After a few hard seasons that have found the Rockies at the bottom of the league, one might hope to find some sign of potential improvement coming up through the farm system. A recent article by Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen showcased the National League West teams’ prospects and unfortunately only a handful of Rockies’ minor league players were identified to make an impact in the next season. The good news is that Longenhagen is bullish on some of the young Rockies’ relief arms.
Brendan Rodgers - what’s his value
Rather than make any grand statement about Rockies’ top prospect (for several years running now) Brendan Rodgers, Longenhagen simply points out that between injuries and limited playing time, Rodgers’ value is quite unclear. The third overall pick in the 2015 amateur draft, Rodgers still carries a Future Value (FV) of 55, according to Fangraphs. This number, however, may no longer accurately reflect Rodgers’ abilities. Because of COVID-19 and the small number of plate appearances in 2020, scouts have not been able to get a good look at Rodgers in the last 12 months. Some of his Statcast numbers point to his raw power ability, but his role on the team remains unclear as well.
Rockies best farm assets: relief pitchers?
The bullpen is a major pain point for this team and the cure may lie in its top relief pitching prospects. Longenhagen looks favorably upon Ashton Goudeau, who could provide a reliable long-relief option in a role similar to what Jeff Hoffman has filled this past season. Goudeau logged 8 ⅓ innings in 2020 and was hit hard, giving up three homers in the small sample. He should, however, enter spring training in contention for a bullpen spot.
Tommy Doyle and Ben Bowden round out the candidates who are ripe for big league action. Doyle got a taste in September when he was called up and pitched 2 ⅓ disastrous innings. He does bring a “plus” fastball and slider and could settle nicely in the bullpen if he can overcome some control issues. Bowden is a big lefty (6’ 4”, 235 pounds) and should fill a big hole in the bullpen. He spent 2019 between double-A and triple-A and is knocking on the door, especially given that the Rockies only rostered left-hander in the bullpen is Phillip Diehl.
The bottom line: these players need to be given opportunities. While complicated by a short season in 2020, the narrative hasn’t changed that in recent years, valuable innings and plate appearances have been given to veteran players over prospects such as Rodgers, Goudeau, and Doyle. An offseason where free agent spending is expected to be minimal, the Rockies may be forced to let some of their younger assets loose on the field and really see what they can do in 2021.
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After a season where the Rockies’ bullpen finished with a franchise-worst ERA of 6.77, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post assesses some of the best free agent relief pitchers available via free agency. Considering Dick Monfort’s recent address to ticket holders and Jeff Bridich’s track record signing relief pitchers, it is doubtful that the Rockies will spend big on any top names. Saunders believes the Rockies will pass on the top arms but may consider Shane Green, Jose Alvarez, or Trevor May to name a few.
Nick Groke reports on the recent signing of Dereck Rodríguez who he suspects was brought in to compete for a role in the starting rotation or as a long reliever out of the bullpen. The deal includes a spring training invite which gives him an opportunity to enter the 2021 season on the big league roster if he performs well. It’s a low-risk acquisition that directly challenges the status of Jeff Hoffman and Chi Chi González entering next season.
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