When it comes to the Colorado Rockies' farm system, quantity is just as important as quality. This may be true for every MLB team, in some regard, but it is even more true for teams strapped for cash and even more more true for a team trapped in the unique enigma of baseball at altitude.
As much I personally love singing the praises of Jon Gray, David Dahl, Raimel Tapia, Ryan McMahon, and the rest of the gang, the fact remains — and I am constantly reminded of this by less biased observers — that the prospect game is a crapshoot. Some (most?) of these guys will not fulfill their potential and counting on a couple of promising young individuals to save an entire franchise is foolhardy. This is why — or, should be why — the Rockies aren't pinning their hopes to a few guys, but instead employing the strategy of a veritable blitzkrieg of young talent 30-40 names deep set to storm the Majors over the next several years.
It has been suggested amid all the winter trade talks and rumors that the Rockies try to parlay some of their minor league depth into MLB talent right now by trading some prospects for more proven players. With a few unlikely potential exceptions (another team giving the Rockies a young pitcher with more than three years of team control in return for a position prospect, for example), I couldn't be more against this philosophy.
The unfortunate outcomes of the Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki contracts, paired with several years of poor drafting, hopefully showed the Rockies that relying on high-end talent alone to carry the team is unwise. This conundrum is mirrored by the difficulties the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Angels have experienced despite coupling generational talents in Bryce Harper and Mike Trout with other high-value players.
Unlike football (at a certain position) and basketball, baseball teams cannot reverse their fortunes on the skills of a single player, no matter how good. Baseball teams — the Royals, Giants, and Cardinals to name but a few prove — must be armies.
And that is why so many here at Purple Row have been pushing the agenda of a sort of "surge" of troops. This is why it makes sense to trade players like Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, and maybe even Corey Dickerson or DJ LeMahieu; not because anyone here doesn't like those players, but because moving them could allow the Rox to keep bolstering the system to the point where having 70 percent of the prospects fail will still yield positive results for the big club.
As one of their stronger advocates, even I can tell you this team will not be saved by David Dahl and Raimel Tapia. It won't be saved by Jon Gray. But it just may be saved by those three and ten, or 20, or 40 of their best friends.
What some non-believers in this strategy fail to realize is that those who "believe" in the system aren't getting our info or marching orders from the Rockies. There is a national consensus among prospect evaluators that the Rockies have one of the best and deepest farm systems in all of baseball. When more lists are updated to reflect the additions since the Tulowitzki trade — and maybe a few more trades — the Rockies stand to have unquestionably the deepest system in their history.
Some would argue this means they should capitalize on that value by cashing it in now for veteran players. But vets are always more expensive than rookies, and while prospects are a crapshoot, the one thing you know for sure about them is that they are cheap — and right now in Colorado, they are plentiful.
The answer, then, is not star power, but man power. The Rockies have amassed and should continue to grow the widest collection of young talent they can find, precisely because so much of it will fail. That's not a Rockies problem; it's how baseball works. For a team like the Rockies, then, there is no such thing as excess in terms of prospects. The club can't spend like the Dodgers or Angels to try to make up for bad drafts or scouting mistakes. If the farm is barren, the future is bleak.
Jeff Hoffman could turn out to be a star, or he could flame out, and Jesus Tinoco could end up the best value from the Tulo deal. But neither one is the savior in and of themselves; as long as the Rockies have both of them and so, so, so many more names, Jeff Bridich is giving himself more rolls of the dice in the part of the sport where luck matters most.
There will be injuries and disappointments, but as long as the numbers are in their favor, the Rockies will also find surprise stars and role players. We can't know exactly where the quality will come from, which is why quantity matters even more when it comes to Rockies prospects.
Go. Get. More.