A prospect's status is always fluid. Have a breakout season in 2011 and falter badly in 2012 and your star loses its' luster. That's just the way it goes - it's very much what have you done lately.
Colorado Springs (Triple-A) - Top Prospects, Oct. 11, 2011
1. Charlie Blackmon (OF) - played very well at Colorado Springs, provided an early spark with the Rockies by showing the ability to get on base but showed little power before getting hurt. Will have to prove he can hit for average and at least average pop to earn time as a fourth outfielder. Don't see him as a starter, not at this time, not without further work investment and progress. Blackmon is on this list because, after getting hurt, I consider him a prospect and not yet a guaranteed major league player.
2. Brad Emaus (2B) - certainly shows some thunder in his bat for a middle infielder but the concern is whether he can hit for enough average to earn the playing time to produce runs. Strikes me, best case scenario, as a Ty Wigginton-type bat and likely not even that strong.
3. Jordan Pacheco (C) - his bat has leveled off and dipped and he never had much power. Still could have a major league career but he's a fringe player at that level in my estimation.
Note: Edgmer Escalona, Eric Young Jr., Rex Brothers are not included in the rankings because they are now more Rockies' than prospects.
Tulsa Drillers (Double-A) - Top Prospects, Oct. 5, 2011
1. Drew Pomeranz (LHP) - even though he's a new addition to the system he is listed here because he's not yet established at the major-league level. I've heard comps to Steve Carlton, Jerry Reuss and Cliff Lee. If Pomeranz proves to be that durable, dependable and even close to as successful he will be all the Rockies hope and need him to be. While I have concerns that his best breaking pitch is a curve ball and not a change-up or slider for Denver, he shows composure, confidence and the plus-talent not often seen in Rockies' pitching prospects.
1. Nolan Arenado (3B) & Chad Bettis (RHP) - normally, one player would earn the award over another but this was just too evenly a matched a race to call and both Arenado and Bettis are highly deserving. High-quality pitchers are harder to find but Arenado looks like a potentially special bat and strikingly productive and consistent, something the organization hasn't developed often. Both players could reach Coors sometime in 2012.
2. Josh Rutledge (SS) - spectacular second-half of 2011, and it wasn't all seeing-eye singles. Rutledge showed power. Defensively, he's a work in progress but very interested to see him tackle Double-A pitching. I'm still on record as saying he could become a reliably-good hitting and starting second baseman for the Rockies or be moved as a desired chip in a trade for a quality return. Difficult call to pick him over Kent Matthes but he was chosen due to his offense for a middle infielder, as well as his age and surreal second half of the season.
3. Kent Matthes (OF) - much like seeing catcher Wilin Rosario get hurt near the end of 2010 while he was on an offensive tear, it was very disappointing to see Matthes injured while he was injuring opposing pitchers in 2011. His offensive efficiency and overwhelming output was a sight. If he can return to health, I believe he will again prove his ability as an offensive force. The next level will be a challenge but Matthes could very well be up for it. Certainly a believer in his bat.
4. Edwar Cabrera (LHP) - scouts and people like Baseball America wonder if Cabrera's lack of plus-velocity will allow him to be much more than a slightly better than average prospect, a back-end-of-the-rotation arm. I'm partial to pitchers who know how to pitch, can consistently throw strikes, keep the ball in the yard, get outs on their own (strikeouts) and minimize walks. Cabrera will have to prove he's not a pitching machine personified at the higher levels but I'm taking my chances on him being a starting pitcher in the majors. He still has to learn how to get outs without throwing too fat a pitches. If he ever learns that skill and stays healthy he could raise his stock even higher.
5. Coty Woods (RHP) - dominant first half, disappointing second half. Was his arm tired or hurt or did he just fail to adjust to better scouting reports on him? Keeps the ball in the yard and runs off the board and if he can find his way back to his first-half success, he could move through Tulsa en route to a MLB opportunity in either late 2012 or sometime in 2013.
6. Kurt Yacko (RHP) - throws strikes, limits walks, gets outs, prevents runs. His career ERA is also a very respectable 3.10. There's a lot to like. He has to find a way to miss more bats or else as he climbs the rungs of the minors he's going to get exposed and overwhelmed.
7. Mike Zuanich (OF) - at age 25, he will have to be productive right away next season and pound the ball all over the park, for sufficient average and serious power. He has to do something big to get attention by the Rockies or another team and be kept in the discussion as a legitimate prospect. His resume as a hitter, however, shows he could succeed.
8. Michael Marbry (RHP) -Could end up in another organization and in the majors with them if he can post one more attractive season. A low-level prospect but still worthy of attention.
1. Kyle Parker (OF) - the 2010 no. 1 draft pick has flaws (strike zone defense) but otherwise produced as desired in 2011, getting a great jump towards a MLB career. His power should continue to develop if he can prove to handle two-strike counts more effectively. Looks the part of the no. 1 pick.
2. Corey Dickerson (OF) - this was a tough call, taking Dickerson over Rafael Ortega but Dickerson, for his struggles against lefty pitching and his road woes, is just too productive a player at this point to be ranked below the exciting but still raw Ortega. Dickerson has to become at least competent against southpaws and prove to others, not me, he's not going to fall flat on his face away from Asheville but he is a solid prospect because he has shown a whole lot of bat since being drafted.
3. Rafael Ortega (OF) - if he works his body hard to add muscle while still retaining functional baseball flexibility, Ortega could become a MLB quality starter with a power-speed package. He has tools. Patience for fans, hard work for Ortega and in three to four years you could see something nice. Even if he doesn't build his body and game to starter level he could still project as a valuable reserve. For now, the upside is wide open.
4. Josh Slaats (RHP) - another difficult call. Slaats gets the nod over Tyler Matzek here even though Matzek's stuff is superior. Slaats finished his season strong, is big, should prove to be durable and has the look of a MLB starter, likely a middle-of-the-rotation starter on down, maybe leaning a little more towards the back end. He is ranked, for now, above Matzek because he's been more consistent.
5. Tyler Matzek (LHP) - after a surreal and shockingly bad start, the prized prospect looked every bit the elite talent he is coming down the stretch. He baffled and dominated batters and likely rebuilt lost confidence. His makeup, for all he went through in 2011, was revealed. He's strong-minded, determined and has the ability to adjust. Still cautious about him due to control problems and 2012 will be a big test but Matzek may have finally turned the corner. If he continues on the path that he was on at the end of 2011 he could rocket back to being the top prospect in the organization.
6. Dustin Garneau (C) - he finished his season poorly and he doesn't hit for enough average but there is a lot to like about a catcher who has doubles and home run power and can draw walks. He needs better plate defense and has to raise his average but he looks, at least, like a MLB backup to me.
7. Brett Tanos (3B) - he just looks like a professional hitter who will get a shot in the majors. Maybe the Rockies will even consider moving him to the middle of the diamond, where his offense is more suited. Could have a long MLB career, as a utility player or possibly a starting middle infielder, if he continues to develop.
8. Bruce Kern (RHP) - this ranking is more for what he could become than he currently is, which is a too hittable reliever. This is just a "feel" thing with him.
9. Christhian Adames (SS) - young and on the rise but still want to see more development before seeing all that Baseball America does in him.
10. Bryce Massanari (C) - he will have to hit well and move fast through the organization to hold any sort of prospect status. Had a productive 2011 with impressive average and power numbers.
Tri-City Dust Devils (Short-Season A ball) - Top Prospects, September 23, 2011
1. Chris Jensen (RHP) - this 2011 draft pick made the transition to the pro game well and looks ready to compete for Low-A Asheville in 2012. He has size, sufficient talent and produced. Good start.
2. Nelson Gonzalez (RHP) - may have been better as a starter than a reliever but he relieved most of the season. Will he remain a reliever? If so, can he duplicate his 2011 success at Asheville?
3. Christian Bergman (RHP) - after a terrible 2010 at Casper, he was outstanding at times in 2011 and good at others. Is he simply that much more developed and better and ready to progress nicely through the system or is he merely catching up to the competition after being behind? 2012 will say much.
4. Tyler Gagnon (RHP) - in his third turn at Tri-City, Gagnon found his game and was a strong starter. Like with Bergman, the question is "which Gagnon is the real one?" Also like Bergman, 2012 will reveal a lot.
5. Kenny Roberts (LHP) - found his niche in 2012 at Tri-City, looking like a potentially good lefty out of the pen.
6. Ben Alsup (RHP) - debut in organization gets a passing grade. How much improvement is possible?
2. Sam Mende (SS) - 2011 draft pick (31st round) hit for power and average. Stock way up.
3. Will Swanner (C) - 2010 draft choice (15th round) too big a swing/solid power/acceptable average.
4. Rosell Herrera (SS) - Very young international talent with tools - can he develop them further?
5. David Kandilas (OF) - Aussie had breakout year. Extra-base machine/hit for average. Intriguing.