Colorado Rockies prospects Eddie Butler, Alex Balog and Sam Mende received praise in Marc Hulet's 2013 Rockies minor league review at Fangraphs.
A few snippets from the piece:
The Graduate: Nolan Arenado, 3B: ... Early in his career, Arenado was considered a poor defender so the improvements he's made are nothing short of extraordinary. Once he starts hitting up to his true potential, Arenado could be a perennial all-star.
Arenado made some strides late in the season in the area outlined in the first part of the last sentence -- particularly in August, when he hit .317/.340/.426. Arenado also hit well in June, which was his second full month in the big leagues. Now, he just needs to string a few of those months together and maybe take a walk every once in a while.
The Riser: Eddie Butler, RHP: ... [Butler] began the year in Low-A ball but blew through three levels and finished the year with a 0.66 ERA and just 13 hits allowed in six Double-A starts.
It's fair to say that I spend a good amount of time covering the Rockies and their minor league teams. I had no idea Butler was THAT good in Tulsa. Holy expletive.
The Tumbler: Trevor Story, SS: ... Concentration appeared to be one of [Story's] biggest issues. He had an OPS of .549 with the bases empty and struck out a whopping 110 times in 281 at-bats (39% of the time) but his OPS was almost .900 with runners on base.
That's a really interesting statistic provided by Hulet. Sounds like the Rockies could have the perfect situational offensive shortstop once Story arrives in Denver; Troy Tulowitzki's OPS in 2013 was 180 points lower with men on base than it was with the bases empty.
The 2013 Draft Pick: Alex Balog, RHP: ... The durable right-hander is a lot more talented than his first-year numbers would suggest so don't be surprised if Balog is a name you're hearing a lot about by the end of 2014 - much like the way Eddie Butler took the prospect world by storm in '13.
Jon Gray must have been too easy of a selection for this category. In any case, Balog allowed 31 earned runs on 51 hits in 30 innings of work for Grand Junction. Despite all that, the Rockies would be well-suited to have him start the year at Asheville so that he can work against real hitters in real game environments from the get-go.
The Sleeper: Sam Mende, 3B: ... I happen to catch [Mende] play while I was intending to focus on other prospects, and his defense at the hot corner impressed me. Injuries all but wiped out his 2013 season so he'll look to make up for lost time in 2014.
Mende only had 54 plate appearances for Modesto in 2013. He'll be 24 when the season starts, but making the jump from High-A to Double-A is one of the most treacherous things in the minors. As such, Mende might need more seasoning in the Cal League, but don't be surprised if he's moved up mid-season.
Kimye got engaged at AT&T Park (via McCovey Chronicles). If there's a way to put a hex on that place, this is it.