Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (11) | 2013 (21) | 2012 (16) | 2011 (10) | 2010 (10)
2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [66-96] NL West
AAA: [53-91] Pacific Coast League – Colorado Springs (2015: Albuquerque)
AA: [71-68] Texas League – Tulsa (2015: New Britain)
A+: [43-97] California League – Modesto
A: [89-49] South Atlantic League – Asheville
A(ss): [33-43] Northwest League – Tri-City (2015: Boise)
The Rockies are a great system to turn to for big upside fantasy prospects. The fact that a few of these guys will one day call Coors Field their home park only adds to the appeal. If you haven’t bought in already, this might be a good time with several of the top hitters in this system expected to see at bats in the hitting-friendly California League this summer. The same can’t be said for the pitchers in this system, who take a large hit on this fantasy list compared to traditional prospect rankings thanks to the same park situation. Eddie Butler, who made his big league debut in 2014, fell off the list entirely thanks to a shoulder injury. The Rockies will see three new affiliations in 2015 – Albuquerque (AAA), New Britain (AA) and Boise (ss).
Top Ten Fantasy Prospects
1. David Dahl, OF | Age: 20 | ETA: 2016
Dahl has all the tools you want in a fantasy prospect and on top of that he will likely play half of his games at Coors Field. Dahl hits from the left side, and at 20 years old he saw a promotion to the High-A California League in 2014. He only logged 125 plate appearances there, so he’ll return to the Cal League to start 2015. In that hitter-friendly environment he’ll likely thrive and earn another promotion to Double-A at some point this summer. There’s All-Star ceiling in this one, with high-average 20/20 seasons a real possibilty. The buy-low window from his shaky 2013 has probably closed.
2. Raimel Tapia, OF | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017
The Rockies are going to have a nasty outfield in a couple of years if both Dahl and Tapia pan out. Like Dahl, the 21-year-old Tapia has a plus hit tool that could yield high batting averages at the major league level. Right now his other standout tool is his speed, but there could be also be more power that develops as he matures (he did slap 32 doubles and nine homers). This adds up to another 20/20 threat in the thin air of Colorado and I’d want in on both of these guys in fantasy leagues. One blemish is his caught stealing rate, which will hopefully improve with experience. Tapia is also a little farther away than Dahl so he’ll probably spend most (if not all) of the year in the Cal league. Once he’s in that environment, it’s going to cost a pretty penny to pry his bat off of a dynasty owner.
3. Ryan McMahon, 3B | Age: 20 | ETA: 2017
Modesto is going to be stacked in 2015 with McMahon joining the top two players on this list in the California League. McMahon’s 102 runs batted in were tied for the league lead in the Sally in 2014 and his doubles total was only one off of the leader in that category. While the Rockies already have a 23-year-old stud manning the hot corner at the major league level, it’s no reason to avoid McMahon, who could end up being a nice fantasy asset himself. The upside is ~25 homers and a .270-.280 average, but his MLB ETA may not be until late 2017/early 2018. Another left-handed hitter, look for him to put up solid numbers again this year while also working to improve his strikeout rate.
4. Forrest Wall, 2B | Age: 19 | ETA: 2018
The Rockies selected Wall 35th overall in the 2014 draft and he’s yet another prospect in this system with a plus hit tool. The second baseman has double-plus speed and showed it in games with 18 swipes in 188 plate appearances. He’s also a left-handed hitter and the potential is here for a nice fantasy middle infielder with high averages and 25+ stolen bases if everything breaks right. The power is more of a question mark but he could have enough to get to double-digit homers in that park. The drawback is that it’s going to be a while before we see him in the majors and he has a shoulder injury on his resume (part of the reason he’s at 2B). Wall is a borderline first-round pick in dynasty first-year player drafts this winter and just missed the cut on my Top 20 list.
5. Jon Gray, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2015
Great stuff, tough park. On any other team, a talented pitcher like Gray would rank higher than this, but just like the hitters get a nice boost from Coors Field, the pitchers take a hit. Gray is armed with an elite fastball and a double-plus slider with the ceiling of a #2 starter. The question is how effective he’ll be in Colorado. With a few other #2 ceiling options in the minors, I’m just not sure he’s worth the price in fantasy. Pitching prospects are a little risky in general, and this home park situation only adds to it. He’ll likely see some time in the majors this year though, and could be a decent stream in road games for the second half.
6. Trevor Story, SS | Age: 22 | ETA: 2016
Story has at least average power and speed, which means there’s the potential for 15 home runs and 15 or more steals from the shortstop position. That’s solid in fantasy, but the problem is his strikeout percentage. It eclipsed the 30% mark for the second straight season. He really struggled with the promotion to Double-A in 2014, where he hit .200 while striking out nearly 35% of the time. So while the power/speed combo from a shortstop at Coors is enticing, his troubles with contact will need to be addressed if he’s going to reach his ceiling.
7. Kevin Padlo, 3B | Age: 18 | ETA: 2018
Padlo had a solid pro debut in 2014, but he also has a distant ETA and both Nolan Arenado and Ryan McMahon ahead of him on the depth chart at third base. The Rockies took him out of high school in the 5th round of the 2014 draft. It’s the combination of plus raw power and plate discipline that make him an exciting fantasy prospect to follow as he advances. He was a shortstop in high school and there is enough defensively for him to stick at third base. If you can wait on him, he makes a decent flier in deep dynasty formats.
8. Kyle Freeland, LHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017
The same knock on Gray is here with Freeland, but he also has a longer ETA and doesn’t share the lofty ceiling. The Rockies selected the southpaw 8th overall in the 2014 draft and he was excellent in his debut. But combine the longer path of development with the current final destination of Coors Field, and I’ll pass in fantasy. There are quite a few solid arms from the 2014 draft class that find themselves in better pitching environments than Colorado. Any other team and I’d be interested, but until these guys are traded I can’t get too excited about the fantasy potential.
9. Pedro Gonzalez, SS | Age: 16 | ETA: 2019
There’s not much we know about Gonzalez since he’s yet to make his debut here in the States. Baseball America did rank him the #12 international prospect this past summer when the Rockies signed him. The obvious drawback is his extremely long ETA, so he’s more of a lottery ticket in deep formats with very large farms. The good news is that there is physical projection, good contact skills already, and the chance to develop more power as he matures while playing on the left side of the infield. He’s 6’4″ and likely to fill out, so there’s a good chance he’ll end up at third down the road instead of shortstop.
10. Dom Nunez, C | Age: 20 | ETA: 2018
Like Padlo and Gonzalez there is a long way to go here, and with Nunez being a catcher it could take even longer. Still, the left-handed-hitting backstop has at least an average hit tool and should see his first full season of pro ball in 2015 after a successful short-season debut. I wouldn’t rely on Nunez as my sole fantasy catching prospect, but that could change depending on how he develops over the next year or two. His strikeout and walk rates speak to his plate discipline.