Moving forward with the pre-season list reviews, here are the Colorado Rockies. Remember, this is the PRE-SEASON list. It is not a new list. These are pre-season grades and rankings.
1) Trevor Story, SS, Grade B+: Borderline A-:Very disappointing season, but there have been some sparks of life lately. Hitting .219/.290/.362 for High-A Modesto, 35 walks, 148 whiffs in 401 at-bats. That's terrible. But he 17-for-17 in steals, and his OPS has been gradually creeping upward after a dismal start; he's actually hit OK in June and July. Not a good year however you slice it and his stock is down, but not a lost cause yet. Just 20.
2) David Dahl, OF, Grade B+: Borderline A-. Limited to just 10 games at Low-A Asheville due to an April disciplinary issue and a severe hamstring tear in May. Hard to know what to think until he's back on the field.
3) Nolan Arenado, 3B; Grade B+: Good news! He's been excellent with the glove in the majors, ironic since that was the big question for him when he was drafted. Bad news! He's been weak with the bat, hitting .252/.291/.399 in the majors with 17 walks, 42 strikeouts in 326 at-bats. I think the hitting will improve in time and it is easier to let him play due to the defense. WAR 2.0 based almost entirely on glovework alone.
4) Kyle Parker, OF, Grade B: Hitting .277/.331/.489 with 20 homers, 29 walks, 70 strikeouts in 376 at-bats for Double-A Tulsa. Still looks like a steady power bat.
5) Edwar Cabrera, LHP, Grade B-: Injured all year, bad shoulder, hasn't pitched.
6) Eddie Butler, RHP, Grade B-: Excellent season between Low-A Asheville, High-A Modesto, and Double-A Tulsa, combined 1.98 ERA with 124/46 K/BB in 127 innings, 2.26 GO/AO. Stats are strong, scouting reports are strong, stock up.
7) Tyler Anderson, LHP, Grade B-: 57 innings between Modesto and short-season rehab for shoulder injury, 2.97 ERA with 52/16 K/BB combined. Has pitched well but we need to see how his arm holds up.
8) Corey Dickerson, OF, Grade B-: Hit .371/.414/.632 in 315 at-bats for Triple-A Colorado Springs, .296/.355/.426 in 54 major league at-bats. May not have the physical tools to make scouts drool, but his hitting skills are very real in my view. Baseball ability is not always the same thing as pure athleticism.
9) Tyler Matzek, LHP, Grade C+: 3.38 ERA for Tulsa, 83/65 K/BB in 117 innings, 108 hits. Continues to show plus stuff but very erratic command; he's not as lost as he was a couple of years ago, but he hasn't fully fixed his problems either.
10) Rafael Ortega, OF, Grade C+: Hit .223/.315/.297 in 158 at-bats for Tulsa but has been injured since the middle of June. It was a weak season before he went down.
11) Chad Bettis, RHP, Grade C+: Just made his major league debut. Before that, had a 3.71 ERA with a 68/13 K/BB in 63 innings for Tulsa, 60 hits, 1.50 GO/AO. Solid campaign, appears fully recovered from 2012 shoulder problems. Seems likely to get a full trial in 2014.
12) Tom Murphy, C, Grade C+: Hitting .288/.388/.590 for Asheville, with 19 homers, 37 walks, 87 strikeouts in 288 at-bats. I think the power is real, but will batting average hold up outside of friendly Asheville? Also needs more defensive polish.
13) Will Swanner, C, Grade C+: Hitting .234/.318/.404 with 10 homers, 33 walks, 108 strikeouts in 282 at-bats for Modesto. Defense won't be enough to get him a job unless he hits, and his contact issues are very apparent.
14) Ryan Wheeler, 3B-1B, Grade C+: Hitting .303/.350/.441 in Triple-A with 27/80 BB/K in 376 at-bats. Decent year but not a great one, seems like a role player to me.
15) Tim Wheeler, OF, Grade C+: Hitting .260/.326/.352 with three homers, 11 steals, 25 walks, 71 strikeouts in 281 at-bats in Triple-A. Power has vanished since reaching that level, stock down, now 25 years old.
16) Jayson Aquino, LHP, Grade C+: 3.57 ERA with 40/13 K/BB in 53 innings between four starts for Tri-City in Northwest League and five starts for Asheville. Interesting young lefty, just 20 years old, among the more promising young pitchers in the system.
17) Rob Scahill, RHP, Grade C+: 5.15 ERA with 37/10 K/BB in 37 innings in Triple-A, 4.26 ERA with 8/3 K/BB in 19 major league innings. Ground ball specialist looks like he can contribute in middle relief.
18) Joe Gardner, RHP, Grade C+: 4.97 ERA with 41/13 K/BB in 42 innings for Tulsa, 38 hits, 2.19 GO/AO. Another ground ball guy, has pitched better than ERA implies, could help in bullpen.
19) Danny Rosenbaum, LHP, Grade C+: Rule 5 pick returned to Washington Nationals. Has a 3.95 ERA with 78/51 K/BB in 125 innings for Triple-A Syracuse, 2.26 GO/AO. Could still become a fifth starter somewhere.
20) Wilfredo Rodriguez, C, Grade C+: Hitting .208/.301/.281 in 96 at-bats for Tri-City. Very good defensive catcher and will take a walk, just 19 years old, but offense is otherwise under-developed.
OTHER GRADE C+ PLAYERS: Cristhian Adames, SS; Rosell Herrera, INF; Seth Willoughby, RHP. These guys could easily slot in the 16-20 range but I wanted to highlight guys closer to the majors.
OTHERS: Charlie Culberson, 2B; Taylor Featherston, INF; Ryan Garvey, OF; Angel Lezama, RHP; Kent Matthes, OF; Sam Mende, INF; Scott Oberg, RHP; Jeff Popick, OF; Harold Riggins, 1B; Helmis Rodriguez, LHP; Antonio Senzatela, RHP; Peter Tago, RHP; Ryan Warner, RHP; Max White, OF; Danny Winkler, RHP; Julian Yan, OF.
The big league team is 10 games back and nine under .500. Among the rookies, Arenado has not hit as well as expected, but his glove has been quite strong, enough for him to hold the job long enough to give his bat a fair chance to come around. Corey Dickerson has hit well in limited action and I think that would stay true in a larger role.
Looking at Triple-A, Scahill, Ryan Wheeler and Charlie Culberson could plausibly contribute as role players next year. Non-rookie Drew Pomeranz lost his job due to command problems but he's a lefty and he's alive and doesn't turn 25 until after the season.
At Tulsa, Cristhian Adames has had a decent year at shortstop and could also be a future contributor. Parker and Bettis have both performed well and while they don't project as stars for me, they both have a chance to be regulars. I haven't made an sacrifices to Cthulhu lately so I don't know what will happen with Matzek.
Trevor Story is the youngest guy in the Modesto lineup. He's had a bad year, but as the equivalent of a college sophomore, there's still hope. Contact issues dog teammates Wil Swanner and Ryan Casteel, both power-hitting catchers. The key pitcher here is Danny Winkler, a bit old for the level at 23 but very successful (2.97 ERA, 152/37 K/BB) and just promoted to Double-A. Track him closely in August. He provides additional depth behind Eddie Butler.
Rosell Herrera has had an excellent season at Asheville and has enough youth and tools to interest scouts, but I'd like to see him at higher levels before buying in fully. Outfielder Francisco Sosa has also had a big year (.320, 15 homers, 28 steals), but is already 23 and has done most of his damage at home. Buyer beware. Herrera hits on the road too and is three years younger than Sosa.
The 2013 draft infuses a top-notch pitching prospect in Jonathan Gray and a solid high school hitter in Ryan McMahon.
There is some disappointment at the top and injury attrition and they could use more impact firepower. Overall, it strikes me as an average farm system.