Rockies prospects, top 5 outfielders: David Dahl, Raimel Tapia lead emerging corps

David Dahl - Charlie Drysdale

The Rockies' major league outfield is crowded now, but there will be even more of a competition for spots there in the next few seasons as these top prospects move up the organization.

Over the next few weeks, I will be going over the depth of the Rockies farm system in key positions. In this feature I've chosen to highlight the top five outfielders with an emphasis on their 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 just the Double-A level and below in 2013. For outfielders that means I've eliminated players such as Kent Matthes and Corey Dickerson from consideration. My feeling is that those players will appear in major league news often enough, and this will give fans an introduction to players who are just below the radar.

Top 5 Outfielders

1. David Dahl - 6'2", 185 lbs.

OF

Age

Tm

G

Iso

HR

K%

SB

BA

OBP

SLG

wRC+

David Dahl

19.17

ASH

10

0.150

0

19%

2

0.275

0.310

0.425

109

What was initially a nightmare season, could turn into a bedrock year and something to build upon for David Dahl. Coming off an MVP season in the Pioneer League, Dahl spent most of 2013 on the shelf with a myriad of well documented issues. During his time off David spent time at the Sparta Sports Science center, preparing for the coming year and dedicating himself to being a professional athlete. Time is still on the young center fielder's side: he'll be turning 20 in April, and he's one of the most talented outfielders in the Rockies system.

Dahl is a true five-tool outfielder, with the ability to hit for average and power; his size and age give him an advantage over the other outfielders. Look for David to return to Asheville with an opportunity for a quick promotion to Modesto, where he'll be back on track. David was ranked in the Top 100 prospects lists for Baseball America, MLB.com and topped out at No. 38 on Marc Hulet's list for Fangraphs.

2. Raimel Tapia - 6'2", 160 lbs.

OF

Age

Tm

G

Iso

HR

K%

SB

BA

OBP

SLG

wRC+

Raimel Tapia

19.33

GJ

64

0.200

7

10.6%

11

0.357

0.397

0.557

141

Coming off an impressive season in the DSL, Tapia burned the doors off the Pioneer League and was named its Topps Player of the Year. One of the quickest bats in the system, Tapia feeds off fastballs and generated a team-record 29-game hit streak in Grand Junction last year. A quick outfielder who can cover ground and maintains an above-average arm, Tapia plays a solid defensive center field.

The Dominican didn't arrive with as much fanfare and doesn't quite possess the power capability of Dahl, which is why he places second on this list. Tapia's ability to play a premium defensive position as well as the ceiling on his hit tool places him in the second spot. Tapia will most likely spend 2014 in Asheville, where he'll get used to playing in a full season league for the first time in his career. Tapia ranked as high as No. 7 in the Rockies organization by Fangraphs.

3. Kyle Parker - 6'0", 200 lbs.

OF

Age

Tm

G

Iso

HR

K%

SB

BA

OBP

SLG

wRC+

Kyle Parker

23.75

TUL

123

0.204

23

18.8%

7

0.288

0.345

0.492

135

Parker exceeded the 20 home run plateau for the third consecutive time in his minor league career, but saw his average and on base percentage fall dramatically from the prior year. Tulsa can be tough on right-handed hitters as evidenced by Nolan Arenado in 2012, and while his stock is down now, Kyle could see a surge from playing in hitter friendly Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Parker is facing some stiff competition at the major league level as the Rockies' outfield is one of the deepest in baseball. He worked at first base in the Arizona Fall League for this reason -- to give him options -- but it also reveals that the Rockies might be grooming him as an eventual replacement for Michael Cuddyer. Parker ranks third because he lacks a strong defensive position and outside of his power, the ceiling on his hitting doesn't rank as high as the other two outfield prospects. Look for Parker to make his major league debut this summer and add some power from the bench. The former Clemson Tiger ranked as high as No. 4 among Rockies prospects by Baseball America.

4. Francisco Sosa - 6'4", 180 lbs.

OF

Age

Tm

G

Iso

HR

K%

SB

BA

OBP

SLG

wRC+

Francisco Sosa

23.33

ASH

126

0.214

20

23.8%

30

0.314

0.396

0.528

165

There are very few players who have posted 20 home runs, 30 stolen bases and a .315 average in an Asheville uniform, but Sosa became one of them in 2013. The tall rangy corner outfielder had an impressive season which was somewhat overshadowed by Tom Murphy and Rosell Herrera.

There are several things going against the right-handed Sosa, at 24 years old and in his final year before being Rule 5 eligible, the Dominican is facing a do-or-die season. He also struck out 125 times, which is a bad sign for a player heading into pitcher-friendly Modesto -- a fact both Will Swanner and Trevor Story will attest to. If he can overcome those obstacles however, look for Sosa to move up quickly and be added to the 40 man roster this year, as the Rockies tend to move quickly on DSL players they feel deserve protecting.

5. Jordan Patterson - 6'4", 205 lbs.

OF

Age

Tm

G

Iso

HR

K%

SB

BA

OBP

SLG

wRC+

Jordan Patterson

21.33

GJ

59

0.200

10

14.6%

10

0.293

0.388

0.493

128

Drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 draft, the tall rangy right fielder displayed gap power in his first season with the Grand Junction Rockies. His batting technique was described by our own Drew Creasman in his Grand Junction series last summer:

"Patterson can hit too. While I was there it seemed like he produced nothing but line drives. He has a beautiful, compact, left-handed swing and watching him take batting practice was a treat."

Ptterson will be part of a crowded outfield in Asheville, which will make it difficult to find innings for everyone. Pitchers at the Single-A level will challenge Jordan -- and the rest of the Asheville hitters -- with more off-speed pitches to deal with than what they have ever experienced before. It shouldn't be a problem for the South Alabama alum, who had one of the best contact rates in the organization. Patterson struck out only 14.6% of the time, which fits right in between Nolan Arenado and Corey Dickerson's K-rates.

Honorable Mention

  • Michael Tauchman (6'3", 215 lbs.) - Another Rockies prospect with good size and speed, Tauchman stole 20 bases at Short-season Tri-City. Drafted in the 10th round of the 2013 draft, the left-hander hit .425 and stole 28 bases for Bradley University. All told, the 22-year-old stole 48 bags between college and the minor leagues last year. His age, high number of strikeouts, and lack of power kept Tauchman from appearing higher on this list.
  • Denzel Richardson (6'2", 174 lbs.) - A big center fielder who will be making his stateside debut this year, Richardson has speed to burn -- his 60 yard run of 6.3 is two-tenths of a second faster than David Dahl's best time. Add in five home runs -- which is more than Wilin Rosario ever hit in the DSL -- and we have the makeup of a solid outfielder. Injuries curtailed the 20-year-old's season in 2013 and he'll need to cut down his strikeout rate to prove he can move up on this list.
  • Omar Carrizales (6'0", 175 lbs.) - Stepping into the center field role after Denzel went down with injury, Carrizales flourished, carrying the team with a .302 average. The left-handed Venezuelan shined in two areas for the Rockies: stolen bases and contact. His 28 stolen bases was third in the system and by far the best among short-season players. He also carried a strikeout rate of 9.6%, which was lower than Raimel Tapia's and Nolan Arenado's. He will need to develop more power to go along with his contact rate, but at just 19 years old, he has plenty of time to do so.
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