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Colorado Rockies Top 20 Prospects

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A Focused Jeff Francis

  1. Ian Stewart, 3B, A
  2. Jeff Francis, LHP, A
  3. Chris Nelson, SS, A-
  4. Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP, B
  5. Jeff Baker, 3B, B
  6. Ryan Shealy, 1B, B
  7. Seth Smith, OF, B
  8. Chris Narveson, LHP, B-
  9. Clint Barmes, SS, B-
  10. J.D. Closser, C, B- (should be in the book)
  11. Marcos Carvajal, RHP, B-
  12. Sam Deduno, RHP, B-
  13. Ryan Speier, RHP, B-
  14. Chris Iannetta, C, B-
  15. Juan Morillo, RHP, C+
  16. Brad Hawpe, OF, C+
  17. Garrett Atkins, 3B, C+ (grade change)
  18. Steven Register, RHP, C+
  19. Matt Merricks, LHP, C+
  20. Jim Miller, RHP, C+
This is an underrated farm system that deserves more attention. Stewart and Francis are among the very top prospects in the game, and 2004 first-round pick Chris Nelson is not far behind.

I see no weaknesses in Stewart. His defense proved better than advertised, and his bat was everything expected. Francis will be a leading ROY candidate, although the thin air is a handicap. Injury concerns keep Ubaldo Jimenez and Jeff Baker at Grade B rather than B+; both could be excellent if they can stay off the disabled list. Both from his numbers and watching him play, I'm convinced that Ryan Shealy can hit. But he doesn't run well enough to play any position except first base, and he's blocked there.

Then you have a large mass of Grade B-/C+ type prospects. The exact position on the list depends on what you want to emphasize, and really isn't particularly that important. The pitcher with the highest ceiling is Juan Morillo, owner of a 96-100 MPH fastball, but dogged by control problems. Sidearming closer Ryan Speier has better stuff than most guys with his style of delivery, and at the least he should be an effective set-up man.

For some strange reason, I didn't put catching prospect J.D. Closser in the book this year. He is another B- type guy, projecting as a useful contributing player but (probably) not a huge impact star-type. I will be sending out full reports on Closser and some other guys who should have made the book to my newsletter subscribers this week.

Garrett Atkins I rated as a Grade C in the book, but that was too low and he should be a C+ or B-. His bat is very impressive, and the thin air will help him. But his defense at third base has not improved; indeed, it has deteriorated to some extent, and I think he would be better off at first. But again, he is blocked there.

Interesting Grade C guys who could move up include lefties Aaron Marsden and Justin Hampson, third baseman Matt Macri, second baseman Jayson Nix, and outfielder Jeff Salazar.

So, what we have here is a farm system with three potential stars at the top, and a lot of depth in players who, at the least, should be useful.