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.
Born: October 19, 1990 in Mission Viejo, California, US (Age 20)
Tyler Matzek has become one of the most polarizing prospects in baseball. Scouts either love him or hate him. However, I have yet to see a set of Rockies’ prospect rankings that didn’t have him ranked number one. That ends now. Unanimously ranking Tyler Matzek as the number one prospect in the Rockies organization is doing a major disservice to a very underrated farm system.
Right now, Matzek’s game is full of red flags. He has trouble maintaining his velocity, often dipping down to the 86 – 88 MPH range. His control is iffy and he reportedly lacks composure. Admittedly, the composure thing might be unfair, but the three wild pitches in his first 2011 start seem to back up the argument.
With all that said, Tyler has been hyped up for a reason. His talent is real and there is still plenty of time for him to harness his abilities.
9. Corey Dickerson
Bats: Left, Throws: Right
Height: 6′ 2″, Weight: 210 lb.
Born: May 22, 1989 in McComb, Mississippi, US (Age 21)
Many discount Corey’s monster 2010 season because he was a twenty-one-year-old playing in the offensive friendly Pioneer League. High elevations boost offensive numbers. That is a fact.
It’s also true that the Pioneer League is one of the lowest levels of professional competition. However, Dickerson’s powerful swing and tremendous work ethic should allow him to produce at all levels.
So far this year, Corey is off to a decent start. In nine games, he is hitting .303 with a homerun. On the downside, he only has a .455 slugging percentage. More than likely, his power numbers will warm up with the weather.
Born: July 8, 1987 in Evanston, Illinois, US (Age 23)
It’s difficult what to make of Christian Friedrich. He was once considered the number one Rockies’ prospect, but last year he was derailed by elbow problems. He is healthy this season, but he has yet to regain his previous form. In 2008 and 2009 he struck out over eleven hitters per every nine innings, but his K/9 ratio regressed to 8.04 in 2010. This year his K/9 is 5.73.
To make matters worse, Friedrich has actually been lucky this year. His .250 BABIP is 56 points lower than his career low.
So why is he ranked this high? Because when he is on, he’s absolutely filthy. In a pre-season exhibition, he threw six no hit innings against the big club.
7. Kyle Parker
Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 6′ 0″, Weight: 200 lb.
Born: September 30, 1989 in Evans, Georgia, US (Age 21)
Kyle Parker probably has more potential than any other outfielder in the Rockies system. Parker, the former starting QB for the Clemson Tigers, is a terrific athlete with a complete tool set. However, he is unproven at the minor league level and his game is still somewhat raw. This year, he is focusing solely on baseball for the first time in his life; It will be interesting to see how develops.
Kyle is having a respectable start in Asheville. He’s hitting .357, but he hasn’t shown the power that the organization is expecting. Like Dickerson, Parker should start hitting the ball out of the park more often once the weather improves.
6. Nolan Arenado
Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 6′ 1″, Weight: 205 lb.
Born: April 16, 1991 in Lake Forest, California, US (Age 20)
Arenado is a sweet swinging youngster without a true defensive position. Last year, as one of the youngest players in the SALY, he hit .308 with 41 doubles. As he continues to mature, he should develop into a power hitter.
Most have Arenado ranked higher than this, but I see two holes in his game. First, he is playing third base right now and it’s doubtful that he will ever develop into an elite defensive third baseman. Of course, his defensive liabilities can likely be overcome by moving him to first. The second and more significant problem with Arenado is his plate discipline. Last year, he only drew 19 walks in 400 plate appearances. This year, he has yet to draw a walk in forty-three trips to the box.
Nolan needs to focus on being selective. His swing is a thing of beauty, but there aren’t very many hitters that can be productive while swinging at bad pitches. At his age, he has plenty of time to improve and it’s likely that he will.