Now that we’re more than a month in to the 2013 minor league season, it’s a good time to check in on how the top prospects in each of the organizations are faring. It is way too early to get overly excited or overly depressed about anyone’s performance thus far, but it’s never too early to dig into the data and results that each prospect has added to their resume. For the purposes of these check-ins we will be using Baseball America’s rankings unless otherwise noted.
The Colorado Rockies have gotten off to a solid start at the big league level and are already seeing returns from a farm system with excellent talent at the top. The biggest challenge facing Colorado as a franchise is always filling their pitching staff as it’s difficult to lure free agent hurlers to Coors Field.
The top-five in Colorado’s organization features only one pitcher, but five of their top-10 are hurlers and that doesn’t include Drew Pomeranz, who no longer qualifies under rookie status, but is still a promising young talent. For what it’s worth, Pomeranz is off to an 6-0 start at Colorado Springs, with a 3.22 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in eight starts. He’s striking out over 10 batters per nine innings.
1. 3B- Nolan Arenado (22)
Colorado Springs (AAA) .364/.392/.667 11 2B, 3 HR, 5 BB, 9 K in 75 plate appearances
Colorado (MLB) .244/.272/.462 5 2B, 4 HR, 3 BB, 10 K in 81 plate appearances
Arenado impressed during Spring Training, but the Rockies opted to send his to Triple-A to start the year anyhow. It was probably a move made merely to maintain an extra year of team control as it didn’t take long for the big club to make room for him at the hot corner at Coors Field.
Arenado is an aggressive hitter, but one that does a great job of limiting strikeouts. He’s got plenty of pop in his bat, especially so when factoring in his new home park. He’s not a great defender at third, but good enough to stick at the position, which makes his plus bat far more valuable. Expect he’ll be a mainstay in the Rockies lineup for years to come.
2. OF- David Dahl (19)
Ashville (A) .275/.310/.425 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 SB, 2 BB, 8 K in 42 plate appearances
Dahl has had an interesting season to say the least. Though he began the season at Ashville, he was shipped back to extended Spring Training after just one game due to disciplinary reasons, which obviously isn’t a good sign. Dahl himself tweeted that the reasoning stemmed from a missed flight and some questions about his attitude. He didn’t return to Ashville for nearly three weeks.
Dahl’s abbreviated season has been cut even shorter by a hamstring injury that landed him on the DL during the first week of May, from which he has yet to return. In the in-between, Dahl was able to display a few of the tools that made him the 10th overall selection of the 2012 draft, but the small sample size prevents any significant analysis of his production.
3. SS- Trevor Story (20)
Modesto (A+) .190/.261/.279 8 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 6 SB, 12 BB, 54 K in 162 plate appearances
Story has two things working against him: a huge problem with strikeouts and Troy Tulowitzki. If he can manage to get his contact issues in check, the Rockies will eventually move Story to another position as he advances through the system. Though he put up excellent numbers in a partial season last year after the Rockies used a sandwich round pick on the Irving, TX high school product, Story has had a rough go of the hitter-friendly California League.
Story’s production problems can almost entirely be chalked up to strikeouts. He’s not getting unlucky, he sports a .290 BABIP, he’s just not putting the ball in play very often.
4. OF- Kyle Parker (23)
Tulsa (AA) .263/.317/.455 6 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 1 SB, 13 BB, 31 K in 180 plate appearances
Parker is yet another former first round selection by the Rockies (26th overall, 2010) and his two season of pro ball have been everything Colorado could have hoped for. Not only has displayed tremendous power, but his strikeout rate is improving every season.
A former college quarterback, Parker has enough arm and enough power to play right field and a maturity that should allow him to continue to move quickly through the system. Worst-case should be that he becomes the heir apparent to Michael Cuddyer in 2015, but he may well arrive before then.
5. RHP- Chad Bettis (24)
Tulsa (AA) 4.00 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 39 HA, 4 HRA, 5 BB, 37 K in 36 innings pitched (seven starts)
Bettis is off to a promising start in 2013 after missing all of last season with a shoulder strain. The former second rounder (2010) out of Texas Tech possesses an impressive fastball and slider and those pitches have lead to strong strikeout rates and an excellent walk rate.
If Bettis can stay healthy, he could be making his mark on the Rockies rotation as early as 2014 and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he sees some time in the Show this season.