Colorado Rockies 2019 Preseason Top 10

Tyler Nevin
Tyler Nevin in the AFL. Courtesy: Aaron Whelan

1)

Player: Brendan Rodgers
Position(s): 2B/SS Opening Day Age: 22 2018 Highest Level: AAA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’ Weight: 180 lbs.
Quick Report: Rodgers is one of the better prospects in baseball and would probably be listed as a future shortstop or third baseman if not for Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado blocking him at the big league level. He saw just 19 games at AAA a season ago, but he should be hitting home runs in Coors Field before this season comes to an end. He has a remarkable ability to make solid contact regularly and possesses plus power that translates to above average power in games with more projection to come. He isn’t the fastest runner, but he has enough range and instincts in the field to be an above average defender at any infield position and enough arm to play any position on the field. He has the potential to be a future All-Star, but the Rockies just hope he can help solidify their infield at some point in 2019.

2)

Player: Garrett Hampson
Position(s):2B/SS Opening Day Age: 24 2018 Highest Level: MLB
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 5’11” Weight: 190 lbs.
Quick Report: One of a long list of former Dirtbags to go on to make the big leagues, Hampson looks poised to open the season as the Opening Day second baseman. He can fly on the bases and he can steal plenty of bags, snagging 36 in 68 games in his pro debut before stealing 51 bags in the California League a year later and 38 over three levels including two at the highest level a season ago. Defensively he can hold down any of the three premier infield positions and he gets the bat on the ball very well. He will never hit for much power even at Coors, but the speed and hit tool make him a potential impact player.

3)

Player: Colton Welker
Position(s): 3B Opening Day Age: 21 2018 Highest Level: High A
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’2” Weight: 195 lbs.
Quick Report: Welker started seeing some time at first base last season, which may prove to be valuable given Arenado has signed an extension, but he is plenty good enough defensively to stay at third base. He has a busy stride and leg kick at the plate but makes plenty of contact and keeps his balance better than one would expect. He does strike out a good amount, but he also draws a good number of walks to make him somewhat of a three true outcome profile. The power is above average raw, but he started to show signs that he will tap into all of it in game action a season ago even if it was just 13 home runs at the launching pad in Lancaster.

4)

Player: Peter Lambert
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 21 2018 Highest Level: AAA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height:  6’2” Weight:185 lbs.
Quick Report: Lambert has the perfect pitch mix for someone who will call Coors Field home, as his fastball has heavy sink and runs up to 96 but plays even better thanks to his change that borders on plus. He also mixes in a curve that has plus potential and a slider that is at least an average offering. He has good command, although the high arm slot does limit the horizontal movement at times, but the downhill plane is always solid. The delivery is repeated well, although he gets very minimal drive off his back leg leading to a higher effort delivery than you typically want from a starter. I don’t ever see him being an innings eater, but a guy who can pitch in the middle of a rotation and keep the team in the ballgame every fifth day is a reasonable projection for Lambert.

5)

Player: Tyler Nevin
Position(s): 3B/1B Opening Day Age: 21 2018 Highest Level: High A
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’4” Weight: 200 lbs.
Quick Report: Nevin has battled injuries his entire pro career, but it was an injury to top prospect Brendan Rodgers that opened a roster spot for him in the Arizona Fall League, where he went on to win the batting crown. He has plus raw power which he taps into quite well already and has a good approach at the plate. The bat is quick and has little wasted movement, allowing him to hit for the solid average. Defensively he is somewhat limited, possessing enough arm to stick at third but the quickness is somewhat of a question. There is a long list of players who have an opportunity to hold onto the first base job in Colorado long term, but Nevin might be the one most ideally suited for the position.

6)

Player: Ryan Rolison
Position(s): LHP Opening Day Age: 21 2018 Highest Level: Rookie
Bats: Right Throws: Left Height: 6’2” Weight: 195 lbs.
Quick Report: Rolison’s value is heavily tied to whether or not he can stick as a starter, something scouts are mixed on. He has a unique delivery, coming from a traditional 3/4 slot, but firing it across his body leaving the release point out in the left-handed batter’s box. This makes him deadly against lefties but could make his pitches easier to see for righties as he advances through the minors. The fastball sits in the low-90s, but the unique release allows it to have plenty of downhill plane and arm-side run to it. He has a big breaking ball that is a plus curve, although he can add some velo to is and sharpen it to show more of a slider shape at times. The change is coming along but the run it features suggest it will be able to be at least average. If he is able to stay healthy and improve on his command, he could become a solid number four starter, but if he does get relegated to the bullpen he will be unhittable for lefties although righties may be able to hit him, which could prove to be an issue if MLB institutes the three batter minimum rule.

7)

Player: Ryan Vilade
Position(s): SS Opening Day Age: 20 2018 Highest Level: Low A
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’2” Weight: 195 lbs.
Quick Report: Another of the many players on this list that can play all the positions around the infield, Vilade has plus power thanks in large part to elite bat speed and loft in the bat plane. He does have some bat wrap that the bat speed negates, but he will need to quiet that some as he reaches the high minors and the pitching gets better. He is already a below average runner, although he has good enough instincts and glove to be a quality fielding shortstop. The arm can play anywhere, although he doesn’t have the raw athleticism to move to the outfield, so a utility infielder with pop is his likely future role, while he could reach a ceiling of an everyday bat.

8)

Player: Riley Pint
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 21 2018 Highest Level: Low A
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’4” Weight: 195 lbs.
Quick Report: The fourth overall pick in 2016, Pint has been less than stellar in his pro career, and injuries limited him to just over eight innings a season ago. Despite that, he still possesses a fastball that regularly touches triple digits and a plus curve. Add to that a slider and change that are both above average, and you could be talking about a future ace worthy of the fourth overall pick. Problem is he hasn’t stayed healthy and the command is light years from where it needs to be. He has a high effort delivery that sees his arm carry a lot of whipping action and some short arm to it before ending in a low 3/4 slot. This likely makes his future as a starter a long shot, but with four pitches that could all grade out to plus in short stints could mean he has a future as a dominant closer.

9)

Player: Grant Lavigne
Position(s): 1B Opening Day Age: 19 2018 Highest Level: Rookie
Bats: Left Throws: Left Height: 6’4” Weight: 220 lbs.
Quick Report: I wasn’t fond of the Lavigne selection at 42 overall a season ago as he was a teenager who had already had to lose a good chunk of weight and is from New Hampshire without a successful track record on the showcase circuit. He went out to Grand Junction and lit up the Pioneer League posting a .350/.477/.519 triple slash line and got Rockies fans excited about his future. There is no doubt he has plus raw power, and the bat quick enough with a good plane to suggest he could keep hitting for a high average. The weight concerns me and the bat does get long when he is looking to tap into that plus raw power. Defensively he is limited to first base and can be solid there. Ultimately, there is a real possibility he becomes an above average everyday player in the big leagues, but there are still a lot of questions in his game for me and I will continue to be conservative in my ranking on him.

10)

Player: Yonathan Daza
Position(s): OF Opening Day Age: 24 2018 Highest Level: AA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’2” Weight: 210 lbs.
Quick Report: .370-.325-.303-.341-.306, those are the averages posted by Daza in each of his seasons since coming stateside. Clearly he has a knack for putting the bat on the ball despite some leg kick that is reminiscent of a less open stance version of Andres Galarraga’s swing. Unlike Galarraga, Daza will never hit for much power, but he will put the ball in the gap plenty where he has enough legs to have a solid OPS on the weight of doubles and triples. In the field he plays as good a center field as anyone in the Rockies system, and has one of the better outfield arms as well. He is probably destined to be a very good fourth outfielder long term, but I would not be shocked to see Daza eventually take the center field job and not let it go.

Others of Note:

Justin Lawrence – RHP – 24 – High A
Ryan Castellani – RHP – 22 – AA
Sam Hilliard – OF – 24 – AA
Terrin Vavra – SS – 21 – Short A

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