Colorado Rockies

Original Published Date: Dec. 19, 2012

The Colorado Rockies finished 30 games behind the eventual World Champion San Francisco Giants in 2012.  Clearly they need help and are looking at multiple channels including their farm system.  Unfortunately, after David Dahl and Trevor Story, who I like very much, there’s just not much depth to help the Rockies anytime soon.

David Dahl was taken with the 10th pick in the 2012 draft and exploded onto the scene with an impressive display in the Pioneer League.  He’s got five-tool potential and a ceiling of a first division starter.  Trevor Story is equally as impressive and if it weren’t for Troy Tulowitzki, he’d be considered the shortstop of the future for the Rockies.  While both Dahl and Story are still in the low minors, their ceilings are very high and provide some hope for the Rockies faithful.

Nolan Arenado’s stock has taken a hit as there is concern about the amount of ultimate power he will have as well as the ugly platoon splits that he is carrying.  After Arenado, candidly, there isn’t a whole lot of upside. While I like Chad Bettis, he missed all of 2012 with a shoulder problem and lefty Tyler Matzek, once considered a top prospect, suffers from poor mechanics and the inability to find the plate.

The big problem throughout the entire organization, both major and minor leagues, is the lack of pitching.  While Coors field is a challenge, what the Rockies need are power arms who can keep the ball down.  With a weak Latin American operation and the inability to draft quality pitchers in the Rule 4 draft, there are whispers that the Rockies need to trade some of their key Major League assets to start over.  From my vantage point, it’s a plan that needs to be considered.

1. David Dahl (OF)

2013 Age: 19 BP: Alabama
Ht:6-2  Weight: 185 Bats: Left Throws: Right ETA: 2015
2012 SS 280 62 9 57 12 .379 .423 85.0 7.5 .420

After the draft of 2009, every toolsy high-school outfielder that explodes onto the scene will be compared to Mike Trout.  Face it…that’s what we have and now everyone seems to be asking that question about the number 10 pick in the 2012 draft, David Dahl.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say…while Dahl has a chance to be very good, he’s not Mike Trout.

Dahl has nice bat speed with a quick path to the ball and great hip rotation to elicit excitement about future power. He’s got a cannon for an arm and the speed to cover a lot of ground in the outfield.  Yep, he’s got tools and in his professional debut, he showed them off.  In 280 at-bat in the Pioneer league, Dahl batted .379 with nine home runs, 12 stolen bases, 10 triples and 22 doubles.  He’s slugged an impressive .625 and his contact rate was 85% with a 7.5% walk rate.

That said, before we carve out Dahl’s Hall of Fame plaque, remember, this is the Pioneer League and there is a long way to go.  One of the difficulties in evaluating Rockies’ minor league batters are the parks in which they play.  From Low-A to Triple-A, they are some of the best hitting ballparks in the country; including Asheville, which should be where Dahl starts the 2013 season.

Fantasy Impact: Even while trying to provide a balance analysis on Dahl, it’s hard not to get excited about his ceiling.  From a fantasy standpoint, a toolsy outfield playing in Coors is really intriguing and if I’m drafting in a Dynasty League, I’m targeting Dahl for late in the draft, soon after Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton go off the board.

2. Trevor Story (SS)

2013 Age: 20 BP: Texas
Ht:6-1  Weight: 175 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2015
2012 LowA 477 96 18 63 15 .277 .367 74.6 12.6 .333

Trevor Story was drafted in the supplemental first round in 2011 with many natural comparisons to Troy Tulowitzki.  Besides the fact that both play in Colorado and were drafted as highly touted shortstops, they are very much, different players.

Story is a plus defender with the ability to go to his left and right equally well.  I believe he has the foot work and arm strength to play shortstop at the highest level.  While his path is clearly blocked by the aforementioned Tulowitzki, Story will start 2013 as a 20-year-old High-A shortstop; so there is a long way to go before the Rockies declare they have a position problem.

As with many premium position athletes, Story’s defensive chops are ahead of his offensive game.  In analyzing his swing, it’s on the long and leveraged side and that showed in his 75% contact rate in 2012.  On the other hand, the swing path enables him to loft the ball which helped him hit 18 home runs in 477 at-bats.  Granted, many of those bombs came in the hitter friendly confines of Asheville but for me, the swing works.

There’s a lot to like with Trevor Story with a ceiling of a first division player.  The future power could equate to 20 home runs and while he’s not a burner, I could see 10-12 stolen bases at the highest level; particularly early in his career.  The contact rate will always be a problem and will limit his batting average.

Fantasy Impact: I’m drafting Story in a Dynasty League as a Top 50 prospect in the range of Alen Hanson and Addison Russell.  I don’t see him as a true 5-tool player as the speed is missing.  However, he could produce 20 home runs from the shortstop position and that will be very valuable for your fantasy team.

3. Nolan Arenado (3B)

2013 Age: 22 BP: California
Ht:6-1  Weight: 205 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2013
2012 AA 516 55 12 56 0 .285 .337 88.8 10.9 .296

I first got a chance to scout Nolan Arenado during the 2011 Fall League and I left thinking he would be a star.  It seemed like the AFL organizers agreed as he was named MVP of the league after batting nearly .400.

While 2012 was a good year, in fact some would argue a very good year, some of the luster has come off Arenado as a prospect.  Why?  While the 2012 stat line showed solid all-around skills with a slash line of .285/.337/.428, scouts were expecting more power.

In reviewing Arenado’s swing, it’s a compact swing with good bat-speed but it’s void of leverage and back spin.  He’s able to make elite contact (89%) but the swing is a line drive swing and not a home run swing.  Plus, he struggles against right-handed hurlers batting only .258 vs. .379 against lefties.  Even more concerning is that in 400 at-bats against right-handed pitchers, he hit five home runs.  In other words, he’s making contact, but it’s weak contact.  If you add it all up, there is concern about both the hit tool and future power.

Arenado has 30-grade speed and is not a threat on the basepaths.  He’s adequate in the field and should be able to remain at the hot-corner.

Fantasy Impact: While you like players who play half their games in Coors field, I’m not sure I’m buying Arenado as a top Fantasy player.  He could eventually trade some contact for power by leveraging his swing similar to the way that Wil Myers did in 2012.  However, that takes determination and talent and it’s dangerous to assume he’ll be able to accomplish such a feat.  He’s still a Top 100 prospect for me, but he’s in the back-half; quite a drop from where I saw him a year ago.

4. Chad Bettis (RHP)

2013 Age: 24 BP: Texas
Ht: 6-1 Weight: 200 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2014
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2012 DNP

Due to a shoulder injury, Chad Bettis did not pitch in 2012.  It’s a testament to both his upside and lack of depth in the Rockies minor league organization that he ranks as the number four prospect.

While pitchers get injured for a variety of reasons and missing an entire season is clearly alarming, I don’t see anything in Bettis’ delivery that is concerning.  In fact, it’s an easy and clean delivery.  He does rotate his hips a little too quickly and that is throwing off his landing, but I would still grade his mechanics as a solid 50 to 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale.

The arsenal is quality with a two fastballs (two and fourseam) that sit 91-94 MPH.  The slider is also a plus pitch with a nasty two-plane break.  The changeup needs work and if not resolved could severely limit his upside and possible move him to the bullpen.

Fantasy Impact: So what do you do with a pitcher who misses an entire year due to a shoulder injury?  While I like the upside of Bettis, you should only own him in the deepest of Dynasty Leagues.  If we get reports on Bettis pitching well in Spring Training, then I think it’s time to buy; but for now, I’m holding.

5. Kyle Parker (OF)

2013 Age: 23 BP: Kentucky
Ht:6-0  Weight: 200 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2014
2012 HighA 390 86 23 73 1 .308 .415 77.4 16.9 .346

Kyle Parker has a really interesting skill set.  As the former starting quarterback for the Clemson Tigers, Parker has plus arm strength but is not fleet of foot; stealing only one base in 2012.  What he does have is plenty of raw power and potentially the hit-tool to get to it.

While he was relatively old for High-A, he demonstrated his plus power by hitting 23 home runs in only 390 at-bats.  Yes, it was the California league, but the swing is good.  He has nice bat speed, the ability to work a count and take a walk (17% walk rate); all while making very good contact.

Parker profiles as a classic right fielder with plus power and a plus arm.  He’ll enter Double-A as a 23-year-old but should start to move up prospect charts if he continues to hit; which I think he will.

Fantasy Impact: As you can tell, I like Parker and believe he’s a late add in a Dynasty League.  The lack of speed will limit his fantasy impact but he could hit 25 home runs with a high on base percentage and a .280 batting average.

6. Will Swanner (C)

Will Swanner was bypassed for 14 rounds in the 2010 draft due to signability concerns, but Colorado took a gamble on him and paid him a $440,000 signing bonus. While Swanner’s amateur scouting reports placed his catching skills as solid-average, those skills have yet to show up in professional ball.  He had 14 pass balls in 2012 and out of 133 would-be base stealers, he threw out only 13.  Swanner definitely has power, slugging 16 home runs in the hitter-friendly McCormack Field in 2012.  However, Swanner’s swing is long and in watching several games, he struggles badly against recognizing and hitting breaking pitches.  Clearly this can stunt the growth of any batter, so it’s clearly a concern.

7. Tyler Anderson (LHP)

Tyler Anderson was taken with the 20th overall selection in the deep 2011 draft as a polished college left handed pitcher.  In hindsight, should the Rockies have selected Robert Stephenson, Alex Meyer, or Taylor Guerrieri ahead of Anderson, perhaps; but Anderson throws strikes and keeps the ball down in the zone.  Put another way, he’s a classic command and control pitcher with a ceiling of a back-of-the-rotation starter.  The good news is that he should move through the minor leagues quickly, although he spent the entire year in Low-A in 2012.

8. Tyler Matzek (LHP)

Prospect hounds know the story of Tyler Matzek.  Drafted as the 11th player in the Year of Trout (2009), Matzek was considered the best left-handed high school pitching prospect in the draft class.  Draft reports spoke positively about his superb arsenal and polish.

Control problems started immediately in his 2010 debut and got worse in 2011 when he walked 46 batters in 33 innings in the California League.  While things improved in 2012 after working with his high school pitching coach, the fact is Tyler Matzek has poor pitching mechanics that are leading to his struggles.  The delivery is very stiff and un-athletic causing him to the aim the ball.  His fastball velocity is not consistent and his balance is very poor causing his release point to be inconsistent.

Will Tyler Matzek make it?  The Rockies invested $3.9 million dollars into his left arm, so they will do everything to make it work.  However, unless he completely revamps his delivery, which I’m not sure he’s got the athleticism to accomplish, his ceiling is a bullpen arm.

9. Eddie Butler (RHP)

Keeping with the theme of drafting high-floor/low ceiling college pitchers, the Rockies drafted Eddie Butler with the 46th overall selection in the 2012 draft.  The reports on Butler’s arsenal are encouraging:  a twoseam fastball that sits 93-94 mph and a slider that is a real swing and miss pitch.  In terms of his third pitch, one person told me…what third pitch.  Two quality pitches usually means that Butler is destined for the bullpen, however, the changeup is a feel pitch and can be learned.  He’ll be 22-years-old to start the 2013 season, which will likely be in Low-A, so time is ticking.

10. Tom Murphy (C)

Murphy was drafted as a four year senior in the third round of the 2012 from the College baseball hotbed of the University of Buffalo.  His carrying tool is plus raw power and the ability to make solid contact.  While the ceiling is not high, Murphy has a chance to make it to the highest level as a backup catcher.

2 comments on “Colorado Rockies

  1. First, your pod cast rules!
    Second, are you at all higher on Arenado after the spring he is having?

    • Thanks Jake.

      I think I’m good with my position on Arenado. Nice hit tool with modest power and no speed. Coors will help him, so you need to consider that from a fantasy standpoint. If he gets 500 at-bats this year, look for 12-16 home runs with a .260-.270 average. In a couple of years, I could see that power ticking up slightly but with a .280-.290 BA.

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