The Colorado farm is full of tasty fantasy prospects, with five names that could easily slot into a Top 50 overall. You’re going to have to tread carefully here with pitching prospects, but despite the unfriendly home territory there are still three arms that are worth looking into for dynasty leagues. On the hitting side, there’s a bunch of high-upside youngsters who may one day call the best hitter’s environment in baseball their home. While we didn’t see many graduations in 2015, we did get to watch Nolan Arenado evolve from a potential monster into an actual monster…so that was fun. After picking third overall in 2015 – and making good use of it with Brendan Rodgers – the Rockies will pick fourth overall in the 2016 draft. That should give them another blue chip prospect to add to their collection.
Tier 1: Specs On The Beach
Potential stars. Consensus T100 prospects with premium fantasy ceilings.
David Dahl, OF | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A(ss)/AA
2015 Stats: 326 PA, .266/.291/.397, 6 HR, 22 SB, 3% BB, 25% K
A nasty collision led to a spleen removal, and while Dahl could have sat out the entire season, he battled back and finished 2015 on the field. Dahl brings a very fantasy-friendly set of tools to the game – with power, speed, and a feel for hitting. In a good year, we could see Dahl hit .280, smack 20 homers, and steal 20+ bags. He’s battled through a few hiccups in the minors to this point, but I like Dahl’s ceiling over any prospect in this system.
Raimel Tapia, OF | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 593 PA, .305/.333/.467, 12 HR, 26 SB, 4% BB, 18% K
Tapia seems to divide scouts based on what I read in the reports on him and where I’ve seen him ranked. I guess you could say I’ve planted my flag in his camp. The approach might be a little unconventional, but Tapia just keeps on hitting. When all the other tools don’t quite reach their potential, having a hit tool like Tapia’s to fall back on should give him a long look. And that’s the kicker…he’s not a one-trick hit pony. There’s also power and speed, making him a 20/20 threat.
Brendan Rodgers, SS | Age: 19 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: Rk
2015 Stats: 159 PA, .273/.340/.420, 3 HR, 4 SB, 9% BB, 23% K
I considered bumping Rodgers ahead of Tapia, but with the 19-year-old a bit further away, I kept him here. And, just between you and me, one slot really doesn’t matter. Rodgers was selected third overall in last year’s draft, and he should be one of the first names off the board in dynasty drafts this winter. Rodgers has plus power and a solid-average hit tool that should translate well as he climbs the ladder. Typically, I’d put an ETA of 2019 on a guy who just started out in Rookie ball, but the talented Mr. Rodgers could move more quickly.
Ryan McMahon, 3B | Age: 20 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 556 PA, .300/.372/.520, 18 HR, 6 SB, 9% BB, 28% K
McMahon just keeps chugging along, posting good averages and power numbers in the minor leagues. Arenado, being so young himself, could force the Rockies to change McMahon’s position, but either way we’re looking at a player who could pop 25 dingers and hit in the neighborhood of .280 in a good year. The only blemish here is a strikeout rate that has slowly risen each season as he advances. Double-A is likely waiting for him in 2016.
Trevor Story, SS | Age: 22 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AA/AAA
2015 Stats: 575 PA, .279/.350/.514, 20 HR, 22 SB, 9% BB, 25% K
Story almost landed in the Floorboreds tier, but how can you not like what you see here? 20/20 in Double and Triple-A as a 22-year-old with a decent average…knocking on the door at Coors with only Jose Reyes in his way? Gimme. The strikeout rate has always been a concern for him, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take with his offensive upside at shortstop. 2016 should see him in the majors, and depending on how quickly the Rockies unload Reyes (or he gets injured) it could be a quick stay in Triple-A for Trevor.
Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.
Jordan Patterson, OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+/AA
2015 Stats: 541 PA, .297/.364/.543, 17 HR, 18 SB, 6% BB, 24% K
Patterson broke out in 2015, and that vaulted him from a likely fourth outfielder to a possible starter. His numbers were consistent with the jump to Double-A, which is a great sign. He actually had a better strikeout rate in Double-A (20%). He’s a big, athletic player with power, speed, and hitting ability. There’s really a lot to like here and he won’t cost you the premium prices of the five more well-known names listed above.
Jon Gray, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AAA/MLB
2015 Stats: 114.1 IP, 4.33 ERA, 3.2 BB/9, 8.7 K/9
If we’re going to bite the bullet and take a chance on a Colorado pitching prospect, then the first one off the board might as well be Gray. His stuff is nasty and the arsenal features a plus fastball, plus slider, and above-average changeup. At the very least, he’s a guy you’ll want to start away from Coors where his breaking balls will break and pop flies don’t travel 580 feet into Ra’zbahl Al Ghul’s backyard. Gray should start the year in the majors given that he just squeaked under the rookie limits.
Jeff Hoffman, RHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 104 IP, 3.03 ERA, 2.3 BB/9, 6.5 K/9
Hoffman came over to the Rockies in the Tulowitzki trade with Toronto. He has all of the stuff to be a frontline starter in the bigs, so it’s just a matter of how confident you are in his ability to translate his skills into fantasy stats at Coors. Personally, I liked Hoffman’s fantasy profile more in Toronto and that’s not exactly a pitcher’s park. We don’t always get what we want though. Hoffman may get a chance to test out his goods at Coors Field as soon as this summer.
Kyle Freeland, LHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 46.2 IP, 4.05 ERA, 1.9 BB/9, 5.4 K/9
Freeland has the lowest strikeout rate of the three arms here, but he’s got average or better pitches across the board as well as above-average command. If you held a gun to my head – which is a very unfriendly thing to do – I might actually go with Freeland of these three pitching prospects. The upside might not be as high, but…he’s a southpaw and the command might give him the highest floor.
Rosell Herrera, OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 512 PA, .260/.314/.354, 4 HR, 9 SB, 7% BB, 19% K
Herrera probably isn’t going to find himself playing everyday, but there’s just enough pop and speed to make him an interesting depth piece for fantasy owners in deeper dynasty formats. The Rockies moved him off of shortstop and into the outfield, so there’s some positional flexibility that might help him carve out a role as a utility player. The bad news is he repeated the year at High-A and put up basically the same numbers as the year before.
Pat Valaika, 2B | Age: 23 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AA
2015 Stats: 512 PA, .235/.281/.361, 8 HR, 19 SB, 6% BB, 23% K
If Valaika didn’t hit .235 he’d probably rank higher thanks to some interesting power and speed numbers at the keystone. It was his first taste of Double-A however, and that’s one of the biggest jumps in the minors. Valaika was able to match his power output from the Cal League the year before, while also decreasing his strikeout rate. Keep your good eye on this one.
Correlle Prime, 1B | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 547 PA, .239/.275/.375, 12 HR, 8 SB, 4% BB, 29% K
Prime has above-average raw power but the hit tool is likely never going to be more than fringe-average. He’s still just 21 years old, and should get a test against more advanced pitching in Double-A this year. There’s probably nothing to see here but you never know…unless you’re Grey, in which case you always know.
Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexy ceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs.
Kevin Padlo, 3B | Age: 19 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A(ss)/A
2015 Stats: 407 PA, .257/.372/.447, 11 HR, 35 SB, 14% BB, 22% K
Even with a long ETA, Padlo is a player that’s getting scooped up quickly in dynasty leagues. The 19-year-old has some solid fantasy potential even though he was just a fifth round pick in 2014. There’s double-digit power and speed, along with an ability to draw a walk…unfortunately there’s also a long wait for him to develop.
Forrest Wall, 2B | Age: 19 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A(ss)/A
2015 Stats: 433 PA, .286/.366/.439, 7 HR, 25 SB, 11% BB, 17% K
Wall can hit and he can run. The seven homers he hit in 2015 is probably about what his power ceiling will look like, but Wall could still be a valuable fantasy player as a table-setter and base-stealer at second base. He should see a fair amount of at bats in High-A this year.
Pedro Gonzalez, SS | Age: 18 | ETA: 2019 | 2015 Level: Rk
2015 Stats: 282 PA, .251/.318/.418, 8 HR, 8 SB, 7% BB, 29% K
Gonzalez is obviously super young, but he’s impressing scouts already despite a high strikeout rate. He’s all projection…super tall and skinny for a shortstop. If he packs on some muscle that allows for some added pop, there could be something special here down the road.