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Colorado Rockies: Top 10 Prospects

Posted By Marc Hulet On March 8, 2010 @ 2:00 pm In Minor Leagues | 10 Comments

General Manager: Dan O’Dowd
Farm Director: Marc Gustafson
Scouting Director: Bill Schmidt

FanGraphs’ Top 10 Prospects:
(2009 Draft Picks/International Signees Not Included)

The Rockies organization does not have the strongest system in the game but it’s far from the weakest and you have to be impressed with how many top prospects are homegrown talent. This organization knows how to find, sign and develop prospects. Six of the 10 prospects were international free agent signings and all 10 were originally signed by the club (a rare feat).

1. Christian Friedrich, LHP, Double-A
DOB: July 1987 Bats: L Throws: L
Signed: 2008 1st round – Eastern Kentucky University
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 88-92 mph fastball, plus slider, curveball, change-up

Friedrich continues to prove that he was an absolute steal as the 25th overall pick in the ’08 draft. He cruised through low-A ball in ’09 by posting a 1.92 FIP and a strikeout rate of 13.10 K/9 in 45.1 innings. The left-hander then moved up to high-A where he had a 2.55 FIP and allowed just 59 hits in 74.1 innings. His strikeout rate remained excellent at 11.26 K/9 thanks to his plus curveball. He also shows an average ability at inducing ground balls. Friedrich did a nice job of holding his own against right-handed batters in ’09 and he kept them to a .218 batting average. However, his walk rate did rise against them (3.43 vs righties, 2.32 vs lefties). Friedrich has the ceiling of a No. 2 starter and he could conceivably reach Colorado by the end of the season if he gets off to a fast start in double-A.

2. Jhoulys Chacin, RHP, Majors
DOB: January 1988 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2004 non-drafted international free agent (Venezuela)
MLB ETA: Now 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 2
Repertoire: 88-93 mph fastball, change-up, slider

Just 21 in ’09, Chacin reached the Majors and appeared in nine games, including one start, for the big league club. Along with his four-game stint in triple-A, the right-hander showed that he still has some work to do – especially with his control (24 walks in 25.1 combined innings). Chacin spent the majority of the season in double-A, where he allowed 87 hits in 103.1 innings of work. He posted a walk rate of 3.05 BB/9. His strikeout rate was a respectable 7.49 K/9 and his ground-ball rate was solid at 54%. With the ability to keep the ball on the ground and a repertoire that includes two plus pitches (fastball, change-up), Chacin should develop into a No. 3 starter at worst.

3. Wilin Rosario, C, High-A
DOB: February 1989 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2006 non-drafted international free agent (Dominican Republic)
MLB ETA: Late-2011 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

Rosario first showed up on prospect radars after a solid ’08 season in which he hit .316/.371/.532 in 263 at-bats in rookie ball. The now 21-year-old catcher followed up the breakout season with a huge jump to high-A ball, bypassing both short-season ball and low-A ball. He hit OK, considering his age and the huge leap, with a .266/.297/.404 line in 203 at-bats. Unfortunately his walk rate was almost cut in half (from 8.2 to 4.5%) and his power output dropped (.217 to .138 ISO). A wrist injury ended his season prematurely but he was starting to hit well at the time (.725 OPS in June, .840 in July). Rosario returned for the Arizona Fall League and looked good. Defensively, he has a strong arm and has thrown out 46% of base runners over the past two seasons.

4. Hector Gomez, SS, High-A
DOB: March 1985 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2004 non-drafted international free agent (Dominican Republic)
MLB ETA: Mid-2011 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 2

Gomez’ development was stunt in ’08 when Tommy John surgery limited him to just one game. He came back in ’09 and appeared in 83 games in high-A ball and showed improvement. The shortstop hit .275/.310/.423 in 338 at-bats. Because of a chronically-low walk rate, Gomez consistently posts a low on-base percentage, which limits his stolen base numbers (10 in 14 tries in ’09). Despite his thin frame, the right-handed hitter has surprising pop, although it’s currently more of the line-drive variety than over-the-fence. Defensively, he has a rocket for an arm despite his surgery but he makes youthful mistakes. With Troy Tulowitzki currently manning shortstop in Colorado, the club can afford to be patient with Gomez.

5. Esmil Rogers, RHP, Majors
DOB: August 1985 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2003 non-drafted international free agent (Dominican Republic)
MLB ETA: Now 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 1
Repertoire: 90-94 mph fastball, slider, change-up

Rogers has two distinct seasons in ’09. He began the year in double-A and had few troubles with the hitters by posting a FIP of 2.51. He allowed 87 hits in 94.1 innings. Promoted to triple-A, his FIP rose to 5.49 and he allowed 77 hits in 60.2 innings. The main issue was a lack of command and control. His walk rate rose from 1.18 in double-A to 5.19 BB/9 in triple-A. Rogers left balls up in the zone and was creamed; his HR/9 rate rose from 0.19 to 1.34 HR/9. Clearly the 24-year-old right-hander has some work to do as a former hitter who was converted to the mound after turning pro. With a little polish, though, he could develop into a No. 3 starter.

6. Eric Young Jr., 2B, Majors
DOB: May 1985 Bats: B Throws: R
Signed: 2003 30th round – Chandler-Gilbert CC
MLB ETA: Now 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 2

Young Jr. has done nothing but hit and run in the minors. Over the past four seasons, he’s produced a batting average of more than .290 while stealing an average of 66 bases a year (87 was his highest total in ’06, 46 was his lowest in ’08). He does a nice job of getting on base and has posted a walk rate in double-digits for three of the past four seasons. On the negative side, he still strikes out a bit too much (16.7% in ’09) for his modest power output (.131 ISO). In the field, Young Jr. is not a great defensively player so he could end up moving permanently to the outfield or he could serve as a super-utility player who would be deserving of 300-400 at-bats. Outside of improving his defense, Young Jr. has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues.

7. Michael McKenry, C, Double-A
DOB: March 1985 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2006 7th round – Middle Tennessee State University
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 3

Just 5’10”, McKenry generates surprising pop thanks to his squat build. He also historically hits for a pretty solid average and gets on base. Overall in ’09, he hit .279/.376/.455 in 358 double-A at-bats. He did see a decline in power last season as his ISO rate dropped from .210 in ’08 to .176. However, his walk rate remained strong at 12.9% and his strikeout rate dropped 6% to 19.3%. McKenry is a notoriously slow starter and his numbers could improve if he can find a way to get the bat going in April and May. Defensively, he’s a born leader who does a nice job of throwing out base runners (33% in ’09). He has the potential to be a solid big league regular, and he should have a nice MLB career even if he doesn’t hit as well as he did in the minors.

8. Casey Weathers, RHP, Double-A
DOB: June 1985 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2007 1st round – Vanderbilt University
MLB ETA: Mid-2011 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 91-96 mph fastball, plus slider

Weathers, a former No. 1 draft pick, was rocketing through the minors and reached double-A in his first full pro season before he blew out his elbow and had Tommy John surgery. The right-hander is expected to by ready for the start of the 2010 season. With a big-time fastball and a heavy fastball that produces a good number of ground balls, Weathers projects as a future closer but his control was questionable (5.68 BB/9 in double-A) even before the injury. The 24-year-old should return to double-A in 2010 and he could reach the Majors by the end of the season if his stuff bounces back as expected.

9. Juan Nicasio, RHP, Low-A
DOB: August 1986 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2006 non-drafted international free agent (Dominican Republic)
MLB ETA: Mid-2012 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 91-95 mph fastball, slider, change-up

Nicasio is a little rawer than you’d like from a 23-year-old pitching prospect, but you can’t argue with his results so far. The hard-throwing right-hander posted a 2.57 FIP in ’09 while allowing 110 hits in 112.0 innings of work. He produced a good walk rate against inexperienced hitters (1.85 BB/9) but he still has work to do with his command. Nicasio has done an excellent job avoiding the long-ball throughout his career, which should help him in Colorado. Because of his age, inexperience and lack of a reliable third pitch, a bullpen role is probably in his future.

10. Sam Deduno, RHP, Triple-A
DOB: July 1983 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2003 non-drafted international free agent (Dominican Republic)
MLB ETA: Mid-2010 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 2
Repertoire: 88-92 mph fastball, curveball, change-up

A little old for a prospect, Deduno is on the cusp of being MLB ready. He spent the Majority of the ’09 season in double-A and allowed just 94 hits in 133.0 innings of work and posted a strikeout rate of 8.32 K/9. On the downside, his control is questionable, as he posted a walk rate of 4.87 BB/9. That issue, combined with the fact that he’s basically a two-pitch pitcher, suggests that Deduno’s future is probably in the bullpen. With a solid fastball and a plus curveball for his out-pitch, as well as a 57% ground-ball rate in ’09, this right-hander could make a solid set-up man for the Rockies. His first taste of the Majors could come by mid-2010.

Up Next: The Top 30 is done!

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