Colorado Rockies: Where are the prospects?

The Colorado Rockies’ top minor league teams began play last week and now we know where the prospects will begin their seasons. Here’s a look at where the top prospects landed.

Prospects1500 Rockies’ top prospect shortstop Brendan Rodgers returned to AA Hartford. He crushed High A in 2017 and showed well after a promotion to Hartford with 6 homers, 17 RBI, a .260 batting average and .323 OBP. Next stop: AAA Albuquerque. Expect to see him in Denver by September.

Our #2 prospect Ryan McMahon was the top prospect to start the season in the big leagues, where he has a limited platoon job at first base with Ian Desmond seeing most of the time thus far. McMahon began 2017 at AA Hartford and moved to AAA Albuquerque after 49 games. He should spend the summer in Denver.

In a bit of a surprise, outfielder Mike Tauchman, our #26 prospect, made the Rockies as a reserve outfielder. He hit 16 HR with 80 RBI and a .331 batting average at Albuquerque in 2017. With former prospects David Dahl and Raimel Tapia tearing it up during the first week at Albuquerque, the 27-year-old Tauchman may ultimately spend most of his season in AAA.

The #3 prospect, Colton Welker, a third baseman, was assigned to High-A Lancaster after he had 6 homers, 33 RBI, 5 stolen bases and a .350 batting average/.401 OBP at Low A Asheville in 2017 despite missing time with an injury. He should reach AA Hartford sooner rather than later.

Shortstop Ryan Vilade, #4, has graduated from Rookie ball to Low-A Asheville. Vilade hit .308 with an OBP of .438 and 5 stolen bases at Grand Junction. and should spend the summer in Asheville.

Our #5 prospect, third baseman Tyler Nevin, son of Phil, played an injury-shortened 76 games in 2017 at Low-A Asheville, where he hit 7 homers with 47 RBI and .305 batting average and .364 OBP. He begins this season at High-A Lancaster and could move up to AA Hartford.

Riley Pint, a first-round draft pick in 2016 out of high school in Overland Park, Kan., and our #6 prospect, returns to Asheville this season. He has a disappointing ERA over 5 in two minor league seasons but 115 strikeouts in 130 innings. The right-hander has yet to pitch 100 innings in a season and the Rockies are being patient as they still view the 20-year-old as a potential No. 1 starter in the big leagues.

A star in the making, second baseman Garrett Hampson really turned heads in spring training in Arizona. The speedster, who has 87 stolen bases in 195 minor league games, is #7 with a speeding bullet on our list. After a solid season at High-A Lancaster in 2017, Hampson begins this year at AA Hartford. Don’t be surprised if he spends much of the summer in Albuquerque.

Another prospect who captured attention in spring training, #8 Sam Hilliard, will play right field for the Hartford Yard Goats to begin the season. The 15th-round 2015 draft pick from Wichita State hit 21 homers with 92 RBI, 37 stolen bases and a .300 BA/.360 OBP at High-A Lancaster in 2017.

Catcher Tom Murphy, #9, begins his age 26 season in Albuquerque after failing again to stick with the big club. Murphy’s bat got him to the big leagues in 2015, but he’s failed to stay there in three seasons now. He’s minor league depth at this point, though his bat still could make him a big-league regular.

#10 Peter Lambert joins the starting rotation at Hartford this season after spending all of 2017 at Lancaster. The righty has a 3.99 ERA in 60 minor league starts, a WHIP of 1.25 and 265 strikeouts in 299 innings. Up the list he goes.

Others to watch, in order of our ranking:
11. Brian Mundell, a sweet-hitting 1B, returns to AA Hartford.
12. Forrest Wall, CF, will start this season back at High-A Lancaster.
13. Yency Almonte, RHP, left the mound with an injury after his opening-day appearance for Albuquerque. He’s on the 7-day DL.
14. Sam Howard, LHP, returns to Albuquerque. If there’s a need for a starter in Denver, he could see time with the Rockies this summer.
15. Ryan Castellani, RHP, returns to Hartford but will be in Albuquerque soon enough.
16. Dom Nunez, C, returns to Hartford.
17. Jordan Patterson, 1B, is back in Albuquerque.
18. Wes Rogers, LF, whom some think is the fastest man in the minor leagues, takes his base stealing talent to Hartford. He stole 70 at High A Lancaster in 2017.
19. Daniel Montano, RF, 18, remains in extended spring training. He should make his U.S. debut in Rookie ball this summer.
20. Chad Spanberger, 1B, was promoted to Asheville after hitting 19 homers with 51 RBI at Lancaster.
21. Sean Bouchard, 1B, also was promoted to Asheville after hitting 6 homers with 27 RBI and a .290 average/.390 OBP in 39 games at short-season Boise.
22. Ben Bowden, a second-round pick from Vanderbilt in 2016, was on the fast track to the Rockies’ bullpen when an injury put him on the shelf in spring 2017. He returns to Low-A Asheville in 2018.
23. Yonathan Daza, CF, jumps to Hartford after a .341 batting average with 31 stolen bases at High-A Lancaster in 2017.
24. Breiling Eusebio, LHP, moves to Asheville after he struck out 53 in 57 innings at two lower levels in 2017.
25. Bret Boswell, 2B, jumped from Short Season A Boise to Asheville after hitting 11 homers with 42 ribbies in 54 games in 2017. Others of note:

Outfielder Noel Cuevas, #27, returns to AAA.
Pitchers who could join the Rockies bullpen this season are Shane Broyles (#31), Jerry Vasto (#38), James Farris (#40) and Jairo Diaz (#43), all assigned to begin the year in Albuquerque, and Mitch Horacek (#37), assigned to Hartford.
Our #39 prospect Jesus Tinoco begins the season at Hartford. The Venezuelan had a good season at hitter-friendly Lancaster in the California League in 2017, where he was 11-4 with a 4.67 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 140 innings. The Rockies added him to their 40-man roster in December, meaning he’s on the fast track to Coors Field.
Young prospects 2B Shael Mendoza (#29) and OF Ramon Marcelino (#30) begin the year at Asheville. Pitcher Will Gaddis (#45) joins them there.
Outfielder Willie Abreu (#42) was assigned to Lancaster.
Pitcher Mike Nikorak, #28, a first-round draft pick out of high school in Stroudsburg, PA., in 2015, missed all of 2017 after Tommy John surgery and will miss most of this season. The right-hander is in extended spring training.

Colorado Rockies Minor League Affiliates:
Triple-A: Albuquerque (Pacific Coast League)
Double-A: Hartford (Eastern League)
High-A: Lancaster (California League)
Low-A: Asheville (South Atlantic League)
Short-season: Boise (Northwest League)
Rookie: Grand Junction (Pioneer League)

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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