Is there truly any system more worthy of your attention than Colorado’s? That’s not even a commentary on their high end talent or depth, as much as it is a commentary on Coors being awesome for boosting hitter’s value. The problem is due to this Ibiza for hitting reality, the Rockies have focused their efforts on acquiring top amateur pitching talent. So many of these top arms are sentenced to a fate worth than cleaning Billy Butler’s toilet after a Chili Cookoff. Pitching half of your games in the high altitude of Denver. Hey, at least they can smoke away the pain of bad home starts. Am I right? After graduating three strong talents into the majors last season in Jonathan Gray, David Dahl, and Trevor Story, the Rocks have another trio ready to contribute in the big leagues this season in Tom Murphy, Raimel Tapia, and Jeff Hoffman. As always any Rockies hitter has value, and any Rockies pitcher is worth treading lightly on. So read on, and learn who the Top Colorado Rockies Prospects are for 2017.
Tier 1: Specs On The Beach
Potential stars. Consensus T100 prospects with premium fantasy ceilings.
Brendan Rodgers, SS/2B | Age: 20 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A
Could end up being the top player in a stacked 2015 draft class. Rodgers is a dynasty owners dream, a middle infielder with plus hit tool and power at a very young age. The kicker is despite being just 20 he is more than likely just a year away from seeing reps at the MLB level. Whether he sticks at short or moves over to second will depend on how the Rockies view Trevor Story long term. Will easily rank in the top 10 of my top 100 (coming February 2017!).
Raimel Tapia, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA/AA
One of the mostly heavily debated, and consistently doubted prospects in the dynasty realm, count your Uncle Ralph among the believers. Tapia pairs an aggressive contact approach, with average power, and above average speed. The hope for those dynasty owners, like myself, that have invested in Tapia is that the power will play up in Coors. If so he offers definite 15/30 upside with a high average. His contact-first approach will limit his value in OBP leagues as he rarely walks (27 Bb in 555 MiLB plate appearances in 2016). The questions of playing time clouds his re-draft value a bit, but if one of Colorado’s left-handed hitting outfielders is moved before Opening Day, and Tapia lands an everyday gig, don’t count him out for NL Rookie of the Year.
Tom Murphy, C | Age: 25 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA
Where’s Halp at? Murphy is my Podcast cohort’s Novio, and with good reason. A catcher with serious pop, Murphy has the ability to be a top 5 backstop in re-draft leagues this year if he sees 400+ plate appearances. At 25 and with Nick Hundley hitting free agency, the future is now for Murphy. In a 44 MLB at bats during a September cup of coffee, Murphy blasted 5 homers, and slashed .273/.347/.659. His catcher defense has improved during his time in the minors, and it’s to the point now that he’s likely to be the starting catcher over the underwhelming Tony Wolters. Come on Rocks, do the right thing!
Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.
Jeff Hoffman, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA
Writing about uber-talented Rockies pitching prospects feels a little like discussing Lindsey Lohan post Mean Girls. You had a lot of hope at one time, but with each passing start/coke binge you’re a little more apprehensive as to what they ultimately end up being. Hoffman in other systems would be an elite pitching prospect with front end of the rotation upside. In Colorado he’s a risk. Sent to the Rocks in the Troy Tulowitzki trade, Hoffman throws a plus plus fastball, a plus plus curveball, and a plus changeup with plus control. He doesn’t miss the amount of bats you’d expect and much of that comes down to wonky command. Struggled in the PCL and in Colorado for most of 2016, but there’s hope he can improve now that he’s three years removed from Tommy John.
Ryan McMahon, 3B | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA
After ranking inside the top 50 on several prospects lists, including yours truly (#32) in the 2016 pre-season. McMahon lowered expectations with a sub-par first half of the season at AA Hartford. While he didn’t slay like ‘Yonce in the second half, there was solid improvement as he slashed .268/.339/.479 hitting 9 of his 12 homers. Throughout a trying campaign McMahon continued to walk, but the strikeouts were a plenty, as he whiffed a whopping 30% of the time. The long term prospects for McMahon, at least with the Rockies, are probably at first base. In fact he started to see some time there in 2016, with Nolan Arenado blocking the hot corner, and McMahon’s defense there being sub-par to begin with. With a smooth left-handed stroke that generates excellent bat speed with good loft, he looks a perfect fit as the long awaited replacement to Todd Helton.
German Marquez, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA/AA
When you look at the production that the Rays have gotten out of Corey Dickerson so far, it’s starting to look like the Rockies knew what they were doing. Marquez got the best of Eastern League hitters at AA Hartford this year, despite being one of the younger starters in the league. He’s not the type to blow you away, though his fastball operates in the mid-90’s, but pinpoint control and a changeup that keeps lefties off balance gives him a good shot to be a very nice mid-rotation piece. Once again, unfortunately he’s a Rockie.
Kyle Freeland, LHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AAA/AA
After a huge summer in the Cape Cod League in 2013, Freeland followed it up with an equally impressive 2014 at Evansville. He was then selected 8th overall by Colorado in the 2014 draft and hit the ground running in his pro debut. After an injury plagued 2015 that limited him to just 46.2 innings, he returned strong this year racking up 162 frames. While his numbers were solid, there’s nothing overly exciting for fantasy. At best he looks like a ratio play, because despite a nasty mid-90’s fastball and a wipeout slider he doesn’t miss many bats. In fact through 273 professional innings he’s averaged just 6.0 K/9.
Jordan Patterson, OF/1B | Age: 24 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA
After leading the minors in extra base hits in 2015, Patterson followed it up with a strong campaign at AAA Albuquerque this year. While he doesn’t have the highest ceiling in the Colorado system, Patterson has the ability to hit a solid .270-280 with 18-20 homers and double digit steals. His quick lefty swing generates good bat speed, and pop. With a plethora of outfield options the Rockies gave him some reps at first base, which might open up a spot for him in the majors this season.
Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexy ceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs
Riley Pint, RHP | Age: 19 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: RK
If only Pint had ended up anywhere, but here. Arguably the best prep arm in the 2016 draft, ended up in the worst possible setting. Did you see how well Jonathan Gray pitched last year? Yeah, his ERA was still puke inducing, and the simple eye test would tell you he out performed those numbers. Coors giveth and Coors taketh. That’s the lesson of today’s post kids. Pint possesses an elite arsenal starting with his plus plus fastball that sits in the high 90’s and has been known to touch triple digits. The rest of his repertoire is comprised of a plus curveball, a plus change, and an average slider. Unfortunately Pint’s sloppy mechanics make his control, and future health a concern. Neither of which are ideal for a Colorado pitcher, where health risks are increased, and a hanging breaking pitch or two could lead to some serious roofies. Luckily Pint is a long ways off, so he has time to iron out his mechanics or get traded to Miami/Mets/San Diego.
Forrest Wall, 2B | Age: 21 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A+
Rarely are prep second baseman taken in the first few rounds of the draft, but in 2014 Colorado made the speedy Wall their selection at 35th overall. Wall possesses an excellent hit tool, on base ability, and plus speed. However he struggled mightily at the plate in 2016 in the hitting friendly Cali League. Could stand to add a few pounds of muscle to tap into some of his average raw power. Based on the current sentiment on him, might be an excellent buy low candidate heading into 2017.
Dom Nunez, C | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+
Following a strong second half in 2015, I was expecting big things from Nunez upon assignment to the Cal League this year. He much like Forrest Wall and Ryan McMahon let me down. Then again is it so bad if players that could end up in Colorado have down years? Nunez offers double digit power and the ability to swipe a few bags. Probably not ownable unless there’s 250+ minors owned in your leagues.
Brian Mundell, 1B | Age: 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A
An advanced hitter with excellent approach, Mundell set the minor league record for doubles in his first full season in pro-ball with 59. Due to his keen eye and penchant for avoiding whiffs he should hit for a high average with enough power to play up at Coors should he make it there. Should start the season at A+ but could see AA Hartford, should the Rockies bump McMahon to AAA.
Others: Mike Nikorak, Pedro Gonzalez, Colton Welker, Sam Hilliard, Peter Lambert, Ryan Castellani
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