The Colorado Rockies are looking closely at top prospects this spring with the notion that one or two could be starters, or at least play a major role for the team this year, and others no doubt will contribute.
Most prominent among the prospects is Ryan McMahon, who could be the primary starter or a platoon starter at first base. McMahon (#2 on the Prospects1500 Colorado Rockies Top 50) excelled at AAA Albuquerque last summer. He might start the season back in AAA, but he has nothing to prove in the minors going forward. The Rockies could use Ian Desmond as the right-handed bat side of a first-base platoon, or they could re-sign Mark Reynolds for the same reason. But either way, McMahon could well get at least 400 at-bats this summer. He hit 20 home runs with 88 RBI and a .355 batting average in the minors last year, so his bat will play at Coors Field. A longer-shot option at first base is Jordan Patterson (#17), who spent all of 2017 at AAA Albuquerque where he clubbed 26 homers with 81 RBI, a .288 batting average and .364 on-base percentage.
Two former prospects, David Dahl and Raimel Tapia, are likely to get the most playing time in left field until Gerardo Parra returns in 4-6 weeks from a hamate bone injury that required surgery. But Rockies GM Jeff Bridich said Friday that Mike Tauchman (#26 on our Rockies Top 50), who also torched AAA pitching last summer, could factor into that conversation. Tauchman hit 16 HR with 80 RBI and a .331 batting average on his way to a berth on the all-PCL team in 2017. A long shot is Noel Cuevas (#27), who had 15 homers, 79 RBI and a .312 batting average during his second season at AAA Albuquerque.
The Rockies’ top prospect, though, is #1 Brendan Rodgers, shortstop ticketed for stops at AA Hartford and AAA Albuquerque this summer before possibly getting a September callup to the big leagues. A major-league injury and a good spring showing could speed up that timetable for Rodgers though. It’s still uncertain whether he will stick at shortstop in the majors, but his power bat will make him a premier player at whatever position.
Catcher Tom Murphy (#9) is getting another opportunity to prove himself at the big-league level, and he could be the backup catcher this summer to Chris Iannetta with a good spring over main competitor Tony Wolters. Murphy has the bat — 19 homers, 59 RBI and a .327 batting average in AAA in 2016 before a broken arm disrupted his 2017 season — but his defense remains suspect. Another catcher, Dom Nunez (#16), will get a look in spring camp. Defense is his calling card, but he did hit 11 homers in AA last summer. Chris Rabago (#41) may be a better catching prospect. A 13th-round pick in 2014 out of UC Irvine, Rabago had a .350 OBP, 43 RBI and 25 stolen bases at High A Lancaster in 2017.
Pitchers who could contribute to the Rockies this summer inclulde #13 Yency Almonte, hard-throwing right-handed starter who might see bullpen time after going 8-4 with a 2.91 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 111.1 innings in the minors last summer. Or one of the other prospective bullpen arms in the minors could provide depth this summer. Those include #31 Shane Broyles, who struck out 78 in 53.2 innings at AA Hartford in 2017 with 23 saves and a 1.81 ERA at Hartford and Albuquerque combined. Lefties Mitch Horacek (#37) and Jerry Vasto (#38) could fill a role. Horacek has struck out 523 in 549 minor league innings; Vasto has struck out 201 in 168.2 innings in the minors. Righties James Farris (#40), who had 69 strikeouts in 57 minor-league innings, and Jairo Diaz (#43), who struck out 20 in 20 minor-league innings, are also bullpen options.
The Rockies have lots of young talent that has already graduated from the minors, especially starting pitchers, and more clearly is en route as the club seeks a second playoff appearance in a row.
Article featured image of Brendan Rodgers – photo credit Scott Greene (@Scotty_Ballgame)