Hitting expert and Raimel Tapia enthusiast Ryan Parker has a final review of the top power and hit tools from spring training in Arizona, as well as swoon-worthy gifs. He covers the three biggest bats in the Rockies' minor league system. First up is PuRP no. 7 Ryan McMahon, who we revealed yesterday will begin the year in High-A Modesto. McMahon has the most power potential at the lower levels of the organization. Parker notes that McMahon has improved from the last time he saw him. His mechanics have progressed, although he is still, and likely always will be, prone to strike out. "His swing current swing wouldn't work in the big leagues," Parker notes, "but if he can improve his mechanics like he improved the pace of his swing, then he will be in a much better place." If the improvements come, Parker envisions McMahon as a 25 home run prolific whiffer in the major leagues.
Parker's far more optimistic about PuRP no. 5 Tapia. He writes: "I've never felt more sure of a grade than Tapia's 7 hit tool." In other words, if Tapia keeps on at High-A Modesto like he did in Low-A Asheville, he has the chance to be the top hitter in all of minor league baseball. That's not even the most compelling part of Parker's review. He writes that Tapia's batting practice sessions are a buffet of sweet delights. He barrels everything, but on some days he decides to "hit nothing but low line drives to left field." Not only that, but Tapia "picked up some a little bit of extra bat speed in the off season." Oh, and Parker writes that Tapia not only hits everything, but "he loves doing it," which I read as an endorsement of his make up. Add it all up, and I envision Tapia as an unfair hybrid of Tony Gwynn and Ichiro.
And then there's PuRP no. 2 David Dahl, who Parker describes as the most athletic of the top minor league hitters in Arizona. An excerpt:
Dahl had the single best BP round I saw during my week in Arizona. On his second to last round, I’m not sure if something "clicked" in his swing or he just decided to show the futility of putting fences on a baseball field, but my goodness. He hit homer after homer with relative ease in his swing. These homers were rising line drives that rocketed over the fence. Most impressively he wasn’t just pulling these balls out. Left and center field were landing zones just as often as right field.
The critique is in Dahl's aggressive approach, which will be challenged as he progresses. He'll begin the year at Double-A New Britain, so we should learn soon how well Dahl adjusts to advanced pitching. Parker grades Tapia's hit tool higher than Dahl's, but Dahl is much faster and is a superior defender, which raises his ceiling higher than most other minor league outfielders.
The Rockies initially hoped that Jorge De La Rosa would be ready to return to the rotation on April 14, meaning that they would work with a four man rotation until then. It no longer looks like that best case scenario will happen. De La Rosa is slated for a bullpen session today, which will be followed up by a start in extended spring training and a minor league start before returning to the Rockies. Christian Bergman, who was on the active roster as a swingman in the bullpen, will take De La Rosa's place. That's assuming Bergman doesn't take Eddie Butler's place, in which case Chad Bettis will likely take De La Rosa's.
In a follow-up to his look at hitters, Adam Peterson examines the best and worst case scenarios for Rockies pitchers according to the ZiPS projection system. Accounting for range of outcomes in projections is critical. There's a story behind the median projection that we see most of the time. Go for the excellent analysis, and stay for the stimulating visuals.
This is a fun one. Sarah Ford and Jake Shapiro offer their thoughts regarding what songs they want to hear at Coors Field in 2015. They go beyond walkup songs for hitters and suggest tunes for incoming relievers, as well.
I welcome suggested listening for what I'm feeling today. Namely: Opening Day is tomorrow and the world will then be right again.