Due to the relative weakness of our short season programs this year, the bulk of our top prospects will be coming from the full season leagues. I personally feel that only two pitchers (Jhoulys Chacin and the injured Shane Lindsay) from the lower levels and maybe three position players (Zack Murry, Darin Holcomb and Brian Rike) have shown enough to be considered for top 30 status right now. The Tourists in 2007 had more of our prospects than those two lower levels combined, and the same can probably be said for each team on up from here.
I feel a little more confident actually evaluating and projecting things at this level, so I'll make some judgement calls I wouldn't have at the short season leagues, where even though things are looking dim right now, there's a lot of room for growth left.
Best Prospect: Hector Gomez - the kid is going to be a player, that's for sure, even though I'm a bit skeptical it will be in the infield. It's actually kind of frustrating watching him play short. His hands are soft, his range and first step are very good, but he sometimes makes inexplicable mental errors out there. I think his bat will show that it doesn't matter where he plays ultimately.
Runner-Up (position division) Daniel Mayora - he's just got a solid skill set, with nothing overly impressive, but enough pop to make him very valuable as a second baseman. I've said this before, but due to the numbers he put up in a pitcher's park at Pasco last season, he gets somewhat of a free pass for the home heavy splits at McCormick this year from me. Definitely it will be worth seeing if his bat still produces at Modesto.
Honorable Mention: Mike Paulk, Michael McKenry - Paulk's late promotion all the way to AAA shows how rapidly he's risen on our depth charts at the first base position. Right now, we've got to consider him just behind Joe Koshansky, assuming Christian Colonel is considered more a utility type. While Paulk doesn't have HR power, his swing is quick and does drive the ball. McKenry, on the other hand, is built like a tank (thighs like tree trunks) and does have quite a bit of HR power, but he needs to improve his contact against stronger pitching.
Second Half Sensation Jay Cox - Cox was looking very much out of his element in April and May, but from June on he was one of the Tourists' most consistent players. He hit .230/.297/.354 before the SAL All-Star break, .393/.535/.928 after. Like many Tourists, he's got a noticeable home/away split that will prevent us from taking him too seriously until we see some repeated results at higher levels, but right now my prognosis is cautiously optimistic.
Bret Berglund - The Denver native hit .217 in May and .183 in June before turning in .297, .338 and .417 months in succession in July, August and September. I'm cheating a bit, as that September figure only includes three games, but Berglund might have saved his baseball career with that. He's likely not going to reach the majors given his age and the depth we have in the outfield, but I just wanted to give him props anyway.
Top Pitching Prospects: Esmil Rogers - I'm very high on him, he can throw past hitters with his velocity, and his movement can be wickedly sharp. That said, he's got a long way to go, and I wouldn't count on him contributing to the Rockies until 2011. Will we be able to hold him on the roster until then? That could be a big question down the road.
Casey Weathers - I'm splitting the decision, as Weathers showed he was every bit worthy of a first round selection in his first thirteen and two thirds innings in the organization. Whether he was worthy of the Rockies early first round draft selection might be debated often in the next few years. I still say "yes," but I know that there are some very compelling arguments in the "no" camp.
Keith Weiser - I've kind of put these three in the order of how I perceive their ceilings, but where Rogers has the better pure stuff, Weiser's got the polish and the left-handedness that might make him a better choice for a player likely to make an impact with the major league club.
Honorable Mentions: Aneury Rodriguez, Josh Sullivan
Also Honorable Mentions, but they have to be considered differently: The rest of Asheville's pitching staff this season was filled with an interesting collection of arms that you can't just write off that easily as having no shot of making the MLB. I'm not going to put them in my top 30, but Will Harris, James Burok, Tommy Baumgardner all had great years. Simon Ferrer's knuckleball ran into trouble at times this season, but were he to get some consistency with it at higher levels, he would become a tremendous asset.