Sign Up! Join our newsletters, get a FREE e-Edition
Arenado earned an invitation to his first big league spring training last year after leading the minors with 122 RBIs in 2011 at high Class A Modesto and then winning MVP honors in the Arizona Fall League. He went 5-for-26 in 12 Cactus League games, including just three hits in his final 19 at-bats as he tried too hard to make a good impression. It turned out to be a prelude to Arenado's most challenging season since he turned down an Arizona State commitment to sign for $625,000 as the 59th overall pick in the 2009 draft. Having gotten a whiff of the major leagues last spring and hearing from people outside the organization that he might be in the big leagues as early as June, he spent too much time wondering when he might get called up. He watched other players in the Double-A Texas League get promoted, including Tulsa teammate Josh Rutledge in mid-July. During a midseason conference call with Rockies' season-ticket holders, GM Dan O'Dowd said that Arenado's "maturity level still hasn't caught up with his ability level," which sent the player into another funk. He went .165/.252/.272 in July, but snapped out of it and hit .358/.375/.569 in August. A high school teammate of Yankees catcher Austin Romine, Arenado has a knack for making steady contact and getting the barrel of his bat to the ball. His swing gets long through the ball, so his finish looks unorthodox, but he has great hand speed. He has been difficult to strike out throughout his career, with just 181 whiffs in 414 pro games. He derives his power more from bat speed than muscle at this point, and as he gets stronger he should be capable of hitting 20 homers annually. Arenado entered pro ball with an opposite-field stroke but has learned to turn on inside pitches, sometimes to a fault because he strays from hitting to the center of the field. Nevertheless, he should always be able to hit for high averages. After the 2010 season, the Rockies expected Arenado to move to first base because he was such a defensive liability at the hot corner, with minimal range and no feel for the position. But he got in better shape, worked hard on his first-step quickness and has blossomed into a quality third baseman. He lacks speed but compensates by reading and reacting to balls instinctively. He has a strong arm, throws accurately from various angles and has become adept at charging balls and fielding them barehanded. He can get caught flat-footed at times but still gets to balls that a lot of other third basemen don't. Arenado has terrific feel for the game in all phases, even on the bases despite his below-average speed. Maximizing his agility, an area of emphasis this offseason, may make him a half-step quicker. He's generally a hard worker but the Rockies want to see him improve his focus with more consistent effort. Arenado will start 2013 at Triple-A Colorado Springs and should reach Colorado during the season. Former first-round pick Chris Nelson played well at the hot corner for the Rockies last year, but Arrenado has a much higher ceiling offensively and defensively. The final step of his development will be to take a more mature approach when dealing with failure.
The Pirates agreed to a predraft deal to take Dahl with the No. 8 pick in the 2012 draft, then switched gears and opted for Mark Appel, who didn't sign. The Rockies grabbed Dahl at No. 10, making him the first high school outfielder they've ever taken with their first pick and their first prep position player in the first round since Chris Nelson in 2004. After signing for $2.6 million, Dahl won MVP honors in the Rookie-level Pioneer League after topping the circuit in batting (.379), hits (106), extra-base hits (41), total bases (175) and slugging (.625). Dahl is a pure hitter with exceptional hand-eye coordination and the rare ability for a young player to make adjustments from at-bat to at-bat and even pitch to pitch. He also offers power that will include a lot of doubles and triples and 15-20 homers per year in the big leagues. He hits lefthanders well, and his above-average speed will lead to leg hits that will further boost his average. He needs to get better reads to steal bases. Dahl has a plus arm and covers a lot of ground in center field. His routes and reads need work, but he has the potential to be a Gold Glove outfielder. Dahl profiles as a No. 3 hitter with five-tool ability. He should be able to handle the jump to low Class A Asheville at age 19.
After Story went 45th overall in the 2011 draft and signed for $915,000, he ranked as the Pioneer League's top prospect in his pro debut. He moved up to low Class A in 2012 and rated as the South Atlantic League's best position prospect. He shared time with Rosell Herrera at shorstop and third base early in the year, then became the full-time shortstop when Herrera was demoted in early July. Story has more all-around ability than most shortstops. He recognizes breaking pitches well for his age, is adept at staying inside the ball and has impressive bat speed. He led the SAL with 43 doubles and 67 extra-base hits as a 19-year-old. He has a knack for driving the ball the other way, though he can become too pull-conscious. Better pitchers took advantage of his aggressiveness last year, and he ran up high strikeout totals, though the Rockies expect he'll make more contact as he learns his swing. Managers rated Story as the SAL's best defensive shortstop, though some scouts questioned his actions and arm strength. He's a calm, instinctive defender who covers ground and rarely makes ill-advised throws. He does lay back somewhat on balls hit right at him. He's a solid runner. He might outgrow shortstop and Troy Tulowitzki is blocking him there anyway, but Story has the tools to develop into an all-star at third base or second. He'll play in high Class A at age 20.
A former Clemson quarterback, Parker is the only player in NCAA Division I history to throw 20 touchdown passes and hit 20 homers in the same school year. The son of former NFL wide receiver Carl Parker went 26th overall in the 2010 draft. He turned down a $2.2 million offer that would have forced him to give up football, signing instead for $1.4 million and playing one more fall at Clemson. Though wrist and thumb injuries limited him to 102 games last year, he bashed 23 homers and topped the high Class A California League with a .415 on-base percentage. Parker's standout tool is his tremendous raw power, especially to right center, and he has become a much better overall hitter in his two pro seasons. His strike-zone awareness improved last year, as he let the ball travel deeper and took it to the opposite field more often. He can wait before deciding to swing because of his quick wrists and quiet approach. Parker has a solid, accurate arm but he fits in left field because he's a below-average runner. He's a subpar defender right now, but the Rockies think he'll improve with time and practice. If he doesn't, first base is a possibility. Parker showed more intensity last season and seemed more committed to baseball than in 2011. He will move up to Double-A Tulsa to open the season, and if can stay healthy he could reach the majors in 2014.
Bettis was the 2011 California League pitcher of the year after going 12-5, 3.34 and leading the league in innings (170), strikeouts (184), WHIP (1.10) and opponent average (.225). But he hasn't pitched in an official game since. He strained a muscle behind his shoulder in his second Cactus League outing last spring, sidelining him until instructional league. Bettis is tenacious and attacks hitters with everything he throws. His fastball ranges from 91-96 mph and sits at 93, and he got back up to 96 in instructional league. He throws a tight, two-plane slider that gives him a second plus pitch. His changeup is average and has the potential to get better. Bettis has good command works the bottom of the zone consistently. His height creates concerns about a lack of a downhill plane for his pitches that might make it more difficult to get through a lineup three times, but his ability to hold his velocity means he'll continue to start for now. Bettis will open 2013 in Double-A and could be a solid No. 3 starter or more in the majors. If he moves to the bullpen, he could get to Colorado faster and wind up as a closer.
As compensation for the loss of Mark Ellis to the Dodgers as a free agent, the Rockies got the 46th overall pick in the 2012 draft. They used it on Butler, who signed for $1 million before leading the Pioneer League in ERA (2.13), WHIP (1.06) and opponent average (.230). He allowed just one homer in 68 innings. Butler's stuff is electric. He touched 99 mph in instructional league with his fastball after hitting 97 several times during the season. He usually pitches at 94-96 mph with his fastball, and its sinking action makes it even more effective. Butler throws two breaking balls, a solid slider and an average curveball. He overmatched Pioneer League hitters who geared up for his fastball by getting them to chase sliders off the plate. His changeup is improving but is behind his other pitches. He commands his arsenal well. It didn't happen too often during his banner debut, but he shows too much emotion when things don't go his way. Despite his velocity, Butler will need to tighten his secondary stuff to get more strikeouts against more advanced hitters. Butler proved even better than advertised, showing a ceiling of a No. 2 starter. He'll advance to low Class A for his first full pro season.
The 20th overall pick in the 2011 draft, Anderson signed for $1.4 million at the deadline and made his pro debut in 2012. Despite pitching with a sports hernia, he led the South Atlantic League in ERA (2.13) and WHIP (1.06). He had surgery in September and will be ready for spring training. Anderson has no single pitch that stands out, but his command makes his whole repertoire better. He's smart and analytical, traits that will help him as he faces more advanced hitters. Anderson sits at 89-90 mph with a fastball that has good tilt to the plate. His best pitch is a plus changeup with good deception and fade, and he also throws a solid cutter and an average curveball that has more sweeping than downward action. He hides the ball well and is quick to the plate. Anderson profiles as a No. 4 starter, though as a lefty with fine pitchability, he might exceed that expectation. Now that he's fully healthy, he could move fast and possibly skip a level to open 2013 in Double-A.
Matzek received a franchise-record $3.9 million bonus as the 11th overall pick in the 2009 draft and has struggled to live up to it. He took time off during the 2011 season to go home and work with his youth pitching coach. He finally showed signs of coming around late last season after he stopped being overly analytical, recording a 1.14 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 32 inning in his final five starts (including two playoff elimination games). He led the California League in both strikeouts (153) and walks (95). Matzek still has better stuff than most lefthanders. He averages 91-92 mph and reaches 95 with his fastball. He has raised his lead arm in his delivery, giving him more leverage and downhill plane. That has helped his curveball immensely, and it's now a plus pitch. Matzek worked on softening his changeup in instructional league and threw some at 85 mph, notable improvement from his usual 89 mph. His control and command have improved but still need to get a lot better. He has become more receptive to coaching, which the Rockies see as a sign of maturity. Advancing to Double-A will provide Matzek a stiff test to see how consistently he can throw strikes and handle adversity. With better command, he could become a No. 2 or 3 starter.
After two years in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League, Aquino came to his first minor league spring training in 2012. He looked too heavy, his work ethic and intensity were lacking and he didn't pitch well, so the Rockies sent him back to the DSL. He got the message, dominated the DSL and pitched well when he came to Rookie-level Grand Junction in August. Aquino used to show fear on the mound, but he was a different pitcher in the Pioneer League. His 88-89 mph fastball is a good pitch that he can locate well to his glove side, but he needs to throw it more. He tops out at 91 mph and could gain velocity because he's young and getting stronger. His curveball and changeup both show the potential to become plus pitches. Because he's so adept at throwing his curve and changeup for strikes, Aquino uses them too often. As he gains experience, he should have above-average command of all three pitches. Aquino profiles as a No. 4 starter, and he could be more if his velocity improves. He'll get his first full-season assignment to low Class A in 2013.
Wheeler, who spent most of his college career as a first baseman, made the shift to third base in 2010 and has improved his offensive profile each year. He was one of the top hitters on a Reno squad that won the Triple-A National Championship in 2012, batting .351/.388/.572 before getting called up in mid-July. The Diamondbacks traded him to the Rockies for Matt Reynolds in November. Wheeler has strong wrists and gets good leverage with his swing. While he has the ability to drive the ball to the opposite field, he's working on developing more pull power. He makes consistent contact, though somewhat at the expense of drawing walks. Wheeler made strides defensively in 2012, showing a strong arm and working on his agility and mobility in order to increase his range. He won't ever be an asset at the hot corner, but he can make the routine play and has cut down on his errors. He also has seen time in the outfield, but his well below-average speed doesn't provide him with much range. It's not certain that Wheeler will have enough glove to profile as an everyday third baseman or enough power to be a regular at first base. He'll get a chance to make the big league club in spring training as an extra bat off the bench, but more Triple-A time may be in his future.
Wheeler's power fell off drastically last season, from 33 home in Double-A in 2011 to two last season in Triple-A. He broke his right hamate bone eight games into the season and was understandably rusty when he returned in June, but he also hadn't hit for power in spring training when he was healthy. Wheeler went into last season wanting to hit lefthanders better and cut his strikeouts and succeeded on both counts. While it made him a better overall hitter, though, it short-circuited the power that is his only standout tool. He has a tendency to get bent over in his stance, which causes him to break down on his back side and get under the ball, rather than staying firm and tall and getting full extension in his swing to create backspin. He hits to all fields, especially up the middle. Wheeler projects as a corner outfielder, with average speed, but his arm limits him to left field. Wheeler is an intense player and a dedicated worker, so the Rockies expect him to make the adjustments to tap into his power again. They added him to the 40-man roster in November and will send him back to Triple-A, where he'll need to show more power to put himself in position for a promotion to the majors.
Scahill has quality stuff, and toward the end of last season began seeing better results thanks to mechanical adjustments. In his final four starts at Colorado Springs, he had a 3.42 ERA with seven walks and 32 strikeouts in 24 innings, earning a September callup to Colorado, where he had a 1.04 ERA in six relief appearances. Scahill touches 96 mph and sits at 93-94 with his fastball. His upper-70s curveball is ahead of his 84-88 mph slider, but both are good pitches. He rarely throws his changeup, which is below average. Scahill raised his arm slot and became more consistent staying on top of the ball and driving it downward, which helped him become less rotational in his delivery and not have his body get ahead of his arm. He's aggressive on the mound and has a sturdy frame. His control is solid but his command is below average on all of his pitches and must improve. If it does, he could still be a starter, but with his stuff he could be a valuable member of the Rockies bullpen, particularly if they continue using piggyback relievers.
Though he hit 32 homers at Asheville in 2011, taking advantage of a short right-field porch, Dickerson worked exceptionally hard after the season to become a more complete player. He reported to spring training in the best shape since joining the organization and played as if on a mission. After dominating the California League, he earned a promotion to Double-A in mid-June. He broke his nose when hit with a pitch July 23 but was back in the lineup five days later, albeit hitting with a mask attached to his helmet that complicated matters for a couple of weeks. Dickerson has become a much better overall hitter. He has learned to use the entire field and drives the ball well to left-center. His quick hands enable him to consistently move the barrel of his bat to the ball. He has good pitch recognition and is adept at fighting off a good pitch to keep an at-bat alive. Dickerson worked on his agility and has become a slightly better than average runner. His defense in left field had been a huge liability and remains a work in progress, but is notably better, though he still has a below-average arm. He likely will open 2013 in Triple-A.
Signed for $454,000 as a third-round pick in 2012, Murphy is just the fifth catcher the Rockies have selected that high since they began drafting in 1992. They took Ben Petrick in the second round in 1995, Jeff Winchester as a supplemental first-round pick in 1998, and in the third round have taken Josh Bard (1999), Lars Davis (2007) and Pete O'Brien (2011), who didn't sign. Murphy's best tool is his power, which isn't evident from his six homers because Gesa Stadium, where short-season Tri-City plays, is a pronounced pitcher's park. He has the upside to hit 25 homers annually in the big leagues and won't be an all-or-nothing type. Murphy has a short, compact swing and because of his good strike-zone awareness, he doesn't strike out excessively for a young power hitter. He needs to get better at recognizing and hitting breaking pitches, but he's not overmatched by them. Murphy is a physical presence behind the plate and has an above-average arm but needs work on all nuances of his defense. He threw out just 21 percent of basestealers in his pro debut. In instructional league, he did a much better job taking charge behind the plate. He could bypass Asheville and begin his first full pro season in high Class A.
After completing the 2012 season at Modesto, Ortega was in instructional league when the Rockies, their outfield corps depleted by injuries, called him to Colorado. He had two hits and reached base three times in his major league debut Sept. 30 and made one other pinch-hitting appearance. He returned to instructional league to work on bunting, reading pitchers and getting better leads, and he showed improvement. Those will be big factors in Ortega's success because he's an energetic leadoff hitter with good speed. He has a short swing and stays inside the ball well, and he'll maximize his value with better strike-zone awareness and plate discipline--he has a combined 187 strikeouts and 76 walks the past two seasons. Despite his size, he has surprising power but needs to guard against falling in love with his power stroke after he hits a homer, and then hitting the ball in the air for a series of at-bats. His speed plays on the bases, as he stole 36 bases for Modesto, but he was caught 18 times. Ortega is a true center fielder, and fearless when it comes to outfield walls. His reads on flyballs and routes are good, and his plus arm is very accurate. He should move up to Double-A in 2013.
Three different injuries have slowed Matthes in each of the past three seasons. A torn patellar tendon in his left knee limited him to 21 games at Asheville in 2010, and his 2011 season at Modesto ended after 93 games when a pitch hit him and broke his left hand--though he still won the California League MVP award. A right oblique strain cut short his 2012 season at Tulsa after 94 games. Matthes' power and arm give him two plus tools. The lingering effects of his hand injury and a right groin strain he sustained just prior to spring training last year led to a slow start at Tulsa. Trying to repeat the strong season he had in Modesto, he admitted that he pressed badly. His intensity level can be a problem, as he tries too hard to hit the ball with maximum effort, which can prevent him from keeping the bat in the zone for a long time. Before his oblique injury, he was slowing down somewhat and staying back rather than charging for the ball. In spite of his injuries he's an average runner, and with one of the strongest arms in the system he fits well in right field, where he's a solid defender. Matthes benefited from making up some at-bats in the Arizona Fall League, though the Rockies declined to protect him on their 40-man roster and he went unpicked in the Rule 5 draft. He'll have a chance to move up to Triple-A in 2013.
The Rockies needed a starter on June 27 and promoted Cabrera from Tulsa, where he had pitched well, to face the Nationals at Coors Field. He was knocked out in the third inning and was quickly optioned to Triple-A. He got another chance on July 24 at Arizona and didn't make it through the fourth. He went back down to Colorado Springs, where his season ended Aug. 3 due to an oblique strain, compounded by elbow soreness. As his big league time showed, Cabrera badly needs to develop a third pitch. His best attributes are an outstanding changeup and a fearless mindset. His 87-91 mph fastball is nothing special--though that didn't prevent him from leading the minors with 217 strikeouts in 2011--and he must command it better. His curveball has improved marginally but remains below average. He either needs to develop that pitch or a cutter and learn to work both sides of the plate. He's very good pitching to his arm side but needs to get better to his glove side, which will make his already formidable changeup that much better. With improved fastball command and an average third pitch, Cabrera profiles as a No. 4 or 5 starter. He'll get an opportunity to make the big league staff in spring training but more likely will get more time in Triple-A.
Sullivan never topped 70 innings in any of his first six pro seasons and didn't even make it to 30 in five of them due to three arm operations: shoulder surgery in October 2005, a nerve transposed in his elbow in April 2008 and Tommy John surgery in March 2009. He finally reached Double-A in 2011 and returned there in 2012, when he moved to the bullpen and did well enough in the closer role to earn a spot on Colorado's 40-man roster in November. Given his medical history, the Rockies carefully monitored Sullivan's workload early in the season, and he adjusted well to relieving. He touches 96 mph with a fastball that sits at 92-93 and has heavy sinking action, a reason he allowed just three homers in 62 innings last year. He throws an 86-88 mph slider that's above average at times, and a developing changeup. Sullivan has a long stride and a long arm action in back that can make it hard for him to repeat his delivery and causes his command to be inconsistent. He'll need to improve that as he moves up to Triple-A and the big leagues. With his power arm, Sullivan has the potential to be a late-inning reliever, but because of his age he can't afford many developmental missteps.
Since signing out of the Dominican Republic, Adames has moved up steadily through the system and played well at Modesto in 2012, overcoming a .191 April to hit .297 the rest of the season. He was the best player in Colorado's instructional league program, where he pushed himself, played harder and ran better. Adames is the best defensive shortstop in the system, but he is getting bigger, which may mean a move to second base or even third eventually, particularly if his power improves as expected. He has very good hands, a quick release and throws easy, with plenty of arm strength. His range is solid, as is his speed, and he is a heady, instinctive player. A switch-hitter, he stays inside the ball well, does a good job of using the opposite-field gap from both sides and is able to recognize pitches to pull. On offense and defense, Adames has done a better job of using his lower half. That will help him get more stability at the plate and perhaps have his power not just show up as doubles and triples but in double-digit home run totals. Added to the 40-man roster in November, Adames will move up to Double-A in 2013.
Yan spent two lackluster seasons in the Dominican Summer League before making his domestic debut in 2011. He showed glimpses of his talent then but was inconsistent, not unusual for a 19-year-old playing in the United States for the first time. He returned to the Pioneer League in 2012 and led the league in homers (16), though he also struck out in nearly one-third of his at-bats. Yan has easy power but often tries to force it by swinging hard, and worse, doing it with complex mechanics. He waggled his bat up and down and employed a toe tap with a leg kick, conflicting movements that meant he had to make decisions very early and resulted in fishing for balls and striking out often. He simplified his swing, making changes that got his hands ready sooner, and in the second half batted .313/.383/.664 with 12 homers. He has plus bat speed, and as long as he doesn't try too hard to hit the ball far, he has enough power to develop into a big-time home run hitter with piles of doubles, particularly at Coors Field. Yan has a tremendous arm and runs well enough to develop into a very good outfielder, though he can improve his routes in right field. He will play at Asheville in 2013.
Swanner looked to be headed to Pepperdine heading into the 2010 draft, but the Rockies were able to sign him away with a $495,000 bonus in the 15th round. He got his feet wet in the Pioneer League, returned there in 2011 and moved up to Asheville last season. He had 41 extra-base hits, including 16 homers, and finished with a .302 average despite batting .182 after July. Swanner's best tool is his power, which played particularly well at Asheville's McCormick Field because he hits a lot of balls to right-center. He has a deep wrap in his swing that causes his bat head to get flat in his load, raising questions about whether he'll be able to adjust to better pitching and loft the ball. He can have balance issues at the plate because he taps back and overstrides, and he tends to be too aggressive and strikes out a lot. On defense, Swanner shows average arm strength at times, but in games he has been unable to break the habit of pausing at the top of his throwing motion. He surrendered an astonishing 120 steals in 75 games last year, throwing out just 13 runners (10 percent). His height makes getting low to block balls a challenge, leading to 14 passed balls in 2012. Swanner is fine catching organizational pitchers but isn't as adept handling those with better stuff. He's a below-average runner. He might end up at first base, which would put more pressure on his bat. He likely will begin 2013 at Modesto and will need to take a step forward with his bat or his defense behind the plate to have an everyday major league role.
After helping Xavier reach its first NCAA regional in 2009, Rosenbaum signed with the Nationals for $20,000 and went about carving up hitters at every level for the next three years. He carried a 2.35 career ERA into 2012, when he got off to a sterling start at Double-A Harrisburg, going 6-1, 1.69 through the end of May. But he went 2-9, 5.76 over the final three months of the season, as his stuff flattened out and he struggled to locate to his arm side. The Nationals left him off their 40-man roster, and the Rockies grabbed him in the major league Rule 5 draft. Rosenbaum relies more on his craftiness and feel for pitching than his stuff, so his command must be precise. His below-average fastball ranges from 84-90 mph, and he can cut it and spot it when he's going right. His best secondary pitch is a solid changeup that he throws with good arm speed. His curveball is fringy but serviceable. Rosenbaum lacks upside, but he has a decent chance to be a touch-and-feel lefty at the back of a big league rotation. He will get the opportunity to join a Colorado staff desperately in need of help, and if he doesn't stick on the big league roster he'll have to clear waivers and be offered back to the Nationals for half his $50,000 draft price.
Riggins was drafted by the White Sox in the 35th round out of high school in 2008 but chose to attend North Carolina State. The Rockies took him in the seventh round in 2011 and signed him for $125,000. Back stiffness limited him in 2012 at Asheville and in instructional league, where he was finally able to play late in the program. Riggins has size, strength and good bat speed, but with a big leg kick his swing can get long. In instructional league, his hands had gotten buried, almost behind his body, and he needs to free them up so he can catch up to balls out front. Riggins uses the opposite field well, to the point that Colorado tried to get him to pull the ball more last season, but that's easier said than done at Asheville, where right field is cozy. Riggins moves well in the field, and his first-step quickness, hands and arm strength are pluses, though he's an average runner at best. Some have wondered if Riggins shouldn't shift to third base or catcher to maximize his value, figuring he can always return to first base if need be. For now he will move up to Modesto and continue proving the value of his bat.
Willoughby was a two-way player for Xavier until he broke the hamate bone in his left hand in the sixth game of his junior season. That meant he had to concentrate on pitching and could no longer hit cleanup, which turned out to be a boon for his professional prospects. Previously a draft afterthought, Willoughby's stuff improved markedly, and the Rockies took him in the fourth round in June and signed him for $330,300. As the 138th player taken overall, he became Xavier's highest-ever draft pick, besting Rich Donnelly, who was taken 158th overall by the Yankees in 1967. Willoughby is a strike-thrower who attacks hitters and doesn't get rattled by any situation. His out pitch is an 88-90 mph cutter that sets him apart, though he sometimes relies on it too much. Colorado took it away from him in instructional league so he could concentrate on his fastball and changeup, which he rarely threw while closing games at Tri-City. His fastball ranges from 92-95 mph, and he needs to hone his command of it. Willoughby pitched in three games for Asheville in the final week of the season and will begin 2013 there if he doesn't jump to Modesto in spring training. Strictly a reliever, he could move through the system quickly.
White was a two-way prospect early in his high school career, but shoulder surgery dented his professional prospects as a pitcher. He still had plenty of appeal as an athletic, speedy center fielder, however, and the Rockies took him 73rd overall in June and signed him away from a Florida commitment for $1 million. He had a humbling pro debut at Grand Junction, though he did show improvement as the season went on, batting .151/.295/.233 in the first half and .237/.342/.412 in the second. White is wiry and athletic, with a smooth lefthanded swing. His two best attributes are his hand speed and ability to run. His hand speed helped White fare better against the hardest throwers because he just reacted and got his barrel on the ball and didn't try to hit homers. He attempted the latter too often, which caused his swing to become long and his strikeouts to mount. As he grows into his body, White could develop enough power to hit 15 homers a year, but he'll need to improve his approach at the plate to tap into it. He has the potential to hit a lot of doubles and triples, steal bases and cover ground in center field. His arm strength isn't what it was before surgery, but it's plenty strong enough for center field, where he should be a good defender, though he needs work on his routes. White has not faced a lot of quality pitching, so he'll probably return to a short-season stop to get up to speed in pro ball.
Warner committed to North Carolina State and would have gone there had any team but the Rockies drafted him. Growing up in nearby Colorado Springs, he seized the opportunity to play for the team he followed growing up and signed for $363,700 as a supplemental third-round pick last summer. He made his pro debut in the Pioneer League, where he was on a 60-pitch limit and got knocked around a bit. For his size, Warner is a very good athlete, and he played at quarterback and wide receiver on his high school football team. His 6-foot-7 frame is the kind scouts can dream on, and his size gives him the natural ability to create a downward angle with his fastball that causes a lot of ground balls and swings and misses over the top of the ball. He has a quick arm and usually ranged from 89-90 mph with his fastball, topping out at 93, so his velocity is likely to rise as he fills out. He has a true, firm curveball that he'll be able to command well and could turn into a strikeout pitch, and he shows good deception with his changeup, though it needs development. He shows maturity and competitiveness on the mound, complemented by intelligence and an ability to make adjustments. Warner will likely move up to Tri-City in 2013. He's a project but offers intriguing upside.
Rodriguez was a teammate at the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy of shortstop Carlos Correa, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft by the Astros. The Rockies took Rodriguez six rounds later and signed him for $185,000, sending him to the Pioneer League, where he was the youngest catcher in the league but more than held his own. Club officials said he was easily the hardest worker on the Grand Junction team and extremely coachable. Rodriguez has a compact stroke but swings at just about anything. He makes steady, solid contact, however, which is rare for an 18-year-old who will often venture outside the strike zone. Against better pitching, he will need to refine his plate discipline. He has learned to hit against, rather than over his front foot and should develop enough power to hit 10-15 homers annually with a lot of doubles. Rodriguez overcame the habit of dropping his target and then raising it and has already become a much calmer receiver. His blocking needs work simply because as an amateur he caught few pitchers with decent velocity. He showed an above-average arm early in the season before starting to wear down, and he threw out 21 percent of basestealers in his pro debut. He's a bottom-of-the-scale runner. Rodriguez should develop into an average catcher whose strength will be his bat. He could begin 2013 in low Class A.
Bergman was pitcher of the year in the short-season Northwest League in 2011, and he came to spring training last year ticketed to move up one level to Asheville. But instead he pitched his way to Modesto and ended up as the pitcher of the year in the California League after tying for the minor league lead with 16 wins. After he lost June 16 in the final game of the first half, Bergman won eight straight in the second half and went 1-1, 1.50 in two playoff games. Bergman succeeds with standout command. All of his pitches are average, but they play better than that because of his feel for locating them. He pitches at 89-92 mph with his fastball, also throws a curveball and changeup, and has started to mix in a cutter/slider. He has also proven to be durable. After succeeding at the lower levels, where he was always on the old side, Bergman will move up to Double-A in 2013 and face the challenge of getting out better hitters. He profiles as a fifth starter and has a strong track record of success.
When the Rockies took Tago 47th overall in the 2010 draft, with a compensation pick for the loss of free agent pitcher Jason Marquis, scouting director Bill Schmidt compared his loose, easy arm action to that of Pedro Astacio and Esmil Rogers. Tago signed late for $982,500 and didn't begin his career until 2011, and he hasn't shown much progress in his first two seasons. He regressed from Asheville in 2011 to Tri-City in 2012 and now has a career 6.36 ERA, and compounding matters has been his lack of maturity off the field. But Colorado saw a change in instructional league, as Tago made great progress with his delivery and had better focus. He had been using a robotic delivery, with a stabbing arm action when he separated. But now he is separating with a short little arc and taking his hand more straight back, which enables him to throw his fastball down in the zone more consistently. Tago's fastball reaches 95 mph at its best, and he'll usually pitch at 91. His curveball is average at times, though it has been more often below average in pro ball. Rockies officials report the bite returned in instructional league. His changeup remains a work in progress. Tago's fall progress was encouraging, but he needs to finally move his career forward in 2013, which he's likely to begin back at Asheville.
Frazier pitched at Tulsa, his hometown, in 2012 and led the Texas League with 167 innings, which tied for fifth in the minors. He also led the TL in losses and home runs allowed. He has a very good idea of what he's doing with each hitter, a cerebral approach to pitching that isn't surprising because his father George is a former reliever in the majors and a current Rockies television analyst. Parker's fastball, slider and changeup all improved in 2012. He's a strike-thrower who doesn't have fine command but controls the zone with a sinker that sits at 90-91 mph, gets up to 93 and induces a lot of grounders. He's tough, competitive and aggressive, sometimes to the point where he overthrows and leaves his fastball up in the zone. His arm speed on his changeup has gotten better, along with his ability to stay on top of the pitch and keep it down, and his slider gotten a little tighter. Frazier profiles as a middle reliever or swingman. Though he wasn't added to the 40-man roster in the offseason, he has a chance to get his first major league callup this year after getting some time in Triple-A.
In order to access this exclusive content you must have a Baseball America Account.
Login or sign up