This is a surprisingly deep system. I’m not going to write a “State of the Franchise” dissertation, because I don’t read those things. I just want to get right into the prospects….
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster
1. Brendan Rodgers, SS
Age: 20 (DOB 8/9/1996)
It would be ludicrous to go off-script here and list anyone else as the Rockies‘ clear-cut #1 overall. A Top 5 or 10 prospect in all of baseball, and very likely to put together several years as a Top 5 fantasy shortstop, with enough of a bat to remain quite relevant should be require a slide over to 3B or 2B as he ages. He’s still a few years away, but it would surprise no one if all his tools, power, athleticism, and advanced hitting approach clicked and he took immediate advantage of Coors upon his arrival.
2. Riley Pint, RHP
Age: 19 (DOB 9/6/1997)
Riley Pint has the potential to pitch at the top of a big league rotation. He registers 95-10o MPH with the fastball, and the curve and change have plus potential as well, but remain inconsistent offerings at this point. The command struggles in his 37.0 Pioneer League innings were real, but if he can show improvement on that front and start mowing through the low minors, you are looking at a Tier 1 prospect and future staff ace.
3. Raimel Tapia, OF
Age: 23 (DOB 2/4/1994)
I’m still going with Tapia here in the third slot even though his stock has dropped. I just don’t see him not becoming an above-average MLB outfielder on offense, and he’s practically there already. He lacks huge power, and he could stand to take a few more walks, but his contact skills are exceptional. He’s got the speed to play all over the outfield, bat at the top of the order, and that should translate into high (but not elite) stolen base totals as well.
4. Tom Murphy, C
Age: 25 (DOB 4/3/1991)
A tick or two above where others might have him, but I’ll explain myself. This is not the perfect prospect. Questions about his defense, contact, and plate discipline do linger. But, he has the pop to mask some (or all) of that, a real opportunity to bite a big chunk out of Tony Wolters’ playing time as soon as this April, and the threat of a power-hitting catcher in Coors is too much to pass up.
5. Jeff Hoffman, RHP
Age: 23 (DOB 1/8/1993)
Look, some outlets will list him higher than this, but his realistic outlook is a mid-rotation starter. That’s not going to translate to a very good stat line with the Rockies. He’s got a decent four-pitch mix, and a shot at a rotation slot out of Spring Training, but I would stay away. His fastball has the velo, life and sink, and his curve is superb. Command issues have kept him from putting it all together.
6. Ryan McMahon, 3B/1B
Age: 22 (DOB 12/14/1994)
After 3 straight seasons of destroying minor league pitching and maxing out as a Top 50-100 prospect in all of baseball, Ryan McMahon did “just okay” at AA Hartford, but he did improve in the second half. His defense profiles better at first than at third (plus you’ve got the small obstacle of Nolan Arenado there.) If he can cut down on the K’s and proceed to AAA he has the combination of decent pop and plate discipline to join Arenado and Trevor Story to form a young power-hitting infield moving forward.
7. German Marquez, RHP
Age: 22 (DOB 2/2/1995)
After coming over from the Rays in the Corey Dickerson deal, Marquez skyrocketed from relative obscurity to a consensus Top 100 prospect. I’m still leaning slightly tentative here because he’s a Rockies pitcher, but he’s got a 94-98 MPH heater coming off a clean delivery, a solid curve and change-up, already with great control and command. He could be big league ready, with a lot to like here.
8. Forrest Wall, 2B/OF
Age: 21 (DOB 11/20/1995)
I still really like this guy even after a down year in the Cali League. His bat (and limited pop) will play best if he remains at second, but it will still work in center… not so much if he has to slide over to left. He’s got speed, contact skills, and the ability to spray the ball all over the field… Wall could be an ideal #2 hitter. He’s just got to bring back the production in 2017, when he will still be just 21 years old.
9. Colton Welker, 3B
Age: 19 (DOB 10/9/1997)
A 4th Rounder in 2016, signed for a $855,000 bonus, Welker could turn out to be a real steal for the Rockies‘ front office. He possesses above average present power, contact ability, and polish as a hitter that is impressive for his age (he trampled through the Pioneer league as an 18-year-old to the tune of .329/.366/.490.) He definitely has the arm for third, and his range and footwork need work, but Welker could end up sticking there.
10. Pedro J. Gonzalez, CF
Age: 19 (DOB 10/27/1997)
This one is all ceiling, but I just had to round out the Top 10 with yet another hitter. This talent is raw, but he has the instincts, speed, and arm to develop as a legitimate centerfielder, and his offensive potential is that of a middle-of-the-order bat with huge power. If he puts it together with the bat for even a few months in 2017, you can look for him to skyrocket up the charts. He’s a long way away.
11. Kyle Freeland, LHP
Age: 24 (DOB 5/4/1993)
See, the Rockies do have other pitching prospects too. You once heard Kyle Freeland mentioned as a possible #2 starter, but ailments kept him out most of 2015 and hampered that projection. Freeland features a lively 90-94 MPH fastball with sink, paired with a nasty slider, a combo that could play well in Coors. Now a full year removed from elbow surgery (bone chips) he threw a healthy 162 innings across AA and AAA last year and should get a taste of the bigs sometime this summer.
12. Antonio Senzatela, RHP
Age: 22 (DOB 1/21/1995)
Senzatela has pitched quite brilliantly all the way up the ladder, but experienced shoulder inflammation last year at AA Hartford and as a result pitched only 34.2 innings. When healthy he offers a fastball in the 94-97 MPH range with sink and a slider and change-up that could become major league caliber offerings. Right now it is his durability that knocks him down this list and possibly forcing a move to the bullpen.
13. Yency Almonte, RHP
Age: 22 (DOB 6/4/1994)
Featuring a mid-90’s sinking fastball (notice a pattern here?) Almonte made an impression in 2016 after coming over from the White Sox in the Tom Kahnle trade. He could be a back-end starter but if he ends up in the pen it should be in a high-leverage role. Either way, the payoff looks good for Colorado.
14. Daniel Montano, CF
Age: 18 (DOB 3/31/1999)
This listing is all tools, but when there is upside like Montano’s, it’s a disservice to group him with the utility bats. After signing for a $2,000,000 bonus, his DSL line didn’t turn heads in 2016, but at .228/.325/..427, with 9 HR, 8 SB and a 65/31 K/BB in 241 AB, it was more than adequate. A combination of power, speed, pure hitting ability, and the defense to man center, it will be exciting to see what he does when he comes stateside.
15. Ryan Castellani, RHP
Age: 21 (DOB 4/1/1996)
The Rockies finally let Castellani loose in 2016, tossing 168 innings across the Cali League with solid results. He throws that low-90’s sinking two-seamer that induces a lot of grounders, but he’s inconsistent with the secondary stuff, right now the slider and change-up. Like most young pitchers, improved consistency and command will determine if he reaches his mid-rotation ceiling.
16. Robert Tyler, RHP
Age: 21 (DOB 6/18/1995)
Another upside placing, because Tyler’s Northwest League debut was brief and not pretty from a control standpoint. His fastball is elite though, sitting in the mid-90’s with dramatic sink. That and his effective change alone could make him a high-leverage reliever in the bigs, but he’s working on a knuckle-curve and could end up a starter.
17. Dom Nunez, C
Age: 22 (DOB 1/17/1995)
Nunez didn’t follow up on his stellar offensive campaigns of 2015-16, but he didn’t completely fall off either. He still has power, patience, and hitting skills and is considered a decent catcher, although most of that is tied to his throwing arm (his blocking and receiving skills need work.) He could end up a backup or strong side of a platoon, but that chance to be an above average starting catcher keeps him in Tier 3.
18. Peter Lambert, RHP
Age: 20 (DOB 4/18/1997)
Lambert won’t blow people away but he works in all four pitches, throws strikes, and is very polished and advanced for his age. He is ranked higher on most lists but his upside isn’t higher than that of a #4 starter.
19. Jordan Patterson, RF
Age: 25 (DOB 2/12/1992)
I have always liked Patterson, who has always been a better actual player than prognosticators gave him credit for. He is probably the strong component of a platoon or a 4th OF. He’s ready now so this will probably be the last time he’s ranked.
20. Tyler Nevin, 3B
Age: 20 (DOB 5/29/1997)
After a decent Pioneer League debut in 2015, Nevin missed most of 2016 with a hamstring injury. This alone has seemingly knocked him far down most lists, but to me he’s still the son of a major leaguer with first round pedigree, and a possible MLB bat.
21. Jose A. Gomez, SS
Age: 20 (DOB 12/10/1996)
Gomez destroyed the Pioneer League in his stateside debut to the tune of a .367/.426/.468 slash line. These results trump the fact that his tools don’t wow scouts and some see him having a utility upside. Until he continues this production in a full season league, this is where we are.
22. Garrett Hampson, SS
Age: 22 (10/10/1994)
Hampson is in a similar situation to Gomez in that scouts gave him a utility profile, but then his bat exploded in his first taste of a short season league. He doesn’t have much pop at all, and his defense will have to pass at short, but for now it’s one step at a time.
23. Ben Bowden, LHP
Age: 22 (DOB 10/21/1994)
Bowden could really rise fast through the organization as a lefty reliever, which is where he fits best. The Rockies apparently may try him out as a starter, a move I would not personally understand.
24. Brian Mundell, 1B
Age: 23 (DOB 2/28/1994)
A bat-first 1B prospect, Mundell broke the minor league doubles record in 2016 with 59. It is possible he could eventually surpass Nevin and/or McMahon with the bat, but his defense will always lag. Either way, the 7th Rounder has been a steal for the Rockies.
25. Mike Nikorak, RHP
Age: 20 (DOB 9/16/1996)
The enigma of Mike Nikorak. He was an ace-caliber talent going into the 2015 draft, but things got ugly quickly. A 2-seam fastball that hits 97 with life, and a 4-seamer, curve and change that could all work, if he could put it together. If it is a mechanical problem, and it’s fixable, you’re still looking at a possible #3 starter, or more.
26. Salvador Justo, RHP
Age: 22 (DOB 10/14/1994)
(Twitter: @ELFeoJusto) hasn’t logged a ton of innings, but you hear his name mentioned with “future closer” so he clears my Top 30. An elite, live 96-99 MPH fastball (that hits 101) leads his arsenal, coupled with a power slider. Harnessing control will be the key.
27. Willie Abreu, RF
Age: 22 (DOB 3/21/1995)
6’4”, 225 lb. 6th Rounder out of Miami has a long way to go to legitimize scattered Giancarlo Stanton comps. His arm, speed and game power could make him an MLB right fielder someday. Made strides in the contact department at short-season Boise.
28. Jairo Diaz, RHP
Age: 25 (DOB 5/27/91)
Like Justo, you always heard Jairo was going to be a future closer. He climbed the ranks, reached the majors, but then missed 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. His stuff is nasty; we’ll see how it translates once he’s finally healthy in 2017.
29. David J. Hill, RHP
Age: 23 (DOB 5/27/1994)
A hyped pick in the 2015 draft, Hill nevertheless fell to the Rockies in the 4th Round. He commands a mid-90’s sinking fastball well, with a sinker and splitter that lack consistency. Could be a #4 starter or reliever; in a similar boat with Lambert / Howard.
30. Sam Moll, LHP
Age: 25 (DOB 1/5/1992)
Moll makes his money with a 93-96 MPH live fastball along with a quality slider and change. Size and durability issues have him looking like a lefty reliever in the bigs, but he is ready now.
31. Sam Howard, LHP
Age: 24 (DOB 3/5/1993)
Howard lacks a dominant fastball and his slider and change-up lack consistency. He will rank higher on most lists, but for me that is a lot of question marks for a 24-year-old and I would bet he ends up in the bullpen, with maybe a few spot starts sprinkled in.
32. Harrison Musgrave, LHP
Age: 25 (DOB 3/3/1992)
Musgrave was one of the fastest risers in the system, on the back of a low-90’s fastball that she uses to set up his killer change-up. His ceiling is that of a #5 starter or a major league reliever, and he’s practically a finished product there.
33. Sam Hilliard, OF
Age: 23 (DOB 2/21/1994)
Raw power hitter with swing-and-miss tendencies, but the arm and speed that would play in CF or RF. A sleeper that could do some damage in the majors if he makes it.
34. Parker French, RHP
Age: 23 (DOB 3/19/1993)
A 5th Rounder that has mowed through the minors by inducing grounders with his low-90’s sinking fastball. Questionable secondary offerings might move him to the bullpen.
35. Jesus Tinoco, RHP
Age: 22 (DOB 4/30/1995)
Possible hi-lev reliever due to his 92-97 MP sinking fastball. Current results a mess. Still experimenting with secondary offerings. Needs to be placed on the 40-man in Nov.
36. Carlos J. Herrera, SS
Age: 20 (DOB 9/23/1996)
Raw and toolsy, Herrera scored a big $1,200,000 bonus in 2013. He has yet to put it all together but he’s still young and has been challenged. Speed, athleticism, a little pop.
37. Julian Fernandez, RHP
Age: 21 (DOB 12/5/1995)
Relief prospect who has touched 102 MPH, unhittable in short season but control was atrocious. A work in progress but with a high-leverage ceiling due to the heater.
38. Yeikel Blandin, OF
Age: 17 (DOB 1/9/2000)
A signee out of Venezuela in 2016, Blandin is a long way off. His speed and contact ability stand out more than his power. Could be a spray-hitting top-of-the-order type.
39. Luis Noguera, LHP
Age: 17 (DOB 3/20/2000)
Touted as the best lefty of the 2016 international class, Noguera has control, poise and pitchability beyond his years. His fastball hits 91 MPH and could keep gaining velocity.
40. Anderson Amarista, RHP
Age: 18 (DOB 9/15/1998)
Signed for a $600,000 bonus in 2015, and then backed up the bucks with a nice season in the DSL. Known for mixing in a fastball, nice curveball, and impressive change.
41. Matt Carasiti, RHP
Age: 25 (DOB 7/23/1991)
A minor league closer that blew through AA and AAA in 2016 on his way to a big league taste. Outrighted after the season but re-signed to a minor league deal. MLB reliever.
42. Wander Cabrera, LHP
Age: 19 (DOB 11/7/1997)
Cubs signed him for 0,000 then traded him for Rex Brothers. Raw, has only pitched in the DSL but could climb the list with a solid stateside showing in 2017.
43. Gabriel Estrada, RHP
Age: 18 (DOB 5/28/1999)
Lacked the bonus and the hype of Wander, but Estrada outpitched his older DSL teammate in 2017.
44. Pat Valaika, 2B/SS/3B
Age: 24 (DOB 9/9/1992)
Valaika has a little pop, but won’t wow you with any of his offensive skills. The Rockies will be using him as a utility infielder for much of the 2017 season.
45. Rayan Gonzalez, RHP
Age: 26 (DOB 10/18/1990)
Another live arm looking to put it together along the lines of Justo, Fernandez and Tinoco. He’s been added to the 40-man so he should get a shot this summer.
46. Helmis Rodriguez, LHP
Age: 22 (DOB 6/10/1994)
Strike-thrower was a bit more exposed at High-A Modesto in 2016, but he is still a gamer and has a shot at becoming a 5th starter type as a major leaguer someday.
47. Jeffri Ocando, RHP
Age: 18 (DOB 5/15/1999)
Unheralded signing compared to DSL teammates Amarista and Cabrera, a 29:1 K/BB ratio along with a 0.39 ERA in 23 IP can’t be ignored. Put him on your watch list.
48. Jack Wynkoop, RHP
Age: 23 (DOB 11/2/1993)
Wynkoop, a 6th Rounder back in 2015, has always been known for his pinpoint control. That said, he’s a longshot for the majors with an 86 MPH fastball.
49. Dillon Thomas, OF
Age: 24 (DOB 12/10/1992)
4th Rounder back in 2011 underwent a bit of an uptick at AA in 2016, but Dillon Thomas will only go as far as his bat will carry him, which might not be too much farther.
50. Johendi Jiminian, RHP
Age: 24 (DOB 10/14/1992)
Last slot goes to another unknown but exciting sleeper. 2.30 ERA at the AA level after being converted to a reliever, could contribute soon.
Missed the Cut: Wes Rogers, OF; Erick Julio, RHP; Breiling Eusebio, LHP; Yonathan Daza, OF; Josh Fuentes, 3B; Mike Tauchman, OF; Zach Jemiola, RHP; F. Javier Medina, RHP; Jerry Vasto, LHP; Omar Carrizales, OF; Enrique Saldana, SS; Alfredo J. Garcia, LHP
Received Consideration: Rosell Herrera, OF; Max George, 3B; Tyler Bugner, OF; Trey Killian, RHP; Vince Fernandez, OF; Max White, OF; Shane Carle, RHP; Manuel Melendez, OF; Stephen Cardullo, 1B; Luis D. Guzman, LHP; Alexander Guillen, RHP; Daniel Suero, OF