Prospect ranking season is just around the corner. In anticipation of that, we present an intro series looking at some of the players who deserve mentioning but probably will not be appearing on their teams’ Top 10 lists. The popular series is back for the second year.
The Graduate: Seth Smith | OF
He didn’t get 130+ at-bats in 2008, which is the amount needed to eliminate his rookie status, but Smith did spend more than 45 days with the club prior to roster expansion on Sept. 1. That means he was technically no longer a rookie in 2009. However, we’ll give him some props since most people didn’t realize he lost his eligibility last season. Teammate Dexter Fowler also had a nice season in Colorado, but Smith’s line of .297/.383/.520 in 323 at-bats was an unexpected bonus. He also showed solid plate rates with a 12.5% walk rate and a 19.2% strikeout rate. Yeah, he plays in Colorado but an ISO of .223 is still mighty impressive. It’s also rare for a 26-year-old player to be a reliable bat off the bench.
The Riser: Juan Nicasio | RHP
The Rockies organization is known for effectively mining talent in Venezuela but Nicasio could be a steal for the club out of the Dominican Republic. A little old for a Latin player in low-A ball, the right-hander is a late-bloomer who allowed 110 hits in 112 innings of work. Nicasio also posted a walk rate of 1.85 BB/9 and a strikeout rate of 9.24 K/9. His ERAs were a little high in his previous two seasons (both in short-season leagues) but he has posted three solid FIPs: 3.75, 2.40, 2.57. His repertoire includes a low-90s fastball that touches 95-96 mph, as well as a slider and changeup.
The Tumbler: Joseph (Tyler) Massey | OF
The Rockies organization handed Massey some big cash to sign as a 14th round selection out of a Tennessee high school. He was young in 2009 (19) and played in full-season ball but more was expected than a line of .220/.261/.290 with just 19 extra base hits in 404 at-bats. Given that he projects to be a corner outfielder or first baseman, the .069 ISO is disappointing. Massey will be given a do-over in 2010, as he was obviously overwhelmed by the speed of professional baseball games.
The ’10 Sleeper: Radames Nazario | SS/3B
Nazario, 22, has been kicking around the Rockies system for a few years now with modest results (in part due to injuries), but he showed some signs of life in high-A. At 6’0 165 lbs, he needs to get stronger to weather the long season. He hit .287/365/.422 in the first half of the year but just .167/.220/.235 after the All-Star break. Twenty-seven of Nazario’s 89 hits were doubles, so he currently possesses gap power. With a little more meat on his bones, his ISO of .116 should climb.
BONUS: The ’08 sleeper was Eric Young Jr. and he’s finally getting the recognition that he deserves after some solid minor-league seasons. I won’t say much else because he will be on the Rockies’ Top 10 list.
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