I wrote last week that Juan Nicasio is a great unknown for the Rockies this year. This week my topic is the pitcher who has the greatest amount of untapped potential on the Rockies' roster - former top 5 pick Drew Pomeranz. He's an interesting study because it probably should be Pomeranz (and not Nicasio) that is getting buzz as a linchpin in the 2013 rotation instead of being mentioned as a candidate for the 5th starter spot.
After all, Pomeranz is the top 50 prospect with the killer stuff and prototypical size - and he's a lefty to boot. He's more than two years younger than Nicasio and has roughly the same major league sample size to evaluate. Nicasio has slightly out-pitched Pomeranz, but thus far both pitchers have been rated as roughly league average by the park adjusted ERA+ metric (101 for Nicasio, 95 for Pomeranz, league average is 100).
Of the contenders for the rotation this year (outside Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa), it is easiest to imagine Pomeranz becoming a top of rotation starter. When he's commanding his fastball well, he's able to keep batters on their toes with his off-speed offerings.
However, the biggest reason that Nicasio is getting penciled into the rotation and Pomeranz is fighting for a spot is that Pomeranz hasn't commanded his fastball well thus far. The Rockies sent him down last year because they felt his delivery was leading him to become a finesse pitcher - which is fine for Jeff Francis, but Pomeranz has the body and stuff to become a power pitcher, as Troy Renck writes.
If Pomeranz is able to maintain his mechanics the fastball command should follow, and with that should come major league success. Colorado needs their pre-arbitration pitchers to produce results if they plan on putting out a competitive product on the field, and Pomeranz should be a big part of that.
From the Renck article and this one by Thomas Harding, one might even say that Pomeranz is in the best shape of his life. He's already got the cut fastball.
Baseball America released their Top 100 Prospects List yesterday (and it's free to view).
Three Rockies farmhands make the cut - Nolan Arenado at 52, David Dahl at 53, and Trevor Story at 96. In placing Arenado where they did, BA is valuing his proximity to MLB and relatively high floor correctly. There's a greater chance that Arenado contributes to the Rockies than Story or Dahl, though you could argue that the other two might have a larger eventual impact.
BA also posted how each of the prospects measures up on the 20-80 scouting scale on the 5 tools. With the exception of Arenado's 30 score for speed, all of the scores on all tools for the trio were 50 (ML average) or better.
As part of his 2013 MLB draft series, Jon Sickels of Minor League Ball profiles Fort Collins product Marco Gonzalez, who had the distinction of being the winning pitcher in four straight state championship-clinching games for Rocky Mountain High School. The Rockies drafted him in the 29th round in 2010, but he didn't sign and has improved his draft stock in college to a possible first rounder.
Troy Tulowitzki is expecting to be back for the spring opener on Saturday. The last time that Tulo played for the Rockies was May 30th of last year. It goes without saying that a healthy Tulo will be the biggest single cause for an improvement in Colorado's 2013 record.
Part of Tulo coming back is integrating him back into the infield. Josh Rutledge in particular is getting used to turning two with Tulo.
David Schoenfield at ESPN has the Rockies' off-season report card in hand. It's a tough but fair D+. The great majority of ESPN readers (83%) think the Rockies are destined for 74 or fewer wins in 2013.
According to Sam Miller, an editor from Baseball Prospectus writing for ESPN, WAR is the answer. It's an excellent take on the issue. Seriously, if you're for or against, I suggest reading Miller's article.
Personally, I believe that imperfect defensive and pitching ratings hamstring WAR from achieving its goals of encapsulating a player's contributions into one number - but it does a better job of it than any other statistic.