With the S2S 2012 Top 100 Prospects List now in the books, it’s time to take a closer look at the future of each team. And that means team prospect lists!
Most minor league sites will do top-10s, top-15s, top-20s, or some other ranking. Last year, to be a bit different, the FanSided team prospect lists (which were done at Call to the Pen, since S2S didn’t exist), instead listed a team’s top prospect at each position (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OFs, 5 SPs, and 2 RPs). This year, we’re keeping that format, but also adding a “Best of the Rest” section that lists the top ten players beyond the positional rankings. That’s 25 players per system, if you’re counting.
Unlike most of the systems I’ve covered thus far (I won’t speak for the ones Wally’s done), the Rockies system slants toward hitting. Nolan Arenado is a very good prospect who I come around to more and more as I think about him; he ranked just #87 on my Top 100 list, but would be significantly higher if I redid the list today. The system has just one other top 100 hitting prospect (Tim Wheeler) and two top 100 pitching prospects (Drew Pomeranz and Chad Bettis), but the pitching drops off more quickly than the hitting does.
Overall, however, the strength of this system lies in its top 12-16 prospects, as things drop off rather considerably from there. It’s therefore a solid middle-of-the-pack system, as there are around a dozen really interesting players, but no slam-dunk top guys nor truly impressive depth.
Position Player Upside: B+
Position Player Depth: B-
Pitching Upside: C+
Pitching Depth: C
System Grade: B-
Catcher: Wilin Rosario. My thinking about Rosario has been sort of a roller coaster. I initially thought he was quite overrated, then bought into him hard during/after the 2010 season, only to jump right back off the bandwagon after the catcher’s disastrous 2011, which saw him post just a .284 OBP in a repeat of Double-A, a 58-point drop from 2010. He also shed 60 points of Isolated Power. His 2010 shows he has at least put things together before, but it’s looking more and more like he’ll be lucky to be the next Miguel Olivo. Grade: B-
First base: Mike Zuanich. Zuanich is a massive 25-year-old first baseman who owns a career .325/.421/.566 batting line. Unfortunately, he’s played in a series of very easy parks, and his upper-minors experience consists of just 30 games in Double-A. He did manage a .500 slugging percentage there, though, and he makes decent contact for a slugger. Statistically, he’s an interesting guy to follow, but the odds remain stacked against him. Grade: C
Second base: DJ LeMahieu. Acquired from the Cubs this offseason, LeMahieu could follow Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot (and possibly Orioles Rule 5 pick Ryan Flaherty) as an unheralded former Cub middle infielder that manages to carve out a decent career. He hit .358 in Double-A last year before running into trouble in Triple-A and the majors, but he should hit for a decent average and play solid defense at second and third. The question is whether he’ll wring enough power out of his 6’4″ frame to be useful. Sort of the Ryan Sweeney of infielders. Grade: C+
Third base: Nolan Arenado. Arenado upped his walk rate from abysmal to decent in 2011, which works well, as he rarely strikes out. He’s not going to be a 40-HR player, even with Coors Field to take aim at, but he should be a potential .300 hitter who plays a solid third base and rips a ton of doubles. He should at least be able to put up a string of Casey McGehee 2010-type seasons. Grade: A-
Shortstop: Trevor Story. The 45th pick in the 2011 draft, Story showed a solid all-around offensive game in the Pioneer League at the young age of 18. He probably ends up at third base in the end, but he has almost as much upside as Arenado does even if he has to move there. Grade: B
Outfielder #1: Tim Wheeler. As Rosario’s stock took a nosedive in Tulsa, Wheeler’s prospect status was more than resuscitated. He rebounded from a poor 2010 season with Modesto to nearly triple his home run total and add over 150 points to his slugging percentage. He’s iffy in center field, and he’ll strike out a fair amount, but he has significant secondary skills and good athleticism, and he’s not all that far away. Grade: B+
Outfielder #2: Charlie Blackmon. Speaking of being ready, Blackmon hit .337/.393/.572 in Triple-A. He boasts an intriguing combination of contact and power, and also has some athleticism. He’s already 25, though, and he’s not much of a center fielder, so he may fit best as a fourth outfielder or platoon player. Grade: B-
Outfielder #3: Kyle Parker. The former Clemson quarterback and #26 overall pick showed that his power is very real in his first pro season, but he also showed major strikeout issues. He also needs a lot of work in the outfield. As one might expect from a two-sport guy, he’s quite raw for a 22-year-old, and it’s open for debate how well he’ll be able to adjust. There’s significant upside if he can figure things out, but it’s easy to see Parker going the way of Drew Henson as well. Grade: B-
Starting Pitcher #1: Drew Pomeranz. Pomeranz, like Blackmon, already has made the majors, and he acquitted himself decently in some September starts. He’s got a solid-average fastball and a good curveball, and he comes at batters from a very odd, deceptive delivery. He’s probably a bit overrated by the mainstream, as he doesn’t have huge velocity and his changeup needs a lot of work, but he should be a solid mid-rotation starter in the Ted Lilly mold. Grade: B+
Starting Pitcher #2: Chad Bettis. Bettis turned in a workhorse year in the Cal League, working 169 2/3 innings. He walked just 45 while striking out 184, and managed to allow just ten home runs. He’s not a big guy, but he brings impressive velocity and movement from a clean delivery, and his slider is a good second pitch. Like Pomeranz, he doesn’t have a great changeup, but he does enough well to project as a mid-rotation starter. Grade: B+
Starting Pitcher #3: Tyler Anderson. The 20th pick in 2011, Anderson is completely untested in pro ball, but he should move quickly. A polished college lefthander, he was considered something of an overdraft in this deep class, but he has a chance to be a third or fourth starter thanks to his plus changeup. He also can get his fastball into the low 90s. Unlike Bettis and Pomeranz, he needs to improve his breaking ball. Grade: B
Starting Pitcher #4: Edwar Cabrera. Similar to Anderson in stuff, Cabrera used his excellent changeup to strike out 217 (!) batters in 167 innings. Relax, though: He turned 24 right after the season ended and still hasn’t seen the upper minors yet. He’ll need to move quickly, but K/BB ratios better than 4/1 don’t grow on trees. Grade: B-
Starting Pitcher #5: Joe Gardner. A sinker guy acquired along with Pomeranz and Alex White in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, Gardner’s career K/BB ratio isn’t even 2/1. Still, he had a 54.2% groundball rate on the back of a sinker that evokes Derek Lowe or Trevor Cahill. He cut his walk rate by more than half following the midseason trade, and could prove to be a valuable fourth starter who throws 200 innings of grounder-heavy pitching. Grade: B-
Relief Pitcher #1: Coty Woods. Woods pitched well in High-A last year, with an 88/33 K/BB and 53.3% groundball rate in 77 innings. He works from a deceptive slingshot delivery and has had nothing but success in pro ball. Still, he doesn’t have tremendous stuff and will be 24 in March. He could have a nice career as a middle reliever, but isn’t a good bet to turn into anything special. Grade: C
Relief Pitcher #2: Kyle Roliard. The Rockies’ 13th-round pick this year, Roliard promptly struck out 36 batters in 28 1/3 innings. He’s a big lefty with some projectability, but rookie-ball relievers tend to be poor bets, and he’s got a lot of hurdles left to climb. Grade: C
Best of the Rest
#1.) Josh Rutledge, SS. Rutledge hit .348/.414/.547–yes, it was the CAL, but the 2010 third-rounder has a decent approach, some doubles power, some speed, and solid defensive fundamentals. He’ll probably end up at second base, but he could be a Mark Ellis sort of player there. Grade: B-
#2.) Rosell Herrera, SS. Very similar to Story. Herrera won’t stay at short, but he’s got good power potential in his 6’3″ frame, and he wasn’t overmatched as an 18-year-old in the Pioneer League. He’ll need to show more power–his ISO was disproportionately buoyed by triples–but he’s something of a lesser version of Twins mega-prospect Miguel Sano. Grade: B-
#3.) Rafael Ortega, OF. A longtime favorite of mine, Ortega followed up his .358/.416/.510 2010 with a .294/.335/.438 performance as a 20-year-old in Low-A. His strikeout and walk rates headed in the wrong direction, but he’s a center fielder with gap power and good speed who could carve out a nice career. Of note, he does wilt against his fellow southpaws (.228/.294/.268 in 2011), so he might be just a platoon player. Grade: B-
#4.) Tyler Matzek, LHP. This is where things start to drop off. Once thought to be a steal as the 11th overall pick in 2009, Matzek walked nearly a batter per inning last year, ending up demoted from High-A to Low-A and sent to work with his high school coach to try to recapture his magic. He got better toward the end of the year, still flashes excellent velocity and breaking stuff, and is just 21, but at this point, nobody would be surprised if he never pans out. Grade: C+
#5.) Christian Friedrich, LHP. Another former first-round pick (25th in 2008) and top prospect, Friedrich’s now thrown 220+ innings of 5+ ERA ball in Double-A. He got through 25 starts in 2011 after an injury-riddled 2010, but the stuff that made him a rising star in 2008-09 just doesn’t seem to be there anymore. He’s sort of the prospect version of Barry Zito–a guy with a wipeout curve who started out strong and then seemed to mysteriously get worse as time passed. Like Matzek, an enigma who still holds some intrigue, but he’s already 24 and needs to show up strong in 2012. Grade: C+
#6.) Corey Dickerson, OF. Dickerson hit 32 homers and struck out less than once a game in Low-A in his first full season, coming on the heels of a .348/.412/.634 debut in 2010. But Asheville is a notoriously easy park for lefthanded hitters, and Dickerson hit an absurd .354/.417/.844 there while managing an awful .183/.280/.363 away from home, including just six of his home runs. He’s mostly limited to left field defensively, and it may not be until he reaches Double-A Tulsa (the one somewhat-reasonable park in the Rockies’ system) that we have any idea if he’s a real prospect or just a park mirage. Grade: C+
#7.) Dillon Thomas, OF. A 4th-round selection in 2011, Thomas got into just 15 games in his pro debut, hitting .328 but posting an 18/3 K/BB ratio. A high school corner outfielder, he will need to prove he can hit the ball out of the park to profile as a potential starter. Grade: C
#8.) Tommy Field, SS. Given that he hit just .257/.335/.332 in 2009 and then exploded in the Cal League in 2010 (.284/.397/.466), Field looked like a CAL mirage. But he exceeded expectations by maintaining his power stroke with Tulsa, hitting .271/.357/.439, and even got into some September action in Colorado. It was his age-24 season, so don’t get carried away with expectations, but he could be a utility player with a bit of pop from the right side, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Grade: C
#9.) Brett Tanos, 3B. A classic “Moneyball” prospect, in a sense. Tanos posted an 85/71 K/BB in 111 games with Asheville, hitting .285/.401/.445. He’s not a big guy, but he has some doubles power and the ability to play a competent second or third base. He’s already 23, so he’ll need to move quickly, but he’s an interesting sleeper. Grade: C
#10.) Bryce Massanari, C. Massanari hit .328/.419/.564 in Asheville, and as a righty, he (like Tanos) doesn’t get the artificial boost from the park; he did, however, have a fairly large home-road split. 2011 was his age-25 season; catchers can develop late, but there’s late and then there’s late, so he’s strictly in the “really interesting numbers but not much of a prospect” bin for now. He did throw out 47% of basestealers, for what it’s worth. It would be nice to see him pushed to Tulsa in 2012 to see if he’s really much of anything. Grade: C
The complete list of S2S 2012 Team Prospect Rankings can be found here.
For more on the Rockies, check out Rox Pile.
Topics: Brett Tanos, Bryce Massanari, Chad Bettis, Charlie Blackmon, Christian Friedrich, Colorado Rockies, Corey Dickerson, Coty Woods, D.J. LeMahieu, Dillon Thomas, Drew Pomeranz, Edwar Cabrera, Joe Gardner, Josh Rutledge, Kyle Parker, Kyle Roliard, Mike Zuanich, Nolan Arenado, Rafael Ortega, Rosell Herrera, Tim Wheeler, Tommy Field, Trevor Story, Tyler Anderson, Tyler Matzek, Wilin Rosario