David Dahl and Kyle Freeland, a pair of top five prospects in the Colorado Rockies organization, dominate the system's Best Tools list, as published by Baseball America on Tuesday.
Dahl is the org's best hitter for average and the top athlete, in addition to the being the best defensive outfielder in the system. Baseball America named Dahl the No. 1 prospect in the organization, ahead of popular pick Jon Gray, and the lofty ranking could result in the toolsy outfielder securing a spot in the top 20 overall. The publication will release its top 100 list sometime within the next month.
Kyle Freeland, the Rockies' first-round pick in last year's draft, owns the best fastball and slider in the org. Freeland's velocity eclipsed that of Gray in limited duty in his first year as a pro, and with mid-90s heat being a rarity in the highest levels of the game, the Colorado native should also debut in the top 100. Last season, four Rockies prospects -- Gray, Dahl, Eddie Butler and Rosell Herrera -- occupied slots in the top 100. It's possible that as many as five could find a spot on the list this time around.
Low-A shortstop Emerson Jimenez is the only only player to occupy two slots on the Rockies org's Best Tools list. Jimenez, a weak hitter with a strong glove, is the system's best defensive infielder and has the strongest arm.
The rest of the Best Tools list:
Power hitter: Ryan McMahon
Strike zone discipline: Michael Tauchman
Fastest baserunner: Omar Carrizales
Curveball: Scott Oberg
Changeup: Nelson Gonzalez
Control: Tyler Anderson
Defensive catcher: Dustin Garneau
Outfield arm: Jared Simon
Perhaps more interesting is the Rockies projected lineup for 2018. Baseball America didn't have one of those last year, instead opting to go with a top 25-and-under players list. The lineup, though almost impossible to predict, sheds a little more light on the organization's plan for prospects, assuming it was constructed with that in mind.
Also, it's good for dreaming.
C: Tom Murphy
1B: Ryan McMahon
2B: DJ LeMahieu
SS: Troy Tulowitzki
3B: Nolan Arenado
LF: Corey Dickerson
CF: David Dahl
RF: Charlie Blackmon
SP: Jon Gray
SP: Kyle Freeland
SP: Eddie Butler
SP: Tyler Matzek
SP: Antonio Senzatela
CL: Rex Brothers
The thing that jumps out at you from this list is the conversion of McMahon to first base. McMahon, like Arenado back when he was a prospect, is considered a good third baseman with plenty of room to improve. A first base projection with any thought put into it suggests it's a safe bet that McMahon will fulfill his offensive potential. He'd be a bit of a waste at first base, but with a system that contains no legitimate players who can man that position in the long run, it wouldn't be such a bad idea.
Seeing Senzatela in the rotation that soon would hopefully mean that he has mastered his pitch-to-contact style at higher levels, something that I'm not sure is a reality at this point (though admittedly it's too hard to tell). And only if things are going really, really wrong should Rex Brothers be the big league closer over Jairo Diaz or a host of others currently working their craft in the system.
Carlos Gonzalez, Tyler Chatwood, Jordan Lyles and Wilin Rosario will all be free agents before that season, which explains their absences from the list.
One thing the hypothetical lineup tells me is that the Rockies are going to have to do at least some upgrading via trade or free agency. All five of the club's current top prospects are listed in key roles above, which is a problem because at only one point since the advent of the PuRPs rankings -- Summer 2006 -- has the entire top five been comprised of players who went on to become impact major league regulars. But, if the current list turns out like that one, good things could be on the way, since those Summer 2006 prospects wound up propelling the Rockies to two playoff berths in three years.