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Colorado Rockies Top 20 2014 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

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Tyler Matzek
Tyler Matzek
Justin K. Aller

More prospect review work today, with the Colorado Rockies organization. Remember, this is the PRE-SEASON list. This is not a new list. These are pre-season rankings and grades. This is a review of 2014, not a preview for 2015.

This list was originally published April 13, 2014

1) Jon Gray, RHP, Grade A: Borderline A-. Solid year in Double-A, 3.91 ERA with 113/41 K/BB in 124 innings for Tulsa, 107 hits. Not as dominant as expected however, and some concerns about his health late in the year.

2) Eddie Butler,RHP, Grade A-: 3.58 ERA in 108 innings for Tulsa, 63/32 K/BB, 104 hits. Got hammered in one major league start. Like Gray, it was a decent year overall but it was not up to Butler’s past standards and there were health issues.

3) David Dahl, OF, Grade B+: Borderline B. Hit .309/.347/.500 with 10 homers in 392 at-bats for Low-A Asheville, then .267/.296/.467 with four homers in 120 at-bats for High-A Modesto. Helps maintain his stock after lost 2013 season.

4) Ryan McMahon, 3B, Grade B+: Borderline B. Hit .282/.358/.502 with 18 homers, 46 doubles, 54 walks, 143 strikeouts in 482 at-bats for Asheville. Asheville is a great place to hit, splits were .308/.368/.508 at home, .256/.349/.496 on the road. He should do well in the Cal League next year.

5) Tom Murphy, C, Grade B: Borderline B+. Limited to 27 games for Tulsa by shoulder problems. Hit .213/.321/.415 with five homers in 94 at-bats. Power and walks still here, sample too small to mean much otherwise given health questions.

6) Kyle Parker, OF-1B, Grade B: Hit .289/.336/.450 with 15 homers, 33 walks, 102 strikeouts in 502 at-bats for Triple-A Colorado Springs. I thought he was capable of better given the league/park context. At age 24 he needs momentum for ’15.

7) Rosell Herrera, SS-3B, Grade B: Borderline B-. Hit .244/.302/.335 with 24 walks, 52 strikeouts in 275 at-bats for Modesto, spent much of the year on DL with undisclosed injury. I don’t know what to think at this point, need more info on the injury.

8) Raimel Tapia, OF, Grade B: Borderline B-: Hit .326/.382/.453 with 32 doubles, nine homers, 35 walks, 90 strikeouts, 33 steals in 481 at-bats for Asheville. Scouting reports are good and he’s just 20, but note the home/road splits: .350/.391/.534 at home, .304/.374/.377 with zero homers on the road.

9) Trevor Story, SS, Grade B-:
Borderline C+: Rebounded following poor ’13 in the Cal League at .332/.436/.582 with 20 steals in 184 at-bats. Less effective after moving up to Tulsa, .200/.302/.380 with nine homers but 82 strikeouts in 205 at-bats. I like the speed and the pop but really have to wonder about batting average/OBP.

10) Chad Bettis, RHP, Grade C+: Very good in Triple-A, 3.09 ERA with 55/21 K/BB in 55 innings, 2.26 GO/AO. Very bad in the majors, 9.12 ERA with 13/10 K/BB in 25 innings, 42 hits. Will get more chances, still projects as useful bullpen arm.

11) Tyler Matzek, LHP, Grade C+: Last year a scout told me that Matzek’s stuff was every bit as good as Gray’s and Butler’s and, in a way, more special because it comes from the left side. The difference-maker of course is command consistency, which they have and Matzek does not. Results: 4.23 ERA in 106 big league innings, with 77/40 K/BB and 105 hits allowed. That is very credible given the context. His command is still wobbly but it is much improved compared to two year ago and at times he’s been flat-out brilliant.

12) Christhian Adames, INF, Grade C+: Slick glove, hit .288/.345/.368 with 42 walks, 12 steals in 475 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A. Age 23, think he can be a good utility man.

13) Tyler Anderson, LHP, Grade C+: Fine season for Tulsa, 1.98 ERA with 106/40 K/BB in 118 innings, just 91 hits. Left most recent playoff start with a sore elbow after two innings. Will have to follow health reports closely.

14) Dan Winkler, RHP, Grade C+:
12 excellent starts for Tulsa (1.41 ERA) before going down with Tommy John.

15) Ryan Casteel, C-1B, Grade C+:
Good season from sleeper prospect, hit .280/.341/.445 with 16 homers for Tulsa. Not great behind the plate but workable if he hits enough. Age 23.

16) Jordan Patterson, OF, Grade C+: Hit .278/.359/.430 with 14 homers, 25 steals, 46 walks, 118 strikeouts in 453 at-bats for Asheville. Very sharp home/road split, .308/.400/.538 vs. .250/.318/.328. Age 22.

17) Tommy Kahnle, RHP, Grade C+: Successful Rule 5 pick taken from Yankees, 3.72 ERA with 60/29 K/BB in 65 innings in the major leagues, 45 hits. Doesn’t look like a fluke to me.

Tommy Kahnle    photo by Leon Halip, Getty Images

18) Jayson Aquino, LHP, Grade C: Borderline C+: Age 21, 5.40 ERA with 74/30 K/BB in 95 innings for Modeso, 113 hits. Not a great year but finished decently with two starts in Double-A.

19) Sam Moll, LHP, Grade C: Borderline C+: Injured most of the season, sore elbow, pitched 13 rehab innings in the Northwest League in August and looked healthy.

20) Wilfredo Rodriguez, C, Grade C: Hit .310/.359/.399 in 281 at-bats for Asheville. Splits not extreme, .319/.377/.403 at home, .299/.340/.394 on the road. Good receiver but throwing needs a lot of work, caught just 14%.

In some senses it has been a good year for the farm system. Tyler Matzek’s minor league career was dubiously erratic, but he’s made huge progress this year and has held his own in the Show. Recent farm products like sophomores Nolan Arenado, Corey Dickerson, and Charlie Blackmon have held down key roles, though they had too much experience to rate on a pre-season ’14 prospect list.

On the negative side, Chad Bettis wasn’t able to solidify a spot. Kyle Parker didn’t make a huge impression in the friendly Pacific Coast League. Eddie Butler fought injuries and wasn’t as dominant as last year. Jon Gray was solid but not always spectacular in Double-A and ended the year on the DL. Winkler got hurt, and now Tyler Anderson may be hurt too. Pitching depth is a great thing because it can evaporate so very quickly.

Positionally, David Dahl, Ryan McMahon, Raimel Tapia, and first baseman Correlle Prime all had good-looking seasons on the surface, but all need to prove themselves outside of Low-A. Asheville is tricky; even when you think you’ve adjusted for it, you probably haven’t adjusted enough. The 2014 draft brought in lefty Kyle Freeland and second baseman Forrest Wall, both capable of advancing very quickly. Products of the Latin American program like right-handers Antonio Senzatela and Rayan Gonzalez are also moving up the ladder.

I felt this farm system was underrated pre-season. I’m not sure what I think now; we’ll have to see how the health reports stack up this winter. It would remain solid if everyone is healthy.