This one thing we know is true: the Colorado Rockies have a very promising farm system. That much has been evident recently, and again Tuesday afternoon it was reinforced when prospect Ryan McMahon was named the third-best third baseman across the minors, according to MLB.com.
Mike Rosenbaum, who ranked the ten best hot corner prospects coming up, outlined his reasons for setting McMahon so highly:
McMahon has done nothing but hit since he signed with the Rockies for $1,327,600 as a second-round pick in 2013. He batted .300/.372/.520 with 18 home runs and a California League-leading 43 doubles last season at Class A Advanced Modesto. McMahon has some swing-and-miss to his game and strikes out often as a result, but he also sticks to a consistent approach and shows a good feel for hitting and has power to all fields. He led the league with 39 errors last season but is a good athlete with the tools to become an average defender at third base.
Rosenbaum is right about that; essentially since day one of his career, McMahon has never struggled to hit, despite adjusting to wood bat competition against competition typically almost three years older than the southern California high school product.
A lefty swinger who's proven to have a strong eye at the plate in addition to good power, McMahon has slashed .297/.372/.524 across 1,359 plate appearances in his three years of professional baseball. Add 107 doubles, 12 triples, and 47 home runs, as well as a walk rate hovering just below 10%, and the Rockies are watching a professional hitter develop before their eyes, even aside from relatively high strikeout totals.
We recently spoke to the 21-year-old about moving quickly through the Rockies' system, and that interview is certainly worth a read. It's doubly fascinating to hear McMahon explain the Rockies moving him to first base for informal workouts this winter, if only to carve out a backup plan if he makes it to the Majors with incumbent All Star third baseman Nolan Arenado still manning the position in Denver.
For now, it's a safe bet to assume McMahon will begin 2016 at Double-A Hartford, and with a strong season, he could be a calendar year or slightly more away from the big leagues. Based on early results from his offensive approach in pro ball, Ryan McMahon is in as good a position as you can be now entering the second-highest level of the minor leagues having just turned 21 a month ago. From here, then, the challenge becomes adjusting to better and better competition at such a young age.