Sunday, November 18, 2012

2013 Colorado Rockies Top 15 Prospects


1. David Dahl                                                Prospect Rating: 650
It is hard to get off to a hotter start than David Dahl did in his 2012 debut. Despite being one of the youngest regulars in the Pioneer League, Dahl raked and hit .379 on his way to the league batting crown. Furthermore, he paced the circuit in OPS and hits. Dahl has legitimate five-tool potential and has likened comparisons to both a young  Johnny Damon and Grady Sizemore. Dahl has a picture-perfect swing that should generate solid power numbers to go along with excellent speed. If Dahl improves his jump, he could prove to be a major threat on the base pads. Dahl has very mature approach at the dish and could be a fast-riser in the Rockies System. After Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton, David Dahl could have more upside than any high school player in his draft class. 

2. Nolan Arenado                                      Prospect Ranking: 650
Arenado has the makings of both a complete offensive and defensive player. While he will probably never post gaudy-home run totals, he has an above-average hit tool and projects to be a run producer. He should hit for 15-20 home runs a season with gap power that could translate into a lot of doubles. Arenado has strong hands that enable him to hit balls to all parts of the diamond, especially to the opposite field. Arenado put up eye-popping numbers in his 2011 campaign, where he led the minors with 122 RBIs and was awarded AFL MVP- but he was not the same player this year. He struggled profusely during the middle of the year for AA Tulsa, but he finished on a tear to wind up with a respectable .337/.428/.766 line.  His has worked hard to improve his foot-speed and hands at the hot corner. His manager at Modesto, Jerry Weinstein,  said that he was "as good as a young defensive player as I have seen in my years in the game." Unfortunately, Arenado's makeup is a cause of concern amongst many scouts. He plays the game with low energy. Hopefully for the Rockies he will mature as he continues to age. 

3. Trevor Story                                             Prospect Rating: 650
As a young shortstop with offensive upside and tools that all grade out as above average across the board, Story is a rare commodity. While none of his tools are flashy, his instincts and advanced approach allow them play up on the field. Story will probably never post monster power number but he could hit 15-20 home runs  annually in the big leagues. The ball explodes off his bat and when he really squares up he sounds like a super star. In his 2012 season, he connected for 18 home runs and 43 doubles for Low-A Asheville. In the field, Story has good hands but he likely will be pushed to second or third with all-star Troy Tulowiktzki currently manning short for Colorado.
4. Kyle Parker                                              Prospect Rating: 525
As an amateur Parker shined on both the diamond and gridiron. The former Clemson quarterback has compiled impressive home runs totals in each of his first two minor league seasons. 2012 saw Parker boost his average and cut down on his strike outs as he posted a .415/.562/.976 slashline. However, Parker's number have been inflated by the hitter friendly climates he has been exposed too in the last two years. In addition, Parker has not really been challenged by competition so far in his career. Coming out of college the Rockies sent him to Low-A for the entire season, and her remained in High-A all of this year. 2013 should be a telling year for Parker as he makes adjustments to AA.
5. Tim Wheeler                                            Prospect Rating: 525
After underachieving his first two professional season, Wheeler had a breakout year in 2011 where he finished second in the minor leagues with 33 home runs. However, Wheeler's power numbers fell off the map with just 2 home runs in all of 2012. This can partially be chalked up to a broken hamate injury that limited him to just 92 games for Colorado Springs. I am confident that Wheeler's power numbers will climb back to normal as his swing is tailor-made for hitting homers. Wheeler has a very quick lower-body that enables him to really get his hips open and  generate power. Wheeler also possesses well-above average speed and some scouts think he could steel upwards of 20 bags in a season. Unfortunately, Wheeler has a lot of swing and miss to his game (he fanned 142 times in 2011). Additionally, Wheeler has always really struggled against southpaws. If lefties continue to plague him, he could wind up as just a platoon player for the Rockies.
6.) Tyler Anderson                                    Prospect Rating: 500
Anderson's stuff is far from overpowering, but he has an outstanding feel for pitching which caused me to give him the nod over Chad Bettis.  Anderson fastball sits in the 89-93 range with some movement, but the lefties best pitch by far is his change up. A very-high leg kick gives Anderson some deception in his delivery and allows him to tally good strike out totals. Anderson dominated the Sally League in his first professional season, with a 12-3 mark and an 2.47 ERA. Anderson's curve is very slow and often forces batters to get way out in front of it. If everything comes together for the Oregon Alum, he could develop into a 3-starter in the MLB.
7.) Chad Bettis                                         Prospect Rating: 500
While Bettis has top of the rotation stuff, but he was a reliever in college, and I envision him returning to the pen before it is all said in done. Regardless, Bettis throws a lively fastball that sits in the upper 90's. He is also able to maintain his velocity in the late-innings of games. A shoulder injury sidelined Bettis for all of 2012 and slowed his progression to Coors Field. Prior to the injury however Bettis dominated minor league hitters. Since be drafted in the second round of 2010, Bettis has recorded an ERA of 2.70 and has struck out an average of 9.76 hitters per 9 innings. Bettis' slider is also a plus offering but he has yet to develop a good feel for his change. Bettis' ability to command a third pitch should dictate whether or not he will remain a starter.
8.) Edwar Cabrera                                  Prospect Rating:475
Similar to Anderson, Cabrera is a control-oriented pitcher who's only plus offering is his change up. Actually, his change up is more than plus pitch. In fact, it might be one of the best in the entire minor leagues. Cabrera stuck out 217 batters, more than any pitcher in the minors, in his 2011 season.In his 2012 campaign  he dominated in AA before getting the call to the show, where he got rocked, and then pitched very well for Colorado Springs in AAA. If Cabrera continues to keep the ball down in the lower half of the strike zone, he should not be able to carve out a long career as a middle to back of the rotation starter. If not, he will likely be converted to a reliever.
9.) Will Swanner                                     Prospect Rating: 475
Swanner has virtually no chance at sticking behind the plate from what I see. His receiving skills are dreadful and struggles to control runners on the base pads. I envision him as a left fielder somewhere down the road, as he is fairly athletic for a backstop. Swanner is an offensive-minded prospect with a good chance to hit for both plus power and average. Swanner has a breakout season in 2011, where he hit over .300 with 16 home runs for Asheville. Power is Swanner's calling-card, and it is at least a plus tool if not better. His swing generates a lot of loft and has the potential to hit between 20-25 homers a year. If Swanner improves his pitch-recognition, which needs a lot of work, he should continue to hit for a high average. If not, some wholes in his swing will be exposed and he might strike out too much to ever make an impact.
10.) Jayson Aquino                               Prospect Rating: 475
Following the trend Cabrera and Anderson set, Aquino does not possesses and electric fastball but has a plus change up. Readings on his fastball usually sit in the 90-92 range, however he could add a tick or two if he ads some strength. After dominating the Dominican Summer League for three consecutive summers, Aquino got the call to the states when he was assigned to the Pioneer League this August. Aquino built upon his success in 7 starts for Grand Junction where he posted a WHIP of just 0.99 and an ERA of 1.87. There is not a lot to go off here, so Aquino could rank much higher, or lower, depending on how his first professional season fairs.
11.) Eddie Butler                                  Prospect Rating: 475
I was a little surprised when the Rockies nabbed him in the sandwich round last June, but so far he is making Colorado look really good. Butler is the product of a small college, Radford, and he is not a particularly imposing physical presence on the mound. However, Butler is an aggressive pitcher with huge velocity. His heater has a lot of sink, and when he rears back he can notch it up to 97 MPH. Butler has yet to develop a feel for his change up, and his ability to do so will affect his his long term role. In his debut, Butler overpowered Pioneer League hitters, with an ERA of just 2.13.

12.) Rafael Ortega                               Prospect Rating: 450
Ortega was on a sluggish pace to the big leagues before receiving an unprecedented three-level promotion from High A to the Colorado. Despite the unusual situation, Ortega was collected and showed a lot of poise in his debut. He had two hits, drew a walk, and stole a base. Ortega is a solid all-around prospect with speed being his best tool. However, after getting caught in one third of his attempts this year, he will need to improve his jump. With the bat, Ortega makes solid contact, especially from the left side. Ortega will never be a slugger, but he has the potential to hit for decent pop if he adds some much needed strength.

13.)  Tom Murphy                                Prospect Rating: 425
Murphy is a solid catcher across the boards, and unlike Swanner, I think he will be able to remain at the position. He has good hands and enough arm strength to profile as a backstop. Murphy will need to work on the accuracy and timing over his throws to successfully defend the running game. Murphy's power was on display in the North West League this summer where he hit 6 homers, 13 doubles, and 3 triples in his 55-game debut.
14.) Corey Dickerson                        Prospect Rating: 400
After going-yard a league leading 32 times in 2011, many people in the industry attributed Dickerson's performance to the hitter friendly environment he played in while at Asheville. Asheville's home stadium, McCormick Field, is a bandbox that has some of shortest dimensions in all of the minors. However, Dickerson continued his success by slugging .542 and reaching AA. Dickerson has fringy-speed, but has good instincts that allowed him to swipe 16 bags last year. Dickerson is a poor defender in left,but his bat is what will carry him as a prospect.
15.) Charlie Culberson                     Prospect Rating: 375
Culberson mashed in the CAL league in 2010, but since then his bat has come back to earth. He still shows potential to be a solid offensive players with above average pop for a middle-infielder. Culberson is a hard nosed play with exceptional baseball bloodlines. His father and grandfather played professionally and he is related to Hall of Fame inductee George Sisler. Culberson, got a cup of coffee for Colorado but he looked slightly overpowered in most of his at bats. Culberson will need to make a lot of refinements to his approach at the plate in order to ensure a productive big league career.

Next Five: Tyler Maztek LHP, Kevin Matthes OF, Peter Tago RHP, Christhian Adames SS, Rosell Herrera SS

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