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Rodgers grew up in a family that had a focus on soccer, but his attention turned to baseball at the age of 5. His best friend's father, Ralph Nema, introduced Rodgers to baseball and coached him a good part of his youth. He was a multi-sport participant during his youth, but in kindergarten he proclaimed that he would be a baseball player when he grew up. He certainly had big league touches to his development. While Nema was his youth coach, former big leaguers Dante Bichette, an original Rockies outfielder, and all-star closer Tom Gordon also coached Rodgers. He was considered the top prospect in the 2015 draft but slipped to the Rockies with the No. 3 pick when the two teams ahead of them opted for college shortstops. The Diamondbacks took Vanderbilt's Dansby Swanson at No. 1 and the Astros selected Louisiana State's Alex Bregman at No. 2, and they both reached the majors in 2016. The Rockies signed Rodgers to a franchise-record $5.5 million bonus. His pro beginning was a challenge. He battled nagging foot, hamstring and hip injuries at Rookie-level Grand Junction in 2015, limiting him to 37 games and leading scouts who hadn't seen him as an amateur to question his attitude and potential. At low Class A Asheville in 2016, Rodgers reaffirmed his elite status. He finished third in the South Atlantic League in home runs (19) and fourth in slugging (.480) despite being one of only 14 players in the SAL who was younger than 20. Don't be misled by the fact Rodgers saw time at second and third base as well as shortstop in 2016. The Rockies still feel he has a strong future at shortstop, but the front office is trying to create flexibility with its prospects so that they will be able to fill various holes. With Rodgers' athleticism and power potential he could fit anywhere in the infield. He has elite bat speed and good feel for the bat head, and he punished fastballs before SAL pitchers adjusted and fed him a steady diet of offspeed stuff. He made adjustments but will have to do so against quality sliders he rarely saw as an amateur. He has a polished approach for such a young hitter with solid plate discipline. With strength and conditioning in the offseason, he will add strength and durability. He has quality actions at shortstop and a solid, at times plus, arm that will improve in its consistency with added strength. Rodgers does not have the speed of a player who would be considered a basestealing threat, but his athletic ability and instincts give him surprising range. The Rockies see Rodgers as an eventual all-star and feel confident he can attain that goal at shortstop if he can stay healthy. A hamstring problem landed him on the disabled list in May 2016, and he went through a dead-arm period in his first full season that he must learn from. The Rockies will allow Rodgers to force the issue when he is ready--they have Trevor Story in Colorado, and he just set an NL record for homers by a rookie shortstop--but the next step is high Class A Modesto.
Pint was rated the top prep pitching prospect in the 2016 draft and went fourth overall to the Rockies, who signed him for $4.8 million to forgo a Louisiana State commitment. Working to streamline his mechanics, the Rockies limited Pint's workload at Rookie-level Grand Junction, which led to him never working more than five innings. Athleticism and arm speed give Pint an overpowering fastball that has reached 100 mph and often parks at 97. What makes him special is pairing that with two potential plus offspeed pitches. His breaking pitch, a low-80s power curveball, features natural spin and late break. Once Pint can get a consistent release point, it will be a pitch that can set up his arsenal. His changeup also has plus potential with a lot of action, but he still needs to gain consistency. Command issues are being addressed with subtle adjustments to his delivery. Pint showed his ability to adapt quickly during instructional league, when the Rockies worked to improve his balance and direction to the plate. He fits in well with teammates, keeping a low profile and showing an excellent work ethic. Pint has the type of arm to be a legitimate No. 1 starter, but Colorado will be need to be patient with such a high-risk talent. He will start at low Class A Asheville in 2017.
The key player among the three prospects the Blue Jays sent to the Rockies for shortstop Troy Tulowitzki in a 2015 deadline deal, Hoffman was Toronto's first pick--ninth overall--in 2014. He had Tommy John surgery shortly before that draft, delaying his pro debut to 2015. He steadily climbed the minor league ladder and made his big league debut in September 2016. Hoffman showed signs of fatigue when he debuted with the Rockies, and he surpassed 150 innings for the first time. During the season he showed a live fastball with sinking life that sits in the 93-96 mph range and reaches 99. Hoffman has an excellent plus curveball but tends to rely on it too much. His slider is a nice secondary breaking pitch, and his changeup is solid. His strikeout rate jumped significantly in the minors, but to keep that up in the big leagues, he has to take better ownership of the inner part of the plate and use any on his four pitches without hesitation. Hoffman has a chance to earn a rotation spot in Denver for 2017. With his power and pitch mix, Hoffman should grow in a solid mid-rotation starter with an inner confidence that bodes well for his success at Coors Field.
Signed for $175,000 in 2010, Tapia has hit at each level in his development. After taking it one level at a time in his first three pro seasons, he moved from Double-A Hartford to Triple-A Albuquerque to a September callup in 2016 and never slowed down. He hit .328 in the minors in 2016 and owns a career .317 average. Tapia is an offensive threat and run-creator who plays with confidence and backs it up. Don't get caught up in the way he crouches in two-strike situations. He does not have that typical rise before he swings in that situation, instead staying low and maintaining the ability to drive the ball into gaps despite the unique approach. It helps him become more focused on the strike zone in those situations. Tapia has the speed and range to play center field--he earns average grades--and his above-average arm will play on an outfield corner. He has realized the importance of defense and has become more focused on his outfield work, such as hitting the cutoff man, during batting practice. Despite his above-average speed, Tapia is an inefficient basestealer. He should force his way to the big leagues to stay in 2017. His athleticism gives the Rockies options with where to play him in the outfield. They would like to see him adjust to center field, where he is working to get better breaks.
Signed by the Rays in 2011 out of Venezuela for $225,000, Marquez was the prime player the Rockies received after the 2015 season when they traded Corey Dickerson to Tampa Bay. Marquez repaid the Rockies' confidence with a breakout 2016. He made the jump from Double-A Hartford to Triple-A Albuquerque to the big leagues in 2016, beating the Cardinals with five quality innings to win his first start. Marquez has plus velocity and it comes effortlessly at a consistent 94-96 mph and touches 98. The ball comes out of his hand with velocity and never fades. Marquez's solid three-pitch assortment includes a curveball that flashes plus and has good spin. His 2016 focus was to tighten it up, which he did. That allows his curveball to play better at the mile-high altitude of Coors Field. His changeup still needs work but has good velocity differential from his fastball. He has shown an ability to pitch inside and use his changeup even when behind in the count. Most impressively, he reduced his walk rate in 2016 by more than a half walk per nine innings. His command improved with growing confidence in his ability. With his assortment and command, Marquez will challenge Jeff Hoffman to claim the open spot in the big league rotation. He has the stuff to be an upper-tier No. 3 starter.
After drafting Castellani 48th overall in 2014, the Rockies came up with a $1.1 million bonus offer to lure him away from an Arizona State scholarship. They were extremely protective of his workload his first two seasons of pro ball but in 2016 allowed him to work deeper into games. He averaged nearly 6.2 innings per outing over 26 starts at high Class A Modesto en route to being named the California League's No. 1 prospect. Castellani has two prime ingredients in a two-seam fastball with 93-95 mph velocity at its best and good sinking movement and a changeup that mimics his fastball in terms of slot and action. His slider hasn't been as consistent as it needs to be, but it can be plus as well. It gives him that three-pitch mix to succeed as a starter and helped him lead the Cal League in strikeouts while remaining effective the second and third time through batting orders. Castellani has the quick arm action and a clean delivery that limits stress on his shoulder. Managers and scouts appreciate his mound presence and competitive makeup that pushes him that extra step. Castellani can get overlooked by the abundance of quality arms the Rockies have on the verge of the big leagues. He made sure he wouldn't get left behind with his Cal League performance. A potential No. 3 starter, he is headed for Double-A Hartford in 2017.
A September callup in 2015 and 2016, Murphy has impressed with eight homers in 79 at-bats. Healthy since an injury-plagued 2014 that included season-ending shoulder surgery, Murphy earned his 2016 callup with an explosive second half at Triple-A Albuquerque. He raised his average 119 points and hit 11 home runs in the final two months. The Rockies see Murphy as a plus offensive player who can hit in the bottom of the lineup while he adjusts to life in the big leagues. He's a rhythm hitter who can get hot and has above-average power thanks to his great strength. What has the Rockies most excited is the work Murphy has put in to improve his defense. He has softened his hands in his receiving, which helps him frame pitches. He has an above-average arm to slow down the running game. Some scouts worry about a lack of agility behind the plate due to his muscular frame, and that at times slows his pop times on throws to second base as well. He can still fine-tune his defense, and seems eager to do that. The time is now for Murphy, who convinced the Rockies he is ready to compete for the regular big league job with Tony Wolters. If everything comes together, Murphy has the potential to be an offensively potent catcher with above-average defensive ability.
The eighth pick overall in 2014--one spot ahead of Jeff Hoffman--Freeland embraced the idea of pitching in Colorado as a hometown hero. The Denver native was born 39 days after the first regular-season game in Rockies history. Limited in 2015 first by left shoulder fatigue and then surgery to remove a bone chip in his left elbow, Freeland returned fully healthy in 2016 and worked 162 innings between Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque. He can pitch to the corners with a fastball that sits in the low 90s and touches 97 mph. His eye-opening pitch is a slider with tilt, which many scouts call a wipeout slider at its best, and he also throws a below-average curveball. The big step for Freeland will be becoming most consistent with his changeup and slider, which at times comes out like a cutter. He took a major step forward in terms of mental maturity in 2016 by learning to focus pitch to pitch and not getting over-amped after a mistake. He commands his pitches well thanks to excellent athleticism that shows up on defense and even at the plate. Freeland will be in the mix for an open spot on the big league staff in 2017 and could also claim a lefty reliever spot to begin his Rockies career. He has the stuff and durability to eventually move into the rotation, but that won't come until he solidifies a third offering.
Lured away from a scholarship to Southern California for $1,327,600 as a 2013 second-round pick, McMahon moved off third base and began working at first base in 2016 at Double-A Hartford. It's part of an organizational play to create multiple options for prospects so they don't get blocked at the big league level. A quarterback in high school, McMahon handled the new position well. McMahon struggled offensively for the first time in his life in 2016, which isn't all bad. A competitor, he did show life in the second half, even as Hartford endured a season-long road trip due to construction issues that kept the team from ever playing a true home game. McMahon will have to adjust at the plate and drive the ball the opposite way, but he does have a bit of a hook in his swing, which makes him susceptible to quality fastballs. He still has average to above-average power. A strong athlete though a below-average runner, he has soft hands and improved footwork at first base. He made 17 errors in 67 games at third. The expectations remain high for McMahon, who dealt with Double-A struggles similar to those experienced by shortstop Trevor Story. McMahon likely will return to Hartford to open 2017, but the Rockies won't hesitate promoting him to Triple-A Albuquerque quickly if he responds.
Senzatela was limited to seven starts in 2016 because of a recurring right shoulder problem that didn't require surgery but forced him to spend two lengthy stints on the Double-A Hartford disabled list. He showed no ill effects in the offseason, creating the expectation that he will be at full speed in 2017. When he takes the mound he usually wins. Senzatela has gone 41-19 in 88 pro games with a 2.45 ERA and a California League pitcher-of-the-year award in 2015. Everything Senzatela does revolves around a heavy, downhill fastball that sits between 92-95 mph. He can command it to all four quadrants of the strike zone with a tough angle for hitters. He experimented with a curveball and came up with a hybrid slider that has late tilt and grades average. His curveball is serviceable early in counts but altogether is a below-average offering. There remains work to be done on his changeup, though it has shown flashes of being an average weapon. With three average or better offerings at his disposal and above-average control, Senzatela has excelled at every level. With the limited mound time last year, he will get a look in big league camp, but he would have to shake things up to become a factor in the bid for an Opening Day roster spot. A solid year in the upper minors in 2017 would force the issue.
Lambert, whose brother Jimmy was a fifth-round pick of the White Sox in 2016, was a prime high school prospect who pitched for USA Baseball's 18U national team. He accepted a $1.495 million bonus to sign with the Rockies instead of going to UCLA. A polished product out of Southern California power San Dimas High, where he went 13-0, 0.34 as a senior, Lambert is a command pitcher with some fastball velocity. His fastball sits at a solid 92-93 mph with life, and he has premium command of the pitch for his age and experience level. Many believe he will add velocity as he fills out. He has an excellent changeup to complement his fastball and has the potential for an impact curveball, which is a 79-82 mph offering with depth but at present lacks consistency. With Lambert's feel for pitching, the sum is greater than the whole of the parts. He has sound mechanics and right now would project as a mid-rotation starter, but with added velocity and focus he could exceed expectations. He will head to the challenging environment of high Class A Lancaster in the California League in 2017.
A shortstop out of Elk Grove High, a Sacramento-area powerhouse, Nunez played with prospects J.D. Davis (Astros), Derek Hill (Tigers), Rowdy Tellez (Blue Jays) and Dylan Carlson (Cardinals). Nunez played middle infield his first pro season, then tried catcher during instructional league and has been behind the plate ever since. The Rockies knew he had the soft hands to catch, but what got their attention was his feel for the game and the calmness he maintains. Nunez has plus arm strength, and while he is still working on the mechanics for accuracy, he threw out 43 percent of basestealers at high Class A Modesto in 2016 thanks to quicker footwork. His focus has been on defense, so his offensive numbers don't grab attention, but that's not a concern. He has a good feel for the strike zone and focuses on driving the ball to the middle of the field. Over time he will start turning on the ball and projects to have 15-home run potential. A lefthanded-hitting catcher, Nunez profiles well enough for the Rockies to remain patient that he can grow into a future regular. He is on track to move to Double-A Hartford in 2017.
A two-way player at South Alabama, Patterson entered pro ball as a corner outfielder. The Rockies, however, liked what they saw of him as a first baseman when they gave him an extended audition in the second half of 2016 at Triple-A Albuquerque. Patterson moves around the bag well and has the arm to make the 3-6-3 double play. The signing of free agent Ian Desmond after the 2016 season most likely relegates Patterson to Triple-A in 2017, but given Desmond's versatility, he could force the issue with a big first half. He has undergone a complete overhaul of his swing under the guidance of Rockies instructor Marv Foley. Patterson came out of college with a big leg kick and various moving parts, but Foley worked to shorten him up, which allowed him to stay on the ball longer and keep his head still. Patterson drives the ball well to the central part of the field, has a flat swing and has the size and strength to make adjustments to hit more home runs. He's in line to earn a reserve spot if the Rockies have room for an extra lefthanded bat who can play corner outfield and first base.
Hampson has been getting attention since he was 10, when he won the competition for his age group at the Pitch, Hit and Run competition at the 2005 All-Star Game. The Rockies drafted Hampson 81st overall in 2016 and signed him for $750,000 after a decorated three-year career as Long Beach State's starting shortstop. Hampson doesn't have the size, power or arm strength of Troy Tulowitzki, Evan Longoria or Danny Espinosa, who preceded him playing shortstop for the Dirtbags, but he has that feel for how to play and for big situations. He earns comparisons with Marco Scutaro as a hitter who pesters pitchers, works the count and gets a mistake he can drive. He is a quality shortstop with good footwork and range as well as an average arm. He has shown the ability to play any infield position, adding to his potential big league value. Pitchers need to be aware with his plus speed and aggressiveness on the basepaths. Hampson had a strong debut at short-season Boise. He led the Northwest League in stolen bases (36) and walks (48). Hampson could move quickly as a utility infielder and potentially more if he keeps getting on base.
The 35th player taken in the 2014 draft--the highest selection of a high school second baseman since the draft moved to one phase in 1987--Wall is getting a chance to show versatility. The Rockies gave him time in center field during 2016 instructional league. Wall has become better at second, particularly in turning the double play, but concentration lapses and a lack of aggressiveness cost him on routine plays, and his 32 errors led the high Class A California League in 2016. Wall, who had surgery for a torn labrum in his right shoulder his junior year in high school, is best suited for the middle of the field due to his athletic ability, though his arm strength remains middling. Also, his offensive game would be a mismatch for a corner position. He is a contact hitter who can drive the ball from gap to gap. As he gets stronger he will hit some home runs, but his offensive game will be putting the ball in play and using plus speed. Wall signed for $2 million because of his bat, which the Rockies hope to see catch fire in 2017.
Welker led Douglas High in Parkland, Fla.-- Anthony Rizzo's alma mater--to the school's first state championship and No. 1 spot in the Baseball America prep rankings in 2016. A shortstop in high school, he has moved to third base. He is built along the lines of Rockies current third baseman Nolan Arenado and even looks a little like him in the face. Wwlker is not quite as big as the Rockies all-star, but he has similar defensive instincts to the four-time Gold Glove winner. He will need time to adjust to third but has the range, hands and arm strength to be an asset at the hot corner. He debuted at Rookie-level Grand Junction in 2016 and hit .329/.366/.490, even as he was 18 the entire campaign. Welker has the innate ability to recognize pitches and a very good grasp of the strike zone, and his hands work, with good present strength. He uses the entire field, and as he fills out and gets stronger he should grow into plus power. He and Tyler Nevin should compete for playing time at low Class A Asheville, though one also could wind up at short-season Boise.
When the Angels selected the 17-year-old Almonte in 2012, he was considered a raw, projectable pitcher. The Rockies were ready to release reliever Tommy Kahnle after the 2016 season but were able to deal him to the White Sox for Almonte, who after four years in the Angels and White Sox systems was still at the Class A level. Almonte began to physically mature in 2016. He added 25 pounds and saw his fastball move into the 93-96 mph range and touch 98 with movement. He is refining his slider and has the potential for an average changeup, which is a pitch the Rockies stress to their pitchers, especially if they don't throw a curveball. Almonte's breakout season included an organization-best 156 strikeouts and season-ending promotion to Double-A Hartford. Given the Rockies' pitching depth, he could transition to the bullpen, though the club will continue to develop him as a starter. The Rockies view Almonte as an organizational asset because he helps translate for Latin players during instructional league. He should open 2017 back in the Hartford rotation.
Considered a pitchability lefty when he came out of Georgia Southern, Howard has improved his stock since signing with the Rockies for $672,100 as the 82nd overall pick in 2014. The organization worked with him on adding balance to his delivery and that led to him gaining more consistent velocity and command. After leading the low Class A South Atlantic League in strikeouts in 2015, he split the 2016 season between high Class A Modesto and Double-A Hartford and actually improved his strikeout rate to 8.6 per nine innings. Howard's 92-93 mph fastball is a tick above-average and effective because of his ability to work both sides of the plate. Its sinking action creates ground balls. He has downward action on his changeup and has focused on refining a slider for his breaking pitch. His slider can get a bit slurvy at times, but when he stays behind it, it's an effective pitch. Howard has been more effective against righthanders thus far in his career. The Rockies envision him in the rotation, but there are discussions he might better fit in relief, a la the Cubs' Travis Wood. Howard is slated to begin 2017 back in Double-A.
Hill was a 17th-round pick of the Phillies out of high school but opted to attend Long Beach State. He said would have signed had he gone in the first five rounds. After pitching one year at LBSU he transferred to Orange Coast (Calif.) JC and then San Diego. He signed for $550,000 as a fourth-rounder with Colorado in 2015. Hill's first pro season was limited to 14 starts at low Class A Asheville before he was sidelined by thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. All went well and he is expected to move at full speed in 2017. When healthy, Hill has the stuff and approach that could allow him to jump to Double-A Hartford by midseason. He has a quick arm and live 90-94 mph fastball but was overly reliant on it last year as he eyed having a major surgical procedure. Hill will focus on developing his plus curveball and making his changeup become a bigger part of his repertoire. His ability to throw strikes was underscored in 2016--he struck out 82 in 82.1 innings and walked just 14 with the Tourists. Hill is slated to start 2017 at high Class A Lancaster.
The son of Phil Nevin, the No. 1 overall pick in 1992 and a 12-year big league veteran, Tyler has a more athletic body than his father, who was two inches shorter and stockier. Taken 37 picks later than his dad, Nevin signed for $2 million instead of attending UCLA. Nevin held his own in his pro debut at Rookie-level Grand Junction in 2015 but was limited to one at-bat with short-season Boise in 2016 because of a severe hamstring strain he suffered during extended spring training. The hamstring did not tear away from the bone, so he was able to avoid surgery. Nevin grew up at third base, the same position his father played in the majors, and figures to remain at that position, but the Rockies will give him a look at other positions to increase his versatility. He handles third well defensively and has the body that promises to generate offensive power. His approach at the plate is mature, a byproduct of having a former big league player who, after managing in the minor leagues, has been added to the Giants' big league coaching staff. The younger Nevin could return to short-season Boise in 2017, provided he is healthy, but will contend with Colton Welker for the low Class A third-base job.
Nikorak has run up a 6.70 ERA through his first 47 pro innings after signing for $2.3 million as the 27th overall pick in 2015. He passed on a scholarship to Alabama. When Nikorak arrived at extended spring training after being drafted, he was out of whack with his mechanics, and that first summer was spent trying to rectify that issue. He had a breakthrough in instructional league and, with help of pitching coaches Ryan Kibler and Bob Apodaca, appeared ready to move forward in 2016 as he repeated the Pioneer League. But he strained a ligament in his right index finger and was shut down after seven starts. Another strong instructional league, however, gave an indication Nikorak had regained his proper arm action and velocity. His two-seam fastball sits in the low 90s and generates an extreme rate of ground balls. He jumps to 97 mph with his four-seamer that has life. He has the potential for an average low-80s curveball, which will provide separation from his fastball, and shows signs of a changeup, though it is inconsistent. At 6-foot-5, he is taller than most pitchers but is very athletic, having played quarterback in high school. Nikorak needs innings and some confidence in 2017.
The Rockies drafted Tyler 38th overall in 2016 and signed him for just over $1.7 million, but he endured a rough pro debut at short-season Boise. He signed late, struggled with control (he walked 16 in seven innings) and then missed most of instructional league with a strained hamstring. Tyler has one of the hardest fastballs in the system at 95-97 mph. He throws a changeup he can command. He rarely threw a breaking pitch in college, in part because he was shut down for three months in 2015 with a forearm strain. He adopted a knuckle-curve as a Georgia junior, with inconsistent but at times encouraging results. The Rockies have made minor adjustments to Tyler's delivery to reduce strain on his forearm. That has led scouts to suggest he will wind up as a late-inning power arm. The Rockies aren't oblivious to that, but they would rather see how his breaking ball develops. That was going to be the focus of instructional league before his hamstring injury. The Rockies would rather have Tyler try to learn that third pitch and give him a chance to start, which will be his focus in 2017.
Bowden starred as a Vanderbilt reliever in 2015 and 2016 and was co-MVP of the Cape Cod League in 2015. The Rockies drafted him 45th overall in 2016 and signed him for $1.6 million. Bowden has shown he can handle a bullpen job, but the Rockies are deciding whether to stretch out the well-built lefthander and see how his pitch mix works as starter. Bowden started his junior season at Vandy but moved back into the pen quickly. He hasn't been stretched out since high school but held up over 96.1 innings for the Commodores followed by 23.2 innings in his pro debut at low Class A Asheville. Bowden's fastball sits in the low 90s and hits 95 mph at times, with late life and a steep downhill plane. He showed a solid slider during instructional league and has the makings of a changeup. He has an easy motion despite his solid build, but he the Rockies don't know how his fastball will play if he has to pace himself as a starter. His future role will be determined in spring training, as well as whether he will return to Asheville or move to high Class A Lancaster in 2017.
The Rockies signed Gonzalez for $1.3 million in 2015, and after one year in the Dominican Summer League they brought him to the U.S. to play at Rookie-level Grand Junction. Gonzalez has a considerable ceiling but is still very raw. A fluent English speaker before he signed, Gonzalez has a high level of intelligence, which allows him to adapt quickly when suggestions are made. He struck out 77 times in 58 games in 2016 but is learning and adjusting. He has excellent bat speed with above-average power potential and also understands the value of using the opposite field. An above-average runner, Gonzalez might lose a step as he fills out. He already has added 25 pounds since signing and could handle another 25 or so. He moved from shortstop to center field in 2016, but with his arm strength he figures to eventually land in right field. Gonzalez is raw enough that he may return to Grand Junction if he doesn't earn a spot at low Class A Asheville.
When French enrolled as a freshman at Texas, he wasn't sure he would play baseball. He wound up playing for four years after spurning the Tigers as a 19th-round pick after his junior season. Since signing with the Rockies for a below-slot $100,000 as a fifth-round senior sign, French has made a quick impression. He threw six shutout innings in three of his first four starts at low Class A Asheville in 2016 and spent the rest of the year at high Class A Modesto, ultimately leading the hitter-friendly California League in ERA (2.85). He's so pitch-efficient that he led the minor leagues with 177.2 innings. French showed few signs of fatigue and tossed five scoreless innings in his final start. He can pitch in and out with his 88-91 mph fastball with big-time sinking action and 90-93 mph with a four-seamer that peaks at 94. His repertoire also includes an average slider and a changeup that mimics his fastball with its action. His knack for pitching and fastball command are both plusses, a key because none of his pitches earns that grade. French will head to Double-A Hartford in 2017.
Musgrove doesn't overpower but has a great feel for pitching, plenty of confidence and is on a fast track to the big leagues. After having Tommy John surgery his sophomore year at West Virginia, he came back to win Big 12 Conference pitcher-of-the-year honors and returned for his redshirt junior season after falling to the 33rd round of the 2013 draft. He did not hesitate to sign for slot value ($160,200) after the Rockies made him an eight-round pick in 2014. Musgrave has earned in-season promotions each season and finishing 2016 at Triple-A Albuquerque. His fastball sits 89-90 mph and tops out at 93, but he has good deception in his delivery. His solid-average changeup is his best pitch, and he's not afraid to throw it inside. He is working on a slider for his breaking ball, and it also is average at times. A big asset is his ability to not overreact. Musgrave may never been a high-end starter, but he should get a chance to compete for a rotation spot in Colorado in 2017.
Moll has the stuff to be a starter, but his slight 5-foot-10, 185-pound frame and injury history have forced him to the bullpen. He hasn't started since his pro debut in Rookie-level Grand Junction in 2013. He broke his toe in his final start that year and bone chips cost him all but nine appearances in 2014. He broke out in 2015 and reached Double-A, but he found the jump to Triple-A and Albuquerque's mile-high altitude in 2016 a bit more challenging. He missed about a month with elbow inflammation, though that didn't keep the Rockies from adding him to the 40-man roster after the season. Moll has life on his 93-96 mph fastball that helps him generate swings and misses and get groundball outs. The same is true of his mid-80 slider. That combo has allowed him to handle lefthanded batters. Moll throws a changeup with promise but doesn't use it much in a relief role. Command and health remain his biggest barriers to success. Given his role as a reliever on the 40-man, Moll could make the jump to the big leagues at some point in 2017.
Mundell, a seventh-round pick, was the first college player the Rockies selected in the 2015 draft. A catcher as a freshman, he played mostly DH and first base the next two years and has to hit to be a prospect. So far, he has done just that while also improving defensively. After leading all short-season Northwest League first basemen with 11 errors in 2015, he made big strides at low Class A Asheville in 2016. He is such a team leader that the Rockies left him in the South Atlantic League for the entire season, even though his numbers argued for a promotion. Mundell took advantage of the opportunity by hitting 59 doubles, the most by a minor leaguer since the minors reorganized in 1963. He drives the ball to all fields, has a simple, repeatable swing and has above-average power to go with a good feel for hitting. He has a confidence that led him during spring training to mention to farm director Zach Wilson that he liked Wilson's pullover. In late April, he suggested to Wilson that if he won the MVP award in the SAL that he should get one of the pullovers. Wilson agreed and also upped the ante. He would get pullovers for every member of the team. At season's end, after Mundell won the award, he handed Wilson a list with the shirt size of every Tourists player.
Melendez is a slender product of the Rockies' Latin American program. The native of Venezuela signed as a 17-year-old and spent two years in the Dominican Summer League before coming to the U.S. and having an impressive debut at Rookie-league Grand Junction in 2016. While the Pioneer League batting average is .286, he batted .294 and ranked third in the league with 24 stolen bases. After playing a lot of center field in the DSL, Melendez played primarily right field for Grand Junction and seemed comfortable in both spots. His above-average arm flashes plus, which suits him in right field and provides a bonus in center. He has line-drive pop but lacks corner-profile power, so the Rockies will push him toward center. Melendez has the plus speed to cover ground--in the field and on the bases. He runs consistently to first base in 4.15 seconds, making him a plus runner. The Rockies were impressed enough by Melendez that they brought him to their offseason workout program at their Arizona training complex and figure to promote him to low Class A Asheville in 2017.
As a New Jersey product who attended Hudson High in Highlands and Division II Felician College in Rutherford, Vasto was easy for amateur scouts to miss. In fact the Rockies made him the first Hudson alum to be drafted in 30 years. Vasto finished 2016 at Double-A Hartford and then in the Arizona Fall League and is on the verge of reaching the big leagues. He has added velocity in pro ball and now pitches at 92 mph with his fastball and 86 mph with his hard slider. The two-pitch selection is enough to get by in relief, particularly with the natural deception in his delivery. He has struck out 139 batters in 115 pro innings and is particularly tough on lefthanded batters, who went 27-for-130 (.208) with five extra-base hits in 2015 and 2016. Vasto will compete with Sam Moll for a job as a lefty reliever in the Rockies bullpen both in 2017 and the years to come.
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