Top Ten prospect Tyler Nevin was clearly the best Colorado Rockies player in the Arizona Fall League, leading the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. The No. 9 prospect on my Prospects1500 Colorado Rockies midseason Top 50 followed up a solid season at High-A Lancaster with an outstanding performance in the AFL.
The 21-year-old, son of former player and current coach Phil Nevin, played 17 games in the AFL and finished with 20 RBI, a .426 batting average, .535 OBP and .593 slugging percentage. This followed 100 games in Lancaster where he hit 13 HR with 62 RBI, a .328 average, .386 OBP and .503 slugging percentage.
Limited defensively, Nevin can play first or third bases. He played mostly first at Lancaster and exclusively at first during the AFL. He will play at AA Hartford in 2019.
Justin Lawrence, ranked as the Rockies 29th best prospect by Prospects 1500, is a likely riser.
He did blow saves in both the AFL all-stars game and the championship match, but his high-velocity sinker and above-average slider give hope that he could ultimately succeed in Coors Field.
Control is an issue. Lawrence had 13 strikeouts in 10.2 innings in the AFL but he walked 6 on top of 10 hits. At High-A Lancaster last summer he struck out 62 in 54.1 innings but walked 27 on top of 36 hits. He earned 11 saves and pitched to a 2.65 ERA in Lancaster.
Lawrence, 24, likely will start the season at AA Hartford but could move up quickly and even land in the big leagues if he gains control to go with his great stuff.
Ryan Castellani, 22, had an OK showing in the AFL following an inconsistent season at AA Hartford. He started 7 games, pitched 26.1 innings and had a 5.13 ERA in Arizona. He had a couple of outstanding outings mixed in with the others.
But inconsistency has been his hallmark at AA Hartford the past two seasons. In 2018 he started 26 games, pitched 134.1 innings with 91 strikeouts and a 5.49 ERA.
He likely will fall from No. 14 on my Prospects1500 Colorado Rockies Top 50. He probably will pitch in AAA Albuquerque this year, a tougher place to pitch than Hartford.
Sam Hilliard reached No. 7 our Prospects1500 Colorado Rockies Top 50 at midseason 2018, but his second half falloff damaged his standing. Fortunately for him, he was sent to the Arizona Fall League where he had a good showing, bolstering his stock and his prospects for 2019.
Hilliard, a 24-year-old who played at Wichita State, made the Eastern League all-star game after starting out with 7 HR, 32 RBI and 21 stolen bases at AA Hartford. But the rightfielder trailed off in August, hitting just .212 with little power.
He finished 2018 with 9 homers, 40 RBI, a .262 batting average and 23 stolen bases at Hartford, striking out 35 percent of the time.
But in 16 AFL games he hit .328 with 2 home runs, 14 RBI, 2 stolen bases and considerable improvement with a .389 on-base percentage and .516 slugging percentage. Was that good enough to earn a promotion to AAA Albuquerque in 2019, or will he start the season again in Hartford?
Third baseman Josh Fuentes, the No. 31 prospect on our Prospects1500 Colorado Rockies Top 50, had a solid AFL stint following a breakout 2018 season at AAA Albuquerque.
Fuentes, 25, hit 3 homers with 10 RBI and a .301 average in Arizona. He had 14 HR, 95 RBI and a .327 batting average in AAA last summer. He is slated for Albuquerque again given that he is blocked at the major-league level by his cousin, Nolan Arenado. But he played some first and second base in the AFL to give him position versatility and a better shot at reaching Denver in 2019.
Jesus Tinoco, 23, pitched 15.2 innings with 14 strikeouts and a 1.72 ERA in relief in Arizona this fall. He started 26 games in AA Hartford last summer with 132 strikeouts in 141 innings. But he gave up 149 hits, 38 walks and pitched to a 4.79 ERA in AA. There’s still work to do for our No. 25 prospect. He likely will spend most of the season at Albuquerque in 2019, and the question is whether that will be as a starter or reliever.
Lefty reliever Mitch Horacek, 27, struck out 12 in 11.1 innings but gave up 17 hits, six walks and earned an ERA of 8.74 in Arizona. That followed a solid season at AA Hartford where he struck out 75 in 61.1 innings with a 2.20 ERA/
Horacek, No. 36 on our Prospects1500 Colorado Rockies Top 50, likely will join the bullpen at AAA Albuquerque next summer and may find himself in the Rockies’ bullpen before the end of the season.
Featured image of Sam Hilliard (Hartford Yard Goats – Steamed Cheeseburgers night) – photo credit Scott Greene (@Scotty_Ballgame)
Michael Parnell is a retired newspaper editor who covers the Colorado Rockies for Prospects1500. He is a longtime fantasy baseball fan who now focuses on his dynasty teams in Diamond Duos and Dynasty Sports Empire leagues. He recently relocated from Fernandina Beach, Fla., to Albuquerque, N.M. Follow him on Twitter @parnellmichael.
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