Sign Up! Join our newsletters, get a FREE e-Edition
TRACK RECORD: Just what the Rockies think of Rodgers is as obvious as the franchise-record $5.5 million bonus he received after being selected third overall in the 2015 draft, behind shortstops Dansby Swanson and Alex Bregman. Those two came out of college and have made the big leagues. Rodgers, a high school sign, is now on the verge of getting his own opportunity at the highest level. Selected to play in the Futures Game in 2018, he was promoted late in the season to Triple-A Albuquerque. He struggled there not only with shoulder tightness, but also a slight hamstring issue, which led to the Rockies deciding against a plan to send him to the Arizona Fall League.
SCOUTING REPORT: Rodgers has worked to maintain consistency with the lower half of his body when he is hitting, helping him improve his ability to stay on breaking pitches, which at each level become more challenging because the pitchers are more refined. He is an active hitter, who is in attack mode, and his brief time in Triple-A underscored to him that veteran pitchers will exploit that aggressiveness with their mixture of pitches. Still, he shows the potential to be a plus hitter with above-average power. He was drafted as a shortstop and has shown the ability to remain at that position. The Rockies, however, in their organizational approach, also worked him at second base in his first three years, and in 2018 added third base as an option. He has shown an aptitude for all three thanks to above-average range and a plus arm. Crucially, he has recognized the importance of defense, which wasn’t as big an issue in high school when he was such a dominant hitter. There is a growing feeling that he could wind up being a shortstop, though second or third base could provide a quick promotion in light of the loss of DJ LeMahieu to free agency, not to mention third baseman Nolan Arenado’s potential free agency following the 2019 season.
THE FUTURE: Given his power, Rodgers will be a plus offensive weapon as a middle infielder. He has shown the ability to adapt to the higher quality of pitching at each level, getting an education in his brief exposure at Albuquerque. Veteran pitchers at Triple-A have more thorough scouting reports and sharper pitches that will require ongoing adjustment by Rodgers.
TRACK RECORD: Hampson gets lost in the shuffle with the likes of shortstops Brendan Rodgers and third baseman Colton Welker in the organization, but what can’t be overlooked is that he made his big league debut in just his third pro season and was part of the Rockies’ postseason roster. He has hit .300 at each stop of minors, skipping low Class A and spending just two months at Double-A in his rise to the Rockies.
SCOUTING REPORT: Hampson’s plus speed and consistency in making contact are the foundation for his success. He has struck out just 15 percent of the time in his minor league career, despite being fast-tracked to the big leagues, and has hit a composite .317 in his three minor league stops. His arm is best suited for second base and center field, but he is an alternative when a need arises at shortstop. He will unload an occasional home run, but his well below-average power is a sidelight to his game. His offensive approach is to hit the ball on the ground or on a line, trying to avoid lazy fly balls.
THE FUTURE: Versatility is a key for Hampson. Signed as a shortstop, he has been most comfortable at second base, but also has shown the skills to play center field.
TRACK RECORD: The Rockies jumped Lambert to Triple-A Albuquerque at midseason and he struggled for the first time in his career. That was a major step forward because it led to him realizing adjustments needed to be made to offset the impact of altitude. It’s promising, however, that he continued to throw strikes.
SCOUTING REPORT: Lambert has a legitimate four-pitch mix to work in a big league rotation. He is not going to overpower, but he understands the art of pitching. He mixes his repertoire, moves the ball around and has pinpoint control. His go-to pitch off his fastball is a legitimate plus curveball. He works his plus changeup in regularly. His fringy slider is a definite fourth pitch. He works off a fastball that sits in the low 90s, but with his feel for locating and the deception in his delivery, hitters have trouble catching up to his heater.
THE FUTURE: The Rockies have a young core at the big league level, so it will be easy to send Lambert back to Albuquerque, which is the same altitude as Denver. He is on a fast track to move into the rotation when a need arises and is seen as a No. 3 or 4 starter because of his command and moxie.
TRACK RECORD: In his third pro season, Welker continued to establish the fact he has an impact bat. An injury kept him from qualifying for a batting title in the South Atlantic League in 2017. He was healthy in 2018 and claimed the batting title (.333) in the high Class A California League. He has hit a composite .335 in his pro career.
SCOUTING REPORT: Welker has natural leverage in his swing to hit for above-average power. As he fills out and gets stronger, the Rockies expect he will develop middle-of-the-lineup power, a lot like Nolan Arenado, who never hit more than 18 home runs in a minor league season. He has that hitting instinct, using the entire field. As part of the Rockies’ versatility push, Welker put in some time at first base in the second half of 2018 at Lancaster. Third base, though, is his future. He has the reactions, soft hands and arm strength to handle both corners with an accurate arm.
THE FUTURE: Welker should be big league ready some time in 2020. The expectation is he will settle in quickly at Double-A and be moved up to Albuquerque at some point in 2019, which could facilitate his rise to the big leagues. He remains the focus of the Rockies’ future at third base.
TRACK RECORD: There has never been a position player from New Hampshire who turned pro out of high school and made it to the big leagues. Lavigne will try to change that. He is the highest-drafted prep player (42nd overall) ever out of the Granite State. As a senior he walked 30 times in 90 plate appearances and struck out just six times. He developed a feel for hitting with wood when he played three summers in a wood bat league in New England.
SCOUTING REPORT: Lavigne’s strike-zone discipline and knowledge are upper echelon, particularly for a big-time power threat. Scouts talk about seeing him battle from an 0-2 count to 3-2 and hitting an opposite-field home run. He ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Rookie-level Pioneer League in his pro debut after leading the league with 45 walks and a .477 on-base percentage. Given his size, he is a first baseman all the way and shows the fire to be elite. He has soft hands and agility around the bag.
THE FUTURE:Lavigne has the type of bat that will put him on the fast track. He is the prototype for a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger-caliber first baseman. He is a big man but has the work and dietary habits necessary to keep himself in check.
TRACK RECORD: The son of Phil Nevin, who was the No. 1 pick in the 1992 draft, Tyler battled injuries his first three pro seasons. In 2018, however, his potential began to turn into results. He hit for average and power at high Class A Lancaster. And he followed that up with a breakout effort in the Arizona Fall League, where he won the batting title.
SCOUTING REPORT: Nevin is a taller, sleeker build than his father but has the bat speed that promises a productive offensive career. He showed developing plate discipline at Lancaster, giving him the potential for a plus bat with above-average power. Projected as a third baseman out of the draft, he has seen considerable time at first base as a teammate of third baseman Colton Welker. He has the soft hands to be a plus first baseman, but given his athleticism, the Rockies will give him a look in the outfield as well. Plate discipline came over the course of 2018, capped off by the AFL effort in which he drew 15 walks and struck out just five times.
THE FUTURE: Nevin’s statement in 2018 underscores he has impact potential in the big leagues. He has the physical skills and work ethic to be a middle-of-the-lineup corner infielder on a contending team.
TRACK RECORD: Rolison has been on the radar for some time. He was a second-team All-American out of high school, but he slipped in the 2016 draft because of a strong commitment to Mississippi. Drafted 22nd overall in 2018, Rolison’s workload in his pro debut was limited so the Rockies could get to know him and not overextend him after a heavy spring workload. He impressed enough in his nine appearances that he was held back to pitch a game in the Pioneer League championship series, only to see Grand Junction eliminated in the semifinals.
SCOUTING REPORT: Rolison is a Kyle Freeland type. He pitches at 92-93 mph with his fastball and commands a breaking ball that is more of a curveball than slider. His breaking pitch needs refinement. Rolison also has a changeup but didn’t use it much in college. He commands both sides of the plate and repeats his delivery. Rolison figures to move quickly through the development process considering his awareness and willingness to adjust to situations. He has strong fastball command.
THE FUTURE: The key for Rolison will be refining his curveball and becoming more comfortable with usage of his changeup, which is a critical pitch at Coors Field. He has a No. 4 starter type of profile.
TRACK RECORD: One of the most overpowering pitchers in the 2016 draft, Pint’s results and durability in pro ball haven’t been there. Able to get away with high school hitters chasing pitches because of his dominating velocity, he has had to work on his control. Hopes for a breakthrough in 2018 weren’t met because he was limited to just four appearances.
SCOUTING REPORT: Pint can simply overpower hitters when he throws strikes. He is a starter who sits 97-99 mph and can run his fastball up to 102 without any stress. He also has one of the better curveballs in the organization. It is all about consistency. If the pieces of the puzzle fit together, he’s a legit No. 1 starter—but that is a giant if because he hasn’t gotten out of low Class A. He showed promise in 2018 but shoulder stiffness forced an early-season shutdown and a late-season oblique injury kept him from logging significant innings in the second half.
THE FUTURE: Pint’s 2019 season has plenty of promise, but it is critical for him to take a step up and get in a full season to start answering the questions and concerns that have grown out of his history of injuries. It’s time for Pint to make a move in his fourth pro season.
TRACK RECORD: Vilade was faced with failure on the field for the first time in 2018 and responded impressively. He was hitting just .237 at low Class A Asheville on July 9. From that point on he hit .326 and cut his strikeout ratio from one every 3.6 at-bats to once every 8.9 at-bats the rest of the season. His father is Oklahoma State assistant coach James Vilade, a long-time minor league coach.
SCOUTING REPORT: Don’t be deceived by Vilade’s total of 10 home runs in his first two pro seasons. He can lift and drive the ball, which was apparent when he won the Under Armour All-America home run derby at Wrigley Field prior to his senior year in high school. The key for Vilade is making adjustments, which he showed in his late-season revival at Asheville. He has the defensive instincts to play shortstop, but there are some who question his range. Vilade is going to be given every opportunity to prove he is a shortstop, but he will also see time at third base and first base in the Rockies’ effort to create depth at multiple positions.
THE FUTURE: Vilade’s bat profiles a little lower down the lineup, and he could be one of those guys lurking in the No. 6 or No. 7 hole.
TRACK RECORD: Hilliard faced an emotional challenge in 2018, dealing with his father being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. He showed mental strength, however, and rebounded in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .328. Hilliard was a highly touted pitcher in junior college but struggled early at Wichita State and made his mark as a hitter.
SCOUTING REPORT: Hilliard adopted a bit of a leg kick in 2018 that helped him keep his weight back and see the ball longer, which was a big help in starting to handle breaking pitches and show signs of cutting down a strikeout rate that was close to 30 percent. His size, arm strength and physical skills profile perfectly in right field. His hit tool, power and arm all grade as above-average. Hilliard is an above-average runner who could play center field, but due to his size and the demands of the Coors Field outfield, the Rockies plan for him to stay in right field. Given that Hilliard did not make the move to the outfield until 2015, he is more raw than a typical college bat.
THE FUTURE: Hilliard has proven to be a quick learner and is pushing aside a label earlier in his career that he would wind up in a platoon role.
-- Reports written by Tracy Ringolsby
In order to access this exclusive content you must have a Baseball America Account.
Login or sign up