Rockies prospects Trevor Story, Ryan Casteel, Taylor Featherston and Chris O'Dowd will participate in Arizona Fall League play this offseason, the team announced on Tuesday.
Story (PuRP No. 4) earned a midseason promotion to Double-A Tulsa after hitting .332/.436/.582 in 218 plate appearances for High-A Modesto. He has reestablished himself as a big-time prospect in the Rockies organization after struggling to a .233/.305/.394 line last season. His strikeouts are still a concern -- he's whiffed 136 times in 440 plate appearances -- but Story's .266/.371/.479 overall line in his age 21 season is a huge step in the right direction.
Casteel (PuRP No. 15) has dealt with injuries this season but is in the midst of another solid year after a breakout 2013 campaign. The 23-year-old backstop owns a .276/.334/.446 line with 16 home runs in 458 plate appearances while facing stiff Texas League competition. Last year, in his first season as a full-time player, Casteel mashed 22 home runs and hit .270/.352/.523 for Modesto. Considering the California League is largely a hitter's best friend, it's an extremely encouraging sign that Casteel has come as close as he has to replicating his 2013 production this year.
Featherston (PuRP No. 26) has quietly put together a very solid season at an age-appropriate level. The 24-year-old infielder has hit .259/.321/.444 with 16 home runs in Double-A. Those numbers aren't eye-popping, but when compared to the inflated lines he put up at Asheville and Modesto, it's encouraging that Featherston's production is as high as it is when considering the tough jump and lesser pedigree than some of the other guys in the Rockies' system. Featherston has strong defensive tools at second base and could contend for a big league job as soon as 2016, and it's highly probable that he'll get a cup of coffee at that level next season.
Yes, O'Dowd (unranked) is the son of the Rockies' general manager, but it's not completely ludicrous for him to get the opportunity to face good competition in the AFL. O'Dowd was arguably Modesto's most consistent offensive performer, posting a solid-but-unspectacular .272/.325/.415 line before being promoted to Tulsa last month. Since then, the 23-year-old backstop has flashed impressive on-base skills despite hitting for little power in a league he's a bit young for. O'Dowd is, by most accounts, a competent or better defensive catcher. It's no secret that's something the Rockies could use at the big league level.
Each of the four (at least for now; there could be more) Rockies farmhands will play for the Salt River Rafters, who will also be comprised of prospects from the Diamondbacks, Astros, Marlins and Twins. Their first game will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 7.
As always, we'll provide the most in-depth coverage of Rockies players in the AFL that you'll find anywhere, so stay tuned for that.