The Rockies weren’t really expected to do much in 2016, but they surprised some in putting up a 75-87 record, finishing third in the NL West. In addition to the typical MVP-caliber performance of Nolan Arenado, D.J. LeMahieu won the NL batting crown, Trevor Story set an NL record for most home runs by a rookie shortstop and Jon Gray started to make his stamp as a potential ace for the club.
The Rockies have a lot to be excited about. They have an outstanding core of bats and a rising crop of strong arms. Though it is undoubtedly difficult to pitch in Colorado, a rotation of Jon Gray, Jeff Hoffman, German Marquez, Tyler Anderson and Antonio Senzatela could be a very formidable rotation in 2017. They are a team that could compete for a Wild Card in 2017 and may be in the playoff picture for several more years to come.
By the way, if you are interested in more MLB prospects columns, head on over to our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. Throughout the offseason, you will find the rest of our team prospect breakdowns, fantasy baseball prospect rankings, tiered positional rankings, keeper values articles, and more - all in one easy place.
Colorado Rockies Top Prospects for Dynasty Leagues
Today I am beginning my list of prospect systems in the NL West. I have already covered the Arizona Diamondbacks. Later, I will delve into the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants. To read more about my prospect coverage, click here.
Top Overall Talent: Brendan Rodgers
Top Prospect who won’t debut in 2017: Brendan Rodgers
Rodgers is arguably the most dynamic bat to come out of this system since Nolan Arenado. In 110 games at Class-A Asheville, Rodgers blasted 19 home runs while posting a .281/.342/.480, a solid 7.1 percent walk rate and respectable 20.0 percent strikeout rate, all while he was still only 19 years old (except for 11 days as a 20-year-old). Sure Story’s story book season quieted the call for Rodgers, but those two figure to eventually be the double play tandem for Colorado which could lead to a record number of home runs from a middle-infield duo.
Dreams of that pairing will have to wait until 2018, but it is going to be explosive when it happens. Dynasty owners should all be clamoring to get their hands on Rodgers as there is a very good chance he is the best Rockies’ middle-infielder since Troy Tulowitzki.
Top Prospect to Debut in 2017: Raimel Tapia
Tapia is no where near as exciting as Rodgers, but dynasty owners should still view him as one of the top fantasy outfield prospects in the game. He has 20+ stolen base speed already and his contact-driven approach and solid eye at the plate have him in place to eventually become the leadoff hitter for the Rockies.
He doesn’t have 20 home run power even with the Coors Field boost, but Tapia seems like the kind of guy who can eventually hit 15 dingers to accompany his solid stolen base totals. He is no David Dahl, but he is probably the next best thing and could be a solid fantasy bat for owners moving forward.
Biggest Boom or Bust: Riley Pint
Pint made 11 starts in the Rookie league this season and though he showed strikeout potential, he also displayed the typical issues associated with young, hard-throwing pitching prospects. He struck out 20.7 percent of opposing batters, but the 13.2 percent walk rate was incredibly high. But he was only 19 years old and the Rockies have a lot of faith that he can reign in his command. He’s got outstanding stuff (to be discussed later) and has incredibly high upside, but he’s a young pitcher whose future home is Coors Field. You could say he is a bit risky.
Biggest Sleeper: Ryan Castellani
It’s understandable that a pitcher would be a sleeper in Colorado’s system. Who goes here to look for pitching prospects? Well those who stumbled upon Castellani’s name to this point are probably excited by what he has done in the minors thus far and those who haven’t found him yet should probably jump on the bandwagon. Castellani was only 20 years old for 2016, yet he put up promising numbers at High-A as he managed a 3.81 ERA, 3.61 FIP, 20.5 percent strikeout rate and 7.2 percent walk rate in 167.2 innings of work. He doesn’t have an outstanding repertoire of pitches, but he commands his arsenal well and possesses an easy, repeatable delivery that many believe will help him sustain a productive big league career. He won’t be the next ace of the Rockies, but he should at least be a No. 4 or 5 starter with the potential to be a No. 3 starter for them.
Top Prospect Hitters
Best Power Hitter: Brendan Rodgers
As previously discussed, Rodgers is a serious power hitter with the chance to blast upwards of 30-40 home runs in the big leagues. He has not only shown that his raw power can be game power, but he did it as a teenager. He is an incredibly gifted power hitter who should receive a major boost from playing in hitter-friendly Coors Field.
Most Likely to Hit over .300: Raimel Tapia
Best Burner on the Bases: Raimel Tapia
Heading into 2016, the big goal for Tapia was to cut down on his strikeout rates. He wasn’t walking very much and was striking out in the upper-teens. Well, I think it’s safe to say he accomplished that goal. Between his time at Double- and Triple-A, Tapia managed a strikeout rate below 11 percent the entire season. This already to go with an approach that was centered around making consistent contact. He should produce a .290 average with a very good chance to eventually hit over .300.
He has also shown over several seasons that he is a real burner. He has stolen 20+ bases in every season since 2013 and should continue that trend into the big leagues. Combine that with his potential to hit .300 or higher and you’ve got a high-upside leadoff hitter playing in an extremely hitter-friendly ballpark. He doesn’t have a spot in Colorado right now, but he still warrants ownership in all dynasty leagues.
Top Prospect Pitchers
Strikeout Machine: Riley Pint
Pint has control issues, but he has some serious swing-and-miss potential. He has an upper-90s fastball that can frequently touch triple-digits and a lethal curveball that has served him well throughout his high school and brief professional career. His changeup is an above-average pitch that should help him stay up one step ahead of left-handed batters. Pint has received comparisons to Justin Verlander, generating plenty of excitement early on for the young right-hander. He is a risky investment because of his inexperience and well-documented control issues, but he has the potential to be as good of a strikeout pitcher as Jon Gray, if not better.
Best Command: German Marquez
Throughout his professional career, Marquez has shown extreme effectiveness in keeping the ball not only in the park, but in the strike zone. Since 2014, Marquez has posted a walk rate over 6 percent once . . . and it was 6.1 percent at the big league level this past season. Scouts have praised his easy delivery and believe he will only improve his feel for pitching as he develops. His ability to keep the ball in the yard and attack hitters with a great assortment should help him stick in a big league rotation . . . even in Coors Field.
Top 10 Dynasty Prospects for the Colorado Rockies
1. Brendan Rodgers (SS/2B, A)
Rodgers’ power upside placed in Coors Field could make him Colorado’s best middle-infielder since Troy Tulowitzki.
2. Raimel Tapia (OF, MLB)
Tapia is a speedy outfielder who will generate power thanks to Coors Field. It’s not 20-homer power by any means, but owners will gladly take the high average, stolen bases and decent pop.
3. Tom Murphy (C, MLB)
Murphy is a catcher with a ton of power and could be a 30+ home run threat at a difficult fantasy position to find talent. The strikeouts will be a major concern, however, and his average could sit in the low .200s if he doesn’t improve in that area.
4. Jeff Hoffman (SP, MLB)
Hoffman has the strikeout stuff dynasty owners want to see in a rising pitching prospect and could follow the path set by Jon Gray as a solid pitcher in Colorado. He will need to really trim down the strikeouts, however.
5. German Marquez (SP, MLB)
Marquez is one of the lowest risk pitching prospects to come through the Colorado system due to a track record of keeping the ball in the yard. He could be a solid No. 4 pitcher for dynasty owners.
6. Ryan McMahon (3B, AA)
McMahon has had swing-and-miss issues, but anyone with his power has to be included on a list of prospects headed to Coors Fields. He could be a future 25+ home run threat in the big leagues.
7. Forrest Wall (2B, A+)
Wall had his struggles in 2016, but he has enough power and speed to be an eventual 15/20 second baseman with a .270+ average.
8. Riley Pint (SP, ROK)
Pint unquestionably has the best stuff of any pitcher in this system. The only question with him now is whether or not he can control it and keep the ball from traveling out of the yard.
9. Ryan Castellani (SP, A+)
Castellani, like Marquez, has excellent control and has exhibited no issues keeping the ball in the yard. He has the makings of a pitcher who can stick in Coors Field.
10. Dom Nunez (C, A+)
Nunez had a down year at High-A after a really solid showing at Class-A in 2015, but he is a catcher with power that could be productive for dynasty owners if he makes it to the big leagues.
There is no home ballpark that impacts the fantasy potential quite like Coors Field as you all probably know by now. Pitchers receive a major downgrade and batters with even the slightest ability to lift the ball off the ground will receive a major boost. With that said, not every hitter is a gem and not every arm is a bust. The Rockies have been drafting and developing pitchers very well lately and some like Hoffman, Pint and Marquez could all be solid staters in a big league rotation in spite of their future home.
But the big story here is the depth they have in their offensive firepower. McMahon and Wall are not the next Nolan Arenado and D.J. LeMahieu, but they could both become suitable replacements in a few years if the All-Star pair depart Denver.