Colorado Rockies 2018 Top 50 Prospects

Colorado Rockies Top 50 Prospects for 2018

The Colorado Rockies minor league system is thinner than it has been in years owing to all the young talent that has been promoted in recent seasons. Promotion of pitchers such as Jon Gray, German Marquez, Kyle Freeland, Jeff Hoffman and Antonio Senzatela and position players including Trevor Story, David Dahl, Raimel Tapia and Pat Valaika have thinned the system considerably. There is talent at the top but the system wanes and there is difficulty measuring young players at the bottom of this Top 50. This writer has been covering the Tampa Bay Rays for Prospects1500 but a move from Florida to Albuquerque, NM, home of the Rockies’ AAA team, made it more sensible for me to cover the Rox. I’ve seen players at the upper reaches of the system but not so much at the lower rungs, so don’t hesitate to share your opinions, especially about those players ranked in the bottom half. I’ll probably make significant adjustments with our midseason rankings. Till then, here goes.

Prospects1500 Tiers:
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster





Tier 1:
1. Brendan Rodgers, SS
Age: 21
Highest 2017 level: AA
Rodgers is not only the consensus top prospect for the Rockies, he is one of the best prospects in the minor leagues. He crushed High A in 2017 with a .387 batting average and .407 on-base percentage at Lancaster in the California League. In 38 games to finish the season, he showed well at AA Hartford with 6 homers, 17 RBI, a .260 batting average and .323 OBP. He may start the season at AA in 2018 but will soon move to AAA Albuquerque and likely will end the season in Denver. Rodgers will be a major league star; the only question is when.

Tier 2:
2. Ryan McMahon, 1B/2B
Age: 23
Highest 2017 level: MLB
McMahon is a candidate for a platoon job at first base with the Rockies in 2018. He also can play second or third, but the Rox are set there with Nolan Arenado and DJ LeMahieu. McMahon began 2017 at AA Hartford and moved to AAA Albuquerque after 49 games. His combined minor league totals of 20 home runs, 88 RBI, .355 batting average and .403 OBP led to a September call-up. If he doesn’t win a big-league job out of spring training, he still should spend most of his summer in Denver.

3. Colton Welker, 3B
Age: 20
Highest 2017 level: Low A
Welker was drafted in the fourth round in 2016 out of high school in Parkland, FL. He had 6 homers, 33 RBI, 5 stolen bases and a .350 batting average/.401 OBP at Low A Asheville in 2017 despite missing time with an injury. He should spend most of this season in AA and could move to the top of this list next year.

4. Ryan Vilade, SS
Age: 18
Highest 2017 level: Rookie
Drafted in the second round in 2017 out of high school in Stillwater, OK, Vilade hit .308 with an OBP of .438 and 5 stolen bases at Rookie level Grand Junction. The toolsy shortstop is ticketed for full season A ball this summer. He may end up at third base if he grows too much, but if his bat continues to grow that will be OK too.

5. Tyler Nevin, 3B
Age: 20
Highest 2017 level: Low A
Phil’s son, drafted in 2015, is moving up the ranks. In an injury-shortened 76 games at Low A Asheville, he hit 7 homers with 47 RBI and .305 batting average and .364 OBP. He should thrive at High A Lancaster and move up to AA Hartford this season. He looks like a major league regular in due course.

6. Riley Pint, RHP
Age: 20
Highest 2017 level: Low A
A first-round draft pick in 2016 out of high school in Overland Park, KS, Pint is learning the ropes. He has an ERA over 5 in two minor league seasons but 115 strikeouts in 130 innings. He has yet to pitch 100 innings in a season and his walk rate is way too high, but he’s just 20 and there’s plenty of  time for his performance to equal his potential. The Rockies will tell you his performance at this stage is about development, not about numbers, and they still view him as a potential No. 1 starter in the big leagues.

Tier 3:

7. Garrett Hampson, 2B
Age: 23
Highest 2017 level: High A
Drafted in the third round in 2016 from Long Beach State, Hampson had a solid season at High A Lancaster in 2017. He had 8 home runs, 70 RBI, 51 stolen bases and a .326 BA with a .387 OBP. The speedster has 87 stolen bases in 195 minor league games so look for him to move up quickly.

8. Sam Hilliard, RF
Age: 23
Highest 2017 level: High A
The 15th-round 2015 draft pick from Wichita State hit 21 homers with 92 RBI, 37 stolen bases and a .300 BA/.360 OBP at High A Lancaster in 2017. Hilliard gets nabbed too often stealing bases but his speed and power combo is impressive.

9. Tom Murphy, C
Age: 26
Highest 2017 level: MLB
Murphy’s bat got him to the big leagues in 2015, but he’s failed to stick there in three seasons now. Will this be the year he stays? His bat is his calling card, and he excelled in 2016 at AAA Albuquerque with 19 homers, 59 RBI and a .327 batting average. But he didn’t perform as well in 2017 owing to a broken arm that disrupted his season. He’s improving behind the plate, but if he spends most of this season in Denver, it will be because he hits.

10. Peter Lambert, RHP
Age: 20
Highest 2017 level: High A
A second-round draft pick in 2015 out of a California high school, Lambert is rated higher than Pint by some prospect analysts. His progress has been steadier, with a 3.99 ERA in 60 minor league starts, a WHIP of 1.25 and 265 strikeouts in 299 innings. He spent all of 2017 at High A Lancaster and should spend this season at AA Hartford. If he continues to shine, up the list he goes.

11. Brian Mundell, 1B
Age: 23
Highest 2017 level: AA
A 7th-round draft pick in 2015 out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Mundell has hit at every level. He split 2017 between High A Lancaster and AA Hartford and batted .300 with a .385 OBP, 15 HR and 78 RBI. He will reach Albuquerque sometime this season.

12. Forrest Wall, CF
Age: 22
Highest 2017 level: High A
Wall was off to the best start of his minor-league career when he dislocated his left shoulder in May 2017. Drafted as a second baseman in 2014, Wall was moved to centerfield and is still learning the position. He was hitting .299 with 3 homers and 5 stolen bases in 22 games when he was injured. He probably will start this season back at High A Lancaster.





Tier 4:

13. Yency Almonte, RHP
Age: 23
Highest 2017 level: AAA
A solid season in 2017 punctuated by his performance in the Arizona Fall League has pushed the personable Almonte up the ranks. Drafted in the 17th round in 2012 by the Angels, he has progressed slowly through the system. Splitting 2017 between AA Hartford and AAA Albuquerque, Almonte was 8-4 with a 2.91 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 111.1 innings. Primarily a minor league starter, he could find himself in the Rockies’ bullpen this summer.

14. Sam Howard, LHP
Age: 24
Highest 2017 level: AAA
Howard showed well at both AA Hartford and AAA Albuquerque in 2017. He combined for a 5-8 record with 3.32 ERA, 104 strikeouts in 127 innings and 1.23 WHIP. He will begin the season mostly likely in AAA but could see the Rockies this summer.

15. Ryan Castellani, RHP
Age: 21
Highest 2017 level: AA
A second-round draft pick out of a Phoenix high school in 2014, Castellani has spent a summer at each level since. He was 9-12 with a 4.81 ERA and 132 strikeouts in 157.1 innings at AA Hartford in 2017. He will spend 2018 pitching a lot of innings in AAA Albuquerque.

16. Dom Nunez, C
Age: 22
Highest 2017 level: AA
A defense-first catcher, Nunez did hit 11 bombs in 95 games at AA Hartford in 2017 and had an OBP of .335. If his bat comes along, the converted infielder will move up quickly.

17. Jordan Patterson, 1B
Age: 25
Highest 2017 level: AAA
After a September callup in 2016, Patterson spent all of 2017 at AAA Albuquerque where he clubbed 26 homers with 81 RBI, a .288 batting average and .364 on-base percentage. The former outfielder will get a look in spring training but even though the Rockies have a need at first base, Patterson could well spend most or all of 2018 in Albuquerque as a depth piece.

18. Wes Rogers, LF
Age: 23
Highest 2017 level: High A
Reputed to be the fastest man in the minor leagues, Rogers has blazed a trail since being drafted in the fourth round of 2014 out of Spartanburg (SC) Methodist College. He has stolen 181 bases in 365 games, including 70 at High A Lancaster in 2017 where he hit .319 with .377 OBP. Ticketed for AA Hartford, Rogers could move quickly — so to speak — if he continues to hit and run.

19. Daniel Montano, RF
Age 18
Highest 2017 level: Rookie
The young Venezuelan has spent two seasons in the Dominican Summer League learning his trade. The hit tool is a work in progress and power awaits maturity of body, but the potential is there. He may make his U.S. debut in Low A ball this summer.

20. Chad Spanberger, 1B
Age: 22
Highest 2017 level: Rookie
Drafted out of the University of Arkansas in the sixth round of the 2017 draft, Spanberger showed muscle in 60 games of Rookie ball at Grand Junction. He hit 19 homers with 51 RBI and batted .294 with a .368 OBP. Next stop: possibly Asheville.

21. Sean Bouchard, 1B
Age: 21
Highest 2017 level: Short Season A
A ninth-round draft pick in 2017 out of UCLA, Bouchard played in short-season Boise in 2017 where he hit 6 homers with 27 RBI and a .290 average/.390 OBP in 39 games. He may play in Asheville this summer over Spanberger.

22. Ben Bowden, LHP
Age: 23
Highest 2017 level: Did not play
A second-round pick from Vanderbilt in 2016, Bowden was on the fast track to the Rockies’ bullpen when an injury put him on the shelf in spring 2017. He struck out 29 in 23.2 innings at Low A Asheville in 2016 but the injury makes it unlikely he will show much in 2018 before later this summer or Arizona Fall League.

23. Yonathan Daza, CF
Age: 23
Highest 2017 level: A
The Venezuelan has hit throughout his minor league career, notching a .341 batting average with 31 stolen bases at High A Lancaster in 2017. Keep an eye on him at AA Hartford this summer. The hit tool plus speed is a good combination.

24. Breiling Eusebio, LHP
Age: 21
Highest 2017 level: Low A
The Dominican struck out 53 in 57 innings in 2017, including a one-hit, eight-strikeout, seven-inning shutout while he was at Boise earlier in the summer.

25. Bret Boswell, 2B
Age: 23
Highest 2017 level: Short Season A
An eighth-round draft pick out of the University of Texas in 2017, Boswell had 11 homers and 42 ribbies in 54 games at short-season Boise. He could move quickly if he continues to hit.

26. Mike Tauchman, OF
Age: 27
Highest 2017 level: MLB
Tauchman is a thumper who has a chance to be a fourth outfielder in Colorado this summer. He hit 16 HR with 80 RBI and a .331 batting average on his way to a berth on the all-PCL team in 2017.

27. Noel Cuevas, OF
Age: 26
Highest 2017 level: AAA
Cuevas had 15 homers, 79 RBI and a .312 batting average during his second season at AAA Albuquerque. His ceiling is reserve outfielder, a position where the Rockies have surplus at the moment.

28. Mike Nikorak, RHP
Age: 21
Highest 2017 level: Did not play
Nikorak is a first-round draft pick out of high school in Stroudsburg, PA in 2015. He pitched 15 games in Rookie ball over his first two years with poor results. He missed all of 2017 after Tommy John surgery and will miss most of this season.

29. Shael Mendoza, 2B
Age: 21
Highest 2017 level: Rookie
The Dominican Republic native played one season there then stood out in 2017 at Rookie level Grand Junction where he hit .364 with 5 homers and 25 stolen bases. Look for him on the base paths at A level Asheville this summer.

30. Ramon Marcelino, RF
Age: 21
Highest 2017 level: Rookie
After three summers in the Dominican Summer League, the young Dominican made his debut at Rookie level Grand Junction in 2017. He hit 19 homers with 55 RBI and a .318 batting average. Asheville fans get a look this season.

31. Shane Broyles, RHP
Age: 26
Highest 2017 level: AAA
The Rockies sent Broyles to the Arizona Fall League because they envision a possible spot for him in their bullpen in 2017. He has struck out 459 in 411 minor league innings, including 78 in 53.2 innings at AA Hartford in 2017. His 93 mph fastball worked in the AFL where he netted 3 saves and 7 strikeouts in 7 innings. This came after 23 saves and a 1.81 ERA at Hartford and Albuquerque in 2017.

32. Zach Jemiola, RHP
Age: 23
Highest 2017 level: AAA
An oblique injury hampered Jemiola’s season at AAA Albuquerque in 2017, but he was solid in the Arizona Fall League with a 2.74 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 23 innings. He’s got a fastball that can hit 95 and is a candidate for the Rockies’ rotation should an injury arise.

33. Justin Lawrence, RHP
Age: 23
Highest 2017 level: Low A
Lawrence made 16 appearances out of the bullpen in 2017 for Low A Asheville. A 1.65 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 16.1 innings is worthy of note.

34. Javier Guevara, C
Age: 20
Highest 2017 level: Rookie
The young Venezuelan played his first two seasons in the Dominican Summer League but moved up to Rookie level Grand Junction in 2017. He will be tested this summer in Low A Asheville.

35. Parker French, RHP
Age: 24
Highest 2017 level: AA
The fifth-round draft pick in 2015 out of the University of Texas had a rocky season at AA Hartford and may return there this spring. But he has shown some potential during his minor-league career and still is on the radar. Albuquerque and Denver are tough places for pitchers who don’t excel in Hartford.

36. Jack Wynkoop, LHP
Age: 24
Highest 2017 level: AA
The lefty sixth-rounder out of South Carolina in 2015 has shown promise during his minor league career but also may need to repeat AA Hartford to get a look in the big leagues. To repeat: Albuquerque and Denver are tough places for pitchers who don’t excel in Hartford.

37. Mitch Horacek, LHP
Age: 26
Highest 2017 level: High A
Plucked out of the Orioles’ system during the AAA phase of the Rule 5 draft in December, Horacek might find himself in the Rockies’ bullpen this summer. He has struck out 523 in 549 minor league innings. If the Dartmouth product can succeed at AAA Albuquerque this summer, he will likely get to Denver.

38. Jerry Vasto, LHP
Age: 25
Highest 2017 level: AAA
Vasto is another lefty reliever who could find himself in the Rockies’ bullpen if his summer at AAA Albuquerque goes better this year. He has struck out 201 in 168.2 innings in the minors. Lefty arms with high strikeout ratios play in major league bullpens.

39. Jesus Tinoco, RHP
Age: 22
Highest 2017 level: High A
The Venezuelan Tinoco had a good season at hitter-friendly High A Lancaster in the California League in 2017. He was 11-4 with a 4.67 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 140 innings. The Rockies added him to their 40-man roster in December, meaning an appearance in the majors is possible in 2018. But will his plus curveball work in Coors Field?

40. James Farris, RHP
Age: 25
Highest 2017 level: AAA
Farris, a ninth-round draft pick from Arizona in 2014, was lights-out at AA Hartford but struggled at AAA Albuquerque in 2017. He had 69 strikeouts in 57 innings and the Rockies sent the reliever to the Arizona Fall League for the second year. After a brilliant performance there in 2016, Farris stumbled in 2017. Still, he seems ticketed for the Rox bullpen, perhaps this summer.

41. Chris Rabago, C
Age: 24
Highest 2017 level: High A
Rabago, a 13th-round pick in 2014 out of UC Irvine, had a .350 OBP, 43 RBI and 25 stolen bases at High A Lancaster in 2017. He was added to the Rockies’ 40-man roster in December, providing catching depth for the big-league club.

42. Willie Abreu, OF
Age: 22
Highest 2017 level: Low A
Drafted in the sixth round out of Miami in 2016, Abreu notched 14 HR, 78 RBI, 40 SB and a .283 BA/.321 OBP at Low A Asheville in 2017. He had a five-hit night with a walkoff homer to beat Augusta in August. The Rockies are fairly pedestrian in their minor league outfield so he could hit AA Hartford and AAA Albuquerque this season depending on performance.

43. Jairo Diaz, RHP
Age: 26
Highest 2017 level: MLB
Diaz is another reliever who probably will spend time in the Rox bullpen this summer for the third year. He hasn’t been able to stick though, with only 29 major league innings. But he struck out 20 in 20 minor league innings in 2017, and that keeps him on this list.

Tier 5:

44. Pearson McMahan, RHP
Age: 21
Highest 2017 level: Short Season A
The fourth-round draft pick in 2017 out of St. Johns River State College in Florida hurled 17 innings at Boise with mixed results.

45. Will Gaddis, RHP
Age: 21
Highest 2017 level: Rookie
The third-rounder out of Furman in 2017 pitched in 11 games last summer and showed raw stuff. Keep an eye on him.

46. Harrison Musgrave, LHP
Age: 25
Highest 2017 level: AAA
The 2014 eighth-rounder from West Virginia was a candidate to make the Rockies out of spring training in 2017 but he never got there. He performed well enough in 12 starts at AAA Albuquerque in 2017 but it was an injury-plagued season with multiple stints on the disabled list. He didn’t pitch after June 30.

47. Robert Tyler, RHP
Age: 22
Highest 2017 level: Did not play
Tyler can reach 100 on the gun but forearm injuries have plagued him since his days at the University of Georgia. He appeared in five games at short-season Boise in 2016; none last year. He’s a wait and see prospect.

48. Tommy Doyle, RHP
Age: 21
Highest 2017 level: Rookie
Doyle, a compensation-round draft pick out of the University of Virginia in 2017, struck out 18 in 21 innings at Rookie level Grand Junction in 2017. He is headed to Low A Asheville this season and should have an opportunity to show why the Rockies were so high on his stuff. At 6-6, 235 pounds, he certainly is imposing on the mound but he needs to refine his delivery.

49. Daniel Jipping, LF
Age: 21
Highest 2017 level: Short Season A
The man is a monster: 11 homers in 193 at-bats at Short A Boise in 2017. Listed as 6 feet, 2 inches and 232 pounds, he just looks like a home run hitter. His bat could play eventually in Coors Field.

50. Josh Fuentes, 3B
Age: 24
Highest 2017 level: AA
There are a few quality third basemen in this organization should the Rox not re-sign Nolan Arenado, and Fuentes is one of them. He’s hitting well in the Mexican Pacific League this winter after 15 homers, 72 RBI and a .307 batting average and .352 OBP at AA Hartford in 2017. An unheralded sign out of Missouri Baptist, he may just be organizational depth but he can play.

Area 51. Steven Linkous, OF
Age: 23
Highest 2017 level: Short Season A
A 22nd-round draft pick out of UNC Wilmington in 2016, Linkous has stolen 67 bases in 119 games at Short A Boise in two seasons. He hit .308 in 2017 with a .409 OBP and should be headed for Low A Asheville.

Others to watch:

Manuel Melendez, OF
Age: 19
Highest 2017 level: Low A
The Venezuelan stole 32 bases in his first full season in the minors at Low A Asheville. He’s got to improve a .291 OBP though.

Nick Kennedy, LHP
Age: 21
Highest 2017 level: Rookie

Casey Golden, OF
Age: 23
Highest 2017 level: Rookie

Jefry Valdez, RHP
Age: 22
Highest 2017 level: Rookie

Jeffri Ocando, RHP
Age: 18
Highest 2017 level: Rookie

Derrik Watson, RHP
Age: 23
Highest 2017 level: Rookie

Roberto Ramos, 1B
Age: 23
Highest 2017 level: High A
Minor League Affiliates
Triple-A: Albuquerque (Pacific Coast League)
Double-A: Hartford (Eastern League)
High-A: Lancaster (California League)
Low-A: Asheville (South Atlantic League)
Short Season A: Boise (Northwest League)
Rookie: Grand Junction (Pioneer League)

About Michael Parnell 19 Articles
Michael Parnell is a retired newspaper editor who covers the Colorado Rockies for Prospects1500. He is a longtime fantasy baseball fan who now focuses on his dynasty teams in Diamond Duos and Dynasty Sports Empire leagues. He recently relocated from Fernandina Beach, Fla., to Albuquerque, N.M. Follow him on Twitter @parnellmichael.

4 Comments

  1. Very good breakdown in general! Seems like they should be set at the infield for a long time.

    One little correction, but I think you transposed the numbers in Hampson’s batting average.

    Well done.

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