2013 Colorado Rockies Top Prospects


System Overview: Very hitter-friendly, particularly at the top, and exceptionally light on arms. Center fielder David Dahl looks like a potential steal with the tenth pick in last June’s draft. Shortstop Trevor Story has the makings of an above-average big league regular; as does third baseman Nolan Arenado, though his ceiling seems to be highly inflated right now. And both Kyle Parker and William Swanner have the offensive potential to develop into MLB-ers.

Pitching-wise, Eddie Butler, the 46th overall pick in last June’s draft, looks serviceable. Chad Bettis is rebounding from shoulder issues. And Tyler Matzek, well, he’s currently standing on top of the plate and still can’t help but walk 100 hitters.  


#1. David Dahl, Age: 19, Position: CF

Dahl, the tenth overall pick in last June’s draft, absolutely destroyed Pioneer League pitching during his debut, hitting to the tune of .379/.423/.623 with 22 doubles, 10 triples, nine homeruns and a dozen stolen bases (in 19 tries) in 67 games. His total overall production was a staggering 61% better than the league average.

Projection: Per the usual, any long term projections for recent draft picks and international signings will be withheld until the following year. Dahl arguably had the best debut showing of any draft pick last year. And he looks very comparable to Miami’s Christian Yelich.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

#2. Nolan Arenado, Age: 22, Position: 3B

One of the more hyped prospects in the system, Arenado was rumored to be a legitimate candidate for the Rockies’ Opening Day third base job, despite being young and having no experience above Double-A. Last year, he hit .285/.337/.428 for Tulsa, with 36 doubles, a triple and a dozen homeruns. His total production, however, was just 10% better than the league average.

Projection: Arenado is a bit over-hyped as a prospect — at least at this point his career. His patience at the plate is average at best; his power is solid-average; he shows little foot speed, and defensively he remains a touch raw. He’s going to be an above-average big league regular, capable of hitting .280/.330/.450 with 20 homeruns, but he doesn’t look like a star right now.

Ceiling: 3.5- to 4.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

#3. Trevor Story, Age: 20, Position: 3B/SS

A supplemental first rounder out of Irving High School (Irving, TX) in 2011, Story had a decent debut showing later that year, hitting .268/.364/.736 in 47 Pioneer League games. The Rockies, taking an aggressive developmental approach with the young infielder, pushed him to A-ball last season, making him among the youngest position players in the league.

And Story did not disappoint. In 122 games with the Tourists, the then 19-year-old hit .277/.367/.505 with 43 doubles, six triples, 18 homeruns, and 15 stolen bases (in 18 attempts). His total offensive production, according to Weighted Runs Created Plus, was 38% better than the league average.

Defensively, he spent the majority of the year at shortstop, where he remains a bit raw, and an additional 21 games at the hot corner.

Projection: Now the bad news, of course. Asheville’s home ballpark is one of the South Atlantic League’s more hitter-friendly venues. And Story, unfortunately, showed a pretty massive home/road split last season (.305/.394/.566 vs. .246/.336/.439), making his true talent level somewhere in between which is still quite favorable given his age and level of competition. He looks like an above-average regular, maybe peaking as an All-Star for a few seasons.

Ceiling: 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

#4. Kyle Parker, Age: 23, Position: RF

Nabbed out of Clemson with the 26th overall pick in 2010, Parker had a strong showing with the Modesto Nuts last season, hitting .308/.415/.562 with 18 doubles, six triples, and 23 homeruns. His total production was 52% better than the league average.

Projection: It’s a bit surprising the organization didn’t bump him up to Double-A at some point during the season. And despite the impressive numbers, Parker’s production has to be looked at with at least a touch of skepticism. He’s a polished collegiate player taken high in the draft, playing at an age-appropriate level of competition. He shows above-average in-game pop, a strong eye, and modest K-rates. He could be a good #5- or #6-type hitter, capable of swatting 25 or so homeruns.

Ceiling: 3.0- to 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

#5. William Swanner, Age: 21, Position: C

A nice find late in the 2010 draft, Swanner, who was taken in the 15th round, hit .302/.385/.529 with 24 doubles, one triple, and 16 homeruns for Asheville last season. His total production was 51% better than the league average.

Defensively, he’s not long for behind the plate; he nabbed just 13 of the 133 would-be thieves, or just 10%.

Projection: Again, he spent half of his games in a hitter-friendly environment. But his home/road splits aren’t nearly as drastic as Story’s (.304/.395/.581 vs. .299/.377/.486). His bat has the potential to be above-average behind the plate, but he’s not likely to be there for very long. Otherwise, it could be just average.

Ceiling: 2.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

#6. Eddie Butler, Age: 22, Position: RHP

A supplemental first rounder in last June’s draft, Butler, chosen with the 46th out of Radford University, looked to be a useful backend rotation option during his final collegiate season, averaging 8.72 K/9 and 2.11 BB/9 in 98 innings. And because of a lighter workload, the 6-foot-2 right-hander threw an additional 67.2 innings in professional ball, striking out 55 (7.3 K/9) and walking 13 (1.7 BB/9).

Projection: Butler didn’t face the stiffest collegiate competition, and his overall numbers, while good, were far from impressive. He looks like a decent #4 right now.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

#7. Tim Wheeler, Age: 25, Position: OF

After a career season in 2011 (.287/.365/.535 with 33 homeruns and 21 SB), Wheeler looked like a potential above-average big league regular, one that was pretty close to making his debut with the Rockies. But while his overall line in 2012 was moderately impressive (.303/.357/.412), it was clear that the broken Hamate Bone sapped a lot of his power.

Projection: Wheeler’s big league fortunes are basically tied to his power, and if he can recuperate some of that lost pop — something along the lines of 15 to 17 homeruns — he’s got a decent shot to become a useful regular, maybe peaking as a #6- or #7-type guy. Otherwise, he’s headed for fourth outfielderdom.

Ceiling: 2.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

#8. Corey Dickerson, Age: 24, Position: LF/RF

Dickerson split his time between High-A and Double-A last season, hitting .338/.396/.583 with the Nuts and .274/.322/.504 with Tulsa. He hit a combined 40 doubles, seven triples, 22 homeruns, and 16 stolen bases.

Projection: Dickerson showed some offensive promise last season, but he was old for High-A and his walk rate in Double-A, 6.2%, plummeted by more than three percentage points. The power’s real, though. And he shows no particular platoon splits, so he might be able to squeak out a few seasons as a regular.

Ceiling: 2.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

#9. Chad Bettis, Age: 24, Position: RHP

After breezing through the High-A competition in 2011, Bettis, a second round pick in 2010, missed all of last season, recovering from a shoulder injury.

Projection: Despite the injury, Bettis remains one of the club’s top pitching prospects which is more of an indictment on the organization than anything else. Prior to the injury, he showed the skill set to be a solid big league starter, maybe peaking as a decent #2. Now, though, he’s a complete wild card.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

#10. Rafael Ortega, Age: 22, Position: CF

After showing some promise as a 20-year-old in A-ball two seasons ago (.294/.335/.438), Ortega took some developmental steps forward in 2012, despite being bumped up to High-A. In 114 games, the young center fielder hit .283/.344/.410 with 23 doubles, eight triples, eight homeruns, and 36 stolen bases. He was essentially a league average bat.

Projection: Ortega saw a large improvement in his plate discipline last season as his walk rate rose from 5.4% to 8.3%, a more than positive sign for his future career. He only has one above-average tool right now — speed — but he really needs to improve upon his base stealing technique. He could develop into a bit of tweener, bouncing between an everyday regular on a non-championship squad and fourth outfielderdom.

Ceiling: 1.0- to 1.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

#11. Edwar Cabrera, Age: 25, Position: LHP

Cabrera, a 6-foot and 175 pound left-hander, began the year in Double-A, throwing 98 innings with Tulsa while averaging 7.53 K/9 and just 2.11 BB/9. Colorado then bumped him to Triple-A, where he threw an additional 31.2 innings (11.08 K/9 and 3.41 BB/9).

Projection: Cabrera, who showed an average fastball during his brief five-inning big league stint, has typically missed a lot of bats throughout his minor league career (11.1 K/9) to go a long with a solid feel for the strike zone (2.8 BB/9). His fastball isn’t anything special, but he could be a useful big league arm.

Ceiling: 1.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

#12. Cristhian Adames, Age: 21, Position: SS

After displaying a league average bat as a 19-year-old in A-ball in 2011, Adames posted nearly identical numbers in High-A. The young switch-hitting shortstop batted .280/.352/.378 with 21 doubles, seven triples, a pair of homeruns and four stolen bases.

Projection: He was a couple years younger for than the average California League hitter. And he showed a good eye at the plate. His hit tool is the only average offensive skill right now. Defensively, according to the raw data he looks solid. Could be the ideal backup middle infielder in a few years.

Ceiling: 1.0- to 1.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

#13, Tyler Maztek, Age: 22, Position: LHP

The riddle wrapped in an enigma that is Maztek continued his maddeningly inconsistent ways. In 142.1 innings with Modesto, the young left-hander missed a whole lot of bats (9.7 K/9), but walked nearly 100 hitters. And believe it or not, that’s actually an improvement from his 2011 showing (8.9 BB/9).

Projection: Given his ability to miss bats, Maztek could eventually develop into a frontline starter. Of course, I have better chance dating Mila Kunis than he has of finding the strike zone on a regular basis. He looks like a power reliever at this point.

Ceiling: 1.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

#14. Tyler Anderson, Age: 23, Position: LHP

The twentieth pick in the 2011 draft, Anderson debuted in professional ball last season, spending the entire year in A-ball. And in 20 starts with Asheville (120.1 innings), the 6-foot-4 left-hander sported a 2.47 ERA, along with a strong feel for pounding the strike zone (2.1 BB/9), but missed a below-average amount of bats (6.1 SO/9). He did generate a lot of groundballs though (50%).

Projection: Despite the impressive ERA, last season was a bit of a disappointment for the former University of Oregon hurler. His strikeout rate dropped precipitously in the professional ranks, from 9.53 K/9 during his final season to barely over 6.0. Plus, he was old for the league. Maybe he has a chance to develop into a backend starter — most likely a #5 — but he already has the makings of another failed high round pick for the Rockies.

Ceiling: 1.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

#15. Harold Riggins, Age: 23, Position: 1B

Like Anderson, Riggins, another polished collegiate player from the 2011 draft, spent the year in A-ball, hitting .302/.388/.546 with gobs of power (23 doubles and 19 homeruns), a decent eye at the plate (9.8% BB-rate), and a huge punch out rate (27.4%). His total production, however, was 55% better than the league average.

Projection: Again, Riggins was old for the level and already sports one troubling red flag: a huge K-rate. He’s not likely to develop into anything more than organizational fodder, probably peaking as a Quad-A-type guy.

Ceiling: 0.5- to 1.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

#16. Taylor Featherston, Age: 23, 2B/3B

Featherston, a Texas Christian University alum, spent the year — unsurprisingly — with Asheville, hitting .299/.393/.495 with 30 doubles, four triples, 12 homeruns, and 15 stolen bases. His total production was 45% better than the league average.

Projection: Again – good production, but too old for the level. He showed a strong eye at the plate and good pop. But it’s unlikely either hold as he moves up to more age-appropriate levels.

Ceiling: 1.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate



Photo of David Dahl Courtesy of USA Baseball via MiLB.com


After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.