Sizing up the system: How the Rockies minor leagues stack up after the 2010 season and draft

These are the players that I'm still high on with each team in the system. I've tiered it in groups of 12 for the players who I consider the top 36 prospects, and then added others I consider in the top sixty. Once you get out of the second dozen, the chances of an MLB career are pretty dubious, but then again I look at players like Matt Daley or Matt Reynolds and think that maybe, particularly in the case of relief pitchers, listing all of them is warranted. 


Colorado Springs:

Top 12

Second 12

Others:

 

The big question I have with the Sky Sox prospects revolves around Chris Nelson and what the Rockies plans for his future entail, as that could significantly effect how I rank him. The main reason this comes up is that news reports in recent weeks have indicated that Jim Tracy prefers Jonathan Herrera as his starting 2B in 2011 if Clint Barmes leaves (something that's looking fairly likely). If Nelson's being siphoned off into the same super utility role that we see Eric Young Jr. in, I have to first question why, as seemingly the offensive advantage of Nelson over Herrera easily passes the defensive liability. Second, however, I'd have to downgrade how I see his future contribution to the club, as a potential bench bat/backup is not nearly as valuable as a potential starting position player.

Which I guess would lead to the second question of why McKenry's so highly ranked if he's a potential bench catcher? Good question. I'm coming to terms with the fact that I might be too high on him.

Tulsa:

Top 12

Second 13

Third 12

  • Bruce Billings
  • Rex Brothers

Others:

I think Blackmon's a better player than people realize, and have said I expect a breakout from him in 2011 that goes beyond your typical Colorado Springs boost. That said, the typical CS boost might still keep people from realizing that it's happening. Actually, this entire group gets underrated to some degree, including Friedrich now that he's gone through his first stretch of adversity and poor performance. 

 


Modesto:

Top 12

Second 13

Third 12

Others:

  • Mike Zuanich
  • Ethan Hollingsworth
  • Adam Jorgenson
  • Scott Robinson
  • Brian Rike

If people are really wanting a David Eckstein type of pest, one that gets on base, works counts, drives the opposing pitcher crazy in front of the big bats, then Field should be your guy. In a way, he and Nicasio are similar in that you're not going to read much about them outside of Purple Row circles, as they aren't flashy, top line prospects, but Nicasio with his ability to gobble up a large amount of innings effectively and Field with those pest attributes are the same types of players that are making the Padres so successful.


Asheville:

Top 12

  • Tyler Matzek
  • Nolan Arenado

Second 13

  • Eliezer Mesa
  • Chris Balcom-Miller

Third 12

  • Delta Cleary
  • Wes Musick

Others

  • Jared Clark
  • Angelys Nina
  • Alan DeRatt
  • Coty Woods
  • Orlando Sandoval

I feel I have a pretty good idea of what to expect/hope for from the first three prospects listed here, but Balcom-Miller is sort of enigmatic to me until I see what he does at higher levels. I think he's another Nicasio type, but at the moment, my gut tells me there's more downside than Nicasio has. That said, there may also be more upside given that he's just 21. Musick's in the same boat, only with what I perceive to be a much higher likelihood of flaming out before he gets to the majors.

 


Tri-City:

Top 12

  • Chad Bettis

Second 13

  • Josh Slaats

Third 12

  • Josh Rutledge

Others*:

  • Edwar Cabrera
  • Erik Stavert
  • Ricky Testa

I'm suspecting a lot of people will prematurely write off Rutledge given his Tri-City stats, which is one of the dangers of the timing of this next PuRPs poll. I'd be similarly inclined to believe that people would be giving too much credit to Slaats and Bettis for their small samples of work, but each has a mitigating factor that would make exuberance warranted. For Bettis, it's the reports of a bump in his velocity. A pitcher throwing mid 90's heat that could crank it up to 98 at times is much more valuable than one pitching in the low 90's. For Slaats, it's just the degree of his domination thus far. 44% of plate appearances against him end in a strikeout, just 4% in walks. In a similar fashion to Mesa's start at Asheville, it's an immediate signal that you just can't ignore that a player's a legitimate prospect and considerably better than those he's going up against. If he continues said pace for only a few more innings, he could easily find himself in my top 20 by the time we actually make a poll.

 


Casper:

Top 12

  • Peter Tago
  • Rafael Ortega

Second 13

  • Albert Campos
  • Corey Dickerson

Third 11

  • Will Swanner
  • Juan Crousset

 

Others

 

  • Alejandro Barazza
  • Christhian Adames
  • Alving Mejias
  • Juan Perez
  • Ryan Casteel
  • Tyler Gagnon
  • Kyle Hancock

I've said a lot already about why Ortega needs to be looked at as an elite talent within the system, and I'm close to convinced that he has the most offensive potential of any prospect that we have now save the guy that we just signed from Clemson. Arenado maybe has as much, and closer to the majors, so he'll probably rank higher on my list this time, but I fully expect Ortega to rise into my top five by the middle of next season. At the same time, Corey Dickerson might be getting overrated a bit given his draft round and relative experience to the level. He entered Casper at a similar experience level to Balcom-Miller last season, but is not separating himself from the League like Balcom-Miller did, like Ortega's doing. That says to me that he's at a lower tier than CB-M, and a couple lower than Ortega.


Unassigned/DSL

Top 12

Third 12

  • Rossell Herrera

As I just implied, Parker's middle of the order potential trumps anybody else we have in the system, but he's got to give up football before he fully can tap into that. Until then, he'll probably be knocked into the Arenado/Ortega range of prospects for me. Herrera's having a down debut in the DSL after starting well, but hitters rarely shine at the Rockies academy (another reason to like Ortega) especially their first season. If he rebounds or is promoted to Casper for next season, it should be a sign he's top 20 material, if he doesn't he'll get bumped off the list.

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