Colorado Rockies 2019 Top 50 Prospects




Tyler Nevin - Photo credit Gail Verderico @1baseballchick

Colorado Rockies Top 50 Prospects for 2019

The Colorado Rockies’ minor league system is one of the best in the game, with a handful of top prospects, a legion of potential regulars in the major leagues, a deep pool of bullpen arms and possible major-league utility players and, finally, a dollop of intriguing teenaged talent that could some day rise to the very top.

The system has recently produced one of the best young starting rotations in the game, including Kyle Freeland and Jon Gray, exceptional talents like shortstop Trevor Story and outfielder David Dahl and still developing young players such as outfielder Raimel Tapia. The book is still out on recent graduates of the system infielder Ryan McMahon (#2 in January 2018), catcher Tom Murphy (#9 last January) and outfielder Noel Cuevas (#27), all of whom have lost rookie eligibility.

Ryan McMahon bats during Spring Training in March 2018 at Salt River Fields in Arizona. (Photo by Michael Parnell)

The Rockies have shed prospects in trades such as Forrest Wall (#12 in January 2018) and Chad Spanberger (#20), both traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Seunghwan Oh in mid-season 2018, and catcher Chris Rabago (#41), now with the Kansas City Royals. Jordan Patterson (#17) was dropped from the 40-man roster in November and claimed by the Cincinnati Reds.

Some are no longer in the Top 50 because their star has waned after wanting performances in Denver. That includes left-handed pitcher Sam Howard (#14 last January), who lost his 40-man spot after a dreadful season at AAA Albuquerque and Denver and is back with the Rockies after no one claimed him; Mike Tauchman (#26 a year ago), a 28-year-old who starred in the Pacific Coast League but sputtered in the bigs and is beginning to look like a Four-A player; Dom Nunez (#16), a defense-first catcher who doesn’t hit enough to merit consideration as a big-league starter; and pitcher Harrison Musgrave (#46), whose 44.2 innings with the Rockies in 2018 were relatively uninspiring.

Others are gone, such as pitcher Will Gaddis, #45 a year ago, off after two unsatisfactory seasons, though you will find him on other prospectors’ lists. As you may relievers DJ Johnson and Matt Pierpont, who excelled at Albuquerque and AA Hartford respectively but don’t merit a listing here.

That’s the fun of the prospect game, debating who should be on such a list and who should be off, and where they should rank. Some of these names might find their way back on in a midseason update or this time next year, who knows? What follows is one man’s opinion. The numbers in parentheses are the midseason 2018 ranking from last summer. You’ll note the biggest risers were hitters Tyler Nevin, Casey Golden and Vince Fernandez, all of whom played in 2018 at High-A Lancaster in a hitters’ park and a hitters’ league. Roberto Ramos, who split his time between Lancaster and Hartford, dropped from 17 to 27. Let’s see how they do moving forward.

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 A: Boise (Northwest League)
Rookie: Grand Junction (Pioneer League)


Prospects1500 Tiers:
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


Tier 1:
1. Brendan Rodgers, 2B/SS (Midseason rank #1)
Age: 22 (DOB: August 9, 1996)
Highest 2018 level: AAA
Rodgers is the consensus top prospect for the Rockies and still one of the best prospects in the minor leagues. But the Rockies are reportedly looking for a veteran second baseman, which means Rodgers may spend all summer at AAA Albuquerque. He had 17 homers, 62 RBI, 12 stolen bases and a slash line of .272/.337/.485 in 95 games in 2018 at AA Hartford. He was promoted to Albuquerque on July 29 but hit no homers and batted only .232 in 19 games before being sidelined by a hamstring injury.

Brendan Rodgers signs autographs before a Spring Training game in Peoria, Ariz., in March 2018. (Photo by Michael Parnell)

 

Tier 2:
2. Garrett Hampson, 2B/SS (2)
Age: 24 (DOB: Oct. 10, 1994)
Highest 2018 level: MLB
Speedster Hampson shot up the Rockies’ system in 2018, from AA Hartford to AAA Albuquerque to the big-league club. Drafted in the third round in 2016 from Long Beach State, Hampson stole 51 bases at High A Lancaster in 2017. He stole 19 in 38 games at Hartford in 2018, with a .391 on-base percentage, then stole 17 in 72 games at Albuquerque with a .377 OBP. In 24 games with the Rockies he got on base at a .396 clip and stole two. Will he get a chance to start in Denver, or is he just a utility infielder for the Rockies? Or is he trade bait and does his future lie elsewhere?

3. Tyler Nevin, 3B (9)
Age: 21 (DOB: May 29, 1997)
Highest 2018 level: High-A
Nevin had 13 homers, 62 runs batted in and a .328 average at High-A Lancaster in 2018, then captured national attention with an outstanding performance in the Arizona Fall League. Nevin can hit, and as a result has become one of the best prospects in the Rockies’ system.

Nevin led the AFL in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. He played 17 games in the AFL and finished with 20 RBI, a .426 batting average, .535 OBP and .593 slugging percentage. 

The son of former player and current New York Yankees third-base coach Phil Nevin, Tyler can play first or third base. He is expected to begin 2019 with the AA Yard Goats.

Tyler Nevin – photo credit Gail Verderico @1baseballchick

4. Colton Welker, 3B (3)
Age: 21 (DOB: October 9, 1997)
Highest 2018 level: High-A
Welker had 13 HR, 82 RBI and a .333 batting average at hitter-friendly High-A Lancaster in 2018. He has the hit tool but his defense is a bit suspect. 

Welker slashed .329/.366/.490 in Rookie ball and turned heads in 67 games at Low-A Asheville in 2017 with a slash line of .350/.401/.500. 

Welker was named the California League’s top third baseman in 2018 and will arrive in AA Hartford this year at just 21 years old. Depending on whether star third baseman Nolan Arenado re-signs with the Rockies, Welker could be on the major-league roster in 2020.

5. Ryan Vilade, SS (4)
Age: 19 (DOB: February 18, 1999)
Highest 2018 level: High-A
Drafted in the second round in 2017 out of high school in Stillwater, OK, the tools Vilade had a .353 OBP and 17 steals at Low-A Asheville in 2018. The power will come as the 19-year-old matures. He should thrive in 2019 at High-A Lancaster and may ultimately be the top player on this list. 

6. Peter Lambert, RHP (5)
Age: 21 (DOB: April 18, 1997)
Highest 2018 level: AAA
Lambert was 8-2 with a 2.23 ERA at AA Hartford in 2018, earning a promotion to Albuquerque where he found the going tougher. He will return to AAA this summer and try to improve on a 2-5 record, 5.04 earned run average and 1.57 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched). Lambert is not a big strikeout pitcher (106 in 148 innings) but he has four solid pitches and figures to be a mid-rotation starter in the majors.

7. Ryan Rolison, LHP (6)
Age: 21 (DOB: July 11, 1997)
Highest 2018 level: Rookie
Rolison was drafted by the Rockies in the first round (22nd overall) last spring out of the University of Mississippi, where he showed a power fastball and excellent curve. Assigned to Grand Junction, he had 34 strikeouts in 29 innings with an ERA of 1.86 and WHIP of 0.79.

He’ll get a chance to show what he can do in full-season ball in 2019, and could be a fast riser. He has the makings of a big-league mid-rotation starter.

8. Grant Lavigne, 1B (12)
Age: 19 (DOB: August 27, 1999)
Highest 2018 level: Rookie
The 6-4, 220-pound lefty hitting first baseman was drafted out of high school in New Hampshire in 2018 (42nd pick overall) and tore up Rookie-level Grand Junction with a .350/.477/.519 slash line. He even stole 12 bases.

Lavigne has the look of a classic power-hitting first basemen and the Rockies plan to keep him there but he may have positional flexibility, having played left field and third base on his high school team.

He brings his big bat to Low-A Asheville this summer.


Tier 3:
9. Sam Hilliard, RF (7)
Age: 24 (DOB: February 21, 1994)
Highest 2018 level: AA
Notwithstanding an up and down year in 2018, Hilliard retains his spot in the Rockies’ top 10 for another year. 

Hilliard had 9 HR, 40 RBI, 23 stolen bases and a .262 batting average at AA Hartford last summer, all a decline from his performance in Rookie ball in 2015 and A ball in 2016 and 2017. In fact, the decline came in the second half of 2018.

He was an Eastern League all-star after a good first half at Hartford, only to strike out 35 percent of the time in a dismal second-half turn. That prompted the Rockies to send Hilliard to the Arizona Fall League for another look before deciding whether to add him to the 40-man roster or expose him to the Rule 5 draft.

He hit .328 in the AFL with 2 homers, 14 RBI, two stolen bases and a .389 OBP, prompting the club to add him to the 40-man roster. Was that good enough to earn a promotion to AAA Albuquerque, or will he start the season again in Hartford?

10. Riley Pint, RHP (8)
Age: 21 (DOB: November 6, 1997)
Highest 2018 level: Low-A
This may be Pint’s last appearance in this Top 10 unless his performance improves. A first-round draft pick in 2016 out of high school in Overland Park, KS, Pint has underperformed in three minor-league seasons.

Worse, he was injured in his first start at Low-A Asheville in 2018 with forearm stiffness then sidelined with an oblique strain. The Rockies still believe, but his slide down this list may be picking up speed.

Pint has appeared in 37 games as a pro, with a 3-19 won-loss record, 5.33 ERA and 1.72 WHIP. Still, he has the premium stuff as 123 strikeouts in 138.1 innings shows.

If Pint, 21, ever gains command and control, he could deliver on what the Rockies expected when they chose him fourth overall in the draft. This season will go a long way to determining that.

11. Terrin Vavra, SS (15)
Age: 21 (DOB: May 12, 1997)
Highest 2018 level: Short-Season A
Drafted in the third round (96th overall) out of the University of Minnesota in 2018, Vavra hit .302 with a .396 on-base percentage and nine steals in 44 games at short-season Boise. 

Vavra is the son of Joe Vavra, quality control coach for the Detroit Tigers and former bench coach of the Minnesota Twins, and has two older brothers, Tanner and Trey, who played in the Twins minor league system. Exposure to pro baseball at a young age may give him confidence and maturity that could exceed his skills. He was a mid-season all-star at Boise.

There are questions about whether Vavra has the arm and range to stick at shortstop, but the Rockies are leaving him there for now. His baseball acumen has him high on this list.

12. Robert Tyler, RHP (16)
Age: 23 (DOB: June 18, 1995)
Highest 2018 level: Low-A
We begin closers’ row, with any of these next three spots interchangeable since they are all prospective closers in the bigs.

Tyler, a supplemental first-round pick (38th overall) out of the University of Georgia in 2016, made only five starts in his first two years in the system. In 2018, though, he had 57 strikeouts in 47.2 innings and eight saves in A ball after being converted to a closer.

He appeared in 46 games in relief at Low-A Asheville and High-A Lancaster, which makes it likely he will spend most of this season with the AA Hartford Yard Goats. But he could move up faster if he continues to have success at the back end of the bullpen.

His plus-plus fastball is his ticket to the majors. If he can develop an average secondary pitch, Tyler could find himself in the Rockies’ bullpen sooner than later.

13. Justin Lawrence, RHP (29)
Age: 24 (DOB: November 25, 1994)
Highest 2018 level: High-A
Lawrence struck out 62 in 54.1 innings out of the bullpen at High-A Lancaster in 2018 and performed well in the Arizona Fall League.

He blew saves in both the Arizona Fall League all-stars game and the championship match, but his high-velocity sinking fastball 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 Lancaster last summer he  walked 27 on top of 36 hits. But he earned 11 saves and pitched to a 2.65 ERA at hitter-friendly Lancaster.

Lawrence likely will start the season with the AA Yard Goats but could move up quickly and even land in the big leagues this summer if he gains control to go with his great stuff. A 100 mph fastball will do that for a fellow.

14. Reid Humphreys, RHP (30)
Age: 24 (DOB: November 21, 1994)
Highest 2018 level: AA
Humphreys, a seventh-round draft pick from Mississippi State in 2016, might be the best of the closer lot. He had 58 strikeouts in 40 innings in relief at High-A Lancaster and AA Hartford in 2018.

He was selected to the postseason all-star roster in the California League for his 22 saves there, notching 26 overall in 2018. 

He may start the year in Hartford or may head to AAA Albuquerque given that Tyler and Lawrence are moving up the ranks behind him.

15. Casey Golden, LF (43)
Age: 24 (DOB: September 1, 1994)
Highest 2018 level: Low-A
Big bat with 34 homers, 95 runs batted in at Low-A Asheville in 2018. This followed 20 homers and 59 RBI in 54 games in Rookie ball in 2017.

The masher may hit 54 homers this year if he spends the season at High-A Lancaster, a hitter-friendly league. But there’s a good chance Golden may join AA Hartford before season’s end. His ability to hit, and hit with power, means his rise up the minor leagues might gain speed this season.

Golden earned his stripes as a slugger with UNC-Wilmington and was the 20th pick in the 2017 draft by the Rockies. He had a .288 batting average and sizzling 1.026 on-base plus slugging percentage at Grand Junction followed by a .278 batting average and .921 OPS at Asheville. That earned him the South Atlantic League’s Most Valuable Player award.

Golden came in as a first baseman but the Rockies moved him to the outfield, where he can play either corner and even has the speed for center field.

16. Vince Fernandez, LF (44)
Age: 23 (DOB: July 25, 1995)
Highest 2018 level: High A
Fernandez was at the top of the leader boards in the California League in 2018, named one of the three outfielders on the postseason all-star team and earning a ticket to AA Hartford this summer.

Fernandez was drafted in 2016 out of the University of California Riverside. The leftfielder hit .310 in Rookie ball and, while his batting average has declined, his power has increased since.

Fernandez hit 16 homers at Low-A Asheville in 2017, earning South Atlantic League all-star plaudits, and 24 at High-A Lancaster in 2018. His batting average fell into the .260s but his on-base percentage was a solid .352 in ’17 and .370 in ’18. He had double-digit steals both seasons.

His defense is solid for a corner outfielder. His main goal now should be to reduce his strikeout totals.

17. Daniel Montano, RF (24)
Age 19 (DOB: March 31, 1999)
Highest 2018 level: Rookie
The young Venezuelan cut down on strikeouts and increased stolen bases in Rookie ball at Grand Junction in 2018. He had a .338 OBP with 11 steals in 73 games.

The raw skills are there but another season at a higher level will help inform whether this ranking is too high.

18. Brian Mundell, 1B (10)
Age: 24 (DOB: February 28, 1994)
Highest 2018 level: AA
Mundell earned an invite to Spring Training with the Rockies in 2018, but his summer performance at AA Hartford was not as good as in previous years.

He hit .263 at Hartford in 2018, compared to .302 at Hartford the year before, and his on-base percentage dropped 40 points as well. His power numbers were cut in half, from 15 to 7, and so were his runs batted in.

All in all, a disappointing season for Mundell, who needs a good 2019 to keep his prospect status.

19. Ryan Castellani, RHP (14)
Age: 22 (DOB: April 1, 1996)
Highest 2018 level: AA
Castellani also had a disappointing 2018 at Hartford, but the Rockies still see him as a potential major-league starter.

The team sent him to the Arizona Fall League where he started 7 games, pitched 26.1 innings and had a 5.13 ERA. He had a couple of outstanding outings mixed in with the others.

Inconsistency has been his hallmark at Hartford the past two seasons. In 2018 he started 26 games, pitched 134.1 innings with 91 strikeouts and a 5.49 ERA in the Rockies’ best minor league park and league for pitchers.

Castellani showed he still has work to do. He allows too many baserunners and doesn’t appear ready for hitter-friendly AAA Albuquerque but that’s where he may be this summer.

20. Yency Almonte, RHP (12)
Age: 24 (DOB: June 4, 1994)
Highest 2018 level: MLB
Almonte did not pitch well as a starter at AAA Albuquerque in 2018, but he did pitch well in the bullpen once promoted to the Rockies.

A 5.56 ERA at hitter-friendly Albuquerque and only 34 strikeouts in 43.2 innings made Almonte look less like a prospective starter. But in 14 games in the Rockies’ bullpen he pitched to a 1.84 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 14 innings. Most of those appearances, though, were in low-leverage situations.

Presumably he will be given a chance in spring to earn a starter’s role or be back in the Rockies’ pen this summer and perhaps earn his way off this list by 2020.

21. Yonathan Daza, CF (20)
Age: 24 (DOB: February 28, 1994)
Highest 2018 level: AA
The Venezuelan hit .306 at AA Hartford with four stolen bases during an injury-plagued 2018 campaign (left shoulder strain) but he played better in the Venezuelan league this winter. He will return to Hartford or perhaps be sent back down to High-A Lancaster to get his hitting stroke back.

He needs to perform better this year or other outfielders will displace him on the Rockies’ depth chart.

22. Willie Abreu, OF (39)
Age: 23 (DOB: March 21, 1995)
Highest 2018 level: High-A
A sixth-round pick out of the University of Miami in 2016, Abreu’s performance in 2018 showed he possibly could be a major league regular.

Despite an injury-riddled performance at short-season Boise to start the year, Abreu hit well at High-A Lancaster when he got there. He had 7 home runs, 27 RBI, 19 stolen bases and a .266 batting average in 65 games at Lancaster.

If he can sustain that at AA Hartford, Abreu could make a case for a callup to the majors in 2020.

23. Rico Garcia, RHP (37)
Age: 25 (DOB: January 10, 1994)
Highest 2018 level: AA
Garcia was drafted in the 30th round in 2016 from Hawaii Pacific but his promise was obscured as he pitched in hitter-friendly leagues in A-ball Boise, Asheville and Lancaster. Last year, though, he blossomed at AA Hartford, where he had 61 strikeouts in 67 innings with a 2.28 ERA and 1.10 WHIP.

In three minor league seasons he has 262 strikeouts in 271.1 innings, most of those as a starter. Garcia is now on the map.

The jury is still out as to whether he can be a major-league starter or back-end bullpen guy. He will possibly start this season at Hartford before moving up to AAA Albuquerque.

24. Ben Bowden, LHP (19)
Age: 24 (DOB: October 21, 1994)
Highest 2018 level: High-A
A second-round pick from Vanderbilt in 2016, Bowden was on the fast track to the Rockies’ bullpen when an injury put him on the shelf in spring 2017. In 2018 he had 78 strikeouts in 52 innings coming out of the bullpens in A-ball Asheville and Lancaster.

He allows too many baserunners but his stuff could make the trio of prospective closers cited earlier into a quartet if he continues to improve. A stint at AA Hartford could propel him back up the ranks.

25. Ryan Feltner, RHP (Unranked)
Age: 22 (DOB: September 2, 1996)
Highest 2018 level: Rookie
The 126th pick overall in the 2018 draft out of Ohio State University, Feltner spent the summer with Rookie-level Grand Junction.

He has a fastball that reaches 98 mph but lacks a quality secondary pitch. He had a middling career at Ohio State, with a 4.88 ERA in 54 games, but he did strike out 204 in 221 innings. Used primarily as a reliever during two summers in the Cape Cod League, he showed potential.

The Rockies used him as a starter exclusively at Grand Junction in 2018, where he struck out 39 in 30.2 innings over 9 games. He allowed a .157 batting average and posted a WHIP of 0.65, so expect him to remain a starter for now. But that dominance ultimately may play in the bullpen.


Tier 4:
26. Josh Fuentes, 3B (31)
Age: 25 (DOB; February 19, 1993)
Highest 2018 level: AAA
Fuentes had a solid Arizona Fall League stint following a breakout 2018 season at AAA Albuquerque.

He hit 3 homers with 10 RBI and a .301 average in Arizona. He had 14 HR, 95 RBI and a .327/.354/.517 slash line in AAA last summer. That earned him the Pacific Coast League MVP award 

He is blocked at the major-league level by his cousin, Nolan Arenado, who could leave in free agency or be traded. Fuentes played first and second base in the AFL in an effort to become more versatile.

His ceiling probably is as a utility infielder, not as a regular on a first-division club.

27. Roberto Ramos, 1B (17)
Age: 24 (DOB: December 28, 1994)
Highest 2018 level: AA
He exploded in 60 games at High A Lancaster in 2018 but slowed down a bit at AA Hartford. Still, combined stats of 32 homers, 77 RBI and a .269/.368/.547 slash line will get your attention.

If he can replicate that kind of production this summer he would become a legitimate candidate for a regular major-league role.

The questions about Ramos center on his ability to hit, defense and high strikeout rate. Ramos looks like a power hitter, at 6-feet-5 and 220 pounds. The native of Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, drafted by the Rockies in the 16th round of the 2014 MLB draft out of College of the Canyons Junior College in California, first showed his enormous power in Rookie league and A ball in 2015, hitting 13 homers in 202 at-bats.

But injuries in 2015 and 2016 meant it took two and a half more seasons before he made it to Hartford. He likely will return there to begin 2019.

28. Bret Boswell, 2B (21)
Age: 24 (DOB; October 4, 1994)
Highest 2018 level: High-A
An eighth-round draft pick out of the University of Texas in 2017, Boswell played well enough in 2018, moving from Low-A Asheville to High-A Lancaster. 

He hit .296 overall, with 27 homers, 78 runs batted in and nine stolen bases.

Boswell probably returns to Lancaster to start the year but may move up to AA Hartford soon enough. He’s on track for at least a utility role in the big leagues.

29. Jesus Tinoco, RHP (25)
Age: 23 (DOB; April 30, 1995)
Highest 2018 level: AA
The Venezuelan showed well in the Arizona Fall League but he still needs to lower an ERA approaching 5.

Tinoco pitched 15.2 innings with 14 strikeouts and a 1.72 ERA in relief in Arizona last 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. 

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 and whether he will perform well enough in either role to merit consideration in Denver.

30. Niko Decolati, OF (UR)
Age: 21 (DOB: August 12, 1997)
Highest 2018 level: Rookie
The 186th pick overall in the 2018 draft, Decolati had an eye-catching first summer.

After a solid college career at Loyola Marymount, Decolati was a mid-season all-star at Rookie-level Grand Junction, where he hit 11 homers with 56 RBI and stole 17 bases with a .327 batting average and .414 on-base percentage.

The Boulder, Colo., native went to his first Rockies game as a preschooler, so he was thrilled to be drafted by Colorado. He projects as a fourth outfielder but if he keeps hitting like this, that will change.

31. Brian Serven, C (UR)
Age: 23 (DOB: May 5, 1995)
Highest 2018 level: High-A
Serven has moved steadily up the ranks since he was drafted in the fifth round of the 2016 MLB draft out of Arizona State University. He now is the best catching prospect in the Rockies’ system.

Serven has seen improvement in his power numbers as he moved from Rookie-level Grand Junction to Low-A Asheville and then High-A Lancaster, where he hit 12 homers with 46 RBI and a .268 batting average with an .814 on-base plus slugging percentage in 2018.

He is a solid defensive catcher who, if he can continue to improve at the plate, could be a backup in the majors. His rise to the top should continue this season at AA Hartford.

32. Max George, 2B (UR)
Age: 22 (DOB: April 7, 1996)
Highest 2018 level: High-A
George gets on base, has more power than you think and is a steady riser in the Rockies’ minor league system. This summer that rise will bring him to the AA Hartford Yard Goats.

George is a Colorado native, drafted by the Rockies in the sixth round of the 2014 MLB draft out of Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colo.

He took a fast track, arriving at High-A Asheville in 2015. He played in Asheville in both 2016 and 2017, breaking out with 13 home runs and 47 runs  batted in during 2017.

High-A Lancaster is a hitters’ league, and George continued to show his power there with 14 HR and 42 RBI in 2018. In fact, his on-base percentage is an identical .344 the last two seasons following a .372 OBP in 2016.

He steals bases too, with 30 in 2017 and 27 in 2018.

The question is, can he hit enough to become a major-league regular or even utility infielder. A .209 batting average in 2018 is cause for concern.

33. Eddy Diaz, SS (UR)
Age: 18 (DOB: February 14, 2000)
Highest 2018 level: DSL
This guy can and will be a lot higher on this list if he lives up to his promise when he arrives in the United States.

Diaz, a native of Cuba, has showed blazing speed in 87 games over two seasons in the Dominican Summer League. He has 84 stolen bases and a .310 batting average and .411 on-base percentage.

He is expected to play short-season ball in Boise this summer and his stock surely will rise if he performs well there.

34. Tommy Doyle, RHP (40)
Age: 22 (DOB: May 1, 1996)
Highest 2018 level: Low-A
A 2017 draft pick from the University of Virginia, Doyle displays good stuff and, at 6-6, 235 pounds, he looks like a power pitcher.

He struck out 66 batters in 58.1 innings, garnering 18 saves at Low-A Asheville in 2018. He has a fastball that can get up to 98 mph and a better than average slider. He has a chance to join the top group of relievers on this list vying for future back-end bullpen roles in Denver.

35. Mike Nikorak, RHP (27)
Age: 22 (DOB: September 16, 1996)
Highest 2018 level: Short Season A
Nikorak is a first-round draft pick out of high school in Stroudsburg, PA in 2015. He pitched 15 games in Rookie ball over his first two years with poor results., then missed all of 2017 and most of 2018 after Tommy John surgery.

He returned in August, pitching 8.1 innings at short-season Boise.  Now that he’s back on the mound, he has a chance to move back into the ranks of top prospects.

36. Manuel Melendez, CF (UR)
Age: 22 (DOB: January 10, 1997)
Highest 2018 level: High-A
The Venezuelan centerfielder improved his batting average and on-base percentage at High A Lancaster in 2018, though his steals fell off from 32 to 17 compared to the year before. Still, he’s making progress and will have an opportunity to make more this year at AA Hartford.

37. Coco Montes, 2B (UR)
Age: 22 (DOB: October 7, 1996)
Highest 2018 level: Rookie
A 15th-round draft pick out of the University of South Florida in 2018, Montes had a .413 OBP and seven steals with eight homers and 42 RBI in 69 games at Grand Junction. A good first impression.

38. Mitch Horacek, LHP (36)
Age: 27 (DOB: December 3, 1991)
Highest 2018 level: AA
Reliever had 75 strikeouts in 61.1 innings at AA Hartford in 2018 but struggled in the Arizona Fall League, where he struck out 12 in 11.1 innings but gave up 17 hits, six walks and earned an ERA of 8.74 . Still has a chance to play a meaningful role in the Rockies’ bullpen.

39. Juan Guerrero, SS (UR)
Age: 16
Highest 2018 level: DSL
Guerrero, a Dominican Republic youngster, was signed by the Rockies in July to an international bonus of $650,000. Good hands, athletic, but what attracts is his hit tool. It’s hard to judge teenage prospects but he has a chance to be near the top of this list someday.


Tier 5:
40. Javier Guevara, C (38)
Age: 21 (DOB: September 25, 1997)
Highest 2018 level: Rookie
The Venezuelan improved his batting average, on-base percentage and home run power in his second season at Rookie-level Grand Junction. Developing.

41. Steven Linkous, OF (41)
Age: 24 (DOB: September 28, 1994)
Highest 2018 level: High-A
Linkous had 22 stolen bases and a .351 OBP in 68 games in A ball in 2018.

42. Daniel Jipping, LF (46)
Age: 22 (DOB: April 10, 1996)
Highest 2018 level: Short Season A
A second season at short-season Boise with an improved batting average, OBP and still big power.

43. Wes Rogers, LF (47)
Age: 24 (DOB: March 7, 1994)
Highest 2018 level: AA
Lightning speed but not moving up, Rogers had 24 stolen bases in 106 games in 2018 but his poor OBP saw him demoted from AA Hartford to High-A Lancaster. 

44. Ramon Marcelino, RF (50)
Age: 22 (DOB: December 23, 1996)
Highest 2018 level: Low-A
He had 22 homers and 68 runs batted in at Low-A Asheville in 2018 but the hit tool has yet to show up.

45. Shael Mendoza, 2B (28)
Age: 22 (DOB: October 15, 1996)
Highest 2018 level: Low-A
The Dominican Republic native is a speedster but he had an injury-plagued summer at Asheville in 2018. Needs to get back on track.

46. Sean Bouchard, 1B (33)
Age: 22 (DOB: May 16, 1996)
Highest 2018 level: Low-A
Had a solid season at Low-A Asheville in 2018, with 14 homers, 75 runs batted in and a .324 on-base percentage. Must show more power to get to the big leagues.

47.  Breiling Eusebio, LHP (51)
Age: 22 (DOB: October 21, 1996)
Highest 2018 level: Low-A
A notable prospect who missed most of 2018 with Tommy John surgery but said to be recovering well. He will return sometime this summer.

48. Mitchell Kilkenny, RHP (UR)
Age: 21 (DOB: March 24, 1997)
Highest 2018 level: Did not play
The 76th pick in the 2018 MLB draft had a big year and helped Texas A&M to the College World Series. But he underwent Tommy John surgery and saw no minor-league action. A big-arm prospect if he recovers well.

50. Warming Bernabel, SS (UR)
Age: 16 (DOB: June 6, 2002)
Highest 2018 level: DSL
Bernabel, a Dominican Republic teenager, was signed by the Rockies in July to an international bonus of $900,000. He has good speed, shows better offensive than defensive skills at the moment and is very raw. Worth keeping an eye on.

Area 51. PJ Poulin,  LHP (UR)
Age: 22 (DOB: July 25, 1996)
Highest 2018 level: Short Season A
The 336th pick overall in the 2018 draft out of the University of Connecticut, Poulin spent the summer with short-season Boise in the Rockies’ system. 

Poulin set the UConn single-season saves record with 16 saves in 2018 and continued his success as a closer at Boise in 2018. He garnered 7 saves, striking out 33 in 23 innings with a 1.96 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. His fastball continues to gain velocity, now over 90 mph, and he has a chance to be a situational lefty in a major-league bullpen.

Need to see more from:

P Jacob Bird, 22, the 156th pick overall in the 2018 draft out of UCLA who spent the summer with Rookie-level Grand Junction. Bird was an all-PAC 12 pitcher his senior year at UCLA, with a 7-4 record and league-leading 2.18 ERA. He pitched 17 games at Grand Junction in 2018, all in relief, and struck out 30 in 26.2 innings with a 1.20 WHIP. With a fastball that tops out at 92 and a decent changeup, Bird needs to develop another secondary pitch to remain a starter.

OF Luke Morgan, 22, the 606th pick overall in the 2018 draft out of the College of Charleston (S.C.), did well last summer with short-season Boise.

C Willie MacIver, 22, ninth-round 2018 draft pick out of the University of Washington, looked solid at Boise in 2018.

IF/OF Cade Harris, 21, 10th-round pick out of Oklahoma, also had a good start at Boise.


About Michael Parnell 24 Articles
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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