The 2015 Colorado Rockies Top 10 Prospects

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For an explanation on the CAL, the Comparison And Likeness prospect classification system I derived, click here.

 

 

 

1.  Jon Gray, RHP

Born: 11/05/91  Age: 23   Height: 6-4   Weight: 235   B/T: R/R                                                        
Top CALs: Nick Tropeano, Amalio Diaz, Chaz Roe, Jarrod Parker, Dae-Eun Rhee
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2013 21 R 13.3 4.05 2.51 10.1 25.9% 1.4 3.5% 0.00 55.6%
2013 21 A+ 24.0 0.75 1.52 13.5 41.9% 2.3 7.0% 0.00 81.3%
2014 22 AA 124.3 3.91 3.43 8.2 22.2% 3.0 8.1% 0.72 68.1%

Background: Part of the three-headed collegiate monster that fronted the 2013 draft class, Gray’s silently gone about his work in the minor leagues, garnering less hype than Kris Bryant and surrounding himself with fewer questions than Mark Appel, the pair that he’ll inevitably be measured against. Gray entered the year with just 37.1 pro innings under his belt but handled the jump to the Texas League with aplomb, fanning 22.2% and walking 8.1% of the total batters he faced.

The leap to Class AA is hardly something new for the thrice-drafted Oklahoma-born right-hander – he began his collegiate career in the JuCo ranks, pitching for Eastern Oklahoma State College where the numbers were solid, though far from spectacular (53.0 IP, 61 K, and 29 BB), but vaulted to the top of the Sooners’ rotation the next year, a place he stayed until the Rockies grabbed him with the third overall pick.

Projection: Prior to the draft I pegged the hard-throwing right-hander as having “ace potential.” I’d probably scale that back to a very good #2, though he has pushed some early collegiate control issues far enough behind him to showcase a slightly above-average ability to hit the zone. Gray hasn’t generated a whole lot of action on the ground thus far, just 37.6% in his young career, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fares spending half of his games pitching in Colorado.

Ceiling:  3.5- to 4.0-win

Risk:  Moderate

MLB ETA:  2015

 

 

2.  David Dahl, CF

Born: 04/01/94  Age: 21   Height: 6-2   Weight: 195   B/T: L/R                                                        
Top CALs: Mason Williams, Josh Reddick, Oscar TaverasJake Marisnick, Raimel Tapia
YEAR Age LVL PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BB% K% wRC+
2012 18 R 306 .379 .423 .625 1.048 .246 6.9% 13.7% 161
2013 19 A 42 .275 .310 .425 .735 .150 4.8% 19.0% 109
2014 20 A 422 .309 .347 .500 .847 .191 5.5% 15.4% 133
2014 20 A+ 125 .267 .296 .467 .763 .200 4.0% 21.6% 93

Background: A season plagued by a suspension resulting from attitude issues – aka butthead-itis – and injuries limited the former 10th overall pick to just 10 games in 2013, all of which amplified the pressure on Dahl entering last year. And he responded well enough to see his stock rebound almost all the way back. The 6-foot-2 center fielder hit .309/.347/.500 with an impressive amount of extra-base pop in 90 games for Asheville. The club bumped him up to the California League in late July, where his production dropped to 7% below the league average mark.

Projection: Without a doubt Dahl – along with any other Asheville hitter – benefited by spending a lot of time in an extreme hitter-friendly ball park. His .309/.347/.500 triple-slash line drops to a more pedestrian .288/.328/.456 once adjusting for the park (StatCorner.com). Solid-average power with a decent hit tool, but the walk rate is poor.

Ceiling:  3.0-win player

Risk:  Moderate

MLB ETA:  2017

 

 

3.  Kyle Freeland, LHP

Born: 05/14/93  Age: 22   Height: 6-3   Weight: 170   B/T: L/L                                                        
Top CALs: Justin Shafer, Will Savage, Timothy Dupuis, Austin Davis, Jeong-Hyeon Yoon
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2014 21 R 17.3 1.56 2.82 7.8 22.7% 1.0 3.0% 0.00 79.0%
2014 21 A 21.7 0.83 3.08 7.5 22.0% 1.7 4.9% 0.42 84.3%

Background: Going with a collegiate pitcher with their first pick for the third time in the last four years, the Rockies grabbed the 6-foot-3 southpaw with the eighth overall selection last June. The former University of Evansville star was a major pop up guy in 2014, overmatching the small school opponents to the tune of 128 punch outs and just 13 free passes in 99.2 innings. He split his debut between Grand Junction and Asheville where he combined to fan 33 and walk six in 39.0 innings of work.

Projection:  I was exceptionally high on Freeland entering the draft, saying:

“Small school be damned, Freeland is legit. And while the summer league action was a fairly short sample size, it parallels his 2014 production. Elite, elite, elite control/command with above-average swing-and-miss ability.”

Again, I was probably a bit too optimistic in terms of ultimate ceiling, but he should settle in a good #3 arm – in large part due to that ability to find the zone.

Ceiling:  3.0-win player

Risk:  Moderate

MLB ETA:  2017

 

 

4.  Ryan McMahon, 3B

Born: 12/14/94  Age: 20   Height: 6-2   Weight: 185   B/T: L/R                                                         
Top CALs: Zach Shepherd, Josh Bell, Dylan Cozens, Travis Snider, Miguel Sano
YEAR Age LVL PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BB% K% wRC+
2013 18 R 251 .321 .402 .583 .984 .261 11.2% 23.5% 147
2014 19 A 552 .282 .358 .502 .860 .220 9.8% 25.9% 137

Background: The second highest player drafted out of Mater Dei, McMahon, the 42nd overall pick in the 2013 draft, followed up an impressive debut showing in the Pioneer League (.321/.402/.583) with another solid – albeit ballpark inflated – triple-slash line with Ashville (.282/.358/.502). The lefty-swinging third baseman finished with the third highest doubles total in the minors last season, with 46.

Projection: Another beneficiary of Asheville’s home ballpark, McMahon’s park adjusted triple-slash line drops to .258/.338/.443 (StatCorner.com), though he still showed plenty of extra-base pop. While he’s mashed right-handers during his career (.315/.396/.579), McMahon hasn’t been completely inept against southpaws. One thing to watch, though, is his K-rate, which bordered on red flag territory last season (25.9%).

Ceiling:  3.0- to 3.5-win player

Risk:  Moderate to High

MLB ETA:  2017

 

 

5.  Eddie Butler, RHP

Born: 03/13/91  Age: 24   Height: 6-2   Weight: 180   B/T: R/R                                                        
Top CALs: Rick Zagone, Jeff Mandel, John Gast, Dan Griffin, Cody White
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2013 22 A 54.3 1.66 3.63 8.5 23.7% 4.1 11.6% 0.33 73.7%
2013 22 A+ 67.7 2.39 4.16 8.9 24.0% 2.8 7.5% 0.93 73.0%
2013 22 AA 27.7 0.65 2.01 8.1 24.8% 2.0 5.9% 0.00 90.0%
2014 23 AA 108.0 3.58 4.10 5.3 14.0% 2.7 7.1% 0.83 74.2%

Background: Colorado made the ill-advised move of promoting Butler to the big leagues in early June, a transaction that was likely based more on his ERA at the time (2.62) as opposed to his below-average peripherals (5.24 K/9 and 2.49 BB/9). And, of course, he bombed in his start and was promptly sent to the DL as a precautionary move. He came back a month later, made one start in the California League, another one in the PCL, and then was sent down to Class AA – for a month. Colorado recalled him for two more starts to cap off his bizarre year.

Projection: Talk about mismanaging a player. Colorado completely flubbed on this one. Butler entered the season as a solid mid- to back-of-the-rotation starting pitcher and ended it with a helluva lot of question marks. The former first round pick showed a low- to mid-90s fastball, hard slider, curve, and changeup during his brief stint with the Rockies. #4-type potential.

Ceiling: 2.0- to 2.5-win player

Risk:  Moderate to High

MLB ETA:  Debuted in 2014

 

 

6.  Raimel Tapia, OF

Born: 02/04/94  Age: 21   Height: 6-2   Weight: 160   B/T: L/L                                                         
Top CALs: Enmanuel Zabala, Victor Barrios, Jose GonzalezRobert Del Rosario, Alberth Martinez
YEAR Age LVL PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BB% K% wRC+
2012 18 R 272 .315 .381 .361 .743 .046 7.4% 12.9% 121
2013 19 R 286 .357 .399 .562 .961 .205 5.2% 10.8% 141
2014 20 A 539 .326 .382 .453 .836 .127 6.5% 16.7% 134

Background: Tapia – to absolutely no one’s shock – was another of the club’s better prospects to bash his way through the Sally. Shocked, I say! Shocked! The Dominican-born outfielder slugged a healthy .326/.382/.453 with 32 doubles, one triple, nine homeruns, and 33 stolen bases en route to topping the league average by 34%.For his career, Tapia is sporting a solid .318/.376/.432 triple-slash line, mashing 67 doubles, 11 triples, and 17 homeruns in 1,379 plate appearances.

Projection: One more time: Tapia’s park adjusted stats (according to StatCorner.com) drop to a less impressive, though still solid, .311/.368/.418. The biggest drop off was in the power department – his ISO declined from .127 to .107. Tapia has some positional versatility, above-average or better speed, and strong contact skills – the basic toolkit for every fourth outfielder type. Depending upon how the power develops, he might be able to break through the barrier and into solid regular territory with the bat.

Ceiling:  2.0-win player

Risk:  Moderate to High

MLB ETA:  2017

 

 

7.  Jairo Diaz, RHP

Born: 05/27/91  Age: 24   Height: 6-0   Weight: 195   B/T: R/R                                                        
Top CALs: Jeffrey Johnson, Brad Mills, Justin De Fratus, Jeff Stevens, Robbie Weinhardt
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2013 22 A 34.0 3.97 4.16 7.4 19.9% 2.9 7.8% 0.79 68.8%
2013 22 A+ 22.3 8.87 5.52 8.5 17.8% 5.6 11.9% 1.21 52.3%
2014 23 A+ 32.0 4.78 3.27 10.4 26.4% 2.8 7.1% 0.56 61.2%
2014 23 AA 32.7 2.20 1.99 13.2 35.8% 2.8 7.5% 0.55 86.4%

Background: An offseason acquisition from the Angels for fringy big leaguer Josh Rutledge, Diaz thrived in his second season as a fulltime reliever. After averaging more than 10 punch outs and a touch under 2.5 walks per nine innings with Inland Empire, the hard-throwing right-hander moved up to Arkansas and continued to miss an elite amount of bats with better-than-average control. Diaz was a late season addition to the big league roster, where he whiffed eight of the 24 batters he faced.

Projection: Diaz offered up pure gas during his 5.2-inning big league stint, averaging better than 97 mph on his fastball. He’s just a two-pitch guy (he complements the heat with a hard slider), and could be one of the more successful members of the Rockies’ bullpen in 2015. Potential future closer.

Ceiling:  1.5-win player

Risk:  Low to Moderate

MLB ETA:  Debuted in 2014

 

 

8.  Forrest Wall, 2B

Born: 11/20/95  Age: 19   Height: 6-0   Weight: 176   B/T: L/R                                                        
Top CALs: Jonathan Galvez, Abraham Almonte, Marco Guzman, Carlos Aquino, Trevor Story
YEAR Age LVL PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BB% K% wRC+
2014 18 R 188 .318 .416 .490 .907 .172 14.4% 17.0% 136

Background: The earliest selection of a high school second baseman since Nick Noonan was grabbed by the Giants in the opening round in 2007; Wall had a solid debut with Grand Junction, hitting .318/.416/.490 with 15 extra-base hits in 41 games. His overall offensive production topped the league average mark by 36%.

Projection: The obvious knock on prep second baseman is quite simple: Why aren’t they athletic enough to man shortstop? The initial returns were pretty solid, but, again, the data’s pretty limited right now. He did average just about one stolen base every other game.

Ceiling:  Too Soon to Tell

Risk:  N/A

MLB ETA:  N/A

 

 

9.  Ryan Castellani, RHP

Born: 04/01/96 Age: 19   Height: 6-3   Weight: 193   B/T: R/R                                                        
Top CALs: Sam Gibbons, Jeanmar Gomez, Nick WellsJorgan Cavanerio, Keivin Heras
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2014 18 A- 37.0 3.65 4.23 6.1 15.9% 2.2 5.7% 0.49 62.0%

Background: The club’s most recent second round pick out of Brophy College Preparatory, Castellani, a 6-foot-3 right-hander, got the aggressive push straight to short-season ball last season. And the results were pretty promising: 37.1 innings, 25 strikeouts, nine walks, 4.23 FIP, and a groundball rate hovering around 50%.

Projection:  There aren’t too many prep-aged hurlers that bypass the rookie levels and head to short-season ball to make their debuts. So the fact that the club pushed Castellani straight into the Northwest League is somewhat noteworthy. Still way too early to get an accurate read, but he’s definitely a name that could move quickly.

Ceiling:  Too Soon to Tell

Risk:  N/A

MLB ETA:  N/A

 

 

10.  Trevor Story, SS

Born: 11/15/92  Age: 22   Height: 6-1   Weight: 175   B/T: R/R                                                        
Top CALs: Jonathan Villar, Tyler Grimes, Domnit Bolivar, Ramon Santana, Junior Lake
YEAR Age LVL PA AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BB% K% wRC+
2012 19 A 548 .277 .367 .505 .872 .229 10.9% 22.1% 138
2013 20 A+ 554 .233 .305 .394 .700 .161 8.1% 33.0% 83
2014 21 A+ 218 .332 .436 .582 1.017 .250 14.2% 27.1% 164
2014 21 AA 237 .200 .302 .380 .683 .180 11.8% 34.6% 98

Background: A cautionary tale with regards to judging players spending copious amounts of time with Asheville, Story put together a solid year in the Sally three years ago, hitting .277/.367/.505 with above-average power (.229 ISO) and solid speed. But he struggled mightily as he moved to High Class A – and away from the Sally – the next year, posting a meager .233/.305/.394 triple-slash line. The 6-foot-1 shortstop massively rebounded during his second stint with Modesto (.332/.436/.582), but once again flopped when he was bumped up a level (.200/.302/.380 in 237 PA).

Projection: As impressive as Story’s first half of the year was – and let’s be honest, it was – the majority of that production was largely driven by an absurdly ridiculous .467 BABIP. Needless to say, it’s completely unsustainable. CAL’s tied Story to a bunch of fringy big league players/role players.

Ceiling:  1.5-win player

Risk:  Moderate

MLB ETA:  2016

 

 

**All Stats Courtesy of FanGraphs**



About

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.