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Rockin’ in the Infield

You cannot help but be impressed by the Colorado Rockies’ middle infield depth. The Major League club has infielders Troy Tulowitzki and Clint Barmes, as well as the likes of Omar Quintanilla, Jeff Baker and Ian Stewart (the latter two profile better as corner infielders, though) serving as back-ups.

At the minor league level, the club has Jonathan Herrera, Chris Nelson, Eric Young Jr., and Hector Gomez – all of whom are currently on the 40-man roster. The Rockies also lost speedy A-ball infielder Everth Cabrera to the San Diego Padres in the recent Rule 5 draft (although he could be returned if he is unable to stick in the Majors for all of 2009). Two more interesting minor league infielders were also left unprotected during the Rule 5 draft – Corey Wimberly and Daniel Mayora – mainly due to the overwhelming depth in the organization.

Of the six players who do not have (all but) guaranteed roles in the Majors in 2009, Herrera is the closest to helping out at the Major League level. He made his MLB debut in 2008 and appeared in 28 games for Colorado, while posting a line of .230/.277/.279. The 24-year-old spent the majority of 2008 in Triple-A, where he managed a batting average of .310 and stole 15 bases.

Young is not far behind Herrera. Although he has yet to appear in the Majors, Young had a solid 2008 season in Double-A where he hit .290/.384/.392 with 46 stolen bases in 105 games. He broke out in a big way in the Arizona Fall League after the regular season concluded. Young hit .430/.504/.640 with another 20 stolen bases (in 21 attempts) in 31 games.

Nelson was the club’s first-round draft pick in 2004 and he realized his potential in 2007 with an excellent offensive season in High-A ball. Unfortunately, he struggled with injuries in 2008 and hit just .237/.321/.346 in 283 Double-A at-bats. He should return to that level in 2009, but could move quickly if he is fully healthy.

Wimberly has almost zero power but he can run like the wind and has stolen 181 bases in 354 career games. He hit .291 in Double-A last season and showed a willingness to get on base via the walk – at least more so than in other seasons. Daniel Mayora will likely begin 2009 in Double-A with Nelson, while Hector Gomez should visit High-A ball.

Every single one of those minor league middle infielders has enough potential to be considered amongst the organization’s top 25-30 prospects. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what you call depth.