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After scuffling in his first taste of Double-A last year, Rodgers returned to Hartford better than ever. Sporting a leaner, trimmer frame, Rodgers has cut his strikeout rate, increased his walk rate, set a new career-high in stolen bases and hit .276/.340/.504. Rodgers remains a capable shortstop with a plus arm, and he’s played some third base for the first time as the Rockies try to enhance his versatility. Importantly, Rodgers has stayed healthy. After missing at least 30 games due to injury each of his first three seasons, Rodgers played 83 of a possible 88 games before heading to the Futures Game.
McMahon made the Opening Day roster but has been yanked back and forth between the majors and minors as the Rockies try to find the right role for him. Rather than make him a starter, the Rockies used McMahon as a pinch-hitter and utility infielder, preventing him from getting the consistent at-bats or reps needed to adjust to the majors. McMahon remains the Rockies best long-term option at first base, but his future outlook is muddled with the team committed to playing the high-priced Ian Desmond.
Lambert’s advanced feel for pitching combined with natural physical maturity has led to a banner season. He led the Double-A Eastern League in ERA (2.23), WHIP (0.99), and walk rate (1.17) despite not even turning 21 until after the season began, and he was promoted to Triple-A at the start of July. Lambert expertly manipulates his 92-93 mph fastball that touches 96—running it, sinking it and throwing it for strikes in every quadrant—and both his curveball and changeup are playing above-average to plus the way he interplays them off his fastball. The result has been an ascent to the undisputed top pitching prospect in the Rockies system.
People are increasingly realizing Hampson is not a "gamer” but an elite athlete who just comes in a smaller package. Hampson made quick work of Double-A before moving up to Triple-A and continuing to hit, putting together a combined .309/.379/.463 slash line. Hampson remains an above-average contact hitter with plus-plus speed, stealing 33 bases in 38 tries, and he’s been an adequate defensive shortstop and excellent second baseman. He’s also begun playing some center field for the first time this year and held his own, another testament to his athleticism. Hampson was rewarded with his first big league callup on July 21.
Welker’s unorthodox swing has cut into his power (three home runs, .388 SLG outside of Lancaster) but he continues to show solid feel to hit and strike-zone awareness. He is using the whole field, has a mature approach and is impressing with his hand-eye coordination. Welker’s defense at third base has been widely praised—particularly his instincts, arm and reactions off the bat—but his thick lower half raises concerns about his long-term mobility.
Pint came out of his first start at low Class A Asheville with shoulder stiffness, missed the next two months, made two starts at short-season Boise, and has been out since June 21 with an oblique strain. Pint still flashes plus stuff across the board, headlined by a 97-101 mph fastball, but inconsistencies in his delivery have yielded poor control, and now his injuries further complicate how realistic it is for him to reach his big upside.
Rolison finished second in the Southeastern Conference with 120 strikeouts this spring as Ole Miss’ top starter. The Rockies drafted him No. 22 overall and signed him for $2,912,300. An aggressive lefthander, Rolison boasts a lively low 90s fastball, a wipeout curveball and a promising changeup. He throws across his body at times and his control suffers because of it, but evaluators believe that can be fixed and see mid-rotation upside.
Command and control problems hampered Almonte as a starter in Triple-A, but his power stuff earned him a callup to the Rockies bullpen at the end of June. His 97-98 mph fastball and 89-91 mph power slider are major league pitches that play, and not having to worry about a third pitch or being too fine with his command suits Almonte. Almonte pitched the eighth inning in all three of his first major league appearances, and he has the potential to remain in late-inning relief.
Lavigne rated as one of the top power hitters in the 2018 draft class, with some teams considering the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder masher worthy of a first round pick. The Rockies snagged him in the supplemental first round, No. 42 overall, and signed him for $2 million. Lavigne already showed his bat plays in pro ball with a .361/.448/.590 slash line and five home runs in his first 22 professional games, with his advanced approach drawing raves. He’ll just need to keep his big body in shape as he moves up the ladder.
Castellani got hit hard in big league spring training and has spent the year in a funk. In a repeat season at Double-A, Castellani’s control has regressed, his strikeout rate has plummeted, and his command has been below-average across the board. Still, as a young, physical righthander with a fastball that reaches the mid-90s and an above-average slider, there is optimism Castellani has a future in the major leagues, possibly as a reliever if his command continues to stall.
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