The Winter Meetings are just around the corner, and with them come the Rule 5 Draft that will be held on December 13th. It’s the annual “prospect gamble” when each major league team has to decide which prospects to protect by adding them to their 40-man roster, and who is left exposed to the possibility of being claimed by another club. Jonathan Mayo has every team’s list of possible Rule 5 picks in this post from MLB.com.
The Rockies have seven eligible prospects this year, and three open spots on the roster (not that they have to fill them all). Sam Hilliard—coming off an impressive showing in the Arizona Fall League, slashing .328/.389/.516 with 6 XBH, 14 RBI, and 2 SB—and Ryan Castellani are the top names for Colorado, and they will force the front office to make some tough decisions regarding their futures with this ball club.
While I believe Hilliard will be protected, Castellani is coming off the worst season of his young career. He is still a top-10 prospect in the organization, and only 22 years old, but posted career-worst totals in ERA, FIP, strikeouts, and walks in 2018. It’s the third year in a row he has regressed and, if Hilliard is protected, Bridich goes after Ottavino, and one more bat is added in free agency, Ryan is likely to be on the outside-looking-in. Hopefully, he can remain a Rockie if no other team thinks he’s worth the financial risk, too.
What are your Rule 5 Draft thoughts, Purple Rowers?
Speaking of the Arizona Fall League, another Rockies prospect is coming off a great performance for the Salt River Rafters and turning heads. Jesus Tinoco pitched 15.2 relief innings in the Fall League, posted a 1.72 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, .190 average against, and struck out 14 batters—increasing his likelihood for a promotion and the chances he’ll go down as the most valuable return from the Troy Tulowitzki trade.
So what was the key to his success? As Thomas Harding points out, Tinoco has increased his fastball velocity and spin rate as he has reduced the length of each outing. In other words, he’s learning to thrive as a relief pitcher instead of a starter. The Rockies haven’t ruled out Tinoco could remain a potential rotation piece moving forward, but they shouldn’t ignore the incredible value of a young, power relief pitcher coming out of the bullpen who can throw 96-98 mph with an improving curveball and slider.
Continuing the theme of offseason prospect-talk, a trio of staff writers at MLB.com got together and picked one player from each team in the league that could potentially win Rookie of the Year. Coming as no big surprise to most of us, the Rockies selection is top-prospect and power-hitting middle-infielder Brendan Rodgers.
Brendan will need to play a significant role for the Rockies in 2019 to be considered, obviously, and did struggle making the transition from Double-A to Triple-A last year. With DJ LeMahieu making his exit via free agency, though, the door is ready for Brendan to kick down. Can he make the jump to the majors and succeed at a high level? If so, he will have some competition for ROY from other high-profile rookies such as Touki Toussaint, Victor Robles, and Alex Verdugo. So, Will B-Rod get the opportunity for a breakout season?
Thomas Harding had some fun and broke down what he thinks are the ten biggest trades in Rockies history. He leads with the obvious Holliday-for-CarGo (a no-doubt number one in my book, too), but then goes with DJ LeMahieu and Tyler Colvin coming to town over the infamous Troy Tulowitzki trade. There’s an argument to be made there, sure—DJ will go down as the best 2B the club has ever had—but I still think the impact of opening the SS position for Trevor Story will be bigger in the long-term.
The other big trade I think is ranked too low is one that may take time to be considered one of the greatest, but still deserves a great deal of attention now, is the German Márquez acquisition. It’s still early, yes, but at only 23 years of age and already a dominant force on the mound, it’s not hard to see German going down as one of the greatest starting pitchers in Rockies history if his recent success is a sign of things to come.
Our friends over at Rox Pile have been participating in Fake Winter Meetings and playing the part of faux-GM for the Rockies. In the final installment, Kevin Henry discusses his approach in deciding to sign one more popular free agent, Adam Ottavino—even if it comes at a cost. Otto was a critical piece to the Rockies bullpen as they made their way to the NLDS this year, and Kevin argues that the positives outweigh the negatives when it comes to keeping Adam to lock down leads late in games for the Rockies for another two seasons.