The Colorado Rockies have set themselves up to face the best problem any team can face. The Rockies are already set to make the playoffs and maybe a World Series in the not-too-distant future. They also have an elite level farm system on the rise. The Rockies must now find places for these prospects. Here is where I believe they will best fit in.
First, I want to quickly go over David Dahl, and why I am not quite ready to look for a spot for him. Dahl has reportedly been struggling with strikeouts in AAA right now. What made Dahl so effective last year was his low strikeout rate. He’s not exactly a guy the Rockies are looking to get back into the majors, so there’s no rush. Until he can figure out his bat in the minors (and 100 percent heal), I’m not ready to look for a spot for him in the majors quite yet. He’s just not one of those top prospects I am about to go over.
Brendan Rodgers: Shortstop, 21 years old
You may think it will be awhile before Rodgers goes to the big leagues. But that is not the case. Rodgers is hitting .348 this season between Double-A and Single-A, including an elite .400 in 48 games this season at Class A Lancaster. Rodgers is one of the top prospects in the Rockies system, and should be in the majors sometime in the next couple of years.
Here is where it gets difficult. The Rockies already have two solid shortstops in Trevor Story and Pat Valaika. I cannot see him starting there for awhile. Move him over to second base? Think again. Currently, the most underrated player in all of baseball, DJ LeMahieu, is holding down second. So, what do you do with Brendan Rodgers?
Believe it or not, this actually puts the Rockies in great position. Now, I would almost have a three-way position battle between Story, Valaika, and Rodgers. The best of the three will start. Then, you keep one as a pinch hitter/backup. The odd man out will be on the trade block or in the minors where he will try to learn a new position.
Ryan McMahon: Third Baseman, 22 years old
Unlike Rodgers, Ryan McMahon is much closer to playing big league ball. In fact, he already has four MLB at-bats against the Marlins this past weekend. It could be as soon as next year we see McMahon as a regular starter in the MLB. I know what you are thinking: He’s a third baseman. We kind of have an MVP candidate at that position right now. Luckily, McMahon plays first and second as well. But with the stacked lineup, McMahon would have to replace either DJ or Mark Reynolds.
Here’s the straight truth: Mark Reynolds is going to want to get paid next season. He was almost an All-Star this year on a minor league contract. Reynolds will probably get huge offers from other teams. I would be all for letting Reynolds go. That would open up a spot for McMahon to cover first. The Rockies have said they want McMahon to focus on first base.
But what about Ian Desmond? The Rockies have luckily found a player who can play almost anywhere. I would say stick him into left and move Parra to right. Yes, that would mean moving Carlos Gonzalez to the bench, if he is still with the Rockies next season. But is that really a problem to anyone? CarGo has had one of the worst seasons of any regular starter in the entire MLB. Moving him out to create space for a potential future All-Star is worth it to me.
Riley Pint: Pitcher, 19 years old
Selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 MLB Amateur draft, Riley Pint is one of the best prospects in baseball. However, he is only 19 years old, so it’s not like he’ll be making noise in the majors any time soon. In a couple of years, however, Pint should be a huge part of the rotation. Given the Rockies have the same rotation at this time, who do you sub out of the rotation for him? Or, do you move Pint himself to the bullpen?
First off, moving Riley Pint to the bullpen is a better idea than what you might think. I’m not saying it should be the number one option by any means. But a pitcher who can hit 100 mph would be an elite level closer. At the very least, he may start for a couple years, then get moved to the bullpen to save his arm and make him last longer. Either way, Riley Pint has an above average potential, and wasting that by putting him in the bullpen is a bad idea. I’m not saying the bullpen isn’t important, but I am saying using a pitcher for seven innings versus only one is a huge difference. You have to make Pint a starter for as long as you possibly can.
So, who will he replace?
Jon Gray and Chad Bettis will hopefully still be dominant, and won’t be an option to remove. I personally love Kyle Freeland, and would doubt they sub him out. So then we are left with Jeff Hoffman or German Marquez. Overall, Hoffman is probably the better pitcher. However, Hoffman struggles to throw strikes at times, and walks a lot of guys. Riley Pint is actually the same way. While he can throw absolute gas and get insane movement on his off speed, Pint walks a lot of players as well. If 40 percent of Colorado’s rotation tend to walk people, we have a problem. For that reason, I would kick out Hoffman and keep Marquez at the fifth spot. This is also good because then we can plug Hoffman into the rotation any time someone else gets injured.
What about Antonio Senzatela? The Rockies have in the bullpen now and that may be where he stays in the future.
Speaking of Bettis, while he is not a prospect, his position in the rotation is worth discussing.
Chad Bettis: Pitcher, 28 years old
If you have been under a rock and not heard of Bettis or his story, I highly recommend you go and read up on it. Bettis has had the best comeback story in sports this year. He was considered an above average pitcher before being diagnosed with cancer, keeping him out all year. And now, after almost a year, Bettis is back, making his first start Monday night. He pitched seven shutout innings, for those of you who didn’t know. Now Bettis is competing with what feels like a million other pitchers for five starting rotation pieces.
Luckily for Bettis, he has a spot almost locked down. Right now, I would say the rotation would be Jon Gray, Chad Bettis, Kyle Freeland, Jeff Hoffman, and German Marquez. Senzatela gets moved to the bullpen, which is where he should be used to at this point. The rotation is good, and seems to be set in stone. That is until we see an appearance from another huge MLB prospect.