Rockies Prospects: End of season Minor League awards; Power Hitters

Harold Riggins - Charlie Drysdale

A look back at the best power hitters in the Rockies organization this season. Because chicks dig the long ball.

This season saw some prodigious power from the Rockies minor leaguers, including seven players with 20 or more home runs-- more than there were in 2011 or 2012. While many of the players who flexed their muscle this season were slightly old for their league, there were also a few younger guys who made an impact with the long ball:

Gold Star - Tom Murphy

Catcher - Asheville/Tulsa ( 22 HR, .282 ISO)

A third round pick in the 2012 draft out of the University of Buffalo, Tom started the season a little old for the SAL league in Low-A Asheville and finished it by skipping a level to Double-A Tulsa where he ended up being a little young for the Texas league at 22-years of age. The right-handed catcher jumped out to a fast start in 2013, slugging six home runs in the month of April and finished the year hot with four home runs in August. Murphy's power wasn't just in the long ball, as his 31 doubles resulted in a .282 Isolated Slugging which led the Rockies system. The catcher also led the system in home runs per plate appearance with a mark of 18.9.

Murphy's promotion skipped him ahead of both Will Swanner and Ryan Casteel in prospect status as he becomes the next catcher in line to be promoted to the major leagues. The catcher earns the gold star because he led the system in PA/HR and ISO, all while skipping a level.

Silver Star - Ryan McMahon

Third base - Grand Junction (11 HR, .265 ISO)

Although he played in just 58 games for the Short-season Rockies, the 18-year-old showed a glimpse of the future with a better home run rate and ISO than David Dahl produced in Grand Junction the year before. McMahon's .265 ISO was second in the organization to Tom Murphy and the highest in Grand Junction's two year history.

Drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft, the left-handed McMahon has power which fits well into the hot corner and besides some occasional lapses in defense, he shows the ability to stay there for a long time. Look for the California native to start Low-A Asheville next year where he'll have the chance to take advantage of the generous park at McCormick Field. The lefty earns a silver star because of the raw power he generated at such a young age, being second in the organization in ISO at just 19 indicates the third baseman is a bright young star in the Rockies system.

Bronze Star - Ryan Casteel

Catcher - Modesto (22 HR, .253 ISO)

The 17th round pick for the Rockies 2010 draft, Casteel has spent most of his career watching the higher touted Will Swanner from the bench. However, this season saw the Tennessee native take a giant step forward in prospect status. His 22 home runs was the highest by a Modesto Nut catcher since Mike McHenry hit 18 back in 2008. He performed so well that the Rockies were forced to send a third catcher to Modesto to free up at-bats for both Swanner and Casteel.

Critics could point out several of Casteel's weaknesses this past season as he failed to hit at home and against right handers. While his L/R splits will need to be addressed, the catcher played in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the minor leagues, matching the home park output of Nolan Arenado when he hit 20 home runs for Modesto. Casteel is likely to be promoted to Tulsa next season where I believe he will partner with Tom Murphy. Casteel earned the bronze over Kyle Parker due to a consistent power game throughout the year. While it could be said that the catcher benefited from playing in a hitter-friendly league, Ryan also overcame one of the toughest pitcher-friendly home parks to do so.

Honorable Mentions

Kyle Parker - OF/1B, Tulsa (23 HR, .204 ISO)

The former Clemson quarterback joined an elite group of Rockies prospects with his third season with 20+ home runs. Only Brad Hawpe has ever put up those kinds of power numbers in the Rockies organization-- Parker is the first to have done it in consecutive seasons however. Parker will be participating in the Arizona Fall League and will have a shot in spring training to work his way into the Rockies outfield, although I expect him to follow the path of Nolan Arenado and start in Triple-A Colorado Springs before receiving a quick call to the major leagues next season.

Harold Riggins - 1B, Modesto (22 HR, .225 ISO)

The man known as "Big Rig" continued his impressive power display in High-A Modesto with 25 doubles and 22 home runs. One of the most definitive true-outcome players in the organization, Riggins 192 strikeouts led the entire minor leagues and he still maintained a .353 OBP due to his ability to discern the strike zone. Just as Will Swanner and Trevor Story struggled, Harold's batting average fell in Modesto as he faced better pitching competition. The thing that didn't fall off was his strength, Riggins led the organization in home runs per outfield fly balls-- which means when he made contact, it was gone. Riggins heated up at the end of the season, but I don't know if it was enough to advance him to Double-A Tulsa. Even if the Rockies place him there, the big first baseman will need to improve his contact skills in order to continue on with the organization.

Hamlet Marte and Denzel Richardson - Dominican Summer League

I don't usually pay attention to Dominican power numbers, because they don't tend to show up on the island. For whatever the reason, power hitters don't often thrive in the Dominican Summer League-- Wilin Rosario hit just three in 62 DSL games. First baseman Hamlet Marte changed my outlook as his seven home runs were the highest ever in the DSL by a Rockies player. Not to be outdone was Denzel Richardson, a player known more for his speed, the outfielder hit five home runs in just 37 games. His 26.8 PA/HR was better than Will Swanner, Tyler Colvin and Jose Briceno produced this season. Both players are 19-years-old and likely to be headed to Grand Junction next year.

Table

Name

Age

Tm

G

PA

HR/OFB

Iso

HR ▾

PA/HR

Tom Murphy

22.2

2 Tms

100

415

23.4%

0.282

22

18.9

Kiel Roling

26.4

TUL

112

458

21.8%

0.239

24

19.1

Ryan Casteel

22.0

MOD

108

469

21.2%

0.253

22

21.3

Harold Riggins

23.3

MOD

118

482

28.2%

0.225

22

21.9

Ryan McMahon

18.5

GJ

58

247

22.4%

0.265

11

22.5

Kyle Parker

23.8

TUL

123

528

23.7%

0.204

23

23.0

Kent Matthes

26.4

2 Tms

115

470

20.4%

0.222

20

23.5

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