Colorado Rockies Top 20 Prospects for 2011
All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too concerned about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get past the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize.
Feel free to critique the list, but use logic and reason rather than polemics to do to. The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2011 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders. Order early and order often!
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS:
Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Almost all Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don't intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don't make it at all.
A major point to remember is that grades for pitchers do NOT correspond directly to grades for hitters. Many Grade A pitching prospects fail to develop, often due to injuries. Some Grade C pitching prospects turn out much better than expected.
Also note that there is diversity within each category. I'm a tough grader; Grade C+ is actually good praise coming from me, and some C+ prospects turn out very well indeed.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment for my full opinion about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.
1) Nolan Arenado, 3B, Grade B+: I don't think he gets quite as much attention as he deserves. Doubles should translate into more homers.
2) Tyler Matzek, LHP, Grade B+: Almost went with a straight B due to command issues, but reports from instructional league are good and the ceiling remains excellent.
3) Chad Bettis, RHP, Grade B: Could be a B+ soon, has the stuff and approach to survive in Colorado.
4) Kyle Parker, OF, Grade B: Power and patience should play well, like Bettis he could get to B+ once we get some pro data.
5) Wilin Rosario, C, Grade B: This assumes that his knee is OK. Strong glove, tapped into his power this year.
6) Juan Nicasio, RHP, Grade B: Will his Cal League performance translate well into Double-A? I think so.
7) Peter Tago, RHP, Grade B: Want to see some pro data, but a very high ceiling.
8) Rex Brothers, LHP, Grade B: A super-LOOGY at worst, a great closer at best if his command sharpens up a bit.
9) Albert Campos, RHP, Grade B-: Want to see at higher levels, but could rank much higher next year.
10) Christian Friedrich, LHP, Grade B-: Borderline C+, I am very concerned that the elbow problem will recur, and reports I got from Texas League sources were very mixed.
11) Charlie Blackmon, OF, Grade C+: I like him a lot and expect he can be a good fourth outfielder with some chance to get beyond that.
12) Chris Nelson, 2B, Grade C+: Has always had the tools, health and inconsistency have held him back.
13) Sam Deduno, RHP, Grade C+: Old for a prospect at 27, but has excellent stuff. Can be a surprise if he throws enough strikes.
14) Casey Weathers, RHP, Grade C+: Overlooked due to Tommy John recovery, but like Deduno he's got great stuff and can succeed if the command comes around.
15) Tim Wheeler, OF, Grade C+: Doesn't look like he'll hit for average, but has other skills.
16) Jordan Pacheco, C, Grade C+: This guy just hits and hits, and his defense is getting better.
17) Rafael Ortega, OF, Grade C+: Great rookie ball numbers, let's see at higher levels.
18) Rob Scahill, RHP, Grade C+: Big-time sleeper, was great in the second half.
19) Eric Stavert, RHP, Grade C+: College pitcher with approach that can work in Colorado.
20) Josh Slaats, RHP, Grade C+: College pitcher with approach that can work in Colorado.
21) Cristhian Adames, SS, Grade C+: Excellent defense and might hit.
OTHERS OF NOTE: Bruce Billings, RHP; Edwar Cabrera, LHP; Jared Clark, 1B; Corey Dickerson (SLEEPER, might get a C+), OF; Parker Frazier, RHP; Hector Gomez, SS; Ethan Hollingsworth, RHP; Kent Matthes, OF; Dan Mayora, INF; Mike McKenry, C; Eliezer Mesa, OF; Wes Musick, LHP; Cory Riordan, RHP; Will Swanner, C.
I was totally unfair when I said this system looked thin. Although all of the top guys have at least one significant question about them (Arenado's defense, Matzek's walks, etc), there is a LOT of good stuff here, and the Grade B and B- guys are all capable of getting better grades once they answer a few more questions.
There seems to be a good balance between hitting and pitching, potential regulars and role players. Some of the Grade Cs are highly interesting as well, particularly Corey Dickerson. I know Swanner hit .303/.321/.632 in the Pioneer League, but I can't get behind the 0/33 BB/K ratio in 76 at-bats.