I thought I'd take this a bit of a different direction this morning from the ongoing saga of the club's search for a player to fill out the infield. If you want to read more about that, Troy Renck's column at the Post regarding the club's open mind at second base is a good place to start.
Instead, what I want to look at is an oft repeated claim about the Rockies farm system. Yeah, it's time for a good, old-fashioned prospect post.
Kevin Goldstein (from his Rockies Top 11 Prospects column for Baseball Prospectus subscribers):
While the organization is desperately short of position players, that fact is mitigated with the amount of young, potentially elite-level players already in the big leagues.
John Sickels said this in his Rockies Top 20 post:
The hitting is weaker. Rosario could turn into a very good catcher but is a long way away. Young and McKenry will be ready much sooner. I like both of them a lot and I think both are underrated generally. God knows if any of the tools infielders will pan out.
I could go on, there seems to be a running theme of late that the Rockies lack position players in the system, with Goldstein going particularly far out on a limb in stating the team is "desperately short" in that category. Yet, as the Keith Law quote togb posted in yesterdays Rockpile indicated, there's not quite a consensus that we're so bad off.
Today, I thought it might be instructive to take a look at the minor league positional talent within the NL West division to see how the Rockies are doing compared to their peers.
I'll try to list each team's top two or three prospects at each position, and come up with some sort of hierarchy.
- San Francisco - Buster Posey, Tommy Joseph
- Colorado - Wilin Rosario, Michael McKenry
- San Diego - Mitch Canham
- Arizona - John Hester
- Los Angeles - Luke May
There's a gap between Posey and the Rockies' catchers, but then a larger gap between them and the next three, who are all more or less journeymen at this point and relatively interchangeable. If the Dodgers had Carlos Santana still, they'd be at the top. Second best in the division at a premium position isn't a bad start for the Rockies, however.
- Arizona - Brandon Allen, Ryan Wheeler
- Colorado - Ben Paulsen, Kiel Roling
- San Diego - Allan Dykstra
- Los Angeles - Jerry Sands, Austin Gallagher
- San Francisco - Brandon Belt
Another position where there's a pretty large gap in the division after Allen, but in this case it's mostly because he's so advanced compared to the rest of the division's best 1B prospects. We'll see how 2010 shapes up, but this is a second position where the Rockies aren't falling far behind their peers, save for the D-backs, who are very deep in 1B's for some reason.
- Los Angeles - Dee Gordon, Ivan DeJesus
- Colorado - Chris Nelson, Eric Young Jr., Hector Gomez
- San Francisco - Brandon Crawford, Nick Noonan, Ehire Adrianza
- Arizona - Chris Owings, David Nick, Pedro Ciriaco, Rusty Ryal
- San Diego - Lance Zawadski, Drew Cumberland, Jonathan Galvez
Gordon's a high quality shortstop, but still pretty raw. I think he's been getting a little overrated this winter (he's not going to be close to Tulo at his peak) but he's still the class of the division in this category. The Giants and Rockies trios share some similarities and are probably pretty close to each other in raw talent, but I gave the nod to Colorado because I'm biased and because Nelson and EY2 are at least at the AAA level in 2010. Arizona could be moving up this list pretty quickly. Owings and Nick seem pretty talented thus far, they're just young and far from the majors. San Diego's got a pretty big issue with a lack in the infield/catching portion of up the middle core type of players. This bodes well for Everth Cabrera's job security.
- San Diego - James Darnell, Logan Forsythe, Edinson Rincon
- Arizona - Bobby Borchering
- Colorado - Darin Holcomb, Nolan Arenado
- San Francisco - Conor Gillaspie
- Los Angeles - Pedro Baez
The Padres are pretty deep at the hot corner, outweighing Borchering's potential, which is very high, but the kid is still a few seasons away from contributing for the D-backs. I really don't think it's a stretch to put the Rockies duo there.
- San Diego - Jaff Decker, Sawyer Carroll, Kellen Kulbacki
- San Francisco - Thomas Neal, Roger Kieschnick, Chris Dominguez, Rafael Rodriguez
- Los Angeles - Andrew Lambo, Trayvon Robinson, Kyle Russell
- Arizona - Cole Gillespie, Marc Krauss, Colin Cowgill
- Colorado - Cole Garner, Tyler Massey,
My thesis for this entire post will basically be that those, such as Goldstein, who think the Rockies desperately lack position prospects, are really just saying that the Rockies lack corner outfield prospects. That's not really debatable, but as far as system priorities go, corner outfield should be pretty low on the list.
- San Diego - Donovan Tate, Everett Williams
- Colorado - Charlie Blackmon, Tim Wheeler
- Arizona - A.J. Pollock, Ollie Linton
- San Francisco - Francisco Peguero, Darren Ford
- Los Angeles - ???, I'll fill this in with an edit. I'm already late and can't come up with a name off the top of my head.
Again, the Rockies are one of the top two teams in the division. Overall, that's four times I ranked them second, once third and once fifth. Maybe it's that whole jack-of all trades, master of none sort of thing they have going that has people down on the system.
At any rate, however, I just don't see the lack of positional depth that's been asserted. I see a lack of corner OF's and a lack of All-Star level talents anywhere, but not a lack of prospects. Certainly nothing that's going to cripple them in this division anytime soon given the young talent we already have and the overall underwhelming state of everybody else's system as well. For what it's worth, each team's average rank for this little exercise would look something like this:
- San Diego 2.33
- Colorado 2.67
- Arizona 3.00
- San Francisco 3.17
- Los Angeles 3.83