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November 12, 2012

Prospects Will Break Your Heart

Colorado Rockies Top 10 Prospects

by Jason Parks

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State of the Farm:That is you can't you know tune in but it's all right, that is I think it's not too bad.”

Prospect rankings primer

The Top Ten

  1. SS Trevor Story
  2. OF David Dahl
  3. 3B Nolan Arenado
  4. LHP Tyler Matzek
  5. RHP Chad Bettis
  6. C Will Swanner
  7. LHP Tyler Anderson
  8. OF Kyle Parker
  9. LHP Jayson Aquino
  10. OF Rafael Ortega

1. Trevor Story
Position: SS
DOB: 11/15/1992
Height/Weight: 6’1’’ 175 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2011 draft, Irving High School (Irving, TX)
2012 Stats: .277/.367/.505 at Low-A Asheville (122 games)
The Tools:  Shows all five-tools; arm is 6

What Happened in 2012: The teenager made a successful full-debut in the Sally League, showing a well-rounded tool collection and propelling himself up to the top of the team’s prospect rankings.

Strengths: Very good baseball skills; feel for the game; swing is easy; hands work very well; plus bat speed; hit tool projects to solid-average; power already showing in games; propensity for loud contact; power could play at 6 at maturity; runs well; clean actions at shortstop; good range; plus arm.

Weaknesses: Lacks impact tool; hit tool features some swing-and-miss; will expand zone; struggles against soft and spinning; chewed up by left-handing pitching; gets power happy and sells out swing mechanics and approach.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; tools are mature for his age/level; shows advanced feel and instincts for the game.

Fantasy Future: Story could hit .265-plus with some on-base ability, 15-20 homers, 25-plus doubles, and 10-plus steals from a premium defensive position. That’s a monster player.

The Year Ahead: Moving to the California League will only add gasoline to his improving game power, and as the numbers inflate, the prospect status will follow suit. Story is the rare middle-of-the-diamond prospect who has the tools and instincts to remain at that position up the chain, which makes the promise of the bat all the more special. Story might lack all-star level tools, but the total package has the chance to play at that level because of his position on the field and the pop in his bat.

Major-league ETA: 2015

2. David Dahl
Position: OF
DOB: 04/1/1994
Height/Weight: 6’2’’ 185 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, Oak Mountain High School (Birmingham,
2012 Stats: .379/.423/.625 at short-season Grand Junction (67 games)
The Tools: Average or better futures across the board; 7 potential hit

What Happened in 2012: Drafted 10th overall in 2012, Dahl signed and then quickly started embarrassing short-season pitchers, hitting just shy of .400 in his final 34 games.

Strengths: Preternatural barrel-to ball relationship; simple and smooth line-drive stroke; excellent bat speed; excellent bat control; projects for high batting average; plus run; above-average defensive profile in centerfield at present; arm is strong for position; polished for age.

Weaknesses: Not many; future power utility has been questioned; might be more gap-to-gap than over the fence; might only be an average defensive center fielder at maturity; small professional sample; numbers put up in hitter-friendly environment; speed plays down in game action; reads and routes need improvement.

Overall Future Potential: 7; all-star

Explanation of Risk: High risk; polished for age with now game skills, but ceiling is lofty and a long way off.

Fantasy Future: .300-plus hitter with good secondary skills (OBP, SB), scary amount of doubles, and enough defensive chops to stick in center field. Add the friendly home confines of Colorado into the mix and you can supersize that order.

The Year Ahead: Dahl will make the jump to full-season ball, but he is going to keep raking at a high level. His swing is balanced and short to the ball, and he can drive to all fields against all types of offerings and locations. He is a pure hitter and the numbers will continue to back up that claim. He has the highest ceiling in the Rockies system and falls just short of the top spot because of the enhanced risk involved with his profile and a small sample size of professional production.

Major league ETA: 2015

3. Nolan Arenado
Position: 3B
DOB: 04/16/1991
Height/Weight: 6’1’’ 205 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2009 draft. El Toro High School (Lake Forest, CA)
2012 Stats: .285/.337/.428 at Double-A Tulsa (134 games)
The Tools: Plus hit; solid-average power potential; plus arm

What Happened in 2012: The jump from High-A to Double-A can shine an invasive light on the blemishes of a prospect, as Arenado can attest; his performance was solid enough to warrant attention yet uneven enough to create doubts about his ultimate ceiling.

Strengths: Good hit tool; balanced setup and clean, efficient stroke; makes consistent contact; has a plan at the plate; can square velocity; very line-drive capable; good actions at third; hands play soft; arm is plus; arm is accurate; profiles at third base.

Weaknesses: Lacks prototypical profile for third base; swing shows linear plane; stays in zone a long time, but not designed to lift balls; struggled against RHP; weak contact and problems with vertical movement; well below-average speed; range at third is merely adequate.

Overall Future Potential: 5; solid-average regular

Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; tools nearing maturity; major-league-quality hit tool; ready for Triple-A (higher); some makeup whispers.

Fantasy Future: The offensive environment in Colorado could expand Arenado’s reach, giving him more power than his present utility suggests; hit tool should allow for batting average (.280); big doubles hitter; 10-15 homer type at maturity; don’t expect stolen bases.

The Year Ahead: Arenado has a chance to play a sizable role at the major-league level in 2013, so the focus will have to be sharp and skin thick. He hasn’t blown away the competition in recent years, despite playing in friendly environments, and the chorus of voices questioning his future offensive output are growing. The bat is good--but not great--and the swing doesn’t pack the type of middle-of-the-order punch his profile originally suggested. He has contact ability against both arms, but will need to improve against righties to avoid exposure at the highest level.

Major league ETA: 2013

4. Tyler Matzek
Position: LHP
DOB: 10/19/1990
Height/Weight: 6’3’’ 210 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2009 draft, Capistrano Valley High School (Mission
Viejo, CA)
2012 Stats: 4.62 ERA (142.1 IP, 134 H, 153 K, 95 BB) at High-A Modesto
The Tools: Potential for three plus pitches

What Happened in 2012: After a disastrous 2011 season, Matzek returned to the California League, where he saw his command woes continue and his first-round stuff return, as Matzek missed 153 bats in 142 innings.

Strengths: Big arm strength; great size; fastball could work easy plus; touch higher; pitch can show good, late movement to the arm-side; excellent angle to the plate; deep arsenal; curveball, slider and changeup will flash plus; mechanics are simple and efficient (believe it or not).

Weaknesses: Well below-average command; release point issues; doesn’t finish pitches; fastball velocity fluctuates; works off the plate; secondary arsenal is inconsistent; neither breaking ball has stepped up as alpha offering; will take himself out of games when he starts to struggle.

Overall Future Potential: High-6; no. 2 starter

Explanation of Risk: High risk; excellent raw stuff, but command issues have been career long problem; keeps taking the ball; keeps working towards goal; mechanical profile and athleticism should take to adjustment (no idea why that hasn’t occurred yet).

Fantasy Future: Deep arsenal that can miss bats; frame and delivery to support innings; could develop into an Edwin Jackson type of erratic survivalist at the highest level.

The Year Ahead: Huge. Matzek is 22 years old and ready for the Double-A level, where the command will need to be refined if the stuff is going to shine. Scouts still love his raw stuff, and who wouldn’t with his lively fastball that works comfortably in the low-90s and touches higher; a tight curveball that can jelly-leg hitters; a slider with slice that is tough on lefties; and a changeup that has the action and velocity separation of a plus pitch. The arsenal isn’t the problem anymore; the ability to throw strikes is cutting him off at the waist. The delivery isn’t bad, but he loses his release and he slips under the ball, and once it starts to go bad it really goes bad. If the light turns on and he can stay consistent, his ultimate ceiling is still very high. Big test in 2013.

Major league ETA: 2014

5.Chad Bettis
Position: RHP
DOB: 04/26/1989
Height/Weight: 6’1’’ 200 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2010 draft, Texas Tech University (Lubbock, TX)
2012 Stats: Injured; did not play
The Tools: Plus-plus fastball; easy 6 slider

What Happened in 2012: Did not play; injured

Strengths: Big arm strength; repeatable delivery; fastball is easy plus offering; can work low-mid 90s without max effort; can touch near-elite velocity in bursts; pitch has some life; multiple fastball looks (two/four/cut); shows strike-throwing ability; slider is second plus pitch; some scouts put a 7 on its future; high velocity offering; sharp tilt; very difficult pitch to right handers; bat-missing ability.

Weaknesses: Coming off injury to throwing shoulder; never developed quality changeup; because of height, needs to work low in the zone; previous issues with pace and sequence won’t be issues out of the ‘pen.

Overall Future Potential: 6; frontline setup role

Explanation of Risk: High risk; injury red flag; stuff will play if healthy

Fantasy Future: Out the bullpen, Bettis has the potential to be a top-flight setup arm, and possible closer, with two bat-missing pitches that will play at the highest level. He could rack up plenty of Ks, holds/saves.

The Year Ahead: Assuming a full return to health--and the reports have been positive--Bettis has the type of short-burst stuff to fast-track to the majors. He features all the necessary characteristics of a high-leverage arm, from the plus-plus fastball, to the plus-plus potential secondary offering; to strike-throwing ability, to the bulldog mentality of a nasty late inning weapon. It all hinges on health, but a healthy Bettis can help the major-league team at some point in 2013.

Major league ETA: 2013

6.Will Swanner
Position: C
DOB: 09/10/1991
Height/Weight: 6’2’’ 185 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 15th round, 2010 draft, La Costa Canyon High School (Carlsbad, CA)
2012 Stats: .302/.385/.529 at Low-A Asheville (88 games)
The Tools: 6+ raw power; 5 (projected) hit tool

What Happened in 2012: As a 20-year-old, Swanner jumped to the full-season level, where his bat did all the talking, ripping 41 extra-base hits in only 88 games.

Strengths: Excellent raw power in the bat; can spray balls to all fields; strong wrists; makes hard contact; hit tool has some life; could develop into average tool; quality arm strength.

Weaknesses: Limited projection as a catcher; heavy footwork; slow pop times; arm doesn’t play up to raw strength; receiving issues; swing has length; approach opens up holes; well below-average speed; limited defense options.

Overall Future Potential: 5; solid-average regular

Explanation of Risk: High risk; unlikely to stick behind the plate; bat would be fringe at 1B/DH with big grade jump on hit tool.  

Fantasy Future: Has strength and bat speed to show some power; could hit 15-20 bombs; fringe batting average; no speed.

The Year Ahead: Moving to the California League should keep the offensive numbers looking legit, and positive opinion that he could stick behind the plate will push his prospect status up a notch. But the numbers will disguise the reality of the profile, as Swanner lacks the defensive quality of a major league catcher and his bat will struggle to play off the position. He has a major league future if the hit tool reaches (or exceeds) its potential, but it’s not an easy profile to bet on.

Major league ETA: 2016

7. Tyler Anderson
Position: LHP
DOB: 12/30/1989
Height/Weight: 6’4’’ 215 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2011 draft, University of Oregon (Eugene, OR)
2012 Stats: 2.47 ERA (120.1 IP, 102 H, 81 K, 28 BB) at Low-A Asheville
The Tools: Solid-avg. fastball; 6+ changeup; pitchability

What Happened in 2012: Making his professional debut for Asheville in the Sally League, Anderson lived up to his pre-draft profile, forcing weak contact by keeping hitters off balance with a deep arsenal, but not missing a lot of bats.

Strengths: Good size; body has strength; long arms; advanced pitchability and poise on the mound; shows deep arsenal of playable offerings; good command profile; changeup is plus pitch; excellent action; excellent deception from the fastball; can throw it both LH/RH; knows how to manipulate the ball; change speeds; set hitters up.

Weaknesses: Lacks electric stuff; fastball velocity in the fringe range (plays up because of good extension and movement); breaking balls aren’t sharp bat-missing pitches; lacks arsenal projection; limited profile.

Overall Future Potential: Low 5; no. 4 starter

Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; despite an early injury, Anderson is built to log innings; delivery allows for strike-throwing ability; mature feel for the mound should carry him to majors; high floor/low ceiling.

Fantasy Future: He’s not going to miss a lot of bats; will make his bones on weak contact, limiting damage; has the body and delivery to log 200-plus innings a season at league-average ERA; lacks the stuff to be much of a fantasy stud.

The Year Ahead: Anderson has the pitchability and present stuff to move fast, possibly reaching Double-A in short-order. The inability to miss bats is going to limit his effectiveness as he climbs, so the command and arsenal depth will have to remain top qualities. Pitchability isn’t just a magic trick, so Anderson deserves some praise for being able to command a deep arsenal, changing sight lines, using sequence to keep hitters off their timing, using his changeup to keep righties off the fastball. The numbers might look pedestrian at times, especially the strikeout rates, but the ability to log innings and keep you team in the game has tremendous value at the highest level, and Anderson fits that sort of profile.

Major league ETA: 2014

8.Kyle Parker
Position: OF
DOB: 09/30/1989
Height/Weight: 6’0’’ 200 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2010 draft, Clemson University (Clemson, SC)
2012 Stats: .308/.415/.562 at High-A Modesto (102 games)
The Tools: Plus power potential; above-average arm

What Happened in 2012: After a solid campaign in Low-A in 2011, Parker moved to Modesto and improved his offensive performance across the board, looking more like a future major leaguer than a college bat taking advantage of the environments of the low minors.

Strengths: Greatest strength is lack of glaring weakness; shows plus bat speed; hands work very well; control the barrel; shows contact ability and pop; raw power is plus; should play at 5 or better; arm is strong and plays in RF; shows good baseball skills and feel for the sport; has a plan at the plate; good athlete.

Weaknesses: Lacks loud offensive tools; hit tool a 5; fringy profile for a corner spot; below-average speed; physically mature; can refine, but tool growth is limited.

Overall Future Potential: 5; solid-average regular

Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; he is what he is; no big developmental surprises on the way; major league ceiling/high minors floor.

Fantasy Future: Not the greatest corner profile; could hit for some average (~.270); some pop (15 HR, 20-plus 2B); not a stolen-base threat.

The Year Ahead: The former Clemson QB will be moving to the Double-A level, where pitchers are better equipped to exploit average offensive tools. The swing-and-miss that was once heavily featured in Parker’s game could make a return, as the secondary proficiency of some of the arms will allow them to expand the zone and force Parker to chase. If he can continue to refine his approach, staying short and staying inside the ball, Parker just might continue to hit for average and power. Ultimately, his profile lacks a first-division ceiling, but a solid 2013 season will go a long way in helping to establish the height of his floor.

Major league ETA: 2014

9.Jayson Aquino
Position: LHP
DOB: 11/22/1992
Height/Weight: 6’1’’ 170 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2009, Dominican Republic
2012 Stats: 1.52 ERA (65 IP, 45 H, 74 K, 9 BB) in Dominican Summer League; 1.87 era (43 IP, 32 H, 36 K, 11 BB) at short-season Grand Junction
The Tools: Solid-average fastball with projection; plus potential changeup

What Happened in 2012: After dominating the Dominican Summer League, Aquino made the jump to rookie-level Grand Junction, where his performance continued to spread his name across the prospect landscape.

Strengths: Arsenal has some projection; delivery is loose and easy; fastball already works in the upper-80s/low-90s; lively pitch; shows good feel for a fading changeup; good command profile.

Weaknesses: Lacks high ceiling; breaking ball has yet to find consistency; despite feel for command, lacks polish.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3/4 starter

Explanation of Risk: High risk; only 43 innings of stateside ball; long developmental journey ahead; lacks frontline stuff, so error margin isn’t large.

Fantasy Future: At maturity, Aquino could have the arsenal and command profile to be an effective big league starter. He doesn’t electric stuff, but it plays and he has the physical strength to get more than the average command/control back-end type.

The Year Ahead: Aquino will pitch the entire 2013 season at the age of 20, so bumps are to be expected in the road, especially if he jumps to the full-season level. The stuff needs polish, but he has a good feel for pitching and he’s a left-hander with an improving arsenal, so his stock could be on the rise.

Major league ETA: 2016

10.Rafael Ortega
Position: OF
DOB: 05/15/1991
Height/Weight: 5’11’’ 160 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2008, Venezuela
2012 Stats: .283/.344/.410 at High-A Modesto (114 games); .500/.667/.500 at major league level (2 games)
The Tools: Plus-plus speed; plus defensive profile in center field

What Happened in 2012: Ortega continued to impress in the field, and to continued take steps forward at the plate, putting up a respectable .754 OPS in the California League, and even getting two games worth of coffee at the major league level.

Strengths: Plus-plus runner; very good range in the outfield; good glove; reads and routes continue to improve; arm is strong; profiles as above-average at the position; controls the bat well at the plate; has strength in the swing; can drive the ball.

Weaknesses: Needs to find comfort in his offensive role; contact approach, but can’t fall in love with the fences; limited offensive upside; questionable feel for base running despite big speed; needs tool refinement across the board.

Overall Future Potential: 5; solid-average regular

Explanation of Risk: High risk; wide gap between present/future; offensive skills might fall short of league average

Fantasy Future: Has plenty of speed, but needs to up his base running execution; should end up a good stolen base threat; contact ability should help with batting average; won’t hit for much power; will be able to stick in center field at highest level, so has value at position.

The Year Ahead: Those who question the legitimacy of Ortega’s bat point to his upcoming Double-A campaign as the test that will expose his weaknesses. With his speed and bat control, he should be able to make contact and force the defense to make plays. He gets caught loading up for power, and the higher he climbs, the more vulnerable that will make him. He can clearly go get it in center, so the bat doesn’t have to be special for him to develop into a regular.

Major league ETA: 2015

Prospects on the Rise:

1.     RHP Eddie Butler: A supplemental first round pick in 2012, Butler brings a jumpy fastball with plus velocity and a plus potential slider to the table. The stuff can be really sharp, and Butler should see his prospect status elevate after a good full-season debut in 2013.

2.     RHP Peter Tago: On the radar since the Rockies popped him in the first round in the 2010 draft, Tago has yet to put the package together at the professional level. From a loose, whippy arm, the projectable 20-year-old can work his fastball in the low-mid 90s with excellent sink. Now that he’s tasted failure and fallen back to a slower pace on the developmental track, many believe 2013 is the year he starts to figure things out and takes a big step forward.

3.     C Wilfredo Rodriguez: A seventh-round pick in the 2012 draft out of the Puerto Rican Baseball Academy, Rodriguez is a catcher out of central casting: he’s 5’10’’ and 200 lbs; can already show sub-1.9 pop times; good receiver. The bat isn’t shabby either, as the 18-year-old hit .319/.370/.452 in his first taste of professional ball for rookie-level Grand Junction.

Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2013)

1.LHP Edwar Cabrera: The diminutive lefty with the crazy good changeup might lack a sexy ceiling, but he knows how to maximize his fringy raw stuff and could be an option at the back of the rotation in 2013. He will always have to walk a fine line, but with good command, the ability to change speeds, and a changeup that doubles as an out pitch, Cabrera has a chance to stick around.

2.OF Tim Wheeler: For some, Wheeler, profiles as an everyday outfielder with a power/speed combo that will play in a corner position. While he does have power in the bat, and he does possess the speed to swipe some bases, for others, the profile seems more like a fourth outfielder who might play a few years as at the second-division level. Wheeler has good defensive versatility, but the bat might end up as a tweener, coming up a little short for the typical corner profile.

3.OF Corey Dickerson: Massive gamer profile that is considered one of the toughest outs in the system. Dickerson can square velocity and do so with authority. He doesn’t profile as a major-league regular; limited to left field/ lacks high-end offensive upside. But he is a catalytic player who should be able to carve out a career as a reserve outfielder. One scout put it best: “Dickerson is the type of player you discount until they show up out of nowhere in a World Series and get eight hits. Hard to explain, but sometimes it just happens.” 

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/87 or later)

  1. Trevor Story
  2. David Dahl
  3. Drew Pomeranz
  4. Nolan Arenado
  5. Wilin Rosario
  6. Tyler Matzek
  7. Alex White
  8. Rex Brothers
  9. Jhoulys Chacin
  10. Chad Bettis

2012 casted a mixed forecast as to the outlook of the Rockies organization. On the hill, Drew Pomeranz logged 96 2/3 innings pitched with varying success. His curve remains a legit swing-and-miss offering, but is more effective against lefties than righties, both because of pitch angle and a sweepy backside that can flash more clearly to righties. His upside remains that of a no. 2, but it is far more likely his fringy change-up, flat fastball and L/R splits lead to mid-rotation production. Alex White and Jhoulys Chacin had disappointing campaigns due to production and injury, respectively. Each could top out as a mid-rotation arm, but likely fit best at the back-end of a rotation. Tyler Chatwood could fit into the back-end of the rotation, as well, with a little more refinement.  Rex Brothers should be a fixture in the late innings and could fit well in the ninth as a second-tier closer. Wilin Rosario had a breakout summer with the bat but remains a liability behind the plate, dimming his overall value some. Josh Rutledge brought some energy and offense to the club upon promotion, as well as a see-the-ball-hit-the-ball approach that will need to be reined in some to play at the highest level, long term.—Nick Faleris

A Parting Thought: This system might lack flash, but the depth is built on players with realistic major-league ceilings, not just prospects who are minor-league dreams.

Link to last year's Rockies rankings

*Special thanks to Nick Faleris, Jason Churchill, Mark Anderson, Chris Mellen, and Doug Thorburn for their input and influence on this list.

Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

44 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Benjamin Harris

What percentage of the players you rank (in general, not just Rockies) have you seen in person?

What are your thoughts on Corey Dickerson?

Nov 12, 2012 03:19 AM
rating: 0
Benjamin Harris

"What are your thoughts on Corey Dickerson?"

Oops. Sorry, missed it.

Nov 12, 2012 05:16 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

As a unit, we've put eyes on the majority of the prospects we rank. Personally, I'd say my percentage is healthy (but it depends on the team). Add to the mix guys like Faleris, Churchill, Mellen, and Anderson, and we aren't missing many. Of course, it doesn't just end with our eyes. We try to get outside opinion on the prospects we rank in order to build a more comprehensive profile.

Nov 12, 2012 06:36 AM

No-one, I think, is in your tree, Professor. Excellent article again

Nov 12, 2012 04:05 AM
rating: 1

Any thoughts on Rosell Herrera? Was he anywhere near the list?

Nov 12, 2012 04:48 AM
rating: 1
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Bad profile. I don't really believe in the bat; don't believe he can be a SS.

Nov 12, 2012 06:30 AM

I like the new format, after adjustment on my part, and recognize the amount of information packed into each profile. On your ETA's (recognizing it is an "estimate", after all), one quick question. Are they based at all on the MLB depth chart of the parent team ? Or is it on a "ML ready is MLB ready" basis ? There is no right or wrong way, of course, I just wondering how you appraoch the topic. Thanks.

Nov 12, 2012 05:12 AM
rating: 4
dREaDS Fan

This is down in the weeds, but Arenado (with all the emerging flaws & doubts as detailed above .. and still in the minors) is ranked above Wilin Rosario on the <25 listing?

Nov 12, 2012 05:51 AM
rating: 0

My guess is that's because Rosario is a DH masquerading as a catcher.

Nov 12, 2012 07:52 AM
rating: 2
BP staff member Nick Faleris
BP staff

It's a jumble in the middle of that 25U list, and was very difficult to line-up. Rosario really takes a chunk out of his own value behind the plate. A little more growth and he could certainly climb higher on next year's 25U, but thus far we don't have reason to project that growth. That bat is obviously legit.

Nov 12, 2012 08:02 AM

With Matzek's stuff, shouldn't his ceiling be even higher? Albeit with more risk.

Nov 12, 2012 06:37 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

HIgher than a number two starter? Hard mountain to climb. To profile as a legit number one, a pitcher either needs to have ridiculous high-end stuff (plus-plus grades) or plus stuff with high-end command. Matzek lacks the command, and despite the plus stuff, it's not so ridiculous that he can dominate with fringe command.

A number two projection might even be too optimistic. That's just based on the raw stuff. That's a very, very high ceiling. Not many #1s on the planet.

Nov 12, 2012 06:43 AM
Matt Commins

I was lucky enough to see Matzek three times this year and each time he looked awful; walked a ton of guys; couldn't stop the snowball from getting bigger. "Will take himself out of games when he starts to struggle." That suggests poor makeup/pitchability. If he continues to show poor command and makeup will he be on the top 10 list next year?

Nov 12, 2012 09:43 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Depends on the rest of the players in the system. As long as Matzek still has plus stuff, he will have people willing to show patience. It depends on the person/evaluator to decide how long that patience continues.

I'm not sure if its a makeup issue, although that can be a big umbrella. Players mature (both on and off the field) at different times (assuming they mature), and unfortunately the timetable can be frustrating. I've heard from several sources, both inside the org and out, that Matzek has taken a developmental step forward over the last year. Not sure if its baby steps waiting to erupt into a sprint, or baby steps that will result in a dirty diaper, but as long as the stuff looks electric, I'm willing to wait it out.

Nov 12, 2012 09:51 AM

One more, if that's OK. How would Story's bat play at 2nd or 3rd if the Rockies move him eventually because of Tulo? Or would they do better trading Story to someone who needs a shortstop?

Nov 12, 2012 06:48 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

This is a good question. I believe in Story's bat, but his ability to stick at shortstop is what could make it really standout. Yes, I think it could play at either second or third. But he loses a lot of sex appeal when you move him to a position where the bat is supposed to stand out. I think he would have more value in trade (as a shortstop) than as a 2B or 3B for the Rockies, but I guess that all depends on the return.

Nov 12, 2012 06:57 AM

Could the 2015 Rockies infield look something like Arenado at 3B, Story at SS, Rutledge at 2B, Tulo at 1B, and Rosario behind the plate? Or do you see them sticking with Tulo at SS, Arenado at 3B, Story at 2B, and possibly Rosario at 1B?...it would seem that with all the problems Rosario had behind the plate this year, that maybe he profiles as 1B. I know he played a handful of innings at 3B(and was apparently awful), and if im not mistaken, 1B as well. I guess my question is where do you see Story, Tulo, Rutledge, Arenado and Rosario ending up in say...4 years? Will they look to move someone? Tulo for SP after his next monster season? I know I've seen this idea floated around, but it seems difficult to justify trading Tulo...

My other question concerns the OFs...with Cargo, Fowler, EYJr, Tim Wheeler, Dahl, Cuddeyer, etc., it would seem the Rockies have a plethora of guys that are either already good enough to be major league regulars, or cerainly have the make-up and potential to become regulars in the next few years. Would you see them ever trading Cargo? Its going to be hard to move Cuddeyer's contract, and I dont think you would get much for Fowler(given his home/away splits), or EYJr(given the overall perception about his abilities in general)...seeing as that Cargo, Fowler, Dahl, Parker, and Wheeler are all relatively young, what do you see happening out there?

The Rockies are an interesting team in terms of their major league needs and the depth they have on the farm. It would appear that SP isnt neccessarily the strength of their farm team, and its clearly the massive weakness of their major league team. Do other teams recognize such a glaring hole at both levels, and therefore use such as leverage in a potential trade? In other words, will other GMs attempt to "low-ball" them, knowing the desperate need for pitching and the overflow of talent in the OF and IF positions?

Sorry for the novel. I've been visiting BP for awhile now, but finally decided to pay for the prospect coverage. While I liked last year's to some extent(based on looking back over them the last few days), I don't think people are giving you enough credit for the immense quantity of data, information, and projections you've done for every player in the top 10. There are certainly a lot of sites that simply list the guys, and maybe add a little blurb if you are lucky. These are easily the most in-depth rankings i have seen, and far surpass others in terms of quality. Thanks.


Nov 12, 2012 08:01 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

First of all, thanks for the compliment. We appreciate it.

I wouldn't put Tulo on first base. That's just wasting his talent. If you think he's on the decline and want to sell high, now might be an interesting time to explore that market. It all depends on the scouting, though. If you think he's still a top flight player for the next 3-5 years, it's hard to argue against keeping him. If the Rockies were to move him, they might be able address some of the organizational weaknesses you mentioned.

Nov 12, 2012 08:18 AM

i dont neccessarily think Tulo is on the decline just yet, and im not sure right now would be the best time to trade him either. do you? i guess my thought process was that he was coming off a major injury this year, and therefore his value would be down...but upon further review, im gonna go ahead and guess that GMs across baseball know how good Tulo has been and still can be.

maybe this is totally crazy and would never happen...but what about the Cards as a possible trade partner for the rockies? im still trying to fully grasp the value of prosepcts to major league clubs, but would some sort of Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez-type package get Tulo?...or would it have to be of the Wainwright-Miller variety?

Nov 12, 2012 09:32 AM
rating: 0
Luke in MN

Yeah, props on the amount of work you and the team are putting into the prospect stuff here. Your podcast with Kevin Goldstein will always be your greatest and most enduring contribution to American culture, but this other stuff's good too.

Nov 12, 2012 18:01 PM
rating: 0

Loved the article Professor. One question about David Dahl. Can you explain how Dahl is both polished for his age, and a long way off from his ceiling. Does his polish mean that he has a relatively high floor in addition to his high ceiling? Or is he just polished for his level/age which that doesn't have any bearing on his floor or ceiling?

Nov 12, 2012 08:50 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Yes; I'd say high floor/high ceiling. He has real baseball skills (on the field skills) as a teenager, which is rare. He is still a long way off and a high risk because of the fact that he is a teenager and has only provided a small professional sample. As mature as he seems to carry himself and play, being young still allows for too many unknown variables to suggest he's without much risk. Risk is inherent in youth.

Nov 12, 2012 09:12 AM

Ok, I understand that "Risk is inherent in youth". But where does Dahl's specific risk stand in relation to the risk of similar outfield prospects around the same age. I know that comps aren't the best way to go about evaluating players, but does Dahl's polish make him less risky than a player at a similar age/position? I guess what I'm asking is: what effect does polish really have if it doesn't minimize the overall risk?

Nov 12, 2012 09:47 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

You have to look at each player specifically. I would suggest that a healthy chunk of 18-year-old prospects are at least high risk until their first full-season of professional ball. In fact, you can make a case that most would be extreme risks, given the nature of the developmental process and the unknowns at the time. As the player matures and the forecast changes, you can make an more accurate projection based on a larger professional record.

As for Dahl, I don't think his polish for his age should be discounted because he received the high risk label. I understand your point, and its a good one, and there are shades of gray within each risk distinction. Not all high risk prospects carry the same degree of high risk. The fact is that Dahl shows a lot of baseball skills for his age, and I think that helps to temper his high risk, but its still a high risk because of the factors previously mentioned. It might only take a year of full-season ball to quell some of those inherent concerns, which I think would also be a testament to his maturity.

Nov 12, 2012 10:00 AM

Thanks. Makes more sense now. Also "healthy chunk of 18 year olds" should be the name of a punk band.

Nov 12, 2012 10:47 AM
rating: -1

Minor correction: Zach Putnam was claimed by the Cubs last week, so he's no longer a Rockie.

Nov 12, 2012 10:39 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Steph Bee
BP staff

Good catch! Fixed, and thanks for the sharp eyes!

Nov 12, 2012 16:28 PM

Thanks. Makes more sense now. Also "healthy chunk of 18 year olds" should be the name of a punk band.

Nov 12, 2012 10:42 AM
rating: -1

Just wondering, with a 7 fastball and an easy 6 borderline 7 slider why is Chad Bettis' OFP only a 6. What is stopping him from having closer upside?

Nov 12, 2012 10:43 AM
rating: 2

I'm going to guess they've hedged because he missed the entire season with a shoulder injury. Shoulder injuries are the worst kind for any pitcher and he injured his in the spring. If he had come back at some point in 2012 he might have been rated higher but missing the whole year is worrisome.

Nov 12, 2012 10:52 AM
rating: 0

I see that point, but at the same time he was referring to his OFP. I don't think any injury would change how good he could POTENTIALLY be. It probably makes him significantly riskier, but Im also wondering how that changes his potential.

Nov 12, 2012 10:58 AM
rating: 1

I can't speak for the BP crew but for me a career-threatening injury does change a player's potential. From the primer:

"OFP (Overall Future Potential): The measure of all tool futures based on the projected growth and maturity of those tools. The individual grades are calculated and assigned proper weight, and the result of that division is the player’s OFP, or projected ceiling."

Bettis' plus-plus fastball is his calling card and velocity is the biggest component affected by a shoulder injury, thus hurting "measure of all tool futures"...in my humble opinion.

Nov 12, 2012 11:08 AM
rating: 1

Sorry, 70Glove...meant to post that as a reply to your post.

Nov 12, 2012 11:09 AM
rating: 0

Its all good, I see your point here. Its the concept that Bettis' arm injury has the potential to affect his potential going forward.

But think about it along the lines of: "he's done it once, he can do it again" If Bettis threw high 90's with movement before the injury its certainly less likely that he will do it again, and it certainly increases the risk, but the possibility is still there. And OFP is all about possibility. I might be wrong but in my opinion his ceiling as a 6 or a 7 closer shouldn't revolve around his injury as much as it should revolve around his stuff.

I think this is part of an larger overall discussion; what effect does an arm injury have on a pitchers ceiling? If the injury affects the stuff it definitely affects the likelihood of the pitcher reaching the ceiling, but what happens to the ceiling itself? Its certainly a fascinating and complex topic. And I'm not sure theres one distinct answer, but its something to think about.

Nov 12, 2012 11:20 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Nick Faleris
BP staff

70Glove, it's an interesting question, and one that is an unfortunate result of the "prospect ranking" format.

Because we are rolling out rankings, we are hit with two issues: 1) we have a cut-off date at which point we have to make a determination as to value, and 2) we have to slot a player somewhere (we can't say, check back in March for an updated list that will include currently injured players).

This means we're left with the info we can obtain from speaking with people in a good position to posit opinions, as well as a little bit of guess work, when it comes to anticipating how a player will return from injury.

Were this a pro scouting department we might have on file the most recent report, a note as to injury (and any info we have as to nature of injury). When he's healthy and throwing again, we'd have another report filed. Rankings don't allow us that wait-and-see approach so we do the best we can with the info we have.

Nov 12, 2012 11:26 AM


I think the effect of injuries on the prospect rankings is sometimes overlooked. And I totally understand that the rankings don't always allow for clarity when it comes to understanding value.

As Professor Parks said in the prospect primer:

"prospect rankings are pop-up art shows, galleries of photographs that capture a particular moment in time. Not to lessen the appeal or diminish the importance of the work, but snapshots don’t have lungs and they don’t crawl to land and progress over time. Rankings throw a net over a designated slice of the calendar, and then shine a bright light on the apprehended prospects."

My question is: Once Bettis is throwing again and a report is done, is it possible that his ceiling changes because of the injury? or is the ceiling set in stone at this moment in time?

Nov 12, 2012 11:40 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Nick Faleris
BP staff

His ceiling could absolutely fluctuate, though the extent to which it fluctuates is wholly a product of the evaluator. I've spoken to area scouts that won't submit a pitcher with significant arm injury history higher than 5. Personally, I prefer to use injury history as a data point that might or might not detract from projected OFP.

More to your point, if I submit pitcher A as a 6/mid-6, and he misses a year due to a shoulder injury, I would not be able to stand by that rating. How could I? He's clearly a different player at this moment in time than he was when I wrote him up. Step forward a year, if he has a year of production under his belt and looks to be on the trajectory I saw when I initially wrote him up, I'm more comfortable standing by that rating.

So, the answer to your specific question (I think) is that the OFP is set as of a moment in time, but could (and often does) increase or decrease at a future date of determination when an update report is filed.

Nov 12, 2012 11:47 AM


Thank you for the write-up on Pomeranz. I was interested in your take on him.

I was also interested in your thoughts about Juan Nicasio. Of course, we were very lucky to see him be able to walk out onto the mound this year, much less be able to pitch.

But, in the baseball world, the view becomes rougher. He was much more hittable upon his return. Now he has to respond to the microfracture surgery on his knee.

I know he's 26 and no longer a prospect, but what are your thoughts about his future? An organizational guy, or a guy that still might be a rotational fixture?

Thanks for all of your responses to the posts!

Nov 12, 2012 15:12 PM
rating: 0
Richard Bergstrom

Hmm.. regarding the Top 10 25 and Under, I think I liked the methodology where major league success would have somewhat more weight than minor league potential.. in other words, I'd slot Rosario over Arrendo and bump Chacin up a few slots.

Nov 12, 2012 18:43 PM
rating: -3

Jason - what's your take on the rumors (not sure if they were ever confirmed) about the Rockies placing a great deal of stock on the "Christian character" of their potential draft picks?
Even if we can get past the theist element of the statement, can focusing on a particular type of character/makeup - and a seemingly non-playing field type of character/makeup at that, help in any feasible way?

Nov 12, 2012 20:46 PM
rating: -1
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

I've always viewed makeup as the work ethic and dedication that takes place on the field, as it relates to baseball. Can a player overcome failure? Can I player push himself beyond his raw physical ability? Can a player handle pressure? Can I player make adjustments, etc? I don't care if a player's moral compass points in the opposite direction as long as those issues don't limit or disable the approach on the field.

Baseball is full of jerks; full of people that you probably wouldn't want to spend a lot of personal time around. Even the fan favorites with the good face and community appeal are probably doing things during the course of a season that would turn the average fan off (morally). It doesn't matter to me. All I care about is the baseball player. Some teams look for both. It thins the talent pool.

Nov 12, 2012 20:57 PM
Richard Bergstrom

The Rockies are _very_ Christian. Even at the major league level, the players often attend service together.

Nov 12, 2012 21:50 PM
rating: -2

Josh Hamilton anyone?

Nov 13, 2012 07:28 AM
rating: 1
Richard Bergstrom

Doubt it. They'll probably put Colvin in RF and they might be worried about the PR problems if Hamilton had another relapse.. note that he has had a few while with the Rangers.

Nov 13, 2012 10:50 AM
rating: -1
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