Rox Pile's Top 20 Prospects: #15 - 11


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 – 16

15. Cole Garner — OF

Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 6′ 2″, Weight: 210 lb.

Born: December 15, 1984 in Long Beach, California, US (Age 26)

Garner is the oldest player on these rankings and most don’t consider him to be among the top 20 players in the Rockies’ system.  He was a high school teammate of Ian Stewart and has been in the organization since 2003.  He’s good enough to make a lot of Major League rosters, but the Rockies are too loaded at his position.  He’s been lost in the shuffle and it’s doubtful he will ever work his way through the Rockies’ log-jammed outfield.  Still, Garner is a solid player and he will eventually make a major league contribution somewhere.

This year, Cole is playing his second season in Colorado Springs.  In 2010, he hit .308 with 13 homeruns, 10 triples, and 31 doubles.  That stat line would get most players promoted to the big leagues.  Garner will probably improve upon those numbers in 2011.  He’s too talented for AAA.

14. Albert Campos — RHP

Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 6′ 4″, Weight: 222 lb.

Born: February 4, 1991 in Turmero, VE (Age 20)

Campos is a strapping right hander with an explosive fastball, but an inconsistent curveball.  Last year in Casper his numbers were terrific, making 14 starts and finishing with a 2.05 ERA.  He overpowered hitters with his fastball, but there were days when his curve ball was flat and his control was lacking.  However, these problems are common for twenty-year -old pitchers and the Rox are confident that he will continue to make strides in both areas.

Because he’s 6’4″, 220 lbs and throws gas, Campos has drawn many comparisons to Ubaldo Jimenez.  He even wears his stirrups high.  However, the comparison isn’t fair.  Campos is a kid and crowning him as the next coming of Ubaldo isn’t doing him any favors.  Let’s just see how he does in Asheville this year.

13. Rafael Ortega — OF

Bats: Left, Throws: Right
Height: 5′ 11″, Weight: 160 lb.

Born: May 15, 1991 in VE (Age 19)

Ortega has been teammates with Campos dating back to the 2008 Dominican Summer League season.  The Rockies would love it if they rose all the way to Denver together.  Ortega is a speedy outfielder with an above average throwing arm and the ability to make consistent contact.  In 2010, he was a Pioneer League All-Star, hitting .358.   He was named by Baseball America as one of the top 20 prospects in the Pioneer.

Ortega displayed decent pop last year, but it’s difficult to tell if his power is legitimate or if he received a boost from playing in high elevations all year.   Right now, he is playing with Asheville, making up 1/3 of an outfield loaded with prospect talent — Corey Dickerson and Kyle Parker are also there.   According to many within the organization he is a very driven player.   He is primed to have a great season in the SALY, but it will be interesting to see if he hits for power.

12. Juan Nicasio — RHP

Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 6′ 3″, Weight: 200 lb.

Born: August 31, 1986 in San Francisco de Macoris, DO (Age 24)

Nicasio was the Opening Day starter for Tulsa. He pitched quite well, giving up two runs in five innings and picking up a win in the process.  He was invited to camp with the big club this spring and made a decent impression.  He’s still a year or two away from Denver, but he’s probably going to be there one day.

Nicasio throws gas.  Reportedly, he hit 98 MPH while throwing in winter ball this past off-season.  He’s been in the Rockies’ farm system since 2006, but he was flying under the radar until his break-out 2009 season with Asheville.

Juan has the potential to be a big league starter, but his secondary stuff needs to be further developed.  If that doesn’t happen, the Rockies could use his high octane fastball out of the bullpen.

11. Ben Paulsen — 1B

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

Born: October 27, 1987 in Plymouth, Wisconsin, US (Age 23)

Paulsen just wrapped up his first spring training with the big club.  He performed so well he was presented with the Abby Greer Award — given to the team’s spring training MVP.  In Scottsdale, he led the team in batting average and RBIs.

The knock on Paulsen has been that he lacked adequate power for a first baseman.  The sweet swinger has always hit for average, but his minor league homerun totals have been low.  This off-season, it seems that Paulsen addressed that issue.  Thanks to a vigorous off-season training regiment, he was able to bulk up.  He hit several impressive home runs this spring.

Paulsen is the everyday first baseman for Tulsa, but there is room for him in Colorado Springs if the organization wants to promote him.  The Sky Sox have several first baseman, but none have the potential of Paulsen.  There is a decent chance that Ben will be the eventual replacement for Todd Helton.

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Tags: Albert Campos Asheville Tourists Ben Paulsen Charlie Blackmon Cole Garner Colorado Springs Sky Sox Corey Dickerson Jordan Pacheco Juan Nicasio Kyle Parker Modesto Nuts Rafael Ortega Rex Brothers Rockies Abby Greer Award Rockies Top Prospects Tulsa Drillers