Top 24 Prospects: Colorado Rockies by Eric Longenhagen November 15, 2016 Below is an analysis of the prospects in the Colorado Rockies farm system. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from my own observations. The KATOH statistical projections, probable-outcome graphs, and (further down) Mahalanobis comps have been provided by Chris Mitchell. For more information on thes 20-80 scouting scale by which all of my prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this. -Eric Longenhagen The KATOH projection system uses minor-league data and Baseball America prospect rankings to forecast future performance in the major leagues. For each player, KATOH produces a WAR forecast for his first six years in the major leagues. There are drawbacks to scouting the stat line, so take these projections with a grain of salt. Due to their purely objective nature, the projections here can be useful in identifying prospects who might be overlooked or overrated. Due to sample-size concerns, only players with at least 200 minor-league plate appearances or batters faced last season have received projections. -Chris Mitchell Other Lists NL West (ARI, COL, LAD, SD, SF) AL Central (CHW, CLE, DET, KC, MIN) NL Central (CHC, CIN, PIT, MIL, StL) NL East (ATL, MIA, NYM, PHI, WAS) AL East (BAL, BOS, NYY, TB, TOR) Rockies Top Prospects Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV 1 Brendan Rodgers 20 A SS 2019 60 2 Riley Pint 19 R RHP 2020 55 3 Jeff Hoffman 23 MLB RHP 2016 55 4 German Marquez 21 MLB RHP 2016 55 5 Raimel Tapia 22 MLB CF 2016 50 6 Kyle Freeland 23 AAA LHP 2017 50 7 Pedro Gonzalez 19 R CF 2020 45 8 Miguel Castro 21 MLB RHP 2015 45 9 Tom Murphy 25 MLB C 2015 45 10 Forrest Wall 20 A+ 2B/OF 2019 45 11 Ryan Castellani 20 A+ RHP 2019 45 12 Ben Bowden 22 A LHP 2018 45 13 Yency Almonte 22 AA RHP 2018 45 14 Pete Lambert 19 A RHP 2021 40 15 Ryan McMahon 21 AA 1B 2018 40 16 Sam Howard 23 AA LHP 2017 45 17 Tyler Nevin 19 A- 3B 2021 40 18 Dom Nunez 21 A+ C 2020 40 19 Robert Tyler 21 A- RHP 2020 40 20 Colton Welker 19 R 1B/3B 2021 40 21 Daniel Montano 17 R CF 2022 40 22 Garrett Hampson 22 A- SS 2019 40 23 Julian Fernandez 20 A- RHP 2020 40 24 Jordan Patterson 24 MLB OF/1B 2016 40 60 FV Prospects 1. Brendan Rodgers, SS Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Lake Mary HS (FL) Age 20 Height 6’0 Weight 180 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/55 55/60 40/55 50/45 40/50 60/60 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Recorded .199 ISO in Low-A. Scouting Report Some amateur evaluators thought Rodgers, the top prep talent in the 2015 draft, was the best overall prospect in the class because they liked his chances to stay at shortstop and eventually hit for more power than Dansby Swanson and Alex Bregman. While the other two have already made their big-league debuts, Rodgers has hit well as a young regular for two pro seasons while maintaining (and, in 2016, improving) a body some thought would fill out and require a move to third base. Though he doesn’t have any elite tools, Rodgers’ hit/power combination and potential to play the end-all-be-all of defensive positions makes him not only the best prospect in this system but one of the better ones in all of baseball. He has plus bat speed, barrel control, a casual but effective weight transfer, strong wrists and a bat path conducive both to contact and power. He’s also shown the ability to stay back on breaking balls. The only consistent issue Rodgers has displayed is dealing with offspeed stuff on the outer half. He has a tendency to pull off toward third base and miss sliders and changeups that break away from him, leading some scouts to question his plate coverage. He has the physical ability to be a plus hitter if he can correct that issue. Defensively, Rodgers doesn’t have spectacular range but his hands and actions are worthy of shortstop, and he has an above-average arm. He projects as an average defender at short. There’s a decent chance he fills out, slows down, and moves to second or third base where he could be a 55 or 60 defender. Scouts who saw Rodgers in pro ball after he signed last year thought this was quite likely but Rodgers’ body was much better in 2016 and he’s instilled confidence in onlookers that he can remain at short for quite a while. He did see considerable time at second base in 2016. The track record for hitters who have consistent and sustained success on the high-school showcase circuit is very good, and even if Rodgers does move off of short, I think he’ll hit enough to profile anywhere, making him relatively low risk for a hitter this age. I see him as a do-no-harm shortstop who hits .270 or so with 20-plus homers. Those projections are independent of Coors Field. He’s a potential star. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 3.4 WAR 55 FV Prospects 2. Riley Pint, RHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from St. Thomas Aquinas HS (KS) Age 19 Height 6’4 Weight 195 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command 70/70 50/70 40/55 30/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics This number: 102. That’s Pint’s reported peak velocity. Scouting Report Pint is the prototypical power pitching prospect cut from the same physical cloth as Justin Verlander and possessing the same god-given heat. Aside from the violent head whack entrenched in Pint’s delivery, he has all the physical attributes of a front-end arm. He’s very athletic (Pint played basketball in high school and once scored 21 points in a single quarter as a junior), has a broad-shouldered, projectable frame and he repeats an explosive but graceful delivery fairly well for his age. He also sits 96-plus with the fastball. Pint will show you an easy 96 during warmups before cresting 100 mph — as he did in his only instructional-league outing. He was flashing a plus-plus power breaking ball during instructs in the 82-86 mph range. It was consistently above average and many had surprising depth given their velocity. Pint’s feel for an upper-80s changeup is immature but he showed glimpses of an average one late in his instructional outing. He’s able to mimic his fastball’s arm speed but has a hard time getting the ball to tumble away from lefties. Pint’s arm speed and athleticism allow for projection here, as do universally glowing reviews on his makeup. While Pint can touch 100 in short bursts, he mostly sits 94-98 over the course of an entire start. His slider projects to at least plus at maturity and I think the changeup will come. Some teams were concerned about the violence in the delivery leading up to the draft. At the very least, scouts questioned whether retaining his head whack would cost Pint starter-level command in pro ball. His command is well below average right now but again, this is a good athlete and it’s unreasonable to expect a teenager with an upper-90s fastball to have even fringe-average command right now. I think it will come eventually. There’s a chance for three plus or better pitches here with at least average command. Pint is a potential front-line starter. 3. Jeff Hoffman, RHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from East Carolina Age 24 Height 6’5 Weight 225 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command 55/60 45/55 55/60 45/50 40/45 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Recorded 24.2% strikeout rate at Triple-A before promotion. Scouting Report Hoffman was a potential 1-1 candidate at East Carolina but blew out his elbow as a junior and needed pre-draft Tommy John surgery. The Blue Jays, who drafted very aggressively between 2011 and 2015, popped him No. 9 overall. Hoffman reached the majors in his first full season but his performance, stuff, and mechanics have drawn mixed reviews. His fastball sits 92-95 and will touch 97. It has life up in the zone and posted an above-average spin rate at the Futures Game, but Hoffman’s delivery lacks deception and the fastball doesn’t play that well within the strike zone. He frequently deploys a mid-70s curveball that flashes plus. The pitch has great depth but Hoffman was babying it during his big-league stint and noticeably decelerating his arm as he tried to get it over for strikes. He also throws a mid-80s changeup and slider, both average offerings with projection, but Hoffman struggled with command so badly this year that he rarely worked into counts where he could throw them. Scouts who have seen Hoffman this year have caught glimpses of the stuff that made him a tantalizing amateur prospect; because of the tough debut, though, his stock is certainly down. He still has a chance to be an upper-crust arm, something in the No. 2- or 3-starter range (which is what I graded him as mid-year) but what we saw in 2016 was not encouraging. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 6.9 WAR 4. German Marquez, RHP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Venezuela Age 22 Height 6’1 Weight 184 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command 55/60 55/60 40/50 50/60 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Hasn’t posted walk rate above 6.1% since joining Colorado organization. Scouting Report Acquired from Tampa Bay in the Corey Dickerson trade, Marquez made his major-league debut at age 21 this year after ripping through Double-A. His fastball sits 92-95 and will touch as high as 97 or 98 at times. It features heavy arm-side run but can lack plane if Marquez drops his arm slot, which he does at times. Marquez also has a plus curveball in the 76-81 mph range that has a slurvy shape to it but bites hard and has solid depth. A back-foot curveball is the best weapon Marquez has against left-handed pitching right now, as his changeup is still below average. But Marquez is just 21 and his delivery is loose and fluid so there’s likely more coming from the changeup. Marquez’s command elicits similarly bullish projection because of the delivery and athleticism and he’s already throwing plenty of strikes. He’s a relatively low-risk mid-rotation arm, an above-average major-league starter. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 4.8 WAR 50 FV Prospects 5. Raimel Tapia, CF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2010 from Dominican Republic Age 23 Height 6’2 Weight 160 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/60 45/50 30/40 60/60 40/50 55/55 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Recorded strikeout rate below 11% at both Double- and Triple-A in 2016. Scouting Report Tapia is one of the more entertaining player in the minor leagues because of his aggressive approach and funky pre-swing rituals. Of note, Tapia goes into an extreme crouch with two strikes, something for which I have an analytical disdain. We’ve explored the impact of altering eye level here before, and I’m flummoxed as to why Tapia essentially volunteers to do it to himself. Indeed, I am a bit lower on Tapia than my sources for this reason, among others. Scouts with whom I’ve spoken have plus or better grades on Tapia’s bat. He has sublime bat control and can either spoil or barrel just about any type of pitch in any location. I think Tapia extends early, which creates length to the ball, and that his ability to hit just about everything has led him to, you guessed it, try to hit everything. His walk rate has been anemic throughout his minor-league career. Perhaps the most important aspect of Tapia’s profile is where he’ll ultimately fall on the defensive spectrum. He has 45 raw power right now and will probably have 50 raw at maturity, but his in-game approach is far more contact oriented and ground-ball heavy. He’ll likely max out at 40 game power. In a corner-outfield spot that won’t play, but it’d be fine in center field. As for his future in center, most scouts think Tapia will be average there at peak, as Tapia, though not particularly smooth, is a plus runner underway. I’m not sure it’s going to be enough to play in a big center field like Coors. Despite my skepticism about the actualization of Tapia’s tools in the big leagues, he’s objectively likely to make some kind of major-league impact. At the very worst, he’s a relatively punchless .280 hitter who plays an above-average defensive corner outfield. Matt Szczur did that in 2016 and produced 0.7 WAR in just 100 at-bats. A full season of worst-case Tapia is probably a 45 on the scale and, while I think that’s in play as a Coors-independent outcome, the universal love of Tapia from my sources has buoyed his standing in my rankings. If he can either play center field or show more power/on-base ability than he has in the minors, then he’s an average regular. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 6.8 WAR 6. Kyle Freeland, LHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Evansville Age 24 Height 6’3 Weight 170 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command 50/55 55/60 40/40 45/50 55/60 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Threw 72 innings in 2015, 162 in 2016. Scouting Report Freeland missed a huge chunk of the 2015 season dealing with bone chips in his elbow and shoulder fatigue, and he looked bad in the Fall League when he returned, showing a mess of 45- and 50-grade pitches with fringe command. Freeland’s command is his finest attribute, garnering some future plus-plus grades from scouts. It allows him to get the most out of what is a deep but relatively pedestrian repertoire. His fastball sits in the low 90s with average downhill plane. His upper-80s slider is short and cutterish, but Freeland locates it very well to his glove side both to left- and right-handed hitters and it projects as plus at maturity. Projection on Freeland’s changeup is limited because of the length in his arm action, but he maintains his fastball’s arm speed when he throws it and it could grow to average. His low-80s curveball is a fringe-average change of pace on his slider that works situationally. Lots of big leaguers have had per-pitch success on well-sequenced breaking balls, even if they’re not plus, and Freeland likely will as well. Reports peg Freeland as a No. 3 or 4 starter, with most placing him on the low end of the range. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.6 WAR 45 FV Prospects 7. Pedro Gonzalez, CF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic Age 19 Height 6’3 Weight 160 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding 20/45 40/60 20/50 40/40 40/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Recorded 25 extra-base hits in 58 Pioneer League games after promotion from DSL. Scouting Report Signed for $1.3 million on the international free-agent market in 2014, Gonzalez has already converted from shortstop to center field, where his precocious instincts have impressed scouts. A below-average runner from home to first, Gonzalez is a plus runner underway and his gargantuan strides cover plenty of ground in center field right now. He has incredible physical projection. The on-paper measureables alone indicate this, but the breadth of Gonzalez’s shoulders and the size of his hands are particularly stunning. I’m setting the over/under on Gonzalez’s prime weight at 230. For reference, Jayson Werth is 6-foot-5, 235. There’s a chance Gonzalez can retain the speed for center field at that weight and his surprising instincts for center field give him some margin for error down the line in that regard. With that weight should come big raw power. Gonzalez isn’t making loud contact right now but he has loose wrists, some natural opposite-field ability and picturesque loft and extension through his swing. There’s a chance for plus raw power at peak. Of course, with levers this long, there are holes in the swing. Gonzalez has shown some ability to adjust his hands but is a long way from being able to punish velocity on the inner half. His breaking-ball recognition was spotty during instructs. Because the future of his hit tool is quite volatile, so is Gonzalez’s overall profile. He’s a potential star but light years from the majors. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.1 WAR 8. Miguel Castro, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Dominican Republic Age 22 Height 6’5 Weight 190 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command 70/80 50/60 40/45 30/45 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Changeup usage dropped from 17% in 2015 to 5% in 2016. Scouting Report While he’s had struggles in parts of two big-league seasons, Castro remains a physically projectable 21-year-old with an upper-90s fastball and wipeout slider. He began 2016 with eight strong innings before he was shelved with shoulder inflammation in late April. He required a second DL stint in August. When healthy, Castro sits 96-99 and touches 100 with a plus-flashing slider in the 82-85 mph range. His fastball plays up against right-handed hitters because of Castro’s arm slot and the extension in his delivery. Castro doesn’t routinely throw a changeup, nor does he consistently command his fastball/slider combination but he’s a lanky 6-foot-5 and just 21 years old, so control issues shouldn’t be all that shocking. He could develop average command in time. Considering the cocktail of command issues, injury issues and lack of a third pitch, it might be too ambitious to attempt to rebuild Castro as a starter. There’s late-inning stuff here if he can get healthy. Castro was acquired from Toronto as part of the Troy Tulowitzki trade. 9. Tom Murphy, C Drafted: 3rd Round, 2012 from Buffalo Age 26 Height 6’1 Weight 220 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/40 60/60 50/50 30/20 40/40 50/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Posted .320 ISO at Triple-A in 2016. Scouting Report If Murphy can just be passable behind the plate, he’ll be an everyday player, as he generates plus power to all fields on contact. Murphy doesn’t present pitchers with a great target and is a below-average receiver and ball-blocker, but he does have an average arm and isn’t fatally atrocious at any aspect of catching. Catchers worse than this have seen regular time behind the plate in recent years and some of them don’t have the power and approach that Murphy does. Murphy’s swing is simple but stiff and he whiffs quite a bit, posting strikeout rates of 25% or more in each of the last three seasons. He has impact power on contact, though, and has enough raw strength to muscle out 20-plus homers annually. If Murphy can post OBPs around .315 with that kind of power and remain at catcher, then he’ll be a fringe-average regular at least. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 3.3 WAR 10. Forrest Wall, 2B/OF Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Orangewood Christian HS (FL) Age 21 Height 6’0 Weight 176 Bat/Throw L/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/60 40/45 30/40 40/40 40/50 40/40 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Has recorded lower slugging percentage at each successive level, down to .355 at Low-A Asheville this year. Scouting Report Wall had one of the most advanced prep bats in the 2014 draft but was limited to, at best, second base at the time because a serious shoulder injury sapped him of arm strength. He spent all of 2016 at second base but saw time in center field during instructional league. His feel for center is not good right now, and his arm strength remains below average. Once a plus runner, Wall was average during the year according to scouts with whom I’ve spoken and was below average during instructional league. I consider it unlikely for him to stick in center, but because it’s so new I think it’s unwise to say that definitively. Despite lacking a defensive home about which scouts are enthused, Wall’s impressive bat-to-ball skills remain. He tracks well, is short to the ball, has good bat control and solid-average bat speed. He has fringe raw power and can tap into it during games when he turns on balls down and in, but it generally plays down due to a contact-heavy approach. If the power spike across baseball (and especially at second base) holds firm, then it will take every bit of bat-to-ball Wall has in the tank for him to profile as a regular there. If he looks much better in center field next spring and can somehow play there, that would significantly increase his chances of providing big-league value down the line. I’m betting on the bat, because it is rather special, but something else needs to develop. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.4 WAR 11. Ryan Castellani, RHP Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 from Brophy Prep (AZ) Age 21 Height 6’4 Weight 195 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command 60/60 50/55 50/55 40/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Allowed 0.43 HR/9 in 26 Cal League starts. Scouting Report Perhaps the most polarizing player out of all the prospects I’ve covered so far, Castellani elicited anything between No. 3 and 5 starter projections from scouts with whom I spoke. His delivery has been compared to that of Max Scherzer and Castellani’s rubbery arm action generates big movement on a 92-94 mph fastball that will touch above that. With the movement factored in, it’s a comfortably plus pitch. He flashes an above-average slider and has shown an ability to throw it both in the strike zone and in the dirt to his glove side. Despite the perceived ugliness in Castellani’s delivery, his arm is quite loose and the action is short. I think there’s quite a bit of changeup projection here as well. The delivery has some violence about the head in addition to the funky arm action. Not everyone loves it but, from a command perspective, I think it works fine. He was gently used during his first two years of pro ball and hasn’t had any reported health issues yet. The body has little projection but isn’t bad. I don’t expect to see more velocity than is already present, especially as the work load increases. I think Castellani has a good shot at being a league-average starter. He could begin 2017 at Double-A. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 3.9 WAR 12. Ben Bowden, LHP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Vanderbilt Age 22 Height 6’3 Weight 252 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command 55/60 40/45 55/60 40/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Recorded 65 strikeouts in 48.2 innings for Vanderbilt in 2016. Scouting Report Having spent the lion’s share of his career at Vanderbilt in relief, Bowden has a relatively fresh arm. He made five mostly mediocre starts mid-year for Vanderbilt before kicking back into the bullpen, where he finished the year. He pumps mid-90s gas with downhill plane and has a workhorse body but the quality of the repertoire suppresses enthusiasm about Bowden’s chances of starting in pro ball. His changeup flashes above average and could be plus at peak, but the slider would do well just to get to average and it may only play against lefties at the upper levels. The fastball/changeup combo should play in a relief role, but moving Bowden into a minor-league rotation to start 2017 allows Colorado to give it a chance to take and also allows Bowden’s pitches to get more reps than they would in a relief role. I ultimately expect Bowden to become a fastball/changeup reliever, and think it plays in a setup role. 13. Yency Almonte, RHP Drafted: 17th Round, 2012 from Columbia HS (FL) Age 23 Height 6’3 Weight 185 Bat/Throw S/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command 55/60 50/55 40/50 40/45 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Recorded 134 strikeouts in 138 Cal League innings in 2016. Scouting Report Almonte has already been traded twice, once from Anaheim (who drafted him) to Chicago in exchange for Gordon Beckham and then from the White Sox to Colorado in the Tommy Kahnle deal. His velocity has ticked up into the mid-90s, mostly 93-95. His average slider has middling length, but it’s hard, in the 82-86 range, and Almonte has begun locating it both out of the zone and within it where it plays better than a slider in the low 80s. Almonte has flashed average changeups throughout his minor-league career but consistent feel for maintaining his arm speed and placing the pitch in a competitive location have eluded him. It still projects as average, but Almonte turns 23 next June and if it doesn’t come soon it might be time to consider adding a pitch to deal with lefties. Almonte profiles as a No. 4 or 5 starter. There’s a chance for more if he can outperform my changeup or command projections. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.1 WAR 40 FV Prospects 14. Pete Lambert, RHP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2015 from San Dimas HS (CA) Age 20 Height 6’2 Weight 185 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command 45/50 45/50 45/50 50/55 40/60 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Posted a 6% walk rate in Low-A at age 19 this season. Scouting Report Lambert deploys average stuff with mature sequencing. He pitched well in the South Atlantic League this year at nearly three years younger than the average Sally Leaguer. He’ll sit 88-92 and touch 93 or 94 with plane, but very little horizontal movement, because of Lambert’s vertical arm slot. He’s able to command all of his pitches to both sides of the plate despite a little bit of a head whack. The delivery is simple and lacks explosion, but it works fine and allows Lambert to pound the strike zone. While he deploys four pitches, the pitch with the most projection is the changeup. It’s already average and Lambert locates and sequences it beautifully, at times running it back onto the outside corner against right-handed hitters. He also has a low-80s fringe-average slider and a loopy, below-average curveball in his utility belt. Neither projects as a plus pitch, but they’re effective in concert with the rest of the repertoire. Lambert’s body has very little projection. He’s a well-built 6-foot-2, but there isn’t room for much more. I don’t anticipate more velocity coming, and Lambert’s future will probably be heavily dictated by whether or not one of his breaking balls takes a step forward. He has an outside shot at plus-plus command as well. He profiles as more of a fifth starter. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.7 WAR 15. Ryan McMahon, 1B Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2013 from Mater Dei HS (CA) Age 22 Height 6’2 Weight 185 Bat/Throw L/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 60/60 40/50 30/30 40/45 55/55 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Recorded 30% strikeout rate in the Eastern League in 2016. Scouting Report Scouts to whom I’ve spoken regarding McMahon can’t escape his tantalizing power. He has a gorgeous left-handed swing with natural loft and when McMahon connects he hits some of the prettiest home runs you’ll see. These pyrite parabolas distract from swing-and-miss issues that, based on my Fall League looks, are potentially fatal to McMahon’s prospectdom. McMahon’s strikeout rate at Double-A this year was alarming, as was his drop in power production, and his woes have continued here in Arizona this fall. He doesn’t track well and often fouls off punishable pitches in the middle of the zone. He has 60 raw power and, while the length in McMahon’s swing makes it hard for him to get the bat head there consistently, if he catches anything down and in it’s sent into orbit. He golfed out an inside slider during the Fall Stars game (his only home run of Fall League play). Defensively, McMahon’s transition to first base outwardly seems like it’s being made to find a spot for McMahon in a big-league lineup that includes the godlike Nolan Arenado, but most scouts think he’ll end up there simply because he isn’t very good at third. Proponents cite the heavy move to first base as the chief reason for the struggles at the plate. Others think the issues that plagued Double-A Hartford this year (they played all of their games on the road) had something to do with it. I just don’t think McMahon is going to hit which, suffice to say, will make it hard to profile at first base. He could be a buy-low throw-in target for teams that still believe, because plenty of scouts still like this guy. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.8 WAR 16. Sam Howard, LHP Drafted: 3rd Round, 2014 from Georgia Southern Age 24 Height 6’3 Weight 170 Bat/Throw R/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command 50/50 50/55 45/50 45/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Recorded 27% strikeout rate in Cal League in 2016. Scouting Report Howard repeats a fairly easy three-quarters delivery and produces a 90-93 mph fastball. His mid-80s slider is above average but scouts are skeptical about the future of the changeup, which was better with increased usage in 2016 but is still just fringe average. Howard turns 24 in March and it’s still likely that he becomes a fastball/slider reliever, but the changeup showed enough progression in 2016 that we can hold out hope for a back-end role. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.4 WAR 17. Tyler Nevin, 3B Drafted: 2nd Round, 2015 from Poway HS (CA) Age 20 Height 6’4 Weight 200 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/45 45/55 30/50 30/30 30/40 50/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics None, played one game due to hamstring injury. Scouting Report Nevin’s 2016 was lost due to injury. Scouts who saw him during spring training liked the bat speed, thought he had plus raw power projection and a chance to be an average defender at third base, provided he could add a half grade of arm strength into his 20s. We’ll have to see if Nevin’s severe hamstring injury will have lasting effects on what was already a fringey defensive profile next spring. He’s a potentially average regular who is far away from the majors and now has health questions to answer. 18. Dom Nunez, C Drafted: 6th Round, 2013 from Elk Grove HS (CA) Age 22 Height 6’0 Weight 175 Bat/Throw L/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/45 40/45 30/40 30/30 40/45 45/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Has posted sub-.300 BABIPs each of the last two years Scouting Report Nunez has modest across-the-board tools and a visually pleasing swing but a lack of bat speed and power on contact are beginning to show in his performance. Nunez has some bat control and lift in his swing but hits mostly ground balls and humpback liners, and as he’s moved up the minor-league ladder, fewer of those are falling in for hits. Nunez has a fringe-average arm and spotty but inoffensive receiving and ball-blocking skills. He could be an average defender at peak. It’s a backup profile unless the body provides more power down the line. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.9 WAR 19. Robert Tyler, RHP Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Georgia Age 22 Height 6’4 Weight 215 Bat/Throw L/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command 60/60 40/45 55/60 30/40 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Recorded 89 strikeouts, 46 walks over 74.2 innings at Georgia in 2016. Scouting Report This is the type of prospect who sparks discussion about curveball projection among scouts. Tyler doesn’t have a good one, throws mid-90s fastball, and flashes a plus changeup. If Tyler were to develop even an average curveball he’d instantly become a potential mid-rotation starter based on his stuff. But most scouts think that pitchers, especially college pitchers, either have a good breaking ball or they don’t and Tyler’s feel for his is very inconsistent. Tyler’s two-pitch mix is better on pure stuff than Ben Bowden’s but Tyler’s lack of command makes him considerably more risky in my opinion. He walked 16 in 7.0 pro innings after signing. That’s not a typo. He projects as a volatile but potentially electric reliever. 20. Colton Welker, 1B/3B Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2016 from Stoneman Douglas HS (FL) Age 19 Height 6’0 Weight 205 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 50/60 20/55 40/20 40/45 45/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Slashed .329/.366/.490 in Pioneer League after signing. Scouting Report Welker has a big, power hitter’s body with an uppercut swing and could have plus raw power at maturity. His overall actions both offensively and defensively are stiff and he projects to first base for many. He’ll have the power to profile there if he has to move. This stiffness in the swing concerns scouts, but Welker showed inelegant bat control in his pro debut and scouts think he has a chance to hit for average. There’s extreme pressure on the bat, especially if Welker has to move to first. He’s far from Denver, but there’s an average regular here if you squint hard enough. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.3 WAR 21. Daniel Montano, CF Video Age 18 Height 6’1 Weight 170 Bat/Throw L/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 40/55 20/45 50/55 40/50 40/45 Relevant/Interesting Metrics None, played in DSL in 2016. Scouting Report Montano got $2 million from Colorado in 2015 as a bat-first center fielder with a short but wide-shouldered frame. Montano has feel for airborne contact and his in-game hitters timing is advanced for his age. He hit well in the DSL this year and has begun to grow into some power while presently retaining enough speed to continue giving things a try in center field. If he fills outs and has to move to a corner it will likely be left field, as his arm is currently below average. 22. Garrett Hampson, SS Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Long Beach St Age 22 Height 5’11 Weight 175 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/50 40/40 20/30 60/60 40/45 50/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Slashed .301/.412/.441 in Northwest League after signing. Was +12 defender at shortstop per Clay Davenport Scouting Report Hampson brought an advanced bat to Long Beach State and made the Team USA Collegiate National Team as an underclassman. He made little progress during his career there though and, by the time he was draft eligible, scouts were wondering if he’d be able to stay at shortstop in pro ball. Hampson will need to be able to play shortstop at least part time to profile as a big leaguer because his power output doesn’t play anywhere else. He’s a plus runner and has the range for short but the arm strength might not play on the left side of the infield. Hampson projects for 30 game power. He’s thick in the shoulders and torso but his forearms are quite small, his wrists are stiff through contact, and he doesn’t produce much power. He has a utility ceiling. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.2 WAR 23. Julian Fernandez, RHP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic Age 21 Height 6’2 Weight 160 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command 70/80 40/50 40/55 30/40 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Had 1.17 ERA at Low-A despite walk rate just below 20%. Scouting Report Fernandez can’t do much else right now, but he’s incredibly loose, athletic and touches 102. His arm action and acceleration are incredible and he was up to 99 during instructional league. He has an upper-80s slider and changeup. Both are well below average, as is his command. Only one of the secondaries needs to come along for Fernandez to profile as a late-inning reliever. His ceiling is obviously higher than that. 24. Jordan Patterson, OF/1B Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2013 from South Alabama Age 25 Height 6’4 Weight 215 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/40 55/55 40/45 45/40 45/50 60/60 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Produced .903 OPS against right-handers in 2016. Saved 15 runs in right field at Triple-A per Clay Davenport Scouting Report Patterson’s lever length creates too much swing and miss for him to profile in a corner-outfield spot and he doesn’t run well enough for center field. He mashes righties, though, and should find consistent employment as the larger half of a platoon in either outfield corner. He can also play first base. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.1 WAR Noteworthy Mahalanobis Comps for 40+ FV Prospects Rk Name Most Noteworthy Comp 1 Brendan Rodgers Julio Lugo 3 Jeff Hoffman Cal Eldred 4 German Marquez Randy Wolf 5 Raimel Tapia Grady Sizemore 6 Kyle Freeland Rick Helling 7 Pedro Gonzalez Rob Stratton 9 Tom Murphy Craig Wilson 10 Forrest Wall Ryan Freel 11 Ryan Castellani Freddy Garcia 13 Yency Almonte Gary Knotts 15 Ryan McMahon Casey McGehee 16 Sam Howard Mitchell Boggs 18 Dom Nunez Ramon Castro 20 Colton Welker Edwin Encarnacion 22 Garrett Hampson Jason Bartlett 24 Jordan Patterson Raul Ibanez ***** Other Prospects of Note (In Order of Preference)Pat Valaika, UTIL, 2.2 KATOH+ WAR – A 50 runner with a 45 arm, Valaika is fundamentally sound but doesn’t have the physical tools for shortstop. He has excellent bat-to-ball skills but produces little power. He has an up-and-down utility profile. Antonio Senzatela, RHP – His fastball/slider combination brought him to Double-A by age-21 but Senzatela lost most of 2016 to shoulder inflammation. Many considered him a future reliever prior to the injury, an opinion reinforced by the risk-averse nature of evaluators who’d cash in Senzatela as a middle reliever as soon as possible. David Hill, RHP, 1.1 KATOH+ – Hill was ridden hard at San Diego, including a 147-pitch complete game against Loyola Marymount as a junior. He has average across the board stuff, sitting mostly 89-92 with some run, three middling secondary offerings and a bulldog mentality to pitching. He could be a back-end starter but nothing about the repertoire suggests he’ll miss bats like he did this year moving forward. Brian Mundell, 1B, 0.1 KATOH+ – Mundell’s minimalist swing somehow produces above-average raw power and its simplicity allows for plenty of contact. This is first-base only and neither the hit nor power tools projects to plus so many are projecting a Quad-A hitter in Mundell, but if he keeps hitting he’ll wear a big-league uniform. Jose Gomez, SS, 2.8 KATOH+ – A stocky 5-foot-11, Gomez is an average runner with an average arm and could be a 45 or 50 at shortstop at maturity. He has mature bat-to-ball skills and hit well for his age in the Pioneer League this year but lacks power projection because the body is already pretty maxed out. He’s got a long-term utility profile. Wes Rogers, CF, 2.1 KATOH+ – Rogers possesses excellent secondary skills, is a plus runner with a projectable frame and a chance to play center field, but his hitting actions are very raw. He has substantial upside but the feel to hit is raw, especially for a 22-year-old. He projects as a fourth outfielder, but if the swing comes together he has a chance for more. Javier Medina, RHP – An advanced high school righty with four pitches, Medina missed much of 2016 due to injury. His fastball sits in the low 90s when he’s healthy and he could have an above-average changeup down the line. Mike Nikorak, RHP – Nikorak was once a potential top-10 pick, as his velo and curveball both looked incredible during his showcase summer. By the next spring his stuff has ticked down and he was outpitched by other prep arms in Eastern Pennsylvania down the stretch, most notably ASU lefty Connor Higgins. Nikorak has struggled to throw strikes in pro ball. He was 88-91 during instructional league in 2015 and was 87-92 this spring. Colorado has been working to improve his arm action. Cistulli’s Guy Selected by Carson Cistulli from any player who received less than a 40 FV. Mike Tauchman, OF, 1.4 KATOH+ This represents the third consecutive year in which Tauchman has appeared as Cistulli’s Guy on Colorado’s organizational list. Little has changed, really. He still lacks the sort of tools which would inspire a lead prospect analyst to assign him a future value of 40 or higher. He still also continues to possess a skill set that could have some value to a major-league club. Like he did at Double-A in 2015 and High-A the year before that, Tacuhman recorded promising walk and strikeout figures this year (7.6% and 14.6%, respectively) — in this case, with Triple-A Albuquerque. Also for the second consecutive year, he produced average-or-better defensive numbers in center according to Clay Davenport’s data. On paper, Tauchman bears a considerable resemblance to a player already employed by the Rockies — namely, DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu had, of course, already played a couple seasons by Tauchman’s age. As for the basic profiles, though — high contact, little power, strong defense — they’re entirely comparable. ***** System Overview Like a really good cheese, Colorado’s system is both interesting and complex. By no means is this a marquee system, but it is excellent and, in my opinion, underrated. Prospects with 55 FV figures typically fall within the top 75 or so in all of baseball, which means the Rockies could have four players in that range when my offseason duties are complete. Pint’s upside will likely place him near the top of that tier. Beyond the the top guys, the system is also littered with hard-throwing arms, many of whom (Matt Carasiti, Sal Justo, Zach Jemiola (0.8 KATOH+), Alexander Guillen, Rayan Gonzalez (0.2 KATOH+), Shane Carle (1.8 KATOH+)) project as middle relievers who could impact the big club a bit but lacked the upside to mention above. They’ve also made considerable hay in Latin America, not only with the high-upside outfielders they have in Pedro Gonzalez, Julian Fernandez and Daniel Montano but also with interesting mid-level signings like bat-first outfielder Yeikel Blandin and strike-throwing lefty Luis Noguera. This system might look beefier by the spring if Colorado moves one of their outfielders for more young help on the farm, and they have the 11th overall pick in next year’s draft.