Rockies prospects, top infielders: Ryan McMahon, Rosell Herrera lead the way

Ryan McMahon - by Charlie Drysdale

A third baseman leads the way for the first time since Nolan Arenado graduated to the big leagues. Ryan McMahon edges out one of the hottest hitters in 2013, as the switch-hitting Rosell Herrera came in a close second.

In an ongoing analysis of the depth of the Rockies' farm system at key positions, this feature highlights the top five infielders with an emphasis on ceiling over proximity. Since many Triple-A players will be fighting for a major league job this year, I've chosen to limit the list to players who appeared at the Double-A level and below in 2013.

Top 5 Infielders

1. Ryan McMahon - 6'2, 185 lbs.

IF

Age

Team

G

ISO

HR

SB

K%

AVG

OBP

SLG

wRC+

Ryan McMahon

18.5

GJ

59

0.261

11

4

23.5 %

0.321

0.402

0.583

147

"On the field, McMahon plays like a captain." As written by our own Drew Creasman last summer, and it's something I've noticed watching guys like Nolan Arenado, Kyle Parker and David Dahl who carry an aura about them that makes it seem like they just belong in the game. McMahon fits into that category and brings some solid skills to the table as a strong corner infielder with power and a great approach at the plate.

Drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft out of high school in Santa Ana, Calif., the left-handed hitter showed gap power and patience at the plate in his short-season debut. Defensively, McMahon has a strong arm and average coverage, which should allow him to stick at third base. Strikeouts are a tad high, but his on base percentage was outstanding for an 18-year-old. Ranked as high as fifth by Fangraphs among Rockies prospects, McMahon should start the season in Low-A Asheville and be given every chance to prove he can move up.

2. Rosell Herrera - 6'3, 190 lbs.

IF

Age

Team

G

ISO

HR

SB

K%

AVG

OBP

SLG

wRC+

Rosell Herrera

20.7

Ash

126

0.172

16

21

17.6 %

0.343

0.419

0.515

168

An athletic shortstop who was left for dead after a terrible 2012, Herrera rebounded in 2013 to post one of the highest wRC+ (168) in the minor leagues. The switch-hitter has an offensive presence similar to Dexter Fowler with an excellent feel for the strike zone, though he occasionally struggles to make contact as represented by his 96 strikeouts last season.

Rated as high as No. 3 among Rockies prospects by Baseball America, Rosell is a member of the Rockies 40-man roster and will receive his first option this year. Defensively, Herrera is a work in progress at shortstop. His athleticism and size allows him make some amazing plays, but his inconsistency will most likely move him to third base or even center field. Herrera is second on this list because last year was a repeat season at Low-A and he needs to move quicker through the system before roster crunches and his options begin to work against him.

3. Cristhian Adames - 6'0, 180 lbs.

IF

Age

Team

G

ISO

HR

SB

K%

AVG

OBP

SLG

wRC+

Cristhian Adames

21.9

Tul

107

0.082

3

13

17.5 %

0.267

0.331

0.350

95

Known primarily as a defensive specialist, Adames (pronounced: ah-dawm-ace) will most likely be the next Rockies infield prospect to play at Coors Field. A career .271 hitter in the minor leagues, Adames doesn't have a lot of speed in his arsenal, with only 13 stolen bases in Tulsa last season being his high water mark. He is adept at working a count and has a good feel for the strike zone.

Fangraphs rated Adames at No. 13 among Rockies prospects. The Dominican has played primarily at shortstop in his career and has just a combined 18 games at third and second base. Look for the switch hitter to be the starting shortstop in Colorado Springs and as a member of the Rockies 40-man roster, will be receiving his second option this season. Adames is rated in the third position because he is so close to the majors due to his defense, but doesn't bring a lot of offensive weapons to the table.

4. Trevor Story - 6'1, 175 lbs.

IF

Age

Team

G

ISO

HR

SB

K%

AVG

OBP

SLG

wRC+

Trevor Story

20.6

Mod

130

0.161

12

23

33.0 %

0.233

0.305

0.394

83

Drafted in the first round of the 2011 draft, Trevor Story makes scouts drool when it comes to his gap power and speed on the basepaths -- a rare combination for a shortstop. Still, last year was a nightmare for the Texas native, who struggled with strikeouts in the California League while whiffing 183 times. A closer look at Story's first and second half numbers show a night and day comparison, going from a .268 OBP to a .340 in the last half of the year.

Don't be surprised if Story is asked to repeat Modesto in 2014, at least for a tuneup before getting an opportunity to move on. The right-hander has a cannon for an arm and while his average range may move him to third base, Story has all the tools to play at short. He is rated fourth on this list because of his potential for a boom or bust season; 2014 will prove to be a strong test for the 21-year-old.

5. Hamlet Marte - 5'10, 180 lbs.

IF

Age

Team

G

ISO

HR

SB

K%

AVG

OBP

SLG

wRC+

Hamlet Marte

19.3

DSL

59

0.161

7

7

13.2 %

0.291

0.382

0.452

147

Hamlet Marte was a breakout star for the DSL Rockies in 2013, tying the club record with seven home runs and earning the team MVP award. Marte is a right-handed hitter with experience at both first base and catcher, so either way he may have a bright future in the Rockies infield.

Hamlet spent last fall working in the Rockies instructional program in Arizona, expect the 20-year-old to make his stateside debut in the Pioneer league for the Grand Junction Rockies this year. The young Dominican deserved to be on the top catchers list, but his power and ability to avoid strikeouts places him in the fifth spot here.

Honorable Mention

  • Emerson Jimenez (6'1, 160 lbs.) - An athletic shortstop who received a rare mid-season promotion from the Dominican league to Grand Junction, Jimenez is a left-handed hitter who struggles with strikeouts but is still raw and sprays line drives.
  • Harold Riggins (6'2, 240 lbs.) - The most popular beer batter in every park he visits, Riggins lead the minor leagues in strikeouts. The ultimate true-outcome player, the N.C. State alum was also one of the best among Rockies prospects at walks and home runs. Big Riggs' 9.99% home runs per contact rate is one of the elite in the minors.
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