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Evaluating the Rockies farm after the Nolan Arenado trade

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Colorado Rockies news and analysis for Sunday, February 7, 2021

At this point, we’ve covered just about every angle of the Nolan Arenado trade from a Nolan perspective. Now it’s time to look at the future. We have a few articles coming this week analyzing how this trade affects the Rockies in 2021 and then beyond 2021, but today we need to dig in a little to the prospects coming to Denver.

Justin Wick already provided some in-depth analysis of the headliner of the trade, Austin Gomber and what we might expect from him in a Rockies uniform in 2021. But the other prospects in the trade don’t figure to be taking the field in purple pinstripes for a while. Let’s take a look at them, keeping in in the mind I am 100% dependent on the reports of others.

Elehuris Montero, 3B/1B

Montero was considered the Cardinal’s no. 8 prospect before the trade and MLBPipeline slots him in as the no. 7 in the Rockies system. The 6’-3”, 215-lb corner infielder won the Class A Midwest League MVP in 2018 when he hit .322/.381/.529 with 15 home runs in 103 games, earning him a brief appearance on Top 100 lists. Then he struggled with a broken wrist bone in 2019 and got exposed by Double-A Texas League pitching, posting a 30 percent strikeout rate and just a .552 OPS in 59 games. He’s got big time power potential but his aggressive approach—less than three pitches seen per plate appearance is extreme—might limit his development. And with such a big body, the cold corner may be a better fit than the hot one. Look for him in Hartford or Albuquerque next year.

Tony Locey, RHP

Drafted in the third round in 2019 out of the University of Georgia, Locey turned heads pitching in the Cape Cod League in 2017 by striking out a batter per inning. By his senior year he was hitting high-90’s on the radar gun. He pairs that with an above-average slider and a so-so change to produce big strikeouts, but that comes at the risk of big walks. The question is whether he’s destined to be a fireballer out of the bullpen or if he can use his big frame (6’-3”, 239-lb) to stick in the rotation. He only has 17 professional innings so the 22-year-old has some time to figure it out, probably beginning in Spokane (High-A) or Fresno (Low-A) in 2021.

Mateo Gil, SS

Mateo Gil was also drafted in the third round by the Cardinals. The 2018 pick out of Fort Worth hasn’t done much in the minors yet, posting a .262/.316/.419 slash in 231 plate appearances in 2019. He figures as a low-ceiling/high-floor shortstop prospect who has the knowledge and feel to play the position well, but will have to fill out a bit if he wants to turn his bat-to-ball skills into an offensive profile that can earn him everyday at bats in the majors. His dad, Benji Gil, was a shortstop for eight years and had a utility role on the 2002 World Series champion Angels. 2021 will be Mateo’s first year in full-season ball.

Jake Sommers, RHP

Sommers pitched at University of Wisconsin-Milwuakee (Go Panthers!) for four years. He pitched well in the Northwoods League in the summers but tended to get hit around at the NCAA level. He parlayed his senior season as the team’s closer (3.60 ERA, 37 K, 16 BB, 10 saves in 30 innings) into a tenth round draft pick in 2019. He was given the chance to start in the short-season Appalachian League where he struck out 9.6 batters per nine innings, though with a 1.355 WHIP. His sinking fastball and curve/slider combo has a chance to propel him to the bigs, but it’s probably a longshot.

So where does this leave the farm system? According to longtime Purple Row prospects guru Sage Farron, the Rockies added three PuRPs and one wild card. While none of these players are Top 100 prospects, farm systems are more than what you have at the top. Due to graduations and setbacks in development, the Rockies farm system has cratered in organizational rankings in the last few years. Adding a trio of legitimate prospects fosters depth in the system even if it doesn’t immediately move the Rockies to the top of the organizational lists.

In the end, one never knows with prospects. And after all, sometimes a good-bat-no-glove prospect turns into a perennial All-Star.

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The Arithmetic of the Arenado Trade | Viva El Birdos

This is from a few days ago but it’s relevant to the article above. The Rockies have taken a lot of flack for trading away Nolan and sending gobs of money with him (just look at the comments on the official trade post). The funny thing is, due to the nature of his contract, that money was the only way the Rockies were going to be able to move the disaffected third baseman. Using various trade value calculators, John LaRue of the Cardinals SBNation site demonstrates how the Rockies got fair value from this trade (well, at least from a trade-values perspective; LaRue knows the Cards got a steal).

In other words, 30-year-olds on long contracts don’t fetch top prospects. And since Nolan demanded the trade, we may as well love the ones we’re with rather than hold pictures of Dylan Carlson and wonder what might have been.

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