Ask BA: Who’s The Best Prospect In The Minors?
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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, 2006.
The Rockies’ rebuilding began in earnest in 2005. While enduring their fifth straight losing season and tying the Pirates for the worst record in the National League, they used a franchise-record 19 rookies, including nine from last year’s Top 30 Prospects list. Rookies made more starts (584) and appearances (942) for Colorado than for any other team.
Clint Barmes took over at shortstop and emerged as an early NL rookie-of-the-year favorite before he fell down a flight of stairs and broke his left collarbone. Jeff Francis joined revitalized Aaron Cook and Jason Jennings to give the Rockies three homegrown arms at the front of the rotation. Third baseman Garrett Atkins, right fielder Brad Hawpe and center fielder Cory Sullivan all became regulars, with varying degrees of success, with only catcher J.D. Closser a disappointment. Marcos Carvajal and Scott Dohmann had their moments pitching in relief.
Though the influx of talent in Colorado drained the system of much of its depth at the upper levels, the Rockies do have some more prospects on the verge of contributing. First baseman/outfielder Ryan Shealy, righthander Ryan Speier and outfielder Ryan Spiborghs all could play roles for the Rockies in 2006. So too could infielder Omar Quintanilla, acquired in a midseason trade with the Athletics.
Most of Colorado’s next wave of impact talent spent 2005 at high Class A Modesto, one of the club’s two affiliates to make the postseason. Third baseman Ian Stewart and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki are elite players and the organization’s top two prospects. Other Modesto standouts to watch include righthanders Ubaldo Jimenez and Juan Morillo, catcher Chris Iannetta and shortstop Matt Macri.
Scouting director Bill Schmidt and his staff turned in another promising draft in 2005, starting with Tulowitzki. Expected to go to the Mariners with the No. 3 overall pick before the draft, he fell to the Rockies at No. 7 when Seattle changed directions. Righthander Chaz Roe (supplemental first round) asserted himself as one of the system’s best pitching prospects, and a pair of late-rounders starred in the Rookie-level Pioneer League. Infielder Corey Wimberly (sixth) followed up an NCAA Division I batting title with a pro crown by hitting .381, while righty Andrew Johnston (ninth) used a heavy sinker to tie a league mark with 18 saves.
The Rockies’ Latin American scouting department continues to thrive under the guidance of Rolando Fernandez. Dominicans Franklin Morales, Jimenez, Morillo, Samuel Deduno and Manuel Corpas all have flashed mid- to upper-90s fastballs. Australian righty Shane Lindsay, another hard thrower, ranked as the top prospect in the short-season Northwest League. After failing miserably by trying to import free-agent pitching—the Rockies lavished $172 million in contracts for Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle, who went 40-51 for Colorado—they’re trying to find a different solution.
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