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The Rockies had Gray ranked atop their draft board in 2013 and were ecstatic when the Astros chose Mark Appel and the Cubs selected Kris Bryant, allowing Colorado to take Gray with the third overall pick. He signed for a franchise-record $4.8 million, well above the previous mark of $3.9 million given to 2009 first-rounder Tyler Matzek. Gray had been drafted twice previously. The Royals took him in the 13th round in 2010 out of Chandler (Okla.) High. He went to Eastern Oklahoma State JC, where the Yankees took him in the 10th round in 2011. He rejected New York's $500,000 offer and transferred to Oklahoma, where he got in better shape. In his junior season at OU, Gray went 10-3, 1.64 in 17 starts with 147 strikeouts and 24 walks in 126 innings. In the pre-draft drug testing, he tested positive for the prescription drug Adderall, a stimulant that cannot be used without a waiver under the Major League Baseball policy on performance-enhancing substances. As a result, he will be subject to additional testing during his professional career. Gray is the fourth college righthander drafted by the Rockies in the first round, following John Burke (Florida, 1992), Jason Jennings (Baylor, 1999) and Greg Reynolds (Stanford, 2006). Because of his college workload, the Rockies limited him to no more than five innings in any start, and after accumulating 163 innings between college and pro ball, the Rockies scratched him from his final start at high Class A Modesto. The Rockies have never had a power pitcher with command as sharp as Gray's. Ubaldo Jimenez threw nearly as hard but didn't have Gray's command. Gray sits at 95-96 mph with his four-seam fastball that ranges from 93-100 and on multiple occasions hit 102. His heater has good finish with a small amount of run and little, if any, sink. The pitch has only a bit of movement, understandable given the high velocity. Because Gray had thrown his slider excessively at Oklahoma, the Rockies limited him to throwing one slider per batter at Rookie-level Grand Junction. That restriction was removed at Modesto, where he was virtually unhittable. Gray has an 85-88 mph slider with tight, late break when thrown properly, but it can get big at times and needs more consistency. He has a good feel for a straight changeup that needs more work, not surprising since it wasn't a necessary pitch in college. But when he keeps it down, his changeup is 83-87 mph with slight fade. Gray has three very good pitches, and the Rockies expect that all will be above-average offerings. Power pitchers are often burdened by walks, which shouldn't be the case with Gray, whose command is good thanks to an efficient delivery. He'll start at Double-A Tulsa and could reach the majors at some point during the 2014 season. His combination of power and efficiency makes him a potential No. 1 starter.
The Rockies signed Butler for $1 million after taking him 46th overall in the 2012 draft as compensation for the loss of free agent Mark Ellis to the Dodgers. He began his career by leading the Rookie-level Pioneer League in ERA (2.13), WHIP (1.06) and opponent average (.230), but his encore was even more impressive. He began 2013 at low Class A Asheville but worked his way through three levels, throwing an eye-opening inning at the Futures Game, and finishing 9-5, 1.80 overall, ranking second in the minors in ERA and opponent average (.180). Butler's fastball, slider and changeup are plus pitches with exceptional movement, and his hard curveball is solid-average. He touches 99 mph with a fastball that sits at 95-96. With its life and his ability to spot it, Butler earns 70 grades or higher from scouts for his heater. His changeup is extraordinary, a finished pitch he throws at 88 mph that bottoms out like a split and is thrown with great arm speed. He used it to thoroughly vex Red Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts in the Futures Game. Butler's slider is 85-88 mph and features tight, late break. He shows good feel for his craft, as he can add and subtract and vary the break on his secondary stuff. In addition to a power sinker, Butler throws a four-seamer that he worked hard at Double-A Tulsa to make more consistent to his arm side. He was much improved last season at not letting his emotions affect him when encountering adversity. Butler could be in the Rockies rotation by May. He figures to begin the season with several starts in the high minors, with the weather possibly dictating a return to Double-A Tulsa. His front-of-the-rotation starter upside rivals that of Gray.
Herrera, who signed for $550,000 in 2009, came from the Dominican Republic to the United States in 2011 and played well in the Rookie-level Pioneer League. He clearly was overwhelmed at low Class A Asheville in 2012 (.543 OPS), but a more confident, mature and aggressive Herrera returned to Asheville in 2013. He earned South Atlantic League MVP honors after leading the circuit in average (.343) and hits (162) while ranking second in total bases (242). The key for the switch-hitting Herrera was an improved swing. He still has a leg kick but now gets his front foot down on time and is more under control. He has learned to stay back and let the ball travel, and has much better balance and improved strike-zone management. He has much more power and aggressiveness from the left side but is driving the ball from the right side more than in the past. The lanky Herrera could develop more power as he fills out. An average runner, he might lose some of the quickness necessary for shortstop, where he has better range to his glove side than backhand and solid arm strength. He made too many errors by laying back on balls. However, after committing 24 miscues in his first 77 games, Herrera got more aggressive defensively and made just four in his final 49 games. Herrera will move up to high Class A Modesto in 2014. If a position change is needed, Herrera has the arm, hands and actions to play second or third base, though he also took fly balls in center field during instructional league, opening another possibility.
Parker also played quarterback at Clemson and turned down a $2.2 million offer from the Rockies that would have forced him to give up football, choosing to sign for $1.4 million and play a final season on the gridiron. Parker is the only player in NCAA Division I history to throw 20 touchdown passes and hit 20 homers in the same school year. Parker's contact rate has improved each season, with his strikeout rate falling to just shy of 19 percent of plate appearances at Double-A Tulsa in 2013--a career best. When he makes contact, Parker's strength and bat speed generate good power, particularly to right-center field, and he has gotten much better at staying on the ball longer and using the entire field more consistently. He has gained a much better understanding of his swing and can afford to wait due to his quick wrists and quiet approach. A below-average runner, Parker was introduced to first base at Tulsa and played the position exclusively in the Arizona Fall League. A former college third baseman, he improved greatly at being able to read balls off the bat and correctly incorporating his feet. Parker has a solid, accurate arm. With Todd Helton retiring, right fielder Michael Cuddyer is expected to move to first base in 2014, the final year of his contract. Parker should begin 2014 at Triple-A Colorado Springs and join the Rockies during the season before taking over at first base in 2015.
After being named high Class A California League pitcher of the year in 2011, Bettis missed the entire 2012 season. He strained a muscle behind his shoulder in his second spring-training outing and was out until instructional league. He resumed his career at Double-A Tulsa in 2013, missing two months with an oblique strain, then earned a promotion to the Rockies on Aug. 1. After making eight starts, Bettis moved to the bullpen as Colorado wanted to limit his workload after a year off and see how he handled relieving. Before his shoulder injury, Bettis reached 97-98 mph with his fastball. Last season, he hit 96 and pitched at 92-93. The Rockies hope he'll regain velocity as he gains more distance from his injury. His vastly improved changeup is a plus pitch with sink and serves as his best secondary pitch. His slider has turned into more of a cutter, an 86-89 mph pitch that can be too hard and close in velocity to his fastball. At times he threw his curveball more than his cutter in relief, but it's his fourth-best pitch. Bettis can control the strike zone but doesn't command it yet. Like a lot of rookie pitchers, he resorted to a faster/harder mentality when the game sped up on him, but it was in keeping with his fierce competitiveness. Bettis' fast-action delivery may not allow him to hold up physically as a starter, and a permanent move to the bullpen is likely. He could begin 2014 relieving in the majors.
Drafted 10th overall in 2012, Dahl is the first high school outfielder the Rockies ever selected with their first pick. After signing for $2.6 million, he won MVP honors in the 2012 Rookie-level Pioneer League, where he had a 27-game hitting streak and batted a league-leading .379. But 2013 was a lost season. He played Opening Night at low Class A Asheville, but afterward the Rockies sent him to extended spring training, a disciplinary measure for making his own airline reservation out of spring training. Dahl returned to Asheville on April 29, but a week later he tore his right hamstring running to first base and didn't play the rest of the season. Lower back soreness developed during his rehab, keeping him from participating in instructional league. Dahl is a pure hitter with exceptional hand-eye coordination and the ability to make adjustments from at-bat to at-bat and even pitch to pitch, which is rare for a young player. He has extra-base power that should yield 15-20 homers annually in the big leagues, and his above-average speed will yield leg hits, further raising his average. He has five-tool ability and profiles as a No. 3 hitter. Dahl has a plus arm and covers a lot of ground in center field, where he has plus potential. Chastened, humbled and presumably more mature, he'll return to Asheville to begin 2014 but could reach high Class A Modesto during the season.
Murphy signed for $454,000 after becoming the fifth catcher the Rockies have taken as high as the third round since they began drafting in 1992, a group that includes Ben Petrick (second round, 1995), Jeff Winchester (supplemental first, 1998) and third-rounders Josh Bard (1999), Lars Davis (2007) and Pete O'Brien (2011), who didn't sign. Murphy began his first full season at low Class A Asheville and earned a promotion in August to Double-A Tulsa. He generates a lot of power with a short, simple swing and good strength. He has solid plate discipline for a young power hitter but doesn't run well enough or have enough feel to project for a high average. He's a bulwark behind the plate and has an above-average arm and soft hands. He threw out 28 percent of basestealers on the season. Murphy receives and blocks the ball well, provides a low target and sets up well. He needs to experience game situations to grow in subtle areas such as implementing a scouting report and altering it as needed during a game. Murphy will likely return to Double-A to start the season but could reach the big leagues as quickly as 2014. The Rockies project him as an everyday catcher who could help them push incumbent Wilin Rosario, who has defensive shortcomings, to an outfield corner.
The Rockies have a history of drafting and signing quarterbacks, including Todd Helton, Seth Smith and Russell Wilson, each of whom played the position in college. McMahon played quarterback at perennial California power Mater Dei High, but rather than follow through with his commitment to play baseball at Southern California, he signed with the Rockies for $1,327,600. In his debut, McMahon ranked second in the Rookie-level Pioneer League in slugging (.583) despite being one of the league's youngest regulars. McMahon has a fluid lefty swing and a middle-of-the-field approach that is impressive for a young player and helps him make steady contact. Already possessing present strength and solid athleticism, he projects to have plus power and the ability to hit for a high average. He has a solid arm that is plus at times, average range and is a tick-below-average runner. Despite his youth, McMahon, drawing on his days as a quarterback, was a leader on the field and a presence in the middle of the lineup for a Grand Junction team that made the playoffs. McMahon was the best pure hitter and power hitter in the Rockies' draft class and plays like a veteran despite his youth and two-sport background. He will advance to low Class A Asheville in 2014 and could move quickly.
The Rockies took Story 45th overall as a compensation pick in the 2011 draft for the loss of free agent righthander Octavio Dotel, who pitched in just eight games for them in 2010. He signed for $915,000 and has advanced one level yearly. After a big season in 2012, when he played both third base and shortstop, he experienced plenty of growing pains in 2013 at high Class A Modesto. Story was hitting .204 at the end of June before making a few adjustments for the final two months. He has good bat speed, power and arm strength, but he fell into an early trap of trying to pull the ball too much and chasing bad pitches. He did a better job of going up the middle and using the off gap as the season went on. Story can be overly aggressive and finished second in the Cal League with 183 strikeouts, or once every third trip to the plate. Defensively, Story has good range and arm strength for the left side and plays with calmness. Some scouts believe the average runner is better suited for third than short. The Rockies laud him for continuing to play hard and with energy through instructional league. Story likely will return to Modesto in 2014. That could mean more time at third base if he's sharing shortstop with Rosell Herrera, as he did in 2011 and '12.
After hitting well at the Rockies' Dominican complex in a workout against Juan Nicasio and Esmil Rogers, Tapia signed with Colorado for $175,000 in November 2010. He played two seasons in the Dominican Summer League before the Rockies pushed him in 2013 by bringing him to minor league camp, and he earned a ticket to the Rookie-level Pioneer League, where he led the league in batting (.357) and hits (92), ranked second in total bases (145) and third in extra-base hits (33). His 29-game hitting streak fell three short of the league record. Tapia has exceptional hand-eye coordination and doesn't strike out often. He keeps his hands back and has a knack for putting his barrel on the ball, even on pitches out of the strike zone, with a short, lefthanded stroke. He has a loose, wiry frame with plenty of room for added strength and should be able to hit 20 home runs a season. An above-average runner, he played all three outfield spots at Grand Junction and could stay in center field, depending on how much he grows. He has enough range to stay up the middle and a plus arm that will play well in right. Tapia will start 2014 at low Class A Asheville, where he will play at age 20.
Injuries have become a growing concern with Anderson, who signed for $1.4 million as the 20th overall pick in the 2011 draft. He coped with a sports hernia while having a successful season at low Class A Asheville in 2012 and missed nine weeks at high Class A Modesto in 2013 due to shoulder soreness, finishing with 90 innings. Anderson returned in August and was scheduled to pitch in the Arizona Fall League but was scratched because of a stress fracture in his left elbow that may put him behind in 2014. Anderson pitches at 89-90 mph with his fastball and tops out at 93. Some scouts consider his average 86-87 mph cutter his best secondary pitch, one he uses to get in on righthanders, but he tends to throw it too often. Others prefer his changeup, which can flash plus with fade and sink. His 76-77 mph curveball is more fringy. Anderson's anything-but-fluid delivery features a leg kick and slight pause, but his mechanics help him hide the ball. Despite not having a pitch that stands out, his command and deception enhance his repertoire. Anderson is more effective against righthanded hitters (.649 OPS) than lefthanded hitters (.805), so he profiles better as a starter than a relief lefty. When he's ready, he'll pitch at Double-A Tulsa in 2014. He projects as a No. 5 starter.
The 11th overall pick in the 2009 draft, Matzek signed for $3.9 million and has made slow progress. His franchise bonus record stood until Jonathan Gray received $4.8 million in 2013. Matzek entered pro baseball adhering to the unorthodox Mike Marshall warm-up routine and even went home for three weeks during the 2011 season to work with his youth pitching coach, a Marshall disciple. He scrapped that routine during the 2012 season and has become far less analytical and a good deal more receptive to instruction. However, control and command remain issues for Matzek, mostly with his fastball. For the second successive season, he led his league in free passes (75), this time at Double-A Tulsa, though he did manage to lower his walk rate from 6 per nine innings to 4.8. The Rockies sent Matzek to the Arizona Fall League in 2013 to pitch in relief. His fastball ranged from 87-94 mph during the season but sat 93 and touched 95 in the AFL. Matzek's average curveball and fringy slider have gotten a little better, but his below-average changeup, which he tends to throw too hard, still isn't where it needs to be. He seems destined for the bullpen, given that his walk totals build up his pitch counts, making it difficult for him to go five innings as a starter. He ought to pitch at Triple-A in 2014.
Oberg had Tommy John surgery in college and missed his junior year at Connecticut, but he returned to record nine saves in 2012, prompting the Rockies to make him a 15th-round pick. He began his pro career as closer at Rookie-level Grand Junction, then jumped to high Class A Modesto in 2013 and led the California League with 33 saves. Oberg throws a fastball, curveball and changeup, using an aggressive, fearless temperament that is ideal for a closer. He sits 94-95 mph with his fastball but has below-average command of the pitch, a reason his 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings were offset by 4.6 walks in 2013. His plus curveball is a put-away pitch, and it's a hard breaking ball with true 12-to-6 action. Oberg also throws an above-average changeup that he used more in the second half of 2013. He has the weapons to combat lefthanders, who batted .190 against him. Oberg will begin 2014 at Double-A Tulsa and could move quickly, particularly if he refines his fastball command.
Gonzalez attended high school in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, but did not sign with the Athletics as an 18th-rounder in 2008. Instead he attended Bethune-Cookman, a historically black college in Daytona Beach, Fla., whose baseball coach Jason Beverlin recruits Puerto Rico. Gonzalez began his career with 22 relief appearances at Rookie-level Grand Junction in 2012, then posted a 3.3 SO/BB ratio in 49 relief appearances at low Class A Asheville, logging 12 saves when he filled in for injured closer Raul Fernandez. Gonzalez throws a hard sinker and a devastating cutter and doesn't throw anything straight. His heavy sinker ranges from 92-95 mph and is consistently 93-94. Gonzalez also has an above-average changeup. He can control the strike zone but doesn't yet command it and can get into stretches of missing the strike zone entirely. Gonzalez is an extreme groundball pitcher, posting a 2.5 groundout/airout ratio in 2013, and is intriguing because of his stuff. He will pitch at high Class A Modesto in 2014 and has a chance to progress quickly.
When they drafted Moll, a starter in college, the Rockies said he could end up in the bullpen. After he signed for $600,000 as a 2013 third-rounder, he began his pro career at short-season Tri-City. He made six starts and then missed a month with a broken left pinkie toe, an injury that occurred when he stubbed it against a dresser in the middle of the night in a hotel room. Moll returned on Aug. 24 and eased back into action by making four relief appearances and pitching six scoreless innings. As a starter, his fastball sat 90-91 mph, though he could reach back for 94 when needed. He sits at 93 mph out of the bullpen and touches 96. Moll's breaking pitch is a plus slurve that has two-plane movement and late action up to 87 mph. His developing changeup remains below par, and if it improves, he could remain a starter despite his longer arm action. Moll's tenacity played well in the bullpen, where he has the makings of another Rex Brothers. He should begin 2014 at low Class A Asheville but has a chance to move fast.
Culberson has baseball bloodlines. His father Charles was the Giants' 16th-round pick in 1984 and coached in the White Sox system, and his grandfather Leon was an outfielder who spent six seasons with the Red Sox and Senators. The Giants drafted Charlie as a sandwich pick in 2007, then traded him to the Rockies for second baseman Marco Scutaro in July 2012. He began 2013 at Triple-A Colorado Springs and made his Rockies debut on July 29. He played more shortstop than second base for the Sky Sox, and he further enhanced his versatility by logging time in center field. He played just four games at second base with the Rockies and 27 in left field, where his inexperience showed on his reads and routes. The athletic Culberson runs and throws well, feasts on fastballs down and in and has surprising power to right-center field. At Triple-A, he improved at staying back and letting the ball travel, which opened up the whole field. With one option remaining, Culberson will compete for a utility role in 2014, which is likely his ceiling at this point.
The proverbial up-and-down reliever in 2013, Scahill began the season at Triple-A Colorado Springs but was recalled on April 21 for what proved to be the first of four stints with the Rockies. He pitched in 23 big league games, working two innings or more eight times and pitching three innings three times. Scahill stranded 11 of 12 inherited runners and retired 17 of 23 first batters. He struggled toward the end by allowing eight runs in his final five outings. A starter until the Rockies called him up in September 2012, Scahill has plenty of stuff. And while his command improved from 2012, it needs to be better. He sits at 93-94 mph with his fastball, which touches 96. His average 86-87 mph slider can be flat at times but is effective when thrown with depth. Scahill's fringy changeup is his weakest pitch. It's good enough to get outs and get him back in counts, but he doesn't have confidence in it and rarely throws it. A trustworthy changeup would give Scahill another weapon against lefthanders, who in the big leagues hit .344 in 64 at-bats against him. He'll vie for a middle-relief role with the Rockies in spring training, but he has two minor league options remaining.
Featherston played shortstop at Texas Christian and helped lead the team to the College World Series in 2010. The following year, the Rockies drafted him in the fifth round and signed him for $144,900. Featherston played shortstop exclusively at short-season Tri-City in 2011, but he shifted to primarily second base in 2012 with Trevor Story and Rosell Herrera at low Class A Asheville. He continued to play mostly second in high Class A in 2013 after missing the first couple weeks of the season with an oblique strain. Featherston grinds out at-bats and can consistently get the barrel to the ball, as evidenced by his 54 extra-base hits in 2013, including 13 homers. He's a savvy baserunner with average speed, he plays hard and has leadership skills. Featherston has above-average range at second base, where his shortstop's arm is a plus. He needs work on turning the double play to have utility potential. Featherston ought to play at Double-A Tulsa in 2014.
Jensen signed for $135,000 in 2011 after being taken in the sixth round out of San Diego, where he primarily relieved before starting in 12 of 18 appearances as a junior. He has proven to be a durable starter in pro ball, logging 145 innings at low Class A Asheville in 2012 and 152 at high Class A Modesto in 2013. He has above-average command of a fastball that ranges from 92-95 mph and sits at 93. Because he doesn't have a great feel for his secondary stuff, he regularly throws at least 70 percent fastballs. Jensen throws a hard, sharp curveball that grades average when he throw it for strikes, which isn't often enough. He adds a fringy changeup and needs a pitch to rely on besides his fastball. The Rockies want that pitch to be a slider, and Jensen is receptive to learning to throw one, though he preferred to wait until the offseason to begin his crash course. He ought to pitch at Double-A Tulsa in 2014. Whether he develops a feel for his secondary stuff will determine whether Jensen moves to the bullpen, where he had ample experience in college.
Jimenez began his career in the Dominican Summer League in 2012 after he signed for $275,000 a year earlier. The Rockies like to give their Latin players two years in the DSL, meaning for the most part that they'll be 19 when they come to the U.S., typically with an assignment to the Rookie-level Pioneer League. With Jimenez's instincts for the game, and the organization's lack of superior shortstop options at Grand Junction, the Rockies correctly assessed that he could handle the jump at 18 after one season in the DSL. The wiry Jimenez needs to gain strength, which given his youth isn't surprising. His package of tools is exciting, including a plus arm, plus range and plus speed. He has a loose, quick swing from the left side and generates good bat speed. He needs to become a better bunter. Jimenez will chase out of the zone, particularly against lefthanders, but he will develop more plate discipline as he gains experience. Jimenez should move up to low Class A Asheville and play his first full professional season in 2014 at age 19.
Adames has moved steadily through the system, advancing one level annually since he came from the Dominican Summer League to Rookie-level Casper in 2010. He played at Double-A Tulsa in 2013, then went to the Arizona Fall League. Adames' bat likely will not carry him to everyday status in the big leagues, but he could be valuable in a utility role. The switch-hitter swings with more authority from the right side, with more of a slap swing lefthanded. Strikeouts have never been an issue for Adames, who makes steady contact. He has shown gap power in the past, but his three home runs in 2013 are indicative of 20 power on the 20-80 scouting scale. His below-average speed further reduces his offensive ceiling. Adames' strength is his defense. He's an instinctive shortstop with very good hands, solid range and plenty of arm strength with a quick release. Save for seven games at second base in 2013, Adames has played exclusively shortstop--but he ought to adapt easily if called upon to move around the diamond. Adames will play at Triple-A Colorado Springs in 2014.
Fernandez played catcher when he signed for $50,000 in November 2007. The Rockies saw him as a pitcher, but he wanted to continue to catch. The Rockies let Fernandez do so in the Dominican Summer League in 2008 before beginning the conversion to pitcher. He spent two more years in the DSL as a reliever before advancing to Rookie-level Casper in 2011 and repeating the Pioneer League in 2012. He advanced to low Class A Asheville in 2013, serving as closer for the Tourists. Fernandez remains raw with little feel for pitching, but has a power arm. His fastball touches 98-99 mph and sits at 96. He often leaves it up in the zone, and he lacks pitchability. He can control the strike zone but doesn't command it and is unable to pitch to the corners. Fernandez throws an average split-changeup and a slider that is getting better. He was throwing the latter at 79-81 mph in 2012, but in instructional league that year worked on throwing it harder. Before missing about six weeks in 2013 with a strained elbow ligament, Fernandez's slider sat in the mid-80s. Even though he pitched just 34 innings in 2013, Fernandez figures to advance to high Class A Modesto in 2014.
Sosa is a potential late-bloomer. Signed for $400,000 in 2007, he spent 2008-09 in the Dominican Summer League. Following the '09 season, Sosa was involved in a car accident that resulted in a rod being surgically inserted into his left arm. He played sparingly in 2010, finishing the season with 78 at-bats, and didn't pick up the pace until joining low Class A Asheville in 2013. Sosa led the South Atlantic League in RBIs (89) and total bases (244), showing well-rounded tools. However, away from Asheville's hitter-friendly ballpark, he hit just .256/.326/.355 with five homers. Still, Sosa has developed better separation in his swing, enabling him to get his hands involved and let the ball travel. He has strength and above-average power, but recognizing offspeed pitches earlier will be his biggest challenge to hit for average against better pitchers. His strike-zone discipline improved during 2013 as he chased fewer sliders in the dirt late in the season. Sosa has become a capable outfielder and can play all three positions adequately. His arm is fringe-average. Sosa runs well, knows how to steal and is not afraid to try. He will play at high Class A Modesto in 2014.
Senzatela signed for $250,000 in 2011 and began his career in the Dominican Summer League the following season. He made eight dominant starts in the DSL in 2013 to earn an in-season promotion to short-season Tri-City, where he allowed three or fewer earned runs in seven of his eight starts for the Dust Devils. He tops out at 95 mph without looking like he's throwing that hard. He pitches consistently at 92-93 mph with late life and throws downhill. His youth suggests the potential for velocity gains, but Senzatela has a mature body with little projection. He has a curveball that showed some improvement in instructional league, but the pitch still needs work. His splitter has depth and he can throw it for strikes. Senzatela prompts comparisons with Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin, a fellow Venezuelan, though he lacks the breaking ball and changeup that Chacin had at the same stage. Senzatela throws harder, however, and likely will head to low Class A Asheville in 2014.
A move to the bullpen jumpstarted Houston's career, which appeared stalled at Double-A Tulsa, where he had spent all of 2012 and the second half of 2011. Back for a third tour in 2013, he moved to the bullpen when Roy Oswalt joined the Drillers rotation, and he hasn't looked back. He threw three hitless innings in his first outing, made 20 relief appearances at Tulsa and Triple-A Colorado Springs and then earned a trip to the Arizona Fall League. As a starter, Houston's fastball topped out at 92 mph and was generally around 88 mph. Out of the bullpen, he sits at 92 mph and has ticked up to 94-95 occasionally. His straight changeup has a little fade and has also become much more effective. It's an above-average pitch with the potential to further improve. Houston also developed a true cutter in 2013, a good weapon against lefthanders. He will contend for a middle-relief role in big league camp and likely begin 2014 in Triple-A.
The Rockies drafted White 73rd overall in 2012 and signed him for $1 million to steer him away from his commitment to Florida. His debut season at Rookie-level Grand Junction presented myriad challenges as he struggled to hit, particularly at the outset, though he did improve as the season unfolded. He began 2013 in extended spring training before heading to low Class A Asheville in May when the team had an outfield opening. The lean, wiry White needs to gain strength and be more aggressive at the plate with his smooth, easy swing from the left side. His pitch recognition needs improvement as well, particularly against breaking pitches from lefthanders. He has good hand speed and balance and plenty of bat speed. As he grows into his body, he could develop enough power to hit 15 homers a year. He runs well but needs to bunt more often to capitalize on his speed. He is a pure center fielder with above-average range. His arm strength was above-average when he got to Asheville but tailed off later in the season. Shoulder surgery in high school diminished White's status as a professional pitching prospect, but he has plenty of arm to play center. He likely will return to Asheville in 2014.
Jiminian signed for $350,000 and pitched in the Dominican Summer League in 2010-11 before coming to the U.S. He has a live arm and a chance to throw with above-average velocity, particularly when he irons out a raw delivery. Jiminian can get his fastball up to 93-94 mph with life. His breaking ball has the makings of a power slurve that eventually should be average to a tick above. He throws it up to 81 mph with tight, late break despite a tendency to release it too early. His changeup is below-average and a pitch that he'll have to develop. Jiminian throws a lot of secondary pitches in the dirt, as evidenced by 14 wild pitches in 83 innings at short-season Tri-City in 2013. He will probably move up to low Class A Asheville for 2014.
Aquino, who signed for $175,000 in 2009, pitched well in 2010-11 in the Dominican Summer League. The Rockies sent him back to the DSL in 2012 after he reported to spring training overweight. He made it to Rookie-level Grand Junction in August 2012 and pitched well, but 2013 was a difficult year for Aquino--and not just because he went winless in 10 decisions, most of them at low Class A Asheville. He can touch 92 mph with his fastball and pitches at 88-89, but he doesn't throw it often enough or command it, particularly to his glove side. When he throws fastball strikes, it's to his arm side, though there the pitch tends to run off the plate. Aquino has a well above-average changeup that he throws too often and a sharp curveball that is a solid-average pitch. He's too emotional and must learn to ignore umpires' calls that he disagrees with, and he also needs to develop better tempo in his delivery. He doesn't field his position or hold runners well. Added to the 40-man roster after the season, Aquino is scheduled for a return to Asheville in 2014.
Briceno signed for $250,000 in 2009 and played his first two seasons in the Dominican Summer League. He began 2013 at Rookie-level Grand Junction, where he hit .333/.356/.614 with nine homers in 153 at-bats to earn a promotion to low Class A Asheville in early August. At the conclusion of the Tourists' season, Briceno returned to Grand Junction for the Pioneer League playoffs. His best tools are his above-average power and arm strength. The raw catching tools, with solid feet and good hands, are evident, so now it's a matter of repetition and refinement. He struggles to block pitches in the dirt because he doesn't anticipate the ball well. Briceno has an inside-out swing with some length and is a low-ball hitter. He struggled to hit breaking pitches at Asheville, but worked to tone down his leg kick in instructional league, develop a better hitting base and slow the game down. Briceno is mature in the hips and legs, prompting concern about diminished speed (currently average) and flexibility his down the road. A move to first base might ultimately result. Regardless, Briceno has a chance to wield an impact bat. He will probably return to Asheville to begin 2014 but could earn another midseason promotion.
The Rockies lured Warner, a Colorado Springs native, away from a North Carolina State commitment, possibly the only organization that could have done so. He grew up a Rockies fan and wanted the opportunity to play for the organization. Warner signed for a $363,700 bonus as a supplemental third-round pick in 2012. He worked on a 60-pitch limit that summer as he began his career at Rookie-level Grand Junction. then pitched a team-leading 88 innings at short-season Tri-City in 2013. The 6-foot-7 Warner is a good athlete who played quarterback and wide receiver in high school. He shows maturity on the mound, a feel for his craft and can make adjustments more quickly than most young pitchers. His size enables him to create a downhill angle on his fastball, though he needs to locate it down better. His curveball improved notably as the 2013 season progressed and has the makings of an above-average pitch. His changeup is a work in progress. He tired late in the season, causing his arm slot to drop. That reduced his velocity slightly to 88-89 mph and took away the bite on his curveball. As he learns to work his stuff lower in the zone and keep his arm slot up, Warner should regain the sharp break on his curveball and get his fastball back to 90 mph. He's still very projectable and will pitch at low Class A Asheville in 2014.
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