It’s time for a prospect roundup! Here are some highlights from the farm over the first week of the minor-league season.
Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes: Ramiel Tapia, OF
It seems like Tapia has been around forever, and in terms of prospect shelf lives, he really has. However, after a six-year ascent through the minor leagues, he finally arrived in the bigs at the end of 2016 and demonstrated very clearly that he was worth the wait. But he still needs a bit more time.
Sent to Albuquerque to iron out his game to start 2017, it looks like it won’t be long before the Rockies have no choice but to find him a spot on the 25-man roster. In the first seven games of the season, he has already accumulated 13 hits and six doubles, turning in a line of .406/.472/.594 and an OPS north of 1.000. Obviously, he will slow down a bit, but how much he slows down will dictate when he sees the MLB again.
Double-A Hartford Yard Goats: Ryan McMahon, 3B
After tearing up the the low minors in his first three seasons of pro ball, McMahon reached Double-A for the first time in 2016, and he sure felt the difference. Facing true adversity for the first time in his young career, the slugger posted a wRC+ of 101, a hairsbreadth above league average.
Returning to the same level this season, it seems he has acclimated to the playing environment quite well and has returned to terrorizing opposing pitching staffs. In the first few games of the season, the third baseman is .370/.400/.593, albeit with a BABIP roughly 33 percent above the game-wide average. When he cools down, it will be how much of his storied power that returns that will determine whether we should continue to keep an eye on him or if he will become the latest victim of Double-A ball: the “great separator of prospects.”
High-A Lancaster JetHawks: Forrest Wall, 2B
Stalled progress is a real and terrible thing for prospects, and few Rockies prospects know this painful truth more fully than Forrest Wall. Formerly a top prospect and proud owner of a nearly elite contact/speed combo, Wall was able to defy the “never take second baseman in the first round” rule, getting selected with the 35th pick of 2014. Advanced pitching hit him like a train in an old western, though, and now both attributes slid to a level where they’re a hair above average.
This downward tilt is taking its toll on Wall, and his 2016 numbers reflect it. Any sign of a comeback is encouraging, though, and while six games is hardly a respectable sample size, what he has done in that time is incredible. While he only put up a wRC+ of 88 last season, representing an offensive output 12% below average, he has nearly doubled that number this season, posting a mark of 163, which is an enormous amount better than an average player. Has he gotten back on the horse, or is this just a mirage? We’ll see in time.
Single-A Asheville Tourists: Colton Welker, 3B
Hardly a heralded prospect, Welker was a fourth round selection in the 2016 draft and played like an MVP in his first season as a professional. Entering the new season, he has wasted no time in getting back to showing that he’s worth some attention. So far, he has nonchalantly posted otherworldly numbers—we’re talking an OPS of 1.170—and has taken to third base very well after his move from short. MLB.com notes that he has very good feel for the bat and is highly advanced at the plate for a teenager, and that he has a chance to be an outstanding defender as well. The numbers show that he will likely come back to earth soon, a BABIP of .421 won’t last long, but he may be forcing prospect evaluators to take another, much longer look at him very soon.