Friday Rockpile: The Rockies' Most Important Young Player (It's Not Arenado)

Christian Petersen

Much has been debated about Nolan Arenado in the past two weeks, but the third baseman is not even the most important young player on the roster to the Rockies' 2013 chances.

In Nolan Arenado's last game, he nearly hit another home run and had his team's most critical hit in a ninth inning rally against Team USA. Despite that, there has been a bit of a pushback movement against Arenado making the big league roster.

Troy Renck notes that Arenado still has some work to do this spring to build a convincing case to make the roster, as his resume has been built upon beating minor league pitchers on early count fastballs. Renck also notes that Chris Nelson would have to be dealt to make room for Arenado and mentions Oakland as a possibility. The Athletics have a trio of Jed Lowrie, Josh Donaldson and Scott Sizemore rotating between 2B/3B.

Fangraphs' Mike Newman is as big of an Arenado fanboy one might find outside of Rockies' fandom, and Newman wrote yesterday that Arenado simply is not yet ready for a big league job. As for another scouting community, Baseball America released their list of top rookies for 2013. Arenado was not to be found on a list that included 25 names.

There is little more Arenado could do better in the last two weeks, but that does not make him the best option for the Opening Day roster or even the Rockies' most important young player for 2013. Grant Brisbee wrote of five bellwether players in the NL West and names a young, inexperienced Rockie in the Colorado section. His choice for most impactful Rockie, as mine was two months ago, is Drew Pomeranz.

Pomeranz gave fans and team staff reason for optimism Wednesday when he showcased solid velocity and stuff in a successful outing against Team USA.

"That's what I struggled with in years past, trying to find the right delivery and the right feeling. I definitely felt that feeling, that I had the delivery that I'm supposed to have, that I had a few years ago when I felt real good." - Drew Pomeranz via Thomas Harding

Pomeranz is listed by some as the Rockies' fifth starter behind Chacin, de la Rosa, Francis and Nicasio. If he has delivery issues ironed out, he could make a large transformation for the outlook of the Rockies' rotation and season.

"(Pomeranz has) the ability to make a big leap forward. He's one of those guys that can really pop and be a big-time guy. He's got that kind of ability. He's got to be in good counts, like we've been talking about, and all of those things. But as far as the arm and the stuff, the deception, he's got a chance to pop." - Walt Weiss, via Thomas Harding

The idea of a young pitcher becoming a dominant force for the Rockies almost feels impossibly optimistic after last season, but there are less realistic projections out there. Take PredictionMachine.com, who projects the Rockies to be the 18th best team in MLB, ahead of the Diamondbacks, Mets and Royals and just behind the Cardinals, Phillies and Orioles.

Maybe they based their ranking on the MLB 13 The Show rankings, which has the Rockies 14th, thanks to an offense ranking 3rd in MLB. While park effects may be at play here, the pitching staff is ranked amusingly at 23rd and defense 13th. Okay...we've jumped the shark now.

Links

Lesser Clifford Candidates - Fangraphs Bill Petti has some good research going. He found that Z-Contact%, the percentage of pitches in the strike zone that a player makes contact with, is one of the most stable metrics available. Thus, it measures true skill the fastest. He therefore uses this to predict players who may decline to the point of falling off a cliff. Players with a sharp decline in Z-Contact% are more likely to be losing it. He has a long list of players who might fall into this category, with Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer being the only Rockies. Given injury issues, this may mean nothing, but Gonzalez has certainly taken a step back in two consecutive years.

Legendary sporting events can leave tail of wouldas, couldas, shouldas - The Denver Post Benjamin Hochman crowdsources other writers and people on twitter for regretful decisions that led to missing iconic sports moments.

Corey Dickerson spins way to stardom in rookie talent show - Dickerson can flat out hit. He can also spin a basketball very well.

Meet SND’s 2012 World’s Best news sites and apps: SB Nation, Lenta.ru and the Guardian and Observer iPad app – The Society for News Design – SND The United redesign was met with understandable resistance from community members that have been around for years. The redesign was a very large transformation, but it should be noted it is critically acclaimed. The Society of News Design rated SB Nation as the best designed news site of 2012.

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