Colorado Rockies 2011 Minor League Review
Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America:
2012 (16) | 2011 (10) | 2010 (10) | 2009 (20) | 2008 (7) | 2007 (2) | 2006 (11)
2011 Affiliate Records
MLB: [73-89] NL West
AAA: [64-80] Pacific Coast League – Colorado Springs
AA: [68-72] Texas League – Tulsa
A+: [74-66] California League – Modesto
A: [69-70] South Atlantic League – Asheville
A(ss): [44-32] Northwest League – Tri-City
R: [27-49] Pioneer League – Casper
The Run Down
This Colorado farm system is primed to produce a handful of regular MLB players, perhaps a couple all star-types, included. From a fantasy perspective, there is plenty of reason for excitement, here. And we might not have to wait too long for it to play out, either. Top pitching prospect Drew Pomeranz is ready for a spot in the Rockies’ rotation. And top hitting prospect Nolan Arenado isn’t far behind. Wilin Rosario should work his way into a regular role as Colorado’s backstop this season, too. All three project as solid fantasy options. Behind them, the Rockies have some talent, but, barring injury, the big club won’t be allowing for many throughways this year. Baseball America ranks this organization at number 16 for 2012, but I like this Rockies system, and given the upside of guys like Pomeranz and Rosario, I think it could certainly rank higher.
Arizona Fall League Players – Salt River Rafters
Players of Interest
Nolan Arenado | 3B:
Arenado slashed .298/.349/.487 in a full season at High-A in 2011. He’ll make the jump to Double-A for 2012. With an advanced approach at the plate and solid defensive skills at third base, the 20-year-old isn’t too far from the majors. Third base is certainly the Rockies’ greatest weaknes, and Arenado could be in line for a mid-season arrival if things go well in Tulsa.
Rosario served as the Rockies’ starting catcher for several games this past September and it’s likely that he’ll take over as the everyday backstop at some point this year. Being that he’s skipped Triple-A so far, I’m thinking that Colorado will start him there and recall him after the service time cutoff. Rosario plays well defensively and he’s armed with a cannon behind the plate, but offensively he’s too aggressive – for now, at least. He can hit the fastball, though, and he should turn into a 20-homer guy. If he can work on plate discipline, Rosario could be a very nice catcher option for fantasy.
Blackmon was in position to see quite a bit of playing time when he was called up last June, but a broken foot in July derailed him. He should be back in the bigs for 2012 as a fourth outfielder, however, with a healthy CarGo and the newly acquired Michael Cuddyer, the Rockies’ outfield is far more crowded than a year ago. Blackmon has a great mental approach and keeps improving all aspects of his game. 2012 will be a good indicator as to whether he’s anything more than just a fourth OF.
Pacheco has a future in the bigs based on his ability to play several positions. He can hit a little, too. He doesn’t bring much pop, but the Rockies have been impressed by his ability to make solid contact and use all fields. He’ll be competing for a roster spot during spring training, but it seems he’ll max out as a super-utility guy in the majors.
Some have Pomeranz pegged for Triple-A to open 2012, but it seems just as likely that he’ll fit into the Rockies’ rotation right out of camp. Given the fatigue issues and drop in velocity down the stretch last year, it might make more sense for Colorado to start him in the minors and let him work on his changeup and command. If that’s the case, though, he shouldn’t be down for very long. While he’s still working a few things, Pomeranz’s repertoire is big league-ready as is. Thanks to a filthy fastball-curveball combo, he projects as a solid number two starter.
Tim Wheeler | OF:
Wheeler slashed an impressive .287/.365/.535 at Tulsa in 2011. He’ll begin 2012 with Colorado Springs, but should his productive ways continue, he’ll be in line for a late-season call up. Unlike Blackmon, Wheeler definitely projects as a regular and he brings 20-20 upside.
Gomez is a defense-first shortstop, but he does manage to bring some value offensively. The 23-year-old generates surprising bat speed for a defensive-minded middle infielder and projects to hit 15-20 HR in the bigs should he ever secure a regular role. Health has always been the major concern with Gomez. The Rockies hope to see an injury-free 2012 from him at Colorado Springs.
D.J. LeMahieu | 3B/2B:
LeMahieu was acquired from the Cubs in the Ian Stewart swap this past December. His career ISO is a barely registrable at .082. Five homers between Double-A and Triple-A last year represents his career best. For a guy who profiles as third baseman, this absence of power is concerning. LeMahieu is a Hendry-era Cubs infield prospect out of LSU with almost zero pop. Remember how well that played out with Theriot and Fontenot?
Bettis posted a 3.34 ERA along with a 9.8 K/9 in 2011 at High-A. The righty features mid-90’s fastball with good sink and counters with a hard slider. Some think he’ll work out better in the bullpen, but after pitching 170 innings last year, it’s not hard to picture him as a workhorse mid-rotation guy in the majors. It’ll be interesting to see how he bounces back from 2011’s hefty workload when he joins Tulsa’s rotation this season.