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Top Ten Prospects: Colorado Rockies
Complete Index of Top 10s
By Tracy Ringolsby
Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2005.
Not any longer.
Colorado kicked off its 2004 draft by taking Georgia high school shortstop Chris Nelson ninth overall, the first of five position players it drafted in the first six rounds. The Rockies also spent $925,000 to sign another Georgia prep product, outfielder Dexter Fowler, in the 14th round. The year before, they chose California prep third baseman Ian Stewart 10th overall, and four of their top six selections were position players. Before Stewart and Nelson, Colorado had taken just one hitter in the first round of its first 11 drafts: Todd Helton, the best player in franchise history.
Rockies scouting director Bill Schmidt says the club hasn’t made a conscious effort to stock up on hitters. Like most teams, Colorado sorts through the talent and takes the best player available. What the Rockies have tried to do is create better balance in their farm system, which they’re now counting on to feed the big league roster. After disastrous results with Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle, they’re no longer pursuing free agents. They’ll try to build their own nucleus from within.
Colorado’s projected 2005 lineup includes four homegrown players: Helton, second-year left fielder Matt Holliday and a pair of rookies, third baseman Garrett Atkins and shortstop Clint Barmes. Rookie catcher J.D. Closser spent three years developing in the Rockies system after being acquired from Arizona for Mike Myers. Another rookie, right fielder Brad Hawpe, figures to platoon with Dustan Mohr in right field.
The Rockies are growing their own pitching as well. Of the six candidates for their rotation, five originally signed with Colorado: Shawn Chacon, Aaron Cook, Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year Jeff Francis, Jason Jennings and Jamey Wright. Their bullpen could feature homegrown Scott Dohmann, Ryan Speier and Chin-Hui Tsao. After coming up short in last year’s attempt to convert Chacon into a closer, the Rockies may try it with Tsao this season.
Colorado also has brought in a slew of young players from other organizations, such as Closser. Key lefty reliever Brian Fuentes arrived when the Rockies dumped Jeff Cirillo’s contract on the Mariners. Second baseman Aaron Miles, who finished fourth in National League rookie of the year voting in 2004, came from the White Sox for Juan Uribe. Utilityman Luis Gonzalez and lefty Javier Lopez were Rule 5 draft-related acquisitions.
The Rockies made similar moves to supplement their bullpen this offseason. They plucked righty Marcos Carvajal and lefty Matt Merricks from the Dodgers in the major league Rule 5 draft, and traded for righty Aaron Taylor when the Mariners ran out of 40-man roster space. Colorado also claimed reserve infielder Alfredo Amezaga off waivers from the Angels.
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