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A primer on the Eastern League and the New Britain Rock Cats

The Rockies changed Double-A affiliates this offseason. Purple Row has you covered.

Tommy Murphy is one of the players to watch for New Britain.
Tommy Murphy is one of the players to watch for New Britain.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Greetings Rockies and Rockettes. My name is Steven Martano and I am delighted to announce that I will be covering the Rockies' prospects this year as they come through the Eastern League in New Britain, Conn. In my time watching rising stars come through New Britain as part of the Twins' minor league system I have been fortunate enough to see players such as David Ortiz, Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Francisco Liriano and Torii Hunter.

My goal at Purple Row is to be your eyes and ears as high fliers pass through the Rockies minor league system and keep you up to date on the current topics and trends coming out of the Eastern League that down the road hopefully will have a significant impact in Denver. As the season goes on I will be interviewing players to get their perspectives on the team and their impact on the Rockies organization.

I would like to thank Bryan Kilpatrick for the opportunity to be part of the Purple Row community and look forward to providing you with the most important, up-to-date Rockies prospects information. If there is a player or Rockies MiLB topic you would like to read more about, please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter. Now let's get to the good stuff.

Last season the Rockies' Double-A affiliate was in Tulsa, where the team finished just above .500 at 71-68 but went on a late season run to the Texas League Championship.  Tulsa is no longer part of the Rockies development as every two years there is an affiliate shake-up and now Colorado is partnering with the Eastern League Rock Cats. The Eastern League consists mostly of east coast Double-A affiliates including the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Nationals and Phillies. The Giants are the only other National League West team to be a part of the Eastern League, though they are in a different division than New Britain.

As an overview and refresher on the Rockies' minor league system as a whole, Colorado has five players, all of whom were originally drafted by the Rockies and several of whom are on the New Britain roster starting the season, in Baseball America's top 100.

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Of particular note is Rockies top prospect David Dahl, who ranks 22nd on the BA top prospects list. Dahl was selected by the Rockies with 10th overall pick in the 2012 draft and immediately excelled in the Pioneer League, winning MVP honors. Last year was a telltale campaign for Dahl as he returned from an injury-riddled 2013, when he missed time due to multiple ailments including a hamstring tear and a lower back injury.

Dahl is a toolsy outfielder with quick hands and an ability to make solid contact, which could translate into above-average game power. Dahl has opened 2015 as an everyday outfielder and is off to a strong start, hitting .290 and showing some speed with three stolen bases in only seven games. Dahl had a rough night last night, going 0-5 with three strikeouts though he did score a run on a dropped third strike. Despite the lousy night Thursday, he started off the season strong hitting safely in the team's first seven games (let's hope I'm not the bad luck charm). He is viewed as the best outfielder (and best overall prospect) in the Rockies' system, so it should be fun to see him roaming the Eastern League outfields en route to Coors Field.

Tommy Murphy is another of the Rockies' top 10 prospects and is the starting catcher in New Britain. Murphy spent some time in Double-A in 2013 and was supposed to put in a significant amount of time last year but was sidelined early with a season-ending rotator cuff strain. Though he recovered via rest and rehab, he should be with New Britain at least until late May or early June. Hopefully Murphy can get right quickly and be a possible big league option sooner rather than later. Murphy is a solid catching prospect who is a good defender and can contribute offensively. Murphy showed off his power last night crushing a home run to lead off the second inning, and showed good gap power in the seventh, but was gunned out at second when he tried to take an extra base.

Trevor Story ranked 12th on the BA Rockies prospect list.  The shortstop hit third in Thursday night's lineup and went 1-for-5 with a double and three strikeouts.

There are several other prospects to keep an eye on who are in High-A who may end up in Connecticut before the season ends. Infielders Ryan McMahon, Rosell Herrera and righty Antonio Senzatela are players of note. I will keep an eye on these guys and others as they move throughout the Rockies system.

As for opening night in New Britain, the Rock Cats got off to a great start with an 8-5 win over Toronto's affiliate, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Let's hope it's a harbinger of things to come.

Statistics and information courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball America.

Steven Martano is a Contributing Prospect Writer for Purple Row and a Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano.