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The Rockies made Rodgers the No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 draft, behind fellow shortstops Dansby Swanson and Alex Bregman, and signed him to a franchise-record $5.5 million bonus. Rodgers worked with former big leaguers Dante Bichette and Tom Gordon during his high school days, and has proven at ease in the professional environment since signing. He played only 89 games in 2017 due to a hand injury and quad strain, but shined when he was on the field. He flirted with .400 at high Class A Lancaster during the first half of the year and made his way to Double-A Hartford at the minor league all-star break. Rodgers' calling card is his smooth, controlled swing that bodes well for him to hit for average and power. He possesses the bat speed to handle any velocity and the balance and pitch recognition to barrel breaking balls. At times Rodgers becomes too pull-happy, but he has shown he has the strength to drive the ball the other way. Rodgers rarely walks, but knows how to work a count and doesn't miss the pitch he wants. Evaluators nearly universally regard him as a future plus hitter with enough power to impact a game. A natural shortstop, Rodgers has also seen time at second and third base with the Rockies' approach of having players work at multiple positions in the minors. Rodgers has the reliable hands, quick release and plus arm strength to play shortstop, but his fringy foot speed could be a deciding factor in an eventual move to second base. Rodgers makes up for his lack of natural range by positioning himself well and showing advanced instincts, enough that some evaluators give him a chance to stay at shortstop and possibly be an average defender there, although not all are convinced. The idea of having a middle infielder with an impact bat is exciting, which is why Rodgers isn't likely to end up at third base. How Rodgers' body changes over time, particularly if he gets bigger and loses a step, will determine whether he stays at shortstop or makes the move to second base. Even if he does end up at second, he can be an impact player along the lines of Bobby Grich or Ryne Sandberg. The Rockies have brought Rodgers along slowly, but it is not out of the question for him to be in the big leagues at some point after the 2018 all-star break.
A third baseman in high school, McMahon added first base to his resume in 2016 and began playing second base in 2017. After a down year offensively in 2016 he rebounded in 2017, batting a combined .355 between Double-A and Triple-A. He made his major league debut on Aug. 12. McMahon possesses soft hands and a strong arm, but his reaction time was a concern at third base. He handled the move to first base well and, while physically large for second base, impressed the Rockies with how he adapted to the position, although opposing scouts are less convinced. Offensively, McMahon has a consistent, short stroke and uses the whole field. He sits fastball and takes advantage of mistakes, with the strength to produce above-average power in Coors Field. Strikeouts were an issue in the past, but McMahon significantly improved his approach and plate discipline and struck out just 97 times in 2017, compared to an average of 153 strikeouts his first three seasons. McMahon's positional versatility gives the Rockies options. Wherever he plays, the Rockies envision his bat making a significant everyday contribution.
Pint touched 100 mph in high school and the Rockies drafted him with the fourth overall pick in 2016, signing him for $4.8 million. His big velocity has not translated to professional success, however. After a poor 2017 at low Class A Asheville, Pint is 3-16, 5.40 with 82 walks, 14 hit batters and 34 wild pitches in 130 professional innings, to go along with 115 strikeouts. Pint simply overpowered high school hitters, which covered up mechanical shortcomings that have hampered him in pro ball. His fastball ranges anywhere from 93-98 mph and touches 102 but plays down due to poor command and control––the result of a delivery he doesn't repeat even though it is clean. He pulls off of pitches and misses the zone, and isn't much better with his secondaries. His slider flashes above-average and his curveball and changeup flash average potential, but he doesn't have consistent control of any of them. The Rockies have taken a cautious approach with Pint, limiting his innings and adjusting his mechanics slowly. Scouts remain bullish on Pint because of his premium stuff and clean delivery, but his lack of strike-throwing ability is alarming. High Class A Lancaster is likely next in 2018.
Welker led Douglas High in Parkland, Fla., to its first state championship in 2016 and a No. 1 ranking in BA's final national high school poll. The Rockies drafted him in the fourth round and signed him for $855,000. Welker impressed immediately and was en route to the South Atlantic League batting title in his first full season, but an abdominal strain shelved him for two months and cost him the necessary at-bats. Welker's bat is his best asset. He has impressive knowledge of the strike zone, particularly for a young power hitter, and makes full use of the entire field. His swing has some length to it and a bit of a hitch, but he makes up for it with advanced feel to hit, above-average power potential and limited swing-and-miss. A high school shortstop, Welker moved to third base as a pro and has shown above-average potential there. He has a good first step, is quick on his feet and possesses a plus, accurate arm, although his below-average speed and fringy athleticism cuts into his range. Nolan Arenado is a free agent after 2019, and Welker is in line to be Arenado's eventual replacement if the Rockies are unable to resign him. For now, Welker will head to high Class A Lancaster.
The Rockies took advantage of four early picks in the 2015 draft and landed Lambert at No. 44 overall. Lambert didn't overpower and there were questions about his thin frame, but the Rockies saw a highly successful teen with a live arm, room to fill out and a desirable competitive streak. Lambert's poise and fearless mentality have helped him conquer three of the most hitter-friendly environments in baseball in Rookie-level Grand Junction, low Class A Asheville and class High A Lancaster during his first three seasons. The expected physical gains have come too. Lambert now sits 91-93 mph and touches 95 with his fastball, dialing it up and down as necessary. The pitch plays up even further because of excellent control and sink, as well. Both his biting 78-82 mph curveball and mid-80s changeup consistently project above-average-to-plus, with the best of his swing-and-miss curveballs drawing plus-plus grades. Lambert throws everything for strikes and keeps the ball down, a critical factor in his success pitching in environments similar to Coors Field. Lambert has all the components of a quality mid- to back-of-the-rotation starter, and could be more if he continues to add fastball velocity.
The Rockies signed Castellani for $1.1 million out of high school in 2014 and were protective of him early, limiting him to 150 innings in his first two seasons combined. They then bulked him up and turned him loose, and he's been exceptionally durable since. Castellani led the high Class A California League in innings pitched in 2016, and did the same in the Double-A Eastern League in 2017. Castellani works with a three-pitch mix with sinking action. His fastball holds serve at a steady 93 mph, and he has shown the ability to touch 97. His best secondary is a hard slider, and he also mixes in a usable changeup. All three pitches have flashed above-average at one point or another, but he runs into trouble when he isn't keeping the ball down. When right, Castellani commands both sides of the plate in the bottom half of the zone, and his strong lower half allows him to hold his stuff late in games. He is cerebral with a feel for the game that helps his stuff play up. Castellani projects as a potential workhorse in the middle-to-back of a rotation as long as he keeps the ball down. His ability to do that will be tested at Triple-A Albuquerque to open the 2018 season.
Traded from the Angels to the White Sox and then to the Rockies as a prospect, the hard-throwing Almonte has blossomed in Colorado's system. He posted a 2.00 ERA at Double-A and rose to Triple-A in 2017 despite separate disabled list stints for arm fatigue and knee soreness. Almonte gained 25 pounds since turning pro, which has led to a fastball that topped out at 92 mph in high school now sitting 93-96 mph and touching 98 with hard sink as a starter. Almonte also has a two-seamer he likes to use to further induce ground balls, and his main secondary is an 86-88 mph slider that is consistently above-average and flashes plus. He flashes a usable changeup but it is not consistent, although he still kept lefthanded hitters in check with a .217/.319/.310 slash line in 2017. Almonte's control is lacking at times, the result of an arm action evaluators fear may hamper his ability to throw consistent strikes. Almonte's lack of a changeup and inconsistent control lessen his chance to start, but it's not out of the question. As a fallback, his hard sinker-slider combination would play extremely well in late relief. He will begin 2018 back at Triple-A.
Hampson is next in a long line of Long Beach State shortstops in the big leagues, headed by Bobby Crosby, Troy Tulowitzki, Danny Espinosa and Matt Duffy. Drafted in the third round and signed for $750,000 in 2016, Hampson led the minors with 113 runs and finished fourth with 51 steals in his first full season at high Class A Lancaster. A top-of-the-lineup catalyst, Hampson is an undersized plus-plus runer who plays at full speed all the time. He keeps the ball on the ground or strokes it on a line to let his speed play, and he shows hints of power, although that will never be his game. His plate discipline is improving, allowing him to project as an above-average hitter with a lot of steals. Hampson gets too big in his swing sometimes, but generally self-corrects. Drafted as a shortstop, Hampson's arm is a bit short for the position, but his exemplary hands, quick-first step and top-notch reaction times fit at second base, where he shows flashes of being a plus defender. He also got some exposure to center field last year. Most evaluators see Hampson as a future super utility player, but a few see enough for him to start at second base. Double-A Hartford is next in 2018.
Vilade's father, James, is an assistant coach at Oklahoma State and was a longtime minor league coach. After growing up around the game, Vilade starred on the USA 15U and 18U national teams and won the home run derby at the Under Armor All-America Game at Wrigley Field. He was named the Oklahoma state player of the year as a senior and signed with the Rockies for $1,425,400 after they selected him with the 48th overall pick in the 2017 draft. Vilade's offensive profile is what drives him. He has a strong frame and a quick bat that produces plus raw power, and he already has a knack for driving the ball in games. He makes adjustments quickly for his age and shows advanced instincts in the box. He recognizes and tracks pitches well and draws plenty of walks. Vilade is an average runner and there is some question whether he has the quick-twitch athleticism for shortstop defensively, but believers point to his above-average arm, soft hands and advanced instincts. Vilade will play shortstop for now, but will also see time at third base and first base. It will be his bat that carries him regardless of position. Vilade is set to open his first full season at low Class A Asheville.
Nevin grew up in a baseball environment as the son of 1992 No. 1 overall pick Phil Nevin. A severe hamstring injury limited Tyler to one game in 2016 and a right wrist/hand injury limited him the first half of 2017. He hit .336/.381/.523 for low Class A Asheville upon his return in the second half, showing the promise that made him a touted prep. Two inches taller than his all-star father, Nevin's ticket will be his bat. He has bat speed, works counts and projects to hit for power as his body fills out and gets stronger. He shows all-fields power and drives the ball into the right-center gap frequently, just as his father loved to. Nevin grew up a third baseman but has increasingly seen time at first base, where he projects best. Scouts don't see the feet, agility or athleticism necessary for Nevin to handle third base on an everyday basis, and the Tommy John surgery he had as a junior in high school sapped some of his arm strength. Evaluators generally see Nevin as a platoon corner power bat, but he has a chance to put up big offensive numbers at high Class A Lancaster in 2018 and prove he could be a potential everyday regular at the big league level sometime in the future. His health will bear watching as he tries to complete a full season for the first time, having never played more than 82 games in a professional season.
Howard is an acquired taste. He isn't one of those guys who steps on the mound and overpowers. He is a pitcher, and he has proven since his high school days he can adjust over the course of a season. Howard doesn't back down from a challenge, which was evident his junior year in college when, after early season struggles, he moved into the No. 3 starter role and performed well enough to be the 82nd player selected in the 2014 draft out of Georgia Southern. The Rockies worked to balance Howard's delivery after signing him and it has improved his command. It also was a factor in his fastball velocity jumping from the upper 80s to its present 91-94 mph with sink. Howard compliments his fastball with a back foot slider that has a promising late, hard break, and a usable changeup with fade. His ability to pitch inside to righthanded batters and also change speeds has allowed him to actually be more effective against righties than lefties, which is a tick in his favor for remaining a starter. Having split the 2017 season between Double-A and Triple-A, the expectation is Howard will be ready to step in at the big league level sometime in 2018.
Murphy was in line to be the Rockies' starting catcher on Opening Day 2017, but on a throw to second base during a spring training game he hit the bat of Cubs' Anthony Rizzo and fractured his right forearm. He did not make his season debut with the Rockies until June 15, was sent down for more playing time at Triple-A two weeks later, and made only four appearances when he was called up in September with the Rockies riding Jonathan Lucroy down the stretch in their playoff run. The only player ever drafted out of the University at Buffalo, Murphy remains the Rockies' top catching prospect. He had worked to soften his hands in receiving and made strides with his agility despite a muscular frame that has slowed him down at times. He has above-average arm strength and is continually working to improve. Murphy is mostly a threat at the plate, with above-average power with solid rhythm and timing in his swing that allows him to tap into his power. With Lucroy leaving as a free agent, Murphy has a chance to claim the Rockies' starting catching job in 2018, just as he was expected to before he got hurt in 2017.
Mundell moved around a bit in college––primarily used as a DH, but also catching a bit and playing some first base. Most of all, he hit. His bat caught the attention of the Rockies, and they made him the first college position player they drafted in 2015. They got more than they bargained for. Mundell set a modern-day minor-league record with 59 doubles at low Class Asheville in 2016, and followed it up by hitting a combined .300 with 15 homers, 78 RBIs and an .857 OPS between at High-A Lancaster and Double-A Hartford in 2017. Mundell has power potential to go with what is a very disciplined approach, making hard contact and driving the ball the opposite way. Once he makes adjustments and starts to turn on pitches, more home runs figure to come. He has settled in at first base with soft hands and instincts, even though he had only limited time at the position before pro ball. Further, Mundell has provided a very strong clubhouse influence as a true leader. Mundell will have to continue to hit as a first base-only prospect, but that's never been a problem. He has a chance to post huge numbers at Triple-A Albuquerque in 2017.
Hilliard has established himself as one of the top performers in the Rockies system since the day they drafted him. The physical 6-foot-5, 225-pound lefthanded hitter led the South Atlantic League in RBIs in 2016 and at high Class A Lancaster in 2017 he ranked among the top 10 in the California League in home runs (21), batting average (.300), RBIs (92) and stolen bases (37). Hilliard shows flashes of all five tools but is still in search of consistency. He has the size, natural raw power, above-average speed and plus arm strength that scouts embrace. He squares up anything out over the plate and pulls the ball in the air with authority, with most of his home runs lined shots that carry over the right-field fence. However, his swing gets long at times and has resulted in a nearly 30 percent career strikeout rate. He struggles against lefties in particular and isn't especially adept at using the whole field. Hilliard is an efficient basestealer with his speed and plays an above-average right field, and can handle center field in a pinch. Hilliard's tools and performance have scouts intrigued, but he'll have to make offensive adjustments to reach his everyday ceiling.
After making his major league debut in 2016, Patterson was sent back to Triple-A in 2017 and struggled early. He hit .219 the first two months of the season but ultimately finished with a flourish, hitting .317 the final three months and posting career highs with 26 home runs and 92 RBIs. A two-way player at South Alabama, Patterson had a big leg kick at the plate when he signed, but Rockies instructor Marv Foley worked with him to shorten up the stride, allowing him to stay on the ball longer and keep his head down. A middle of the field hitter, Patterson is still adjusting in order to pull the ball and improve his home run totals, but shows flashes of average to above power. Patterson originally played the corner outfield positions in pro ball and has plenty of arm for right field. However, he began working at first base the last two seasons at Albuquerque and adapted well. Patterson didn't receive a September callup in 2017, because the Rockies were stocked at first base and outfield, but with a host of veterans departing, he has a chance to claim a role in 2018.
Eusebio has come along slowly after signing out of the Dominican Republic for $100,000 in 2013. He needed two years in the Dominican Summer League and began 2017 in the short-season Northwest League for the second straight year. He delivered three dominant starts and was promoted to low Class A Asheville, where he made eight starts before going down with an oblique strain that ended his season in early August. Eusebio packs premium stuff from the left side but is still searching for consistency. His lively fastball sits at 93-94 mph and touches 96, and he compliments it with a hard 78-80 mph curveball and a low-80s changeup he sells with the same arm action as his fastball. Both of his offspeed offerings flash plus. He has an easily repeatable, compact delivery that helps him maintain his command. Eusebio's fastball is so lively in all directions that he doesn't know where it's going, which gets him into trouble. His curveball also is wildly inconsistent and often ends up in the dirt. He made strides during a 24-inning stretch at Asheville where he allowed only five earned runs. Eusebio has rotation upside but requires a lot fine-tuning. He may see high Class A Lancaster in 2018.
Acquired along with fellow righthanders Jeff Hoffman and Miguel Castro from the Blue Jays as part of the package for Troy Tulowitzki at the 2015 trade deadline, Tinoco was considered the extra body in the deal. He always had a live arm, but the results weren't there. It all started to come together in 2017, when Tinoco at high Class A Lancaster went 11-4, 4.67 in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the minors. The Rockies reworked Tinoco's delivery and the confidence he had been lacking seemed to be adjusted, too. Tinoco features a live fastball that ranges from 93-96 mph and is complimented by a curveball and slider that both flash plus but lack consistency. His changeup further flashes above-average but is the least developed pitch in his arsenal. Tinoco's stuff is promising but he is still learning to how sequence it all in order to miss bats. He does generally throw strikes and keep the ball on the ground. Tinoco will remain a starter for now, though some like the idea of him coming out of the bullpen in late innings with a fastball that could go up a few ticks. He should see time at Double-A Hartford in 2018.
The Rockies drafted Wall 35th overall in 2014, making him the highest drafted prep second baseman since the draft was consolidated into one phase in 1987. Wall's play at second base proved inadequate, however, and he began a transition to center field at high Class A Lancaster in 2017. The effort was cut short when he separated his left shoulder diving for a ball in May and missed the rest of the season. Wall has struggled to live up to his draft pedigree as a gifted hitter. He has a solid feel for contact but little power and does not drive the ball. He has plus speed to make it work as a singles hitter with a lot of stolen bases, although the Rockies are optimistic he can grow into extra-base power as he gets stronger. Defensively, Wall was nearly unplayable at second base and labrum surgery on his right shoulder in high school sapped his arm strength. Wall has hope to make it as a contact and speed-type, but now has major surgery on both shoulders to deal with and needs to find a defensive home. He is expected to be healthy for the start of 2018.
Rockies scouting director Bill Schmidt saw Gaddis dominate in the Cape Cod League the summer between his sophomore and junior seasons at Furman, and had him among the players in consideration for one of the Rockies' two draft picks in the second round. Gaddis led the Southern Conference with nine wins and a 1.89 ERA in 2017, but his stuff was down a tick, sitting 88-92 mph, and he slipped to the third round, where the Rockies took him and signed him for $600,000. Gaddis is a pitchability righthander who relies on his command. His fastball has just average velocity but plays up some with plus life when he gets on top of it and pitches downhill. Gaddis mixes in a curveball, changeup and cutter, all of which are usable but none draw rave reviews. His lack of plus stuff got him crushed in his pro debut, with 66 hits allowed in 44.1 innings at Rookie-level Grand Junction, but fatigue was a factor. Gaddis is confident on the mound. His repeatable delivery, solid command, pitch mix and track record give him a chance to rise as a back-end starter if his stuff ticks back up.
Bowden missed the entire 2017 season with a pair of injuries, one traditional and one unusual. First, he suffered a severe hamstring strain in spring training that shelved him early on. Later, while helping an elderly lady put her bag into an overhead bin on airplane, he suffered a bulging disc in his back. Bowden, who signed for $1.6 million as the 45th overall pick in 2016, was the closer for Vanderbilt's College World Series championship team in 2014. During his lone pro stint after signing in 2016, he showed that same closer's mentality, aggressively going after hitters with power stuff from the left side. Bowden's stands an imposing 6-foot-4, 235 pounds and features a power fastball that sits 93-95 mph with late life and downward plane. It can top out at 97. He shows promise with a changeup that has tumbling action as his main secondary. He also throws a slurvy breaking ball that varies between a curveball and slider, and that will be a focal point of his development moving forward. Bowden has the stuff and pedigree to move quickly as a bullpen arm but has to show he's healthy.
Nearly three years have passed since the Rockies drafted Nikorak with the 27th overall pick and signed him for $2.3 million to pass up a scholarship to Alabama. In that time he has made just 15 starts, worked 47 innings and has yet to advance past Rookie-level Grand Junction. Those totals won't get higher any time soon after he missed most of 2017 following Tommy John surgery. Prior to surgery, Nikorak still showed intriguing stuff. His fastball gets up to 97 mph and he has a two-seamer he can use to induce ground balls. He also showed signs of progress with his changeup and low-80s curveball. Most important, he smoothed out his mechanics under the eye of pitching coaches Ryan Kibler and Bob Apodaca and was throwing significantly more strikes, shaving his walks rate from a disastrous 16.3 per nine innings to 5.8. His control was still poor, but at least it was moving in the right direction. Nikorak's stuff and control strides show promise, but he has to stay healthy. The Rockies are tentatively planning to send Nikorak to an affiliate by midsummer.
A product of West Virginia, Musgrave had Tommy John surgery in 2012 but returned to beat out Jon Gray for Big 12 Conference pitcher of the year honors in 2013. Musgrave appeared to be on the fast track after making 19 starts at Triple-A in just his second full season, but he hit a detour in 2017. He struggled through 12 starts in 2017 before his season ended when he collided with his catcher and suffered a broken finger that required a pin. Musgrave doesn't overpower hitters. His fastball sits 89-90 mph and touches 93, but he makes it work because of solid command and deception from the left side. His out pitch is a solid-average changeup and he also has a fringy slider to give batters another look. Musgrave works aggressively, challenging hitters, and isn't afraid to throw inside despite his modest arsenal. Musgrave will have a chance to see time in the big leagues as a long reliever in 2018.
Montano established himself as one of Venezuela's top teenaged prospects when he hit .375/.483/.542 at the 15U World Cup in 2014. The Rockies signed him for $2 million in 2015, which was the largest bonus the franchise has given to an international amateur. Montano spent his first two seasons in the Dominican Summer League, in part because the Rockies don't field a Rookie-level Arizona League team, and made noticeable improvements in his second season. Montano features a compact, easy stroke from the left side, a disciplined approach and an advanced pitch recognition for his age. He currently has gap power but projects for possible average power as he fills out. Montano has played center field and right field in his two years in the DSL, but most likely will wind up in left field. He tracks the ball well and gets a good break, but as his physically matures will lose a step or two. He has slightly below average arm strength. Montano will come to the U.S. in 2018, most likely debuting at Rookie-level Grand Junction.
Daza signed with the Rockies as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela in 2010 and spent his first three seasons in the Dominican Summer League. He came to the U.S. in 2014 and has made an impression ever since. He has hit a combined .328 in his four years stateside, including winning the California League batting title with a .341 average at high Class A Lancaster in 2017. He also was third in the league with 87 RBIs, second with 11 triples and fifth with 31 stolen bases. Daza's game is built around making contact and using his above-average speed. He uses the middle of the field and has the alley power to pick up doubles and triples. He can manipulate the barrel and makes consistent hard, line drive contact, but doesn't have the strength or swing path for home runs. He primarily played center field at Lancaster but has experience at all three outfield positions. He gets good reads and jumps in center, although most scouts prefer him in a corner because he isn't a burner. Most evaluators see Daza as an extra outfielder with contact ability and speed, but he could become an everyday regular if he keeps hitting the way he has.
Best known as the cousin of Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, Fuentes went undrafted despite hitting .365 his junior year at Missouri Baptist. He started to create his own legacy at Double-A Hartford in 2017, putting together a dominant final seven weeks to finish tied for second in the Eastern League with a .307 average and third with a .517 slugging percentage and .869 OPS. Fuentes has always hit, putting together a career .287/.346/.456 slash line as a professional. His swing can get long at times and he doesn't walk much, but he maintained a compact approach during his hot stretch that shot him to new heights at Double-A. He gets to serviceable power too. Fuentes has the arm strength for third base and decent range, but began seeing time at first base playing for Culiacan in the Mexican Winter League in order to enhance his versatility. Fuentes has beat the odds every step of his career. His bat and ability to play both infield corners give him a chance to rise to the big leagues, likely as a bench player.
A two-way player in high school, Humphreys had Tommy John surgery his junior year. So, when he showed up to Mississippi State the decision was made for him to focus on hitting, initially as a DH and later at first base and the corner outfield spots. Humphreys hit .310 as a junior, but felt healthy his senior year and decided to return to the mound. He became Mississippi State's closer and wound up a seventh-round draft choice of the Rockies. Humphreys saw limited time on the mound at Rookie-level Grand Junction in 2016, but stepped into the closer role at low Class A Asheville in 2017 and converted 13 of 14 save opportunities while posting a 47-to-6 strikeout to walk mark in 45.2 innings. Humphreys does most of his work with a four-seam fastball that sits 95-97 mph and reaches 99 and a cutter that ranges from 90-94 mph. He has a fringy but usable mid-80s slider and is working on a changeup. Most of all, he has the mentality of a closer and throws strikes consistently. Humphreys will start 2018 at high Class A Lancaster with a chance to move up the system quickly.
Fernandez led the Big West Conference in total bases and finished third in home runs in 2016 with UC Riverside before the Rockies drafted him in the 10th round. He has carried that pop into pro ball with 40 doubles and 21 home runs in 151 career games. Fernandez has some tools, but evaluators mostly see a player whose entire package fits well together and who has great feel for the game. Offensively, Fernandez possesses a solid, consistent swing that generates above-average power to all fields. He hits with his hands, adjusts the barrel and still has some room to get stronger. He can get overly aggressive at times and run into contact issues, which showed up with 122 strikeouts in 100 games at low Class A Asheville. Defensively, Fernandez does the job in the outfield corners. He catches what needs to be caught, but isn't going to necessarily make the eye-popping catch. He is above-average arm strength and is best in left field, although he can slide to right. Fernandez has a chance to keep putting up numbers at high Class A Lancaster in 2018 and could continue to rise as a lefthanded power bat.
Spanberger finally settled in at first base his junior year at Arkansas, and made more starts (58) in 2017 than the previous two years combined (55). A catcher/third basemen in high school in Granite City, Ill., he saw limited time as a DH his freshman year at Arkansas and played some outfield his sophomore year. He finally became a regular as a first baseman in 2017, and responded by becoming the sixth player in Arkansas history to hit 20 home runs. The Rockies drafted Spanberger in the sixth round in 2017, signed him for $260,200, and watched with glee as he hit 19 more home runs in 60 games at Rookie-level Grand Junction. Power is Spanberger's lone plus tool. He is physically imposing at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds and can turn around premium velocity and send it a long way. His below-average feel for hitting pushed him down draft boards despite his raw power, and that also showed up with 71 strikeouts in his pro debut. Spanberger is a work in progress defensively at first, but has embraced the challenge. He will head to low Class A Asheville in 2018 and keep rising as long as he gets to his power.
Nunez played shortstop on an Elk Grove (Calif.) High team that featured future first-round picks Dylan Carlson (Cardinals) and Derek Hill (Tigers) as well as Astros third baseman J.D. Davis and Blue Jays prospect first baseman Rowdy Tellez. Nunez turned down a scholarship to UCLA after the Rockies selected him in the sixth round in 2013 and signed him for an over-slot $800,000 bonus. Nunez played shortstop in Rookie ball in 2013 but returned to Grand Junction in 2014 and began the conversion to catcher. He has adapted to catching quickly. He has soft hands, quick feet and controls the game well. While his work behind the plate has drawn positive reviews, Nunez is an especially poor hitter who struggles to make adjustments. Opponents feed him pitches on the outer half of the plate that he can't do anything with, and the result has been steadily worse offensive production every year. Nunez's average cratered with a .202 mark at Double-A Hartford in 2017. He needs to make significant offensive improvements to even be a backup, and a return to Double-A in 2018 will be telling.
Gonzalez was in position to make the Rockies' bullpen out of spring training in 2017, but arm problems eventually led to Tommy John surgery in mid-May and cost him the season. Gonzalez overpowers hitters with a 96 mph cutter that has natural depth. It's complimented by a downer curveball that will play at altitude and he also throws a quality changeup. Given his limited experience--208.1 innings since signing with the Rockies as a 21st-round draft choice in 2012--the Rockies will be careful with him in the spring, and he most likely won't be ready to pitch competitively until midseason. Coming off Tommy John surgery, combined with spending three stints on the disabled list with High-A Modesto in 2015, has the Rockies wanting to make sure Gonzalez has rebuilt his arm strength before getting him back in a competitive atmosphere.
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