21 games in 2010 before having surgery on a torn patellar tendon in his left knee, an injury that occurred while working out before spring training. He came back to win the California League MVP award and lead the circuit in slugging (.642) in 2011, though his season ended when a pitch broke his left hand on Aug. 3. Matthes' bat speed and power are as good as any Rockies farmhand's. He has more of a flat than an uphill swing, and his homers tend to be high line drives. He has very strong hands but lacks a fluid, easy stroke. It's better than the aluminum-bat swing he brought into pro ball, which led to excessive strikeouts in his first two pro seasons. Matthes does a good job of covering all quadrants of the strike zone, though he still has to prove he can handle quality offspeed pitches. While he doesn't chase many pitches, he also walks infrequently. Despite his knee injury, Matthes still has solid speed. He has one of the strongest arms in the system and average range, though he sometimes loses focus in right field. Because he signed as a college senior and lost a year to injury, Matthes will be 25 when he gets to Double-A in 2012. Colorado wants to see how he handles more advanced pitching to get a better read on him.
The 26th overall pick in 2010, Parker turned down a $2.2 million offer in mid-July that stipulated he immediately give up football. Instead, he signed for $1.4 million at the Aug. 15 deadline and played his final season at quarterback for Clemson. The son of former NFL wide receiver Carl Parker, Kyle is only player in NCAA Division I history to throw 20 touchdown passes and hit 20 homers in the same school year. He sustained broken ribs in his final football game but was ready for spring training. Parker has plus bat speed and strength to go with an aggressive mentality, too aggressive as evidenced by his 133 strikeouts in 117 pro games. His swing gets long and he struggles with breaking balls, notably sliders on the outer half of the plate. He has above-average raw power but will have to tone down his approach to make the most of it. Parker is a below-average runner with solid arm strength and range that fits in right field. Colorado would like to see him show more urgency about maximizing his talent. Making the transition from football to baseball with little time off, Parker was worn out by the end of 2011 but managed to hit .300/.393/.535 in the second half. He could put up big numbers in the hitter-friendly California League in 2012.
Though a wrist injury limited Rutledge to 11 games at short-season Tri-City in his 2010 pro debut, he skipped a level to high Class A Modesto in his first full season. After a nondescript .260/.352/.313 first half, he exploded to hit .410/.459/.664 with all nine of his homers in the second half, putting together a 27-game hitting streak. Rutledge has outstanding hand-eye coordination and a compact stroke, albeit with some stiffness. He takes a quick, flat path to the ball and uses the whole field. He has good balance, and improving his load and weight shift in the second half enabled him to center more balls. He has the tools to hit for a high average with at least gap power. A solid runner, he can steal a few bases as well. Rutledge has improved at shortstop, but he has trouble at times making plays on balls to his left and throws from deep in the hole. He has soft hands and the range for shortstop, but his average arm likely will push him to second base. He throws flat-footed too often. Troy Tulowitzki eventually would force him off shortstop anyway, so Rutledge may start seeing some time at second base in 2012. He'll open the year in Double-A with a chance to hit his way to Triple-A if continues to produce like he did at the end of 2011.
Blackmon earned a promotion to the Rockies on June 7 and that night made the first of 14 consecutive starts in left field. A freak injury ended his season a month later, however, when he broke his left foot while rounding second base. Drafted as a pitcher out of high school and junior college, he moved to the outfielder in a college summer league in 2007 and played his way into the second round of the 2008 draft. Blackmon has an easy swing and doesn't strike out often, a trait he carried to the big leagues. He did a better job of handling lefthanders last season and should be able to hit for a solid average. He shows flashes of power, but how much he'll ultimately have is a question. Blackmon may lack the bat speed to catch up to quality fastballs and do a lot of damage. Though he was a center fielder in the minors prior to 2011, he's more of a corner outfielder and will need better than average pop to profile as a regular. Blackmon runs and bunts well. His routes, reads and first-step quickness in the outfield need to improve further, but they have gotten better. He has plus arm strength and has learned to streamline his throwing mechanics. Very focused and aggressive, he plays with an edge. Given Colorado's troubles last year, Blackmon would have played a lot had he not gotten hurt, which would have given the club a better read on whether he'll be more than a fourth outfielder. He should open 2012 in that role for the Rockies.
Matzek has become an enigma, something the Rockies didn't expect when they took him 11th overall in 2009 and signed him for a franchise-record $3.9 million. Some clubs rated him as the second-best prospect behind only Stephen Strasburg in that draft, but he hasn't pitched up to it. After he began 2011 in a 10-start swoon in high Class A in 2011, the Rockies demoted him. Following three rough starts in low Class A, he asked to return home to southern California to work with Lon Fullmer, his youth pitching coach and a disciple of Mike Marshall, the 1974 National League Cy Young Award winner whose ideas about pitching are generally shunned by the baseball establishment. Matzek returned to Asheville after three weeks, going back to the high arm slot he used as an amateur. He had more success, going 5-2, 2.78 with 64 strikeouts in 55 innings, albeit with 35 walks. Matzek remained inconsistent with his fastball velocity, which ranged from 84-96 mph during instructional league. He can sit easily at 92 mph when he gets in a groove, but his mechanics vary. That's particularly evident when he works out of the stretch, as he breaks his hands late and drifts on the mound. He also has problems throwing strikes low in the zone, which may always be an issue because his hand position at the top of his delivery gets him underneath the ball. Matzek also throws a pair of hard breaking balls in his curveball and slider, and he also has a changeup. All of his secondary pitches are hit or miss, though his changeup showed improvement toward the end of instructional league. Matzek still has stuff but ultimately whether he succeeds will come down to command. He must do a better job of getting his fastball in on righthanders. He also needs to trust his pitching coaches and his ability to make pitches. He's a perfectionist and starts working faster when things aren't going well. Matzek can be his own worst enemy, expecting things to go wrong at times and letting negative thoughts affect him when they do. It wouldn't hurt him to tone up his lower half and make it more flexible, which would help his delivery. He'll give high Class A another try in 2012, when Colorado hopes to get a better handle on what exactly he can become.
LeMahieu led 2009 College World Series champion Louisiana State with a .350 average and signed for an above-slot $508,000 as a Cubs second-round pick that summer. He has continued to hit, batting .317 in three minor league seasons, but he has yet to show that he can do enough else to become a big league regular. Chicago's new regime didn't wait to find out, trading him and Tyler Colvin to the Rockies in December for Ian Stewart and 2007 first-rounder Casey Weathers. Though he has impressive size and strength, LeMahieu is content to stay inside pitches and serve them to the opposite field. He rarely turns on balls and drives them for power, with his five homers in 2011 representing a career high. His proponents believe he'll develop into a 40-double/15-homer threat once he does a better job of recognizing which pitches he can drive, but most scouts see him as a singles hitter who doesn't provide enough beyond his batting average. He makes contact so easily that he doesn't draw many walks. LeMahieu's lack of pop wouldn't matter as much if he could stick in the middle infield, where he has spent much of his pro career, but his fringy speed and quickness don't fit at second base or shortstop. His best position is third base, where his soft hands and solid arm make him an average defender, but he'll have to show more power to play every day at the hot corner. LeMahieu spent all of June and most of September with the Cubs, but former manager Mike Quade never gave him much playing time to show what he could do. Though LeMahieu will compete for a job in spring training, Nolan Arenado is clearly Colorado's future at third base.
The 25th overall pick in the 2008 draft, Friedrich signed for $1.35 million and breezed to high Class A by the end of his first full pro season. But he hasn't progressed as the Rockies have hoped since then, spending the last two years going 9-16, 5.02 in Double-A. After missing a month with elbow inflammation in both 2009 and 2010 and having a strained lat muscle end the latter season, the good news was that Friedrich stayed healthy last year. He relaxed his grip and arm while working on his changeup and realized that he had been muscling his pitches too much. When he had success, Friedrich relied on two plus pitches, an 89-93 mph fastball that touched 95 and a big-breaking curveball. Last year, he lost a tick of velocity on his heater but began to change speeds with it. With more of a finesse fastball approach, he didn't use his curve as much and it suffered. Friedrich has some feel for his decent changeup but doesn't always locate it where he wants. He also mixes in a slider, though it has more rolling action than bite. He did a better of throwing strikes last year but his command must improve. Friedrich learned a lot about pitching in 2011 and the time has come to implement it. Colorado showed its faith by protected him on its 40-man roster and will send him to Triple-A in 2012.
The Rockies selected Tago 47th overall in the 2010 draft with a compensation pick they received for the loss of free agent Jason Marquis. Tago signed for $982,500 hours before the Aug. 16 deadline and didn't begin his pro career until 2011. Colorado kept him in extended spring training, which it typically does with high school pitches at the outset of their career to limit their innings and keep them in warmed weather. He had problems repeating his delivery once he got to low Class A in late May, contributing to a 7.07 ERA and 72 walks in 90 innings. Tago has the stuff to become a frontline starter but also has plenty of work to do. His fastball already sits at 90-91 mph and touches 95, and he should find more velocity with more consistent mechanics. His curveball rates ahead of his changeup, though both are works in progress that suffer when he doesn't maintain his release point. Tago has an easy arm action but is still growing into his body, and the Rockies hope he'll settle down once he matures physically. After looking overmatched at Asheville, he'll return there to begin 2012.
The Rockies signed Herrera for $800,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2009. After he made the his pro debut in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League in 2010, he was the only DSL player Colorado invited to instructional league that fall. He made his U.S. debut last summer at Casper, where he and Trevor Story shared shortstop and also saw time at third base. A switch-hitter, Herrera is a significantly better hitter with more power from the left side. He doesn't have the same bat speed from the right side. Herrera has a lot of moving parts at the plate but exceptional hand-eye coordination, so he's able to barrel the ball. He can get overly long and loft-happy with his swing, but he toned things down and didn't load up on his back side and whale away as often in the latter stages of 2011. Herrera has average speed and range to go with solid arm strength. He throws from a low angle and doesn't get on top of the ball, costing him accuracy, as does his inconsistent footwork. Already 6-foot-3, he figures to outgrow shortstop and could end up at third base, the outfield or even first base. The Rockies want both him and Story to play regularly at shortstop in 2012, so Herrera probably will go to Tri-City while Story heads to Asheville.
Pacheco played second base in college at New Mexico and saw time at shortstop during his 2007 pro debut before moving to catcher the following spring. He spent most of 2010 in high Class A before a season-ending injury to Wilin Rosario gave Pacheco an opportunity in Double-A. He parlayed that and a strong big league camp last spring into a Triple-A assignment in 2011, setting the stage for a September callup. During his first exposure to the big leagues, Pacheco played at first base, third base, catcher and second base. He'll be a super-utility player going forward, capable of providing offense off the bench and serving as a third catcher. While at Colorado Springs, Pacheco raised doubts about his ability to be an everyday catcher. Problems with his transfer and footwork diminished his throwing accuracy, as he nabbed just 20 percent of basestealers despite solid arm strength. He let his throwing troubles and the challenge of handling a poor pitching staff leak into his offense. Freed of the burden of catching regularly in Colorado, Pacheco had a much improved offensive approach. He did a better job of using all fields and staying back and letting the ball travel deep. He has an uncanny ability to make contact, though his power is limited. Pacheco has fringy speed and infield range, though he does have soft hands and can make the routine play. He'll have a chance in spring training to win a roster spot with the Rockies, who view his bat as a valuable asset.
After leading the short-season Northwest League with 87 strikeouts in 73 innings in 2010, his first full year in the United States, Cabrera was even more impressive in his first taste of full-season ball. Splitting 2011 between Asheville and Modesto, he led the minors with 217 whiffs while walking just 41 in 167 innings, earning a spot on Colorado's 40-man roster. Scouts still question how dominant he'll be against more advanced hitters because his out pitch is a superb changeup. He sells his changeup with quality arm speed and has the confidence to throw the pitch in any count. Cabrera's fastball runs from 87-91 mph, and he tends to work the outer half of the plate with it. He'll need to come inside more with his fastball against better hitters so he can set them up for his changeup away. His curveball is below average, though to his credit he focused on trying to improve it in instructional league. Cabrera profiles as a No. 4 or 5 starter in the big leagues. He'll begin 2012 in Double-A and will be pushed because of his age. There are whispers that he spent time in the Twins system before the Rockies signed him in March 2008 and that he's older than 24.
Staying healthy has been a problem for Gomez, who has played in just 214 games over the last four seasons. He missed all but one game in 2008 with a stress fracture in his left leg and an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, had groin problems in 2009 and a stress fracture in his right leg in 2010. He also had to deal with the death of his son shortly after his birth in June 2010. He and his girlfriend had a healthy son in May 2011, and Gomez was able to play in 102 games despite dealing with back problems. He went home at the end of the minor league season when the Rockies, needing shortstop depth because of several injuries, unexpectedly called him to the big leagues Sept. 16. He made his major league debut that night and went 2-for- 4 in his first start the following day. Colorado wrote him in the lineup twice in the next three days, but he had to be scratched because of a sore lower back and didn't play the rest of the season. Gomez has the tools to make all the plays at shortstop, including plus range, soft hands, quick feet and a very strong arm. He did a better job of playing under control in 2011, fielding a career-high .963. At the plate, Gomez has strong hands that whip the bat through the zone quickly and give him good pop for a middle infielder. He's capable of 15 homers per season, though he's such a free swinger that he often gets himself out by chasing pitches. Gomez will open 2012 in Triple-A, with the Rockies once again hoping that he finally can stay on the field for a full season.
Adames spent two years in the Dominican Summer League before making his U.S. debut in 2010, only to have a broken left thumb end his season in mid-August. He moved up to low Class A as a 19-year-old last season and came on strong in the final month, batting .325/.416/.444. Adames has good balance, loads his hands well and shows some gap power from both sides of the plate. He does a good job of staying inside the ball and for the most part, he doesn't try to do too much. He needs to get stronger and develop a little more plate discipline but should be able to do both. Adames is the best defensive shortstop in the system. His actions are reminiscent of those of former Rockies Gold Glover Neifi Perez, though Adames plays more under control. He has solid range, soft hands and average arm strength, and he makes extremely accurate throws. He can get careless with his footwork at times because he knows he can compensate with his hands and arm. He led South Atlantic League shortstops with a .966 fielding percentage despite his youth. Adames has fringy speed and is still learning to run the bases. He'll move up to high Class A in 2012.
Swanner hit seven homers in 18 games at Casper in 2010 after signing shortly before the deadline for $490,000 as a 15th-rounder. He returned to the Pioneer League last summer with the goals of improving his plate discipline and his receiving, and made strides in both areas before injuring his left thumb Aug. 13. He missed all but three games the rest of the way and had surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in the thumb, knocking him out of instructional league. Swanner hits the ball very hard and has above-average power. In his second stint with Casper, he showed more patience and a better two-strike approach. Making steady contact remains an issue, because he doesn't recognize breaking balls well and still can get overly aggressive at times. Swanner shows leadership qualities behind the plate and has plenty of arm strength. His arm action needs to be shortened, because he has a tendency to pause and unnecessarily reach back for more velocity on his throws. He caught just 19 percent of basestealers last year and also committed nine passed balls in 31 games. His height make it difficult for him to get low enough when blocking balls. Like most catchers, Swanner is a below-average runner. He's ready for full-season ball and will move up to low Class A this year.
Ortega batted .358 at Casper in a stellar U.S. debut in 2010. His girlfriend gave birth to their first child in Venezuela late in the season, but that did nothing to detract from his focus and high level of play. He's at his best in games and not particularly impressive in spring training, batting practice and the like. Ortega is the fastest runner in a system that lacks a true burner, and he's also the best defensive outfielder among Rockies farmhands. He's still working on his reads and jumps on the bases after getting caught in 19 of 51 steal attempts last year, but he's a true center fielder with a fearlessness when it comes to going after flyballs at the wall. He also has a strong arm for his position. Ortega hit too many balls in the air early in the 2011 season but worked to level out his swing path and batted .313/.352/.492 in the second half. He's a leadoff hitter who has quick hands and handles the bat well, but he needs to improve his strike-zone awareness. Getting stronger also would help, though he'll never have much power. He'll play in high Class A this year.
After hitting .303/.346/.449 in his first two pro seasons, Paulsen found Double-A more challenging last season. He still showed his plus raw power, which started to emerge as he hit a career-high 19 homers. But he has a long swing with a lot of moving parts and tends to drift to the ball, raising concerns about whether he can hit more advanced pitching. He batted just .241 in 2011 and did a poor job of controlling the strike zone. While he has some looseness and quickness to his stroke, Paulsen hasn't shown the ability to stay back on pitches and make adjustments. His head would dip when he took his stride, but he started holding the bat at a 45-degree angle in the Arizona Fall League and solved that problem. The change also rid him of a habit of moving his hands in front of his face and not getting loaded in time. He batted just .267/.327/.378 in the offensive-minded AFL, however. Though he's a well below-average runner, Paulsen moves decently around the bag at first base. He has a strong, accurate arm but is tentative with his throwing. He'll move up to Triple-A this year and see if the adjustments he made in the AFL will help.
Scahill worked strictly with a two-seam fastball and slider when he came out of Bradley as an eighth-round pick in 2009, but he has added a four-seamer, curveball and changeup during his three years as a pro. His fastball sits at 93-94 mph and ranges from 92-96, though it lacks much life. His best secondary pitch is his curveball, an average offering at times. Scahill's slider can be an average pitch and peaks at 89 mph, though it needs more depth and he often hangs it in the strike zone. He has worked very hard on his changeup, which is still fringy and his fourth-best pitch. Scahill is aggressive on the mound and has a strong, durable frame that has allowed him to work 317 innings during the last two seasons. He has an extremely clean arm action, though it also means that his delivery lacks deception and allows hitters to see his pitches easily. His command and control are decent but don't help his stuff to play up. Scahill profiles as a No. 4 or 5 starter, though he might wind up as a middle reliever if his secondary pitches don't develop. After spending his second straight offseason in the Arizona Fall League, he'll begin 2012 in the Colorado Springs rotation.
An Indians third-round pick in 2009, Gardner had to wait a year to make his pro debut because of a ribcage injury. Once he got started, he quickly established himself as a groundball machine. That was especially evident after he came to the Rockies in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade last July. In six Double-A starts after switching organizations, Gardner posted a 2.48 ERA and a 4.5 groundout/airout ratio. At the time of the deal, Colorado GM Dan O'Dowd said Gardner eventually would move to the bullpen and likened his arm action, body and action on his pitches to those of Sergio Romo. Gardner lives off his 87-92 mph sinker, slinging it from a deceptive low three-quarters arm angle. His other pitches are nothing special, a below-average slider that has more bend than bite and a fringy changeup. His control and command need to improve as well. He struggles to pitch inside to lefthanders and gets jumpy while working out of the stretch. Gardner may remain in the rotation for a little while longer and should open the season in Triple-A.
Aquino has dominated the Dominican Summer League in his two years in pro ball, leading the circuit with two shutouts and a 0.71 WHIP in 2010 and ranking third in ERA in both seasons. He was the only players from the Rockies' 2011 DSL team to be invited to instructional league. He has a lean, projectable body and the chance to have a quality three-pitch mix in the future. Aquino already pitches at 88-91 mph with his fastball, touches 92 and throws it for strikes. He worked a lot on his curveball in instructional league. While he doesn't have feel for his curve yet, his ability to spin the ball bodes well for its future. He has good arm speed and decent action on his changeup, even if it's still very inconsistent. Aquino has the potential to become a No. 3 starter but is years from reaching it. He'll make his U.S. debut in 2012, participating in extended spring training before heading to Colorado's new Pioneer League affiliate in Grand Junction.
Signed for $43,000 as a 28th-round pick in 2008, Field beat the odds and made it to Coors Field three years later. His September callup five days after his Double-A season ended took him by surprise, but injuries decimated the Rockies at shortstop and he started 12 of their final 17 games. He's a grinder who has drawn comparisons to Jamey Carroll, the former Rockie who parlayed his grit into a $6.5 million freeagent deal with the Twins this offseason. Field has surprising power for a 5-foot-9 middle infielder, as he can pull balls out of the park and has hit 32 homers over the last two seasons. He strikes out too much, though, and he has to work on his balance at the plate because he tends to drift too much onto his back leg and pop balls up. Field doesn't really have a plus tool but makes the most of what he has. He has average speed, though he's not a basestealing threat. He was primarily a shortstop until teaming with Hector Gomez and moving to second base at Tulsa in 2011. Field has good range, reliable hands and a solid arm. He profiles as a utility player capable of playing second base, shortstop and third base. He even manned right field for three innings in Colorado. Field will open 2012 in Triple-A and wait for a need to arise with the Rockies.
Frazier required Tommy John surgery in September 2009, but his arm was in such good shape at the time that he was able to return in nine months and become Tri-City's Opening Night pitcher in June 2010. He moved up to Modesto within a month and spent the entire 2011 season there. He's the son of former major league reliever and current Rockies television analyst George Frazier, so it's no surprise that Parker has good feel for pitching. He consistently throws strikes and relies on an 88-92 mph sinker. His slider is an average pitch at times, but it's often slurvy and he falls in love with it too much. His changeup is a below-average offering and won't improve unless he uses it more often. Frazier is a good competitor but can be his own worst enemy, sometimes overthrowing his fastball and leaving it up in the zone. There's a lot of effort in his delivery, which contributed to his elbow injury. Frazier will begin 2012 in Tulsa, his hometown. He has a ceiling as a fifth starter but profiles more as a middle reliever.
Another late-round find for the Rockies, Woods signed for $20,000 as a 33rd-round choice in 2009. He pitched his way into prospect status last season in high Class A, where he had a string of 351⁄3 consecutive scoreless innings and gave up just four homers in 78 innings. Woods works from an arm slot that's even lower than a traditional sidearm delivery, and the unusual angle makes his 89-91 mph fastball look a lot quicker. Hitters can't pull his fastball unless he elevates it. He also throws a sweeping slider that his low arm slot also enhances, and he has a surprisingly effective changeup that helped him hold righthanders to a .215 average last year. Against more advanced competition, Woods will have to do a better job of coming inside against lefties, who hit .292 against him in 2011, and throw more strikes in general. Ticketed for Double-A this season, Woods could become a righthanded specialist in the mold of Darren O'Day.
A light-hitting shortstop at UNC Wilmington, Marbry signed with the Braves as a nondrafted free agent in 2006 but drew his release after going 3-for-23 (.130) in Rookie ball. He never pitched in four years of college, but Marbry threw off a mound while working as a hitting instructor in 2007 and showed enough arm strength that a friend arranged a tryout with Asheville manager Joe Mikulik and pitching coach Bryan Harvey that summer. Marbry had left to return home when Mikulik called to tell him the Tourists had an opening on their staff because of injury. Marbry since has pitched his way into Colorado's plans, emerging as Modesto's closer in the second half of 2011. Last year, he developed a more explosive delivery and his fastball jumped from 90-93 mph to 93-96. His motion features a lot of effort and some recoil, but it doesn't prevent him from throwing strikes. The key for Marbry will be coming up with a reliable second pitch. He scrapped an ineffective slider and now works with a splitter that will need more velocity to succeed against more advanced hitters. A potential seventh-inning reliever in the majors, Marbry will begin 2012 in Double-A and the Rockies would like to push him because he turned 27 at the end of last season.