Hitter and Pitcher Rankings: Post-2011 season

The top pitcher and hitter have already been announced. High-A Modesto is able to lay claim to having both award winners on their roster in 2011 in RHP Chad Bettis and 3B Nolan Arenado.

Note that while Bettis is the choice as the Prospect Pitcher of the Year, Drew Pomeranz, acquired for Ubaldo Jimenez, is the top pitching prospect in the organization. Since Pomeranz only got his feet wet in the majors, I still consider him much more prospect than major league player. Thus, he is ranked no. 1 ahead of Bettis on the list.

Even though Juan Nicasio was hurt early in his rookie season, I believe there is a large-enough sample size to consider him a major league player now (we just don't know how good) instead of a prospect so he will not be named below.

However, with Alex White's abysmal Rockies' performance, he will be considered a prospect.

Colorado Rockies' Prospects Report's Top Hitters

1. Nolan Arenado (20 years old), 3B - sometimes a slow starter to the season but has warmed up each year. Doubles power and HR power improving. Loves to clean the bases and led the minors with 122 RBI at High-A Modesto. Plate defense is of the highest quality yet takes aggressive approach - he's there to swing the bat and make something positive happen. Is a .300 hitter but hasn't wowed in that area with a season way over that mark, maybe the only negative to even consider writing. Reportedly has also improved greatly defensively.

2. Josh Rutledge (22) SS - hit. 411 in the second half of the season at Modesto. Doesn't wait to draw walks, he's up there swinging but he makes extraordinary contact and has developing power as his second-half .664 slugging percentage attests. Here are some other attractive numbers - Rutledge hit .382 with runners on base and .357 with them in scoring position. For a middle infielder, his offensive potential is exciting.

3. Kent Matthes (24) OF - hit .334 with 39 doubles, 23 HRs and 95 RBI in but 93 games before getting injured. He clubbed .391 with runners in scoring position. He might be a little older for High-A but he dominated offensively. Is he capable of being a force at Double-A in 2012? How close he comes to his 2011 numbers will tell a big story about Matthes' future status.

4. Tim Wheeler (23) OF - 33 home runs, 28 doubles, six triples, 86 RBI and a .287 average. Only his weak strike zone defense (142 K's) holds him back from a higher ranking.

5. Wilin Rosario (22) C - has 40 homers in two seasons at Tulsa but actually regressed offensively in 2011 coming off a knee injury, with his average dropping from .285 to .249 and his on-base and slugging percentages doing the same. He is still strikeout prone and not adept at working pitchers well. His plus-power is an elite tool but if he can't make more contact that power will not be exploited for good.

6. Kyle Parker (22) OF - 23 doubles, 21 homers, 95 RBI in fast-start debut season in organization. Has to make more contact with two strikes as 133 strikeouts is potential fatal flaw. Looks the part of run producer with developing power. No. 1 pick in 2010.

7. Corey Dickerson (22) OF - has 49 doubles and 45 homers over last two seasons while hitting over .300. That's productive. Only hit left-handers, however, at a .245 clip and was a .193 hitter away from his home park at Low-A Asheville. Could pass Parker with splits improvement.

8. Rafael Ortega (20) OF - young, smallish but on-the-come hitter. Still raw but shows developing power and speed on the base paths, although he is reckless running the bags.


9. Trevor Story (18) SS - six homers, eight doubles, 13 steals in 47 games at rookie league Casper as recent high school graduate. Hit acceptable .268. Bat is still a question but maybe with hard work it won't be much longer. Story showed talent.

10. Sam Mende (21) SS - recorded .614 slugging percentage in rookie season in 46 games at Casper. Hit .281 with 11 doubles and 14 homers. Struck out 52 times in 46 games, a figure that has to improve in 2012.

11. Dustin Garneau (24) C - 29 doubles, 17 homers after dropping from High-A in 2010 to Low-A in 2011. Strong plate defense with 58/70 BB/K rate. At his age has to put together another productive season next year or else be seen as organizational filler. Charlie Blackmon (25) OF - reached Colorado in 2011, played 27 games, had 25 hits, but just two for extra bases and finished with a .255 average before getting hurt. Likely a reserve.

Colorado Rockies' Prospects Report's Top Starting Pitchers

1. Drew Pomeranz (22), LHP  - pitched minimally in the Rockies' system, at Double-A Tulsa before being called up to the Rockies, where he won two of three starts, reportedly not at full strength. Big, expected to be durable, with a plus-fastball and plus-curve as his calling cards. Working on an average-to-better third pitch. Thought by scouts to have no. 1 or 2 starter possibilities.

2. Chad Bettis (22), RHP - outstanding second half of season at High-A Modesto. I'm higher on him than most, seeing him having a ceiling as a no. 2 starter and no worse than a no. 4. Split the difference if you wish and see him as a no. 3. Strike thrower, limits walks. Possesses plus-fastball. Excelled in system since signed so he has take-notice consistency. Would easily rank no.1 in most other years. The Rockies are just fortunate to have Pomeranz and Bettis in their organization at the same time and on the way up to help the big league club. Bettis' ETA could be as soon as some point in 2012. If not then, the expectation will be 2013.

3. Alex White (23), RHP - won at the major league level with Cleveland, was successful at Tulsa and then embarrassingly bad with the Rockies with an 8.42 ERA, .324 batting average against and 12 homers allowed in 36 1/3 innings. White proved himself at higher levels than Bettis has yet to reach but his stock takes a hit due to the inability to compete with big league hitters. Word is he may have been hurt and maybe he was as not one of his seven starts could be described as quality. Yet, he still made two impressive rookie starts with Cleveland, against Detroit and the Angels. The Rockies still view him as a starter for now and scouts project him as high as a no. 3 and no lower than a no. 4. Lincoln Hamilton of Project Prospect recently told Colorado Rockies' Prospects Report that while White could start his eventual landing spot could be the back of the bullpen.

4. Edwar Cabrera (23), LHP - Cabrera might throw too many strikes. He must find better placement within the strike zone and find a way to miss a few more bats. He also has to learn to make batters chase balls out of the zone. That might be difficult to communicate to Cabrera, who has a 5/1 K/BB rate and loves to throw strikes. He's too hittable, lacks the plus velocity to rank higher but he is a solid-to-serious prospect that I believe can still lock down a spot in a starting rotation because his flaws seem correctable while some prospects' "issues" aren't such.

5. Dan Houston (24), RHP - excelled at High-A Modesto and then competed but slipped at Double-A, becoming significantly more hittable and striking out fewer hitters. Will have to find a way to miss more bats in hopes of reaching the majors and finding a spot at the back end of a rotation. Might have a relief role in his future.

6. Josh Slaats (22), RHP - finished strong at Low-A Asheville, showing the ability to make adjustments and find consistency. Not currently a high-level prospect but should compete for the major leagues. Will he maintain his momentum in 2012 or level off? That's the question. For now he ranks ahead of the next prospect due to his better consistency.

7. Tyler Matzek (20), LHP - talent wise, he's on par with Pomeranz and Bettis but despite that fact, despite his draft position and the hype, he's not ranked much higher than this because of his awful control for most of 2011. His final six starts at Low-A Asheville (he was demoted from High-A Modesto) were outstanding and he looked like an elite talent again. If he can build on those performances he could very well be in Double-A by the end of 2012 and competing for a major league job in 2013/2014, surpassing many of the pitchers in these rankings. Being very cautious with him after failing Modesto in 2011, a level he will have to master next season, and recording 96 walks in 97 innings. Other prospect publications will have him ranked much higher. This is a good position for him for now - under the radar a little bit after being too highly ranked by others since he was drafted.

8. Chris Jensen (21), RHP - his debut season at Tri-City, after being selected in the sixth round of the 2011 draft, was noteworthy and impressive. He signed quickly, got to work and was effective.

9. Christian Bergman (23), RHP - will have to show he's up for success at Low-A Asheville to keep this ranking. He and Tri-City teammate Tyler Gagnon produced in 2011, both having stretches of dominance but they are older for that league. Bergman has quality control. His stuff is not top shelf but he proved he knows how to pitch.

10. Tyler Gagnon (22), RHP - he struggled in his first two seasons in the organization but was stellar in 2011. He was hard on both right-handers (.190 average against) and left-handers (.226), only allowed two home runs all season and now deserves prospect recognition.


Colorado Rockies' Prospects Report's Top Relief Pitchers

1. Coty Woods (23), RHP - has 2.65 career ERA in organization and 9.9/3.2 K/BB rate. Dominating first half at High-A Modesto, but stumbled to the finish.

2. Joe Gardner (23), RHP - currently a Double-A starter but I see him as a future reliever. In 2011, he walked less than two per nine innings, forced four times the amount of ground balls to fly ball outs and gave up just one home run in his 36 1/3 innings.

3. Kurt Yacko (24), RHP  - has a 3.10 career ERA, with a 10.2/2.2 K/BB rate. His big challenge is missing more bats as he's allowed 229 hits in 232 1/3 career innings. Will likely be at Double-A in 2012.

4. Nelson Gonzalez (21), RHP - 1.71 ERA this year at Tri-City and a 49/10 K/BB rate. Started and relieved with success and didn't allow a home run in his 58 innings.

5. Kenny Roberts (23), LHP  - 1.86 ERA this season at short-season A-Ball with a 9.1/1.6 K/BB rate and 2.70 ground ball outs to fly ball outs.

6. Christian Friedrich (24), LHP - I think his future aspiration as a starter is over. However, as a reliever, being shortened up, he still might have value if he can stay healthy and come to acceptance that he needs to see himself, make himself a strong bullpen presence.

7. Michael Marbry (27), RHP - 2.92 ERA and 9.2 K/BB in 2011 at High-A Modesto. Has to duplicate success in 2011 to still create curiosity and interest in him in Colorado's or any other franchise's head.

8. Bruce Kern (23), RHP - allowed 79 hits in 74 2/3 innings at Low-A Asheville but had 8.2/2.1 K/BB rate. Has work to do but if he does it well, does it quickly, he could rise in the rankings.