Sign Up! Join our newsletters, get a FREE e-Edition
Use the options to filter your search.
The Rockies drafted Gray third overall in 2013 with visions of the big righthander one day fronting the major league rotation. He signed for a franchise-record $4.8 million, which was eclipsed two years later by Brendan Rodgers' $5.5 million bonus. An ace at Oklahoma, Gray had been drafted twice before. The Royals took him out of Chandler (Okla.) High in the 13th round in 2010, and the Yankees drafted him a year later in the 10th round out of Eastern Oklahoma State JC. Due to Gray's heavy workload with the Sooners, the Rockies proceeded cautiously, limiting him to 37 innings following the 2013 draft. Gray tired near the end of his first full season at Double-A Tulsa in 2014, and the Rockies shut him down with shoulder fatigue in late August after 124 innings. He began 2015 at Triple-A Albuquerque and struggled mightily in April, going 0-3, 10.70 and allowing 32 hits in 18 innings. But Gray regrouped to go 6-6, 4.33 en route to an Aug. 4 callup to the big league club. Working with an innings cap and limited pitch counts, Gray went 0-2, 5.53 ERA in nine starts for the Rockies. Like many Rockies pitchers before him, Gray pitched much better on the road (0-1, 2.70 in four starts) than he did in the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field (0-1, 8.27 in five starts). Some contend that Gray threw harder at Oklahoma, where he touched as high as 102 mph pitching with six days of rest. The Rockies say any talk of diminished velocity is folklore. Gray showed more than enough fastball at the major league level, living 92-96 mph and topping out at 98. What's changed most for Gray is command of the pitch, which--after a rocky first month--improved enough in 2015 for Gray to earn a big league promotion. Locating his fastball low in the zone will be crucial for survival at Coors Field, because Gray has been a flyball pitcher (0.85 groundout-to-airout ratio) in 276 minor league innings. His greatest bat-missing asset is a hard, late-breaking slider at 84-89 mph that generated a 22 percent whiff rate and resulted in 19 of Gray's 40 big league strikeouts, according to Pitch f/x data. Gray is able to throw his slider for strikes--backdooring it on the outside corner to lefties--and gets swings and misses with its sharp downward action. Gray still needs to gain consistency with his breaking ball, but it can be devastating when he throws it correctly. He continues to make strides with his changeup, a firm 83-87 mph pitch with fade that has above-average potential. Gray's delivery is short and efficient, starting essentially from the stretch position, and the Rockies have helped him gain more downward angle and plane on his pitches. The future is now for Gray, who should have every chance to pitch in the 2016 rotation. He showed flashes of dominance in his brief big league stint last season and has the stuff to be a top-flight starter--probably with a ceiling as a No. 2 on a pennant contender--but he will need to learn how to pitch at Coors Field to truly capitalize on his potential.
Dahl was just turning the corner at Double-A New Britain in 2015 when he was injured in a scary outfield collision, leading to a splenectomy and a few weeks on the sidelines. It was the second major injury for Dahl in four years, as he missed most of 2013 with a torn right hamstring. When healthy, he continued to show the tools that made him the 10th overall pick in 2012. Dahl has the potential to be a fivetool center fielder. His quick hands allow him to stay inside the ball, and he sprays line drives with a level lefthanded swing through the strike zone. Dahl's strikeouts were up a tick in 2015 against tougher pitchers, but the Rockies were pleased with the adjustments he made to his aggressive offensive approach. He is learning to come to the plate with a plan. Some evaluators project Dahl to hit 20-25 homers, but at present his power is geared more for the gaps. His above-average speed, instincts, arm strength and accuracy make him an excellent defensive center fielder. His first-step quickness and closing speed help him cover more ground than most. Dahl dealt with knee tendinitis at the end of the season, and the Rockies will closely monitor his health. He should reach Triple-A Albuquerque in 2016, but he must stay healthy to deliver on his star-caliber talent.
After a strong summer on the showcase circuit as a junior, Rodgers earned top billing on the 2015 draft board and didn't relinquish it. He was the first high school player drafted, going third overall to the Rockies and signing for a franchise-record $5.5 million. However, nagging foot, hip and hamstring injuries limited Rodgers in a lackluster Rookie-level Grand Junction debut, and scouts questioned his energy level as he transitioned to minor league life. Rodgers' ceiling is that of an all-star shortstop, boasting an advanced hit tool that would also likely play at third base or second. His bat speed and feel for the bat head are both elite, with most projecting Rodgers to develop plus power as he physically matures. As of now, there's no reason to move him off shortstop. He has quick actions and at least an average arm that could improve as he gets stronger. Speed might be Rodgers' weakest tool. He won't be a significant threat on the basepaths, but it doesn't inhibit him in the field. His athleticism allows him to make difficult plays look effortless. The Rockies envision Rodgers as a future run producer at the shortstop position--something Troy Tulowitzki provided for the better part of a decade. He should begin his first full pro season at low Class A Asheville.
The ninth overall pick in 2014 by the Blue Jays, Hoffman served as the prospect centerpiece in the Troy Tulowitzki trade in July. He had Tommy John surgery just before the draft and did not pitch after signing. A year later, Hoffman made his pro debut at high Class A Dunedin and earned a promotion to Double-A New Hampshire in July. He finished the season at Double-A New Britain after his trade to the Rockies, showcasing the stuff that had made him the Blue Jays' No. 3 prospect in the preseason. Before surgery, Hoffman touched 99 mph, and he returned to that velocity in 2015, when he sat 93-96. He throws a heavy two-seamer with plus movement, showing bat-breaking ability and generating groundballs--which could suit him well for Coors Field. He adds a plus, power curveball in the low 80s that flashes double-plus, a mid-80s changeup with plus potential and a slider that could at least be an average pitch. Hoffman still is learning how to pitch inside and use his weapons. He struck out just 6.5 batters per nine innings in 2015, but his control projects as plus. Before the trade, the Blue Jays tinkered with his mechanics to take pressure off of his arm. His delivery is generally fluid and repeatable thanks to his athleticism. The Rockies will closely monitor Hoffman's health in 2016, which he will begin at Double-A Hartford and could finish at Triple-A Albuquerque. He has No. 2 starter potential.
McMahon hasn't stopped hitting since the Rockies drafted him out of Mater Dei High in the second round in 2012, when they signed the Southern California commit away from the Trojans for $1,327,600. He has hit double-digit home runs in each of his three pro seasons, including 18 in back-to-back years. As a 20-year-old at high Class A Modesto in 2015, he ranked first in the California League with 43 doubles and fourth with an .892 OPS, but he also made a league-high 39 errors at third base. McMahon has impressive lefthanded power, especially to his pull side, and he projects as a middle-of-the-order threat. He does have some hook in his swing and can be susceptible to inside fastballs, leading to high strikeout totals. But he's shown good feel for the strike zone and the aptitude to make adjustments at the plate, taking the ball the other way when he needs to. A quarterback in high school, McMahon brings athleticism and leadership qualities to the infield. He has soft hands and a plus arm but needs to clean up his footwork to improve his throwing accuracy. The Rockies had McMahon put in extensive work on his defense in instructional league. Even if he eventually moves off of third, his below-average speed is adequate for the outfield. After a strong 2015 season, McMahon probably will head to Double-A Hartford in 2016. His advanced power and approach at a young age give him a tremendously high ceiling.
The Rockies drafted Freeland No. 8 overall in 2014--one spot ahead of Jeff Hoffman--and signed the Evansville lefthander for $2.3 million. Like Hoffman, injury has stalled Freeland early in his career. He didn't pitch in 2015 until late July, delayed at first by shoulder fatigue, followed by surgery to remove bone chips in his left elbow. He returned to the mound with two rehab appearances at Rookie- Level Grand Junction before moving on to a make seven shaky starts at high Class A Modesto, but he ended the year on a high note in the Arizona Fall League. Born and raised in Denver, Freeland also had arthroscopic surgery on his elbow in high school--performed by a Rockies team doctor. When healthy, Freeland boasts premium stuff and doubleplus control. He works all quadrants of the zone with a lively fastball that has touched as high as 97 mph but sits comfortably in the low 90s, velocity that returned after surgery. His slider, the best in the system, is a hard 85-87 mph pitch with late-breaking tilt that is a true wipeout pitch. He needs to continue to develop his changeup, which is firm but could develop into an average offering. He also adds a curveball that is fringe-average at best. The athletic Freeland throws with a loose arm action out of a low threequarters slot. He repeats his mechanics, but he has effort in his delivery, and scouts wonder if he will be durable enough to start. Freeland could begin the 2016 season at Double-A Hartford, depending on how he comes through the offseason. He has the chance to be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter at the big league level.
Murphy arrived at Double-A at the end of 2013, his first full season. He played just 27 games there in 2014, however, before a right rotator cuff strain cut his season short. The injury didn't require surgery, and Murphy showed few ill effects in 2015, when he continued his quick trajectory through the system. He smashed 20 home runs between Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Albuquerque--despite missing time to play for USA Baseball in the Pan American Games--en route to a September callup. Murphy could be a difference-maker on both sides of the ball. He generates plus power--particularly to his pull side--with a short uppercut swing that makes him a home-run threat whenever he steps to the plate. He might never hit for a high average, because he has a fringe-average hit tool, but he has more than enough bat for his position. Murphy threw out 39 percent of basestealers at New Britain, controlling the running game with a strong and accurate arm and quick release. He has above-average receiving and blocking skills and has shown he can handle a pitching staff. Scouts rave about his makeup. Murphy has a high floor and projects to be an everyday catcher with power. He should be a factor at the big league level in 2016.
Story has had his ups and downs since the Rockies took him 45th overall and signed him for $915,000 in 2011. He rebounded from a disastrous 2013 season at high Class A Modesto by repeating the level and advancing to Double-A in late 2014. The adjustments he made carried over to a big 2015 season, split evenly between Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Albuquerque. Story possesses quick hands and tremendous bat speed, flashing at least average power with a slight uppercut in his swing. He has had problems staying balanced at the plate and keeping his head locked in to see the ball. At times he expands the strike zone, particularly against breaking balls, and he is prone to overswinging. The high strikeouts won't go away, but he did swing and miss less in 2015 thanks to a more focused gap-to-gap approach and better selectivity. Story is a solid-average shortstop with enough arm for the position. He has seen time at second base and third and has the athleticism to handle either. He has average speed but is an opportunistic basestealer. Story is knocking on the big league door, though he may need more seasoning at Triple-A Albuquerque before he joins the Rockies. He projects as an offensive middle infielder or third baseman.
Signed out of Venezuela for $250,000 as a 16-year-old, Senzatela has excelled at every level as a pro. The righthander had a strong full season at low Class A Asheville in 2014, and he improved in nearly every category as a 20-year-old at high Class A Modesto in 2015. He led the California League in ERA (2.51), WHIP (1.06) and opponent average (.229), never allowing more than four earned runs in any of his 26 starts. The Rockies love Senzatela's toughness and fearlessness on the mound. He attacks with a heavy fastball to both sides of the plate, sitting 92-95 mph and touching as high as 98. He generates good downward plane--something the Rockies teach and something for which he has a knack. Senzatela has an ideal pitcher's frame with a thick lower half, which bodes well for his durability. He shelved his lackluster curveball for a slider before 2015, and the pitch helped him increase his strikeout rate, but he's still learning how to command it. His mid-80s slider should develop into at least an average pitch, while his straight, downward-tumbling changeup has a chance to be plus. Senzatela appears bound for Double-A Hartford in 2016. He projects as a No. 4 starter as long as he continues to refine his secondary pitches.
Since signing for $175,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2010, Tapia has produced at every level, becoming the Rookie-level Pioneer League MVP in 2013 and finishing third in the batting race at low Class A Asheville the next season. In 2015, the 21-year-old Tapia he led the high Class A California League in hits (166) and ranked among the league leaders in stolen bases (26) and batting (.305). He also hit a career-high 12 home runs at Modesto. Tapia's hitting success stems from his advanced hand-eye coordination, plus bat speed and ability to manipulate the barrel. He brings an aggressive approach to the plate, often expanding the strike zone, but his hands allow him to make consistent contact. Tapia's hitting mechanics are unorthodox, with several moving parts. He bends his knees and goes into a pronounced crouch with two strikes--a practice the Rockies won't alter unless he struggles. Thin and wiry, Tapia's power potential is dependent on how his body fills out. For now, he has gap power. Tapia brings tremendous energy to the field, garnering attention for his makeup and intensity. He has a strong arm, but he's only a slightly above-average runner, and some scouts suggest he might be a better fit for the corners than center field. After an Arizona Fall League stint, Tapia heads to Double-A Hartford in 2016. He needs to tighten his strike zone to fulfill his everyday regular potential.
Selected 35th overall in 2014 and signed for an above-slot $2 million, Wall was the highest-drafted prep second baseman since the draft moved to a single phase in 1987. A North Carolina commit, he had a strong debut at Rookie-level Grand Junction after signing. He experienced an adjustment period at low Class A Asheville in 2015, but Wall finished the season on a high note, batting .338/.408/.504 in 133 at-bats after the all-star break. He did not play in July after injuring his left shoulder sliding back into second base, but the injury did not require surgery. His other shoulder has been of more concern. Surgery to repair a torn right labrum in 2011, in conjunction with a rushed rehab, sapped Wall of arm strength. He showed at least a fringe-average arm in 2015, which should be playable at second base but is worth watching. While Wall's defense remains a work in progress, the Rockies were pleased with his improvements, especially with turning double plays. He is a natural hitter with an advanced feel for the barrel and great bat speed. He has present gap power, particularly to his pull side, and his over-the-fence power should improve as he gains strength. He projects as a top-of-the-order hitter, with plus speed, and should be ready for high Class A Modesto in 2016.
Signed by the Blue Jays for $180,000 in 2012, Castro hadn't pitched at a level higher than high Class A Dunedin entering the 2015 season--and even there he had thrown just nine innings. But a standout performance in spring training--and a thin Blue Jays bullpen--catapulted Castro onto the Opening Day roster as a 20-year-old. Primarily a starter in the minors, he soon found himself closing games for Toronto, earning four saves before understandable growing pains led to a May demotion. Shipped to the Rockies as part of the Troy Tulowitzki trade in July, Castro continued working in relief at Triple-A Albuquerque en route to a September callup. Tall with long limbs and a lean, wiry frame, he routinely pitches at 96 mph and touches 99 with a low three-quarters arm slot that generates plus sink and armside run. His firm 85-87 mph changeup is an above-average pitch and is his most consistent secondary offering. He also throws a sweepy slider in the low 80s that flashes above-average bite. It's unclear whether the Rockies will try moving Castro back into the rotation, but he could impact the big league bullpen in 2016.
The Rockies used the money saved by signing No. 3 overall pick Brendan Rodgers' to a below-slot deal to sign Nikorak, the 27th overall pick in 2015, for an above-slot $2.3 million, luring the righthander away from Alabama. Nikorak, whose older brother Steve played briefly in the White Sox organization, electrified the showcase circuit as a high school junior but struggled mightily in his debut at Rookie-level Grand Junction. Poor control was the main culprit. Nikorak issued 32 walks in 18 innings, a rate of 16.3 per nine innings that contributed to a ghastly 3.28 WHIP. Boasting a projectable 6-foot-5, 205-pound frame, he still is learning how to repeat his mechanics and find a consistent release point. He has touched as high as 97 mph with a lively fastball, but he lives a few ticks lower than that and still needs to gain the stamina to hold his velocity. Nikorak has feel for a curveball and changeup. His curveball needs to get tighter, and his command of both pitches can improve, but his offspeed stuff has plus potential. Patience is the key word with Nikorak, whose next stop could be low Class A Asheville in 2016. He has the stuff and frame to be an impact starter but could end up in the bullpen if he can't corral his wildness.
A Southern California product who pitched for USA Baseball's 18U national team, Lambert was one of the top high school arms on the 2015 draft board. Selected 44th overall, he signed for $1.495 million, eschewing a UCLA commitment and excelling in an eight-start stint at Rookie-level Grand Junction. Having pitched in high-pressure situations with the 18U team--and going 13-0, 0.34 on a 31-1 San Dimas High team in 2015-- Lambert stands out for his plus poise and makeup, and that polish extends to his repertoire. The righthander throws 88-92 mph and can touch 95 with good downhill angle, and he has the potential to gain velocity as he adds to his projectable frame. His 78-82 mph curveball is a swing-and-miss pitch, flashing plus with true 12-to-6 break, and he mixes in a solid changeup around 82 mph that could develop into an above-average offering. Athletic with quick arm action and a high arm slot, Lambert commands all three pitches and shows advanced feel for his age. He projects as a No. 3 or 4 starter, if not better, depending on his physical development. Lambert should open 2016 at low Class A Asheville.
The Rockies have handled Castellani carefully since taking the Phoenix-area righthander 48th overall in 2014 and signing him away from Arizona State for $1.1 million. After 37 innings--spread across 10 starts--at short-season Tri-City in 2014, Castellani spent all of 2015 at low Class A Asheville. The Rockies had him on a strict workload, limiting him to about 50 pitches early in the season and bumping him up to 80 by June. Athletic with a tall, projectable body and repeatable mechanics, Castellani throws a twoseamer at 90-93 mph that touches 95. The pitch has good downward plane and sinking movement as long as he maintains his arm angle, and he could add velocity as he fills out. Castellani has feel for a changeup and was more consistent with it in 2015. Both his change and slider have the chance to be above-average but remain works in progress. Still just a teenager, his control is ahead of his command, but the Rockies love his fearlessness, and he's starting to gain a better understanding of pitch sequences. Castellani has No. 3 starter potential, but he is far from his ceiling. His next step will be high Class A Modesto in 2016.
The Rockies signed Nunez for an above-slot $800,000 in 2013, keeping him from UCLA. Primarily a middle infielder in high school and in his pro debut, Nunez moved behind the plate in 2013 instructional league and has been there ever since. After consecutive summers at Rookie-level Grand Junction, Nunez struggled early in 2015 at low Class A Asheville, batting .216 with no home runs in the first half. The second half was a different story because a motivated Nunez hit .335/.444/.607 with all 13 of his homers. Every aspect of his game improved, including his game-calling and leadership. Nunez has plus makeup and a high baseball IQ. Transitioning from shortstop, he has blossomed into an excellent receiver and blocker--the best in the organization. Though his arm strength is average, he more than makes up for it with quick hands and footwork. The lefthanded-hitting Nunez took advantage of a short right-field porch at Asheville and is more of a line-drive, gap-to-gap hitter who could develop average power as he gains strength. He has good feel for the strike zone and should make an impact offensively as well as defensively. Nunez will play at high Class A Modesto in 2016.
Signed as an 18-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2011, Estevez took a big leap forward in his second year of full-season ball in 2015. Working as the closer at high Class A Modesto, Estevez dominated California League hitters en route to a mid-May promotion to Double-A New Britain, where he accrued another 18 saves in 23 opportunities. After Estevez's strong performance in the Arizona Fall League, the Rockies added him to the 40-man roster, shielding him from selection in the Rule 5 draft. Big-bodied with broad shoulders and a strong lower half, he routinely sits 97-99 mph with a double-plus fastball, generating tremendous downhill angle. He adds an above-average, low-80s slider that he started featuring in 2014 and a straight mid-80s changeup, both with the chance to be plus. Estevez throws with a clean delivery and quick arm action, and he has made strides with his fastball command. He has kept his walk rate low--just 2.3 per nine innings in 2015--but still needs to improve command of his secondary pitches. Estevez has accelerated his trajectory and could pitch out of the big league bullpen at some point in 2016 if he performs at Triple-A Albuquerque. He projects as a high-leverage reliever with the chance to close.
A San Diego commit, Padlo signed for an above-slot $650,000 bonus in 2014 and immediately flashed raw power at Rookie-level Grand Junction by swatting eight home runs and 15 doubles in 160 at-bats. The Rockies then challenged the 18-year-old by starting him at low Class A Asheville in 2015, but the success didn't carry over, as Padlo tallied more strikeouts (26) than hits (12). However, he rebounded in a big way after a demotion to short-season Boise. He made the Northwest League's year-end all-star team and led the league in doubles (22) and slugging (.502) while ranking second with 33 steals and 45 walks. Padlo has solid-average power, quick hands and a confident mindset at the plate, which he regained at Boise. Pull-happy at times, he is beginning to use more of the field and has above-average plate discipline for his age, though he can be neutralized by quality breaking pitches. Padlo has a thick body but quick feet at third base and a strong-enough arm for the hot corner. He has average speed but is an intelligent baserunner. He has earned a second chance at full-season ball in 2016.
Signed as a catcher in 2007 by the Angels, Diaz moved to the mound in 2010 and made a quick jump to the majors in 2014 after starting the season at high Class A Inland Empire. The Rockies acquired him for shortstop Josh Rutledge in December 2014 and kept him at Triple-A Albuquerque for most of the 2015 season to work on his fastball command. Walks have been an issue for Diaz throughout his pro career--he walked 37 in 55 Triple-A innings in 2015--but he showed progress late in the year. Diaz earned a big league callup in late August and quickly found himself in a late-inning bullpen role for the Rockies, striking out 18 and walking six in 19 innings. His double-plus fastball averaged 97 mph in 2015, and he touched 100, generating groundballs at an elite rate. He pairs his fastball with a hard, downwardbiting slider that sits around 90 mph and is an effective strikeout pitch when he locates it. He has a changeup in his arsenal as well, but he rarely throws it. The key for Diaz has been, and will continue to be, harnessing his command. He showed dominant flashes in the majors and could be a key high-leverage reliever--or potential closer--in 2016.
Patterson was a two-way player at South Alabama who touched 93 mph off the mound and hit for power. He has continued to provide versatility in the Rockies system, where he has played all three outfield positions as well as first base. He started at high Class A Modesto in 2015 as a 23-year-old but forced a July promotion to Double-A New Britain with a .945 OPS and 10 home runs in 303 at-bats. He had little difficulty adjusting to the Eastern League, and though he hit just .157 in the Arizona Fall League, those struggles likely stemmed from fatigue. After streamlining some moving parts in his swing, Patterson took a refined approach into 2015 and had success with it, leading the minors with 45 doubles. He has plus raw power and some leverage in his swing, though it can get a little long at times. Some scouts view the lefthanded batter as a platoon player, though he made contact and hit for power at similar rates versus righties and lefties in 2015. Athletic with a plus arm, Patterson fits best in an outfield corner and should also continue to see work at first base. He will play at Triple-A Albuquerque at some point in 2016.
Signed by the Blue Jays out of Venezuela in 2011, Tinoco was the third pitching prospect sent to the Rockies--along with righties Jeff Hoffman and Miguel Castro--as part of the Troy Tulowitzki trade in July 2015. Tinoco made his full-season debut in 2015, beginning the year at low Class A Lansing and continuing on at low Class A Asheville after the trade. The Rockies loved Tinoco's eagerness to take the ball in the middle of a playoff hunt, and he took that attacking mindset to the mound, working quickly and pounding the zone with a heavy two-seamer at 92-95 mph. The 6-foot-4 righthander has an ideal pitcher's frame with some room for projection, and he throws with an easy delivery and loose, clean arm action. His slider is an above-average pitch when he commands it, which he still needs to do more consistently. His changeup has the makings of an effective pitch, but it needs more development as well. Tinoco is the furthest away of the three pitchers the Rockies acquired at the deadline, but he has upside as a potential No. 3 or 4 starter. He heads to high Class A Modesto in 2016.
Moll pitched limited innings at short-season Tri-City the first two years of his pro career, breaking his toe in late 2013 and having bone chips removed from his elbow the next year. Finally healthy, Moll took his talents to full-season ball in 2015. He spent the bulk of the year working out of the bullpen at high Class A Modesto but dominated in a late-season promotion to Double-A New Britain, striking out 17 in 15 innings. A Friday starter at Memphis, Moll makes the most of his stocky 5-foot-10 frame, generating velocity with quick arm action. Constantly in attack mode, he works quickly and aggressively with a 90-95 mph fastball, unafraid to pitch inside. He commands it well, though at times he can overthrow. His slider has a sharp, late break with tilt and is an effective strikeout pitch against righties and lefties, who hit .185 against him. His changeup needs to be more consistent, but it has flashed plus. Moll could be on a fast track to the major leagues as a high-leverage reliever and could begin 2016 at Triple-A Albuquerque
The Rockies were excited Nevin was still on the board in the supplemental first round of the 2015 draft. They took him 38th overall and signed him for an above-slot $2 million. Nevin's father Phil, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1992 draft, played 12 years in the big leagues--mostly with the Padres--and now manages the Diamondbacks' Triple-A Reno affiliate. Though the younger Nevin has bloodlines in his favor, he's a legitimate prospect in his own right, albeit a raw one. He still has plenty of room to add strength to his lanky, 6-foot-4 frame and could hit for plus power when he does. He has present gap power and shows the ability to make consistent contact, generating good backspin. He held his own at Rookielevel Grand Junction with a .265/.368/.386 season. Nevin had Tommy John surgery in high school, where he was also a pitcher, but his arm is strong enough for the hot corner. While Nevin has solid actions at third base, he's unrefined and could end up at first base or an outfield corner. Like fellow prep third basemen Kevin Padlo and Ryan McMahon before him, Nevin could start 2016 at low Class A Asheville.
The White Sox chose Almonte as the player to be named from the Angels in the August 2014 trade that sent Gordon Beckham to Anaheim. They then traded Almonte to the Rockies for reliever Tommy Kahnle after the 2015 season. Chicago did its homework on a pitcher who topped out at low Class A in 2014 and ran up a 5.91 ERA in an injury-truncated 11 starts. Almonte, who signed for $250,000 out of the 17th round in 2012, improved dramatically in 2015 and spent the final month of the season at high Class A Winston-Salem, where in 45 innings he recorded the best WHIP (0.90) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.3) of his career. He works ahead of batters with a fastball that now plays as plus at 93-96 mph after beginning the year in the low 90s. He found more velocity by staying tall in his delivery, and as a result his secondary pitches have ticked up in quality. Almonte can put batters away with a solid-average slider that flashes plus and accounted for his spike in strikeouts to 7.9 per nine innings with the Dash. His mid- 80s changeup plays as average and keeps him alive as a starter prospect. Almonte could surface in the big leagues as a No. 4-caliber starter or a power reliever. He should spend most of 2016 at Double-A Hartford.
First drafted in the 48th round in 2011 by the Cubs, Howard instead played at Georgia Southern and signed for $672,100 when the Rockies drafted him in the third round in 2014. The lefthander had a tough pro debut at Rookie-level Grand Junction and had difficulty handling failure. But the pieces started to come together at low Class A Asheville in 2015, particularly in the second half of the season, when he showed improved toughness and competitiveness. Howard's breaking ball, which he didn't have great feel for out of college, became tighter and more consistent--though it still needs work. Howard sits in the low 90s and regularly touches 95 mph with a clean, easy delivery and improved downhill angle. He commands his fastball well and has recorded a strong 1.57 groundout-to-airout ratio in 187 minor league innings. His changeup could develop into an above-average pitch, but he needs to throw it more. Howard should be ready for high Class A Modesto in 2016, and he projects as a future back-of-the-rotation starter or lefty reliever.
Signed out of the Dominican Republic in September 2007, Adames still is just 24 years old despite eight years in the Rockies system. He advanced one level at a time since making the transition from the Dominican Summer League to Rookie-level Casper in 2010, and he finally earned a big league callup in September 2014. After a strong 2015 season as the starting shortstop at Triple-A Albuquerque, Adames earned another callup and held his own in 26 September games. His ceiling hasn't changed--he's a defense-first utility infielder--he has just moved closer to it. Adames has smooth hands, an above-average arm and excellent instincts at shortstop, and he's a more-than-capable defender at second and third base. Being a switch-hitter adds to his versatility. His bat likely won't play in an everyday role, but he makes solid contact, doesn't strike out often and has some gap power. He can contribute offensively as long as he stays within himself. Adames is essentially a finished product and should provide versatility in a big league bench role in 2016 because he's out of minor league options and cannot return to the minors without being exposed to waivers.
The Red Sox took Rogers in the 28th round in 2012, but he didn't sign. After going undrafted in 2013, he was the Rockies' fourth-round selection out of Spartanburg Methodist (S.C.) JC in 2014, and he signed for $360,000. Rogers was tearing up the South Atlantic League at low Class A Asheville in 2015-- on pace for a potential 100 stolen-base season--before getting hit by a fastball in late June and suffering a concussion. Sidelined for nearly a month, he played rehab games at Rookie-level Grand Junction and got back to Asheville just in time for the end of the season. A lanky athlete who takes long strides, Rogers earns comparisons with former Rockies prospect Dexter Fowler and might actually be ahead of where Fowler was at the same stage of development. Rogers' plus speed enables him to cover ground in center field, but he still needs to work on his approach, and his arm strength is fringe-average at best. He has some leverage in his swing and present gap power but will likely be more a doubles hitter than home run hitter. His speed and raw athleticism give him intriguing upside, but his overall game needs refinement. Rogers should play at high Class A Modesto in 2016.
Signed out of the Dominican Republic in September 2012, Piron made his U.S. debut in 2015 after back-to-back seasons in the Dominican Summer League. Packing strength into a compact 6-foot frame, Piron showed plus power at Rookie-level Grand Junction by hitting 11 homers and becoming just the fifth player in that franchise's history to reach double digits. He has pull-side power, plus bat speed and comes to the plate with confidence and flair, but he has an overaggressive, free-swinging approach and needs to be more selective. He posted a 56-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2015. Speed is part of Piron's game, and he stole 16 bases in 22 attempts at Grand Junction and has shown plus times to first. He has a strong arm but is prone to youthful mistakes at shortstop, so scouts give him a chance to be a solid-average defender at second base. Piron's bat has the potential to carry him as long as he can refine his approach. He should play at low Class A Asheville in 2016.
Signed for $1.3 million in July 2014, Gonzalez enjoyed a strong 2015 debut in the Dominican Summer League, finishing fourth in the league with eight home runs. That power might come as a surprise after seeing Gonzalez's long, skinny frame, but he has tremendous bat speed and has shortened his stroke since signing. A mature hitter for his age with a high baseball IQ, he looks middle-away at the plate and is learning to get better extension through the ball. His power comes easily, and it's easy to dream on, because Gonzalez still has room to add anywhere from 30-50 pounds. Though he strikes out too much, he has a chance to hit for contact because he has shown the aptitude to make adjustments and the ability to manipulate the bat head. The Rockies will keep Gonzalez at shortstop as long as they can--he has the athleticism and arm strength for the position, but a move to an infield or outfield corner is possible as he continues to grow. A fringy runner when he signed, Gonzalez is showing more solid-average to plus speed now. He suffered a fracture in his left arm when he was hit by a pitch at the end of the season, but he should be ready to go in 2016.
Drafted in the 17th round by the Phillies in 2012, Hill instead went to school, where he pitched with his older brother Michael at Long Beach State. He then transferred to Orange Coast (Calif.) CC to pitch with his twin Jacob. Jacob and David then both transferred to San Diego. The Rockies selected David in the fourth round in 2015 and signed him for $550,000. Hill made a strong first impression in limited work at short-season Boise, where he recorded a 3.09 ERA with 23 strikeouts and nine walks in 23 innings. The righthander throws with an easy delivery, competing down in the zone with a 92-94 mph fastball, and he can reach back for a tick more on occasion. Hill mixes in a hard, yet inconsistent, slider and a split-grip changeup--both of which can be average pitches but neither projects as plus. The Rockies like his toughness, and given his polish and big league frame, he could be a quick mover. Hill has the look of a future back-of-the-rotation starter and will likely start 2016 at low Class A Asheville.