Rox Pile’s Top 20 Rockies’ Prospects: #20 – 16

When I set out to rank the Rockies’ prospects, my goal was to come up with a list that was my own. There are multiple websites and publications that have released Rockies’ prospect rankings, yet there are very few differences among these lists. This indicates that there is very little independent thought going into these rankings. Most authors are simply relying on the work of others. I have a hard time with the fact that a nineteen-year-old pitcher that struggled with location, composure, and velocity is considered the unanimous number one Rockies’ prospect.

As you will see, Spring Training performance was a major factor in my rankings. The accomplishments of Rex Brothers, Charlie Blackmon, Ben Paulsen, and Jordan Pacheco could not be ignored.

You’ll also notice that I put a lot of stock into guys that have done something to prove themselves. The problem with eighteen-year-old prospects is that most have never had to face adversity. They haven’t played against the caliber of players that they face in the minors. Plus, we have no insight into their mental make-up.

I don’t care about signing bonuses or perceptions. This list comes straight from my gut. If I’m wrong, so be it. At least I’m putting myself out there.

20. Russell Wilson — 2B

Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 6′ 0″, Weight: 192 lb.

Born: November 29, 1988 in Richmond, Virginia, US (Age 22)

Wilson is here because of his potential. Up to this point in his life, football has been more of a focus. However, it sounds like he is now a full-time baseball player. His football coach at NC State recently said that they are moving on without him.

It will be interesting to see how much Wilson improves this year. He is an extremely athletic second baseman that can play D and hit for power. As you would expect of a college quarterback, Wilson is poised and possesses solid leadership skills. However, he is very raw on the diamond. In college, football was a full-time job for Wilson; baseball always took a backseat. It will be interesting to see how he does when focusing strictly on baseball. If he takes the next step, Wilson will quickly rise through the organization.

19. Tim Wheeler — OF

Bats: Left, Throws: Right
Height: 6′ 4″, Weight: 205 lb.

Born: January 21, 1988 in Sacramento, California, US (Age 23)

Wheeler’s skill set is exciting. He can run, throw, and hit bombs. However, he has struggled to hit lefties, batting less than .200 against them in his minor league career.

During the off-season, Troy Tulowitzki took Tim under his wing. Always one to help the franchise, the star shortstop showed Wheeler and Nolan Arenado his off-season routine. Hopefully Tulo’s work ethic will rub off.

The Rockies invited Tim to spring training with the big club this year and he played well. In one notable intra-squad game, he hit a homerun and a double off lefty Christian Friedrich. Obviously, that is a good sign, but he must carry it over into the regular season.

Wheeler has been in the Rockies’ system for two seasons. He needs to improve at the plate this year. If he doesn’t, Colorado will move on without him. They are loaded with minor league outfield talent.

18. Will Swanner — C

Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 6′ 2″, Weight: 185 lb.

Born: September 10, 1991 in Cardiff, California, US (Age 19)

Last year, Swanner was an all or nothing hitter. In 76 at-bats, he belted seven homeruns, but he also struck-out 33 times. A strike-out rate that high is a major red flag, especially considering he was in rookie ball. With that said, Swanner only played in 18 games. I can’t draw any final determinations from a sample size that small.

Swanner runs well for a catcher and already possesses sound fundamentals behind the plate. As long as he stays healthy and maintains his flexibility, he should have no problem on defense. Offensively, he is capable of putting on a show, but, as I previously mentioned, he needs to make more contact.

17. Jared Clark — 1B

Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 6′ 4″, Weight: 215 lb.

Born: May 9, 1986 in Van Nuys, California, US (Age 24)

Clark hit 24 homeruns last season, the second highest total for any Colorado minor league player. However, many discount his power because he struck out 113 times. Also, he is old for a low level minor leaguer. He turns 25 in May and has yet to play above Low A.

Despite his flaws, Clark has shown a consistent ability to hit and get on base. Even with all the strike-outs, he has accumulated a .416 OBP. Right now, Jared’s biggest enemy is time. Because of his age, he needs to move up faster than most prospects.

Jared will probably be in Modesto to start the season. I expect him to put up big numbers playing in the California League.

16. Peter Tago — RHP

Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 6′ 3″, Weight: 180 lb.

Born: July 5, 1992 in Laguna Niguel, California, US (Age 18)

Many will think I’m crazy for ranking Pete this low. Most consider him to be among the Rockies’ ten best prospects. The other authors may be correct in ranking him that high, but I think they’re reaching.

Tago is immensely talented, but unproven. In high school, he was able to dominate hitters with a big-time fastball, but we have no idea if that success will carry over into the minors. He won’t be able to overpower professional hitters like he did high school opponents and all of his secondary stuff needs work.

The good news is that Tago is very young and has plenty of time to develop. I really like his potential, and if he shows us something this season, I will gladly move him up. I’m always leery of high school pitchers.

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Topics: Ben Paulsen, Charlie Blackmon, Jared Clark, Jordan Pacheco, Nolan Arenado, Peter Tago, Rex Brothers, Rockies Top 20 Prospects, Russell Wilson, Tim Wheeler, Troy Tulowitzki, Tulo, Will Swanner

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