How do Rockies' prospects fit Colorado's needs?
This series is designed to evaluate the role prospects play in each Major League organization, looking at the short- and long-term needs of each club and illustrating how prospects fit in both scenarios.
Here's my look at the Rockies:
First baseman/outfielder Kyle Parker has the type of bat that will play well in Coors Field. He has hit 21, 23 and 23 homers, respectively, in his first three seasons in Colorado's Minor League system. A 2010 first-round selection in the First-Year Player Draft, Parker is a very strong 6-foot, 200-pound right-handed hitter.
Parker has good bat speed and a short stroke, and he makes solid contact. He struck out only 99 times in 528 plate appearances at Double-A Tulsa in 2013, a low total for a power hitter. A good athlete and a former quarterback for Clemson, Parker clobbers fastballs with quick hands through the ball.
The Rockies boast one of the finest 1-2 combinations of starting pitching prospects in baseball in Jon Gray and Eddie Butler. Both are right-handed. When these guys pitch, people stop and watch. They're that good.
Gray is a wide-bodied 6-foot-4, 255-pound 2013 first-round Draft pick. He pitched at two levels last season, compiling a composite 1.93 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP. The former Oklahoma Sooners ace ended the season throwing 24 innings at Class A Advanced Modesto.
PROJECTED 2016 ROCKIES LINEUPProjecting the Rockies' 2016 lineup based on the players in their system.
|SP||Jorge De La Rosa|
Effortless on the mound while using excellent mechanics, Gray is dominant. He throws his fastball up to 102 mph with outstanding command. Gray also has a fine swing-and-miss slider to accompany a changeup he's still developing. He is a future ace with superb command and control.
Butler's fastball usually sits at 94-96 mph and is complemented by a slider and a curveball. He has very good command of all his pitches and is not shy about using any pitch in any count. Butler, a first-round selection in 2012, has excellent mechanics and attacks hitters with a low three-quarters delivery and good command.
Right-hander Chad Bettis pitched for Colorado last season, throwing 44 2/3 innings in 16 games, eight of them as a starter. He had a 5.64 ERA, yielding 55 hits and 20 walks. As a result, Bettis' WHIP was a high 1.67.
Bettis missed the 2012 season with an injury. His fastball is a plus pitch that tops out at 94 mph. Bettis' best secondary pitch is a slider around 84 mph.
David Dahl is a fine center-field candidate. A 2012 first-round selection, Dahl is a disciplined hitter with a good approach at the plate. He can hit for power and plays a solid center field.
In his brief two-season career, Dahl has hit a combined .366 with nine home runs. Most of his time -- 306 of his 348 plate appearances, to be exact -- was spent at Rookie-level Grand Junction. Dahl was limited to 10 games in 2013 after suffering a hamstring injury.
Raimel Tapia is another high-profile prospect outfielder. From the Dominican Republic, the 6-foot-2, 160-pound left-handed batter is a very good contact hitter. He hit a whopping .357 in his first season in the United States, playing for Grand Junction. A dynamic player to watch, Tapia has enough speed to play center field, with power as a bonus to his excellent hitting ability.
Catcher Tom Murphy has hit very well since being selected in the third round in 2012. He has power to all fields, and he has hit for both power and average so far in his two seasons. The right-handed-hitting Murphy is very solid at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds. His catching mechanics are still under development, as his receiving and blocking skills are probably in need of more work.
The Rockies have two high-quality shortstops in the pipeline as well.
Rosell Herrera is 6-foot-3, 190 pounds. He has a very fine .284 career average over four seasons in the Rockies' system. A switch-hitter, Herrera was equally effective against righties and lefties in his huge 2013 season, when he hit .343 at Class A Asheville. He also chipped in 16 homers and 76 RBIs in his 546 plate appearances.
The other top shortstop prospect is Trevor Story, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound right-handed hitter. He is only 21. Story hit .233 with 12 homers last year at Modesto. He has some power that can't be overlooked from a middle infielder to go along with good range and a strong arm at shortstop.
Third baseman Ryan McMahon was selected in the second round of the 2013 Draft. He began his career at Grand Junction, where he hit .321 with 11 homers. A fine athlete, the left-handed-hitting McMahon is 6-foot-2, 185 pounds.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.