Don’t look now, but the Rockies are sporting three upper echelon pitching prospects in Jon Gray, Eddie Butler, and Kyle Freeland. And that’s negating the fact that right-hander Danny Winkler, who’s averaged 9.34 K/9 and 2.72 BB/9 since 2011, underwent Tommy John surgery.
Trevor Story has rebounded from a dreadful 2013 season and, subsequently, Rosell Herrera is struggling as he moved away from Asheville’s friendly park, something Ryan McMahon may do next season as well.
For a look at the club’s Top 10 Prospects heading into the year click HERE
1. Jon Gray, RHP, Age: 22
After breezing through stints with Grand Junction and Modesto during his debut last season, the Rockies deemed Gray, the third overall pick in the draft, ready for Class AA. The numbers, though they’re certainly not on the same level as his initial showing (37.1 IP, 51 K, and 8 BB), are solid enough: 69.0 IP, 7.96 K/9, 2.35 BB/9, and 3.62 FIP.
2. Eddie Butler, LHP, Age: 23
Butler’s strikeout rate has seen a dramatic – and alarming – decline this season, going from 8.54 K/9 to 5.24 K/9 in a matter of a year. His fastball averaged a tick over 94 mph during his big league debut, a 5.1 inning stint in early June, but the K-rate bears watching moving forward.
3. Kyle Freeland, LHP, Age: 21
Fits in the organization’s modus operandi in terms of collegiate starting pitchers: strong strikeout rates and elite, elite control. And as I chronicled prior to the draft, the differences between Carlos Rodon, Brandon Finnegan, and Freeland, the class’ top three southpaws, are a lot closer that you would think. For his full pre-draft analysis click HERE.
4. Trevor Story, SS, Age: 21
Back with Modesto again this season, Story, who batted just .233/.305/.394 in 2013, has fared much better the second go round, hitting .323/.410/.543 with 15 doubles, six triples, three homeruns, and 18 stolen bases. His total production, according to Weighted Runs Created Plus, is 51% better than the league average.
5. Ryan McMahon, 3B, Age: 19
The good news: McMahon, the club’s second round pick last June, is hitting .281/.360/.524 with a whopping 34 extra-base hits. The bad news: Asheville’s home to one of the more hitter-friendly ballparks in the minor leagues.
6. David Dahl, OF, Age: 20
After torching the Pioneer League during his debut season (.377/.422/.623), Dahl’s prospect status has lost some of its luster thanks to a lost 2013 season. Now 20-years-old, he’s hitting .278/.323/.496 with Asheville, where, again, it’s incredibly hitter-friendly.
7. Kyle Parker, 1B/OF, Age: 24
Big league ready. Parker is hitting .292/.347/.482 with 21 doubles, three triples, and seven homeruns. Solid #6-type bat.
8. Forrest Wall, 2B, Age: 18
Banged up shoulders – a left shoulder separation in March and right labrum shoulder in 2011 – pushed the 2014 first round pick to the keystone. Considered one of the better high school bats this year and was linked to the Mets in the early part of the first round.
9. Ryan Casteel, C, Age: 23
Pairing with Tom Murphy to give Tulsa one of the best – if not best – catching tandems in the minor leagues, Casteel is hitting .272/.319/.442.
10. Danny Winkler, RHP, Age: 24
Winkler was in the middle of proving that his work last season, 9.97 K/9 and 2.69 BB/9, was no fluke until the former 20th round pick was forced under the knife with a wonky elbow. Through his 70.0 innings this season, Winkler was sporting a 3.09 FIP while averaging 9.13 K/9 and 2.19 BB/9 with Tulsa. Josh Tomlin-esque pitcher.
Photo Courtesy of rightfieldfog.com.