Colorado Rockies Top 20 Prospects for 2016
The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Comments are welcome, but in the end all analysis and responsibility is mine. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders for the book, so order early and order often!
All of these grades are preliminary and subject to change.
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS
Grade A prospects are the elite. In theory, they have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Theoretically, most Grade A prospects develop into stars or at least 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.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment in the book for the full analysis 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) Jon Gray, RHP, Grade A-/B+: Age 24, 4.33 ERA with 110/41 K/BB in 114 innings in Triple-A, 5.53 ERA with 40/14 K/BB in 41 innings in majors, FIP was much better at 3.63, very effective on the road in majors but got crushed at home, still like his fastball/slider combo, change-up needs more work but on his own terms I still think he can be a fine number three starter and maybe a two. His stock is down with some folks but I think this is a matter of perception and environment, people being scared off by the 5.53 ERA rather than focusing on the underlying components. Colorado leaves no room for error. Adjust fantasy value accordingly.
2) Brendan Rodgers, SS, Grade B+/A-: Age 19, first round pick from Florida high school in 2015, hit .273/.340/.420 in the Pioneer League, many felt he was top high school player in the draft though pro debut was decent, not excellent; expected to hit for both average and power down the line, good chance to stick at shortstop, draws comparisons to young Troy Tulowitzki. Grade feels a tad low intuitively but something holds me back from going straight A-.
3) Ryan McMahon, 3B, Grade B+: Age 21, hit .300/.372/.520 with 43 doubles, 18 homers, 49 walks, 153 strikeouts in 496 at-bats in High-A, electric bat from the left side has produced at every level, main concern is high strikeout rate but so far it has not hurt him, still error-prone at third base but range and arm play well, makeup considered strong.
4) David Dahl, OF, Grade B+/B: Age 21, lost half of season with ruptured spleen but came back quickly, hit .278/.304/.417 with six homers, 22 steals, 11 walk, 72 strikeouts in 288 at-bats in Double-A, standout speed/power/defense combination but shaky strike zone judgment is a caution flag, upside is All-Star center fielder if he can tighten up the zone.
5) Jeff Hoffman, RHP, Grade B+/B: Age 23, acquired from Blue Jays in Tulowitzki trade, 2014 first rounder made rapid recovery from Tommy John surgery, 3.03 ERA with 75/27 K/BB in 104 innings between High-A and Double-A, no loss of velocity, mid-90s fastball, plus curve, change developing well, ground ball type who could survive in Colorado. I’d like to see more strikeouts given the quality of his stuff.
6) Dom Nunez, C, Grade B: Age 21, aggressive ranking and grade but I think he will be widely seen as one of the top catching prospects in baseball six months from now, hit .282/.373/.448 with 13 homers, 53 walks, 55 strikeouts in 373 at-bats in Low-A, power surge in second half with exceptional feel for the strike zone, solid defensive tools.
7) Trevor Story, SS, Grade B/B-: Age 23, hit .279/.350/.514 with 40 doubles, 10 triples, 20 homers, 22 steals, 51 walks, 141 strikeouts in 512 at-bats in high minors, defense has turned out well, excellent power/speed combination as a hitter, can be streaky and will strike out a lot, likely to need adjustment time but across-the-board contributions are tantalizing.
8) Tom Murphy, C, Grade B/B-: Age 24, hit .256/.314/.490 with 20 homers, 28 walks, 123 strikeouts in 394 at-bats in high minors, then .257/.333/.543 with three homers, four walks, 10 strikeouts in 35 big league at-bats. I think the big league numbers, despite their small sample size, are what we should expect. Huge power, won’t hit for high averages, defense good-enough, think Mike Napoli bat with fewer walks (for now, I think he has it in him to improve his plate discipline eventually).
9) Raimel Tapia, OF, Grade B/B-: Age 22, hit .305/.333/.467 with 34 doubles, 12 homers, 26 steals, 24 walks, 105 strikeouts in 444 at-bats in California League, no real change in profile or reports, line drive hitter with lots of bat speed but aggressive approach and (like many Rockies hitters) a lot of strikeouts on the resume, 6-2, 160 body may never develop much power beyond what he already has. If he keeps hitting .300+ that’s OK but if he drops down into the .270s against better pitching it becomes problematic.
10) Antonio Senzatela, RHP, Grade B/B-: Age 21, 2.51 ERA with 143/33 K/BB in 154 innings in High-A, 131 hits, strong performer but opinions are oddly mixed, fastball varies between 90 and 98; slider and change can be at least average but aren’t fully consistent yet, throws strikes and has pitched very well in some tough environments. Number three starter projection.
11) Forrest Wall, 2B, Grade B/B-: Age 20, hit .280/.355/.438 with 23 steals, 41 walks, 72 strikeouts in 361 at-bats in Low-A, polished line drive hitter with good sense for strike zone, weak arm limits him to second base, could put up big numbers in Cal League.
12) Miguel Castro, RHP, Grade B-: Age 21, acquired in Tulowitzki trade with Blue Jays, was rushed to majors last year and it showed, 6.11 ERA in majors with 18/10 K/BB in 18 innings, 2.82 ERA with 38/20 K/BB in 38 minor league innings at two levels, top-shelf fastball can hit 99, good change-up, breaking stuff and command need work. Needs more polish but could be an excellent reliever in time and still a chance he can start if slider comes around.
13) Kyle Freeland, LHP, Grade B-: Age 22, first round pick in 2014 from University of Evansville, missed much of 2015 with elbow and shoulder injuries, posted 4.05 ERA with 28/10 K/BB in 47 innings between Pioneer and Cal Leagues, pitched better in Arizona Fall League, low/mid-90s fastball and a plus slider but change and curve need work and he has to stay healthy. May end up in bullpen if durability becomes a long-term concern. Number three starter potential but risk feels high.
14) German Marquez, RHP, Grade B-: Age 21, posted 3.56 ERA with 104/29 K/BB in 139 innings in High-A in Tampa Bay Rays system, came over in Corey Dickerson deal, fastball at 91-96 MPH, both curveball and change-up can be at least average, throws strikes but location within the zone needs more sharpening. Another potential number three starter.
15) Ryan Castellani, RHP, Grade B-: Age 19, posted 4.45 ERA with 94/29 K/BB in 113 innings in Low-A, 134 hits, very young for full-season ball but held his own, second round pick in 2014, fastball already up to 94-96 and he throws strikes, but slider and change-up are under-developed at present. Has aptitude to improve them. Another potential number three starter.
16) Peter Lambert, RHP, Grade B-: Age 18, second round pick in 2015, posted 3.45 ERA with 26/11 K/BB in 31 innings in Pioneer League, similar to Castellani at same stage, fastball at 89-92 with spikes to 94-95, velocity should hold more readily as he matures, already has a good curveball and workable change, high pitching aptitude, another potential number three starter.
17) Tyler Nevin, 3B, Grade B-/C+: Age 18, son of Phil Nevin, compensation pick in 2015 draft, hit .265/.368/.386 with 29 walks, 42 strikeouts in 189 at-bats, good plate discipline but has yet to tap the power potential in his 6-4, 200 pound frame, has defensive tools to stick at third. Needs experience but no need to rush with McMahon ahead of him.
18) Sam Howard, LHP, Grade C+: Age 23, polished strike thrower drafted out of Georgia Southern in third round in 2014, 3.43 ERA with 122/32 K/BB in 134 innings in Low-A, ground ball pitcher with low-90s fastball, average-to-plus change-up, decent slider, throws strikes. More of a potential number four but could move quickly from this point.
19) Sam Moll, LHP, Grade C+: Age 24, posted 2.63 ERA with 74/16 K/BB in 68 innings between High-A and Double-A, short at 5-10 but not short of stuff with fastball at 92-96 MPH and a plus slider. Should be valuable bullpen asset soon.
20) Jordan Patterson, OF, Grade C+: Age 24, hit .297/.364/.543 with 45 doubles, 12 homers, 17 doubles, 18 steals, 30 walks, 130 strikeouts in 488 at-bats between High-A and Double-A, swing adjustments have enabled him to tap power, fourth round pick in 2013 from South Alabama, main issue is over-aggressive hitting approach but he does a lot of things well.
OTHER GRADE C+: Tyler Anderson, LHP; Carlos Estevez, RHP; Pedro Gonzalez, OF; Carlos Herrera, SS; David Hill, RHP; Harrison Musgrave, LHP; Mike Nikorak, RHP; Roberto Ramos, 1B; Jesus Tinoco, RHP
OTHERS OF NOTE: Cristhian Adames, SS; Alex Balog, RHP; Matt Carasiti, RHP; Ryan Casteel, C; Jairo Diaz, RHP; Sam Hilliard, OF; Jonathan Piron, INF
Obviously a very deep system. I will post some of the player snippets from the book in the comments thread, emphasizing the C+ guys in the "others" section.