MLB Pipeline started releasing their updated 2016 prospect rankings on Monday, and first up was their list of top right-handed pitching prospects. Included on the list as the sixth best righty in all of baseball was Jon Gray, who made his Major League debut with Colorado last summer.
Additionally, Jeff Hoffman, acquired in the Troy Tulowitzki trade last July, was named as one of the two honorable mention candidates in the list compiled by prospect guru Jim Callis.
For what it's worth, Gray dropped one spot since the last preseason list in 2015, from fifth to start last year to sixth this season, though the overall opinion of him has risen. Hoffman makes his first (near) appearance on the list, and makes the Rockies the only Major League organization with two pitchers on the list.
Callis has more on Gray:
The lone member of this list to have reached the Majors, Gray may have the best pure stuff in franchise history, with a heavy fastball that has been clocked at 102 mph, a nasty slider and a sinking changeup. Also the highest-drafted righty in the Top 10 (No. 3 overall in 2013), he'll need to refine his command to become a front-line starter and survive Coors Field.
One concern about Gray prior to last year was that his velocity had dropped. Since then, the righty from Oklahoma has proven that was simply the result of an adjustment period to pitching every fifth day over a longer season, and he showed that regained velocity last year. Combine that with an impressive, albeit limited big league debut, and Gray is going into this season with the potential to be the best Rockies pitcher ever.
While not among the top ten, the Rockies' Jeff Hoffman was the second of two prospects mentioned in the "next up" section of the reveal, placing him twelfth among current right-handed pitching prospects.
Callis on Hoffman:
In the mix to go No. 1 overall in the 2014 Draft before he blew out his elbow, Jeff Hoffman went No. 9 to the Blue Jays despite having Tommy John surgery, and he quickly reached Double-A in his pro debut last year. Traded to the Rockies in the Troy Tulowitzki deal in July, he has a chance to have three plus pitches (mid-90s sinker, big-breaking curveball, changeup) and throws strikes, but he needs to miss more bats.
While Hoffman's numbers may not have been as impressive last year as would be expected from a top prospect, performance wasn't Hoffman's main goal. Coming back healthy from elbow reconstruction surgery was the goal, and Hoffman did that. The hope is the stuff that made him a potential first overall pick before surgery will return now that he's healthy, and that could catapult Hoffman further up this list next year. Of course, that could be a moot point if Hoffman makes his big league debut early enough in 2016 to lose his rookie—and thus, prospect—eligibility.
MLB Pipeline will continue to release these top ten prospects lists leading up to their top 100 overall prospect release at the end of the month.
With arguably the deepest and most talented farm system in the club's history, don't be surprised if the Rockies have at least one prospect on almost every one of these positional lists, and as always, Purple Row will be breaking down their placements and what it means for Colorado's future.