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Monday Rockpile: What can we expect from Colorado's young hitters?

Happy final Monday of 2009, Rowbots.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot of news out there on the Rockies. However, The Hardball Times did touch on three pivotal offensive weapons for the Rockies at the end of last week:

Player Profile: Troy Tulowitzki
Mike Silver at THT got intimate with our golden boy's 2009 season. After a roller coaster career, it's difficult to know what to expect from the old Dirtbag, even if we all have similar ideas on what we hope to see. For those imagining a 40 HR season or even a 35 HR season, Silver cautions

His 18.5 percent HR/FB rate puts him right above Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Braun, Kendry Morales and Mark Teixeira. While it’s certainly possible that Tulo carries that kind of thump in his bat, it may be a bit optimistic. Expect some regression in this category.

He also notes improving peripherals in the patience/discipline categories, suggesting his walks should continue to increase. Essentially, the power may drop a little next year, and he might not be a bona fide cleanup hitter, but there's reason to believe he will still provide the same value. One last quote, not because it's important, but because I can't resist highlighting lazy writing in an otherwise impressive and in depth article:

Still, with his youth and favorable contract, you won’t have to worry about him being traded midseason and losing half his value like many other Colorado hitters.

Oh really? Like who? The last Rockies hitter that seems to fit this description might be Preston Wilson, five seasons ago.

THT also touched on Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez. I'm going to need more space for this. Join me after the jump. It's not like you're doing real work today anyway.

Waiver Wire Offseason: NL

Michael Street (I assume no relation to Huston) posted a piece last Friday about a trio of young NL outfielders, the lead being Dexter Fowler. Consequently, the piece delves into the Rockies crowded outfield situation, a beleaguered topic here to be certain.

Fowler's shown the ability to adjust, improving his core skills at each minor-league level

He also showed the ability to adjust at the MLB level last season without a trip to Colorado Springs. Once word got out that he couldn't hit a slider down and in, his strikeout rates skyrocketed. Notice that wasn't a season-long problem. What can we expect from Fowler? Probably more of the same over 500 ABs, but hopefully, he will also learn to apply his Harvard-level wits to base-stealing, rather than trying to be Usain Bolt.

Street also touched on Fowler's spot in the batting order, which he projects to be in the 2-hole behind Carlos Gonzalez, despite skillsets that would suggest those aren't the best spots for either player.

CarGo outperformed Fowler in the leadoff spot, hitting .300/.379/.573 at the top of the order, with a whopping .391/.481/.913 as the first batter of the game, and .333/.409/.654 leading off the inning. That could indicate Gonzalez can handle the leadoff pressure, or that these are statistical anomalies that will flatten out over time.

I'm going to lean towards the latter, just because I'm that way. I'll probably get into this more as the season draws nearer, but I feel we should be cautious with projecting CarGo in 2010. As the NLDS closed, many Rowbots already wanted to write him in as the three-hole hitter. It seemed his production finally reached his projections. Is this the case?

Take off your purple-shaded glasses for a moment and remember....There have certainly been players in the recent Rockies past to have a marvelous half-season or September call-up, only to disappoint the next year or even flameout completely. Remember this guy's season? Or this one? If you want more recent examples, surely you know this guy and this guy.

I'm not saying Gonzalez will fall apart. He has above average skill at all five tools, has one of the sweetest swings I have seen and showed an ability to adjust in the big leagues after struggling in June. His ten-week run was absolutely epic. But he will NOT have a full season like he had from August through October. I need to see him adjust again now that opposing pitching coaches will be dissecting his game before every series.

He may be an All-Star soon, but right now, I'm wary of overvaluing him. He is on my disappointment watch, just as Jorge de la Rosa (I was wrong here) and Chris Iannetta (I was right here) were last offseason.


Inside the Colorado Rockies " Rosario grabs a toehold | Major League Baseball in Denver

Wilin Rosario has added a toe tap to his stance, with which he has obtained great results.

Sources: Reliever Bobby Howry, Arizona Diamondbacks reach deal - ESPN
Howry is boring but dependable and consistent. As Nick Piecoro wrote, he's "basically a relief version of Jon Garland."
BA's lead story this morning is about how the Rule 5 draft has lost some legitimacy in recent years after the extra year of time before eligibility was instituted in 2007. Blog: Baseball America Prospects Blog » Blog Archive » John Manuel’s Personal Top 20 Prospects List
In a BA Insider piece, John Manuel highlights the top 20 prospects in the minors. No Rockies appear, but the Giants' Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner find themselves in the top ten.

Sabermetrics 101: Evaluating Fielding - Beyond the Box Score
If all this defensive metrics are confusing, take a gander at BtB's introductory course. Even if you're nose-deep in data all the time, I recommend a quick refresher.