Rockies Seeking Path to Playoffs

The Rockies appeared in the top ten for prospects as measured by myworld from 2015 to 2017. In 2016 they were the top team for prospects. As these players graduated to the major leagues their ranking in the top ten disappeared last year. Now they are ready for the playoff chase. John Gray, David Dahl, Ryan McMahon, Kyle Freeland, Raimel Tapia and German Marquez all have made contributions to the Rockies roster in the last couple years. Brendan Rodgers and Riley Pint are poised to make contributions in 2019. Eddie Butler and Forrest Wall have been traded for playoff pieces. Rodgers, McMahon and Pint were the only prospects named in Top 100 prospect lists last year. The cupboard is not bare.

Brendan Rodgers is prepared to make an impact in the major leagues in 2019. The 2015 first round pick may have to find a position not occupied by Trevor Story or Nolan Arenado, which may mean a move to second base. The Rockies chose to say bye to D.J. LeMahieu which may open a spot for Rodgers. The bat is capable of hitting for a high average as well as socking 20 plus homeruns a year. The glove has the ability to play solid defense. A .232 average in a short stint in AAA may be evidence that a month of seasoning is needed before he is called up. Ironic that this would give the Rockies an extra year of control with that month of seasoning. Ryan McMahon will be given the first opportunity to win the second base job.

Another middle infielder to watch out for is Garrett Hampson, a third round pick in 2016. He lacks the gold card tools of Rodgers but his bat makes good contact, allowing him to hit .314 in AAA. The power is not there for him to carry balls over the fence, but with his speed and contact ability he could be an excellent two slot hitter. Last year he stole 36 bases with a .396 OBA while also making his major league debut, hitting .275. The glove is smooth, which could allow him to play second or fill in as a utility player.

Ryan Vilade is another possibility for the middle infield position, though he still has some time to percolate through the system. The 2017 second round pick has good pop for a middle infielder but lacks quickness to cover ground defensively. His best position may be third base or a move to the outfield where a strong arm would fit in right field.

Colton Welker is the expected replacement for Nolan Arenado at third base. The 2016 fourth round pick has hit over .300 at every level he has played, breaking out enough power to hit 13 homeruns last year. Currently his power is gap oriented but as he fills out the homeruns should increase. Colton has the glove and arm to play third. Next year he should see some time at AA with his major league debut coming sometime in 2020.

The Rockies have two players who will vie for first base. Tyler Nevin has the pedigree. The son of Phil and a supplemental first rounder in 2015 saw most of his time at third base. His best position may be at first base where he has shown the ability to be a solid defensive player. Injuries have limited him to less than 100 games his previous years. The 2018 season saw him hit 100 games giving him an opportunity to display his power with 13 homeruns and a .328 average. Next year he should see AA. If he can stay healthy he could see the Rockies sometime next year.

Grant Lavigne is another supplemental first round pick, drafted in 2018. At 6′4″ with very little speed and a weak arm his only viable position appears to be first base. Defensively he has the glove to play there. What separates Grant from other power hitters is his excellent plate discipline with a 45/40 walk to whiff ratio. This allowed him to slay rookie level pitchers last year for a .350 average. Despite his lack of speed he also showed the baserunning instincts to steal 12 bases. The 2019 season will be a test to show that he can deliver in a full season league.

The Rockies appear to be set in the outfield with David Dahl and Raimel Tapia. They have no sure fire prospects down at the lower levels. The catching situation seems a little bare if Tom Murphy does not pan out. That leaves us with the pitchers.

Riley Pint has the triple digit fastball to become an ace. The 2016 first round pick was limited to four starts last year because of injuries. A lack of command has also plagued his effectiveness. Entering into the 2018 season he had a 82/115 walk to whiff ratio. Last year it was 11/8. The secondary pitches are there for him to be a starter but getting them to cross the plate to get ahead in the count has been a challenge. A healthy year is needed from him next year.

Peter Lambert does not throw as hard but he can hit the mid-90s with his fastball. The 2015 second round pick can also find the plate. He survives on his command and changeup to retire hitters, limiting AA hitters to a .236 average and a 2.23 ERA. A promotion to AAA saw hitters exploit him for a .320 average. He struggled with the higher altitude and will need one more year of seasoning there before earning a promotion to the Rockie Mountain High.

Ryan Rolison was the Rockies first round pick in 2018. He dominated at the Rookie level with an excellent curveball, restricting hitters to a .149 average. Time will tell whether that bender will continue to dominate at the higher levels. His fastball sits in the low 90s so the heat is there for him to succeed somewhere in the middle of the rotation.

Jesus Tinoco throws the ball hard. He was one of the players Colorado got for Troy Tulowitski. If he could improve his changeup it would make his fastball better. Last year he started 26 games at AA but finished with a 4.79 ERA. Without an improvement in command or the change his best role may be in the bullpen.

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