2014 Colorado Rockies

C – Jose Briceno  –  LoA Asheville  –  21 yo;  –  (2009 – International FA/VE) –
  • .283 – 23 2B  –  12HR  – 50RBi  – 38R  –  .336/.476/.812 slash    – PAG: 3.12
  • When you ask organization evaluators about position scarcity, probably the one position most would agree is the most difficult to supply steady talent to would be catcher. Generally systems have one, maybe two solid to average catchers at most. Without a doubt, Colorado houses one of the most talented stables of young catchers in all the minors. Top prospect Tom Murphy leads the list, but has slipped a tad after struggling in AA the last season and a half. Now we understand this isn’t a top prospect listing, but an All-Star lineup. Had 2013 Elk Grove HS (CA) draftee Dom Nunez logged more than 46 games, I might have made him my O.A.S. choice. It was close, however, one can’t argue that Venezuelan Jose Briceno was the clear choice here. The 6’1 – 210 pounder played all season long in a full season league and broke out both with the bat and defensively. He brings a canon behind the plate, imposing power to all fields and is working on his mental and physical mechanics to get the most out of every at-bat. However, he won’t be doing it any longer for the Rockies. Briceno along with fellow catcher Chris O’Dowd were traded to Atlanta for pitchers David Hale and former UTR pitcher Gus Schlosser in late January. Briceno immediately brings a much needed boost to the Braves current catching corps. 
1B – Correlle Prime  – LoA Asheville  – 20 yo;  – (2012 – 12th round)
  • .291 – 47 2B  –  21HR –  102RBi – 84R –  .336/.520/.856 slash   – PAG: 3.89
  • The Rockies UTR O.A.S. choice was’t even close.  Twenty- year-old Prime slayed all other organizational first basemen in nearly every statistical category. Ironically, the righty slugger came to the organization as a highly touted pitcher out of Manatee HS (FL), but Colorado loved his bat even more and made the 6’5 – 220 lb. beast a full-time first baseman. Since Prime’s debut in 2012 with Rookie Grand Junction, he’s improved his PAG score tremendously. In 2012 he posted a respectable rookie PAG of 2.56 batting .283 with  one home run, 11 RBi’s and 17 runs scored.  In 2013 he repeated Rookie Grand Junction to try and jump start the power Colorado knew he had. He posted a 3.24 PAG batting .281 with 7 homers, 30 runs scored, 39 RBi’s and even stole 11 bases.  This progression lured me to believe Prime could be in for a breakout. I tabbed him my MLBDepthCharts.com (now Roster Resource) UTR Rockies Breakout Prospect of the Year; and wow, he didn’t let us here at UTRMinors down. Prime’s debut for LoA Asheville was even more than we expected. He posted a 3.89 PAG; ranking first in the Sally League in doubles (47), RBi’s (102), total bases (264) and also ranked  within the top 5 in homers and hits. Without a doubt Prime should see a move to the friendly confines of HiA this season. Even though the California League is known to inflate offensive numbers, it’s difficult to imagine Prime having as stellar a season as he did in 2014. Anything is possible though and will be exciting to watch.    
2B – Michael Benjamin  – LoA Asheville  – 22 yo;  – (2013 – 13th round)
  • .341 – 22 2B  –  12HR – 47RBi – 70R – 25SB  –  .385/.566/.951 slash  –  PAG: 4.31
  • The Rockies landed the 6’0 – 190 lb. Benjamin the second time around in 2013 out of Arizona State after having drafted him in the 45th round in 2010 out of Gilbert HS(AZ). He came to the Rockies having played third base (regularly) while logging some time at shortstop for the Sun Devils. Benjamin was seen as more of the second base type as his arm strength was average at best. He made his 2013 pro debut for Short Season Tri-City batting a meager .233 with 17 doubles, 24 runs, 30 RBi’s and 13 stolen bases.  2014 however saw a breakout of sorts. Not in the Correlle Prime fashion, but Benjamin posted a solid season across the board for LoA Asheville. Not only was Benjamin’s statistical showing a welcome surprise, his statistical leap helped the Asheville Tourists win the South Atlantic League title. Now I know 2014 – 1st rounder Forrest Wall is the top second baseman in the system. In fact, Benjamin’s 4.31 PAG was second only to Wall’s 4.73. An astonishing number for a rookie. But this is UTR and Benjamin, regardless of his auxiliary pedigree, is one to keep a peripheral eye on as he ascends through the ranks. 

 

3B – Kevin Padlo  –  Rookie Grand Junction  – 17 yo;  –  (2014 – 5th round)
  • .300 –  8HR  –  44RBi  – 32R  –  .421/.594/.1.015  slash   – PAG: 4.33
  • As you may have read in some of my previous, I’m not big on player comparisons.  Unless maybe you’re comparing, say, 15 year-old Vlad Guerrero Jr. (an already highly coveted international superstar) to his dad, former MVP and 8-time All-Star Vladimir Guerrero. However, I do like to run tales of the tape.  Inside the Rockies system, of those I selected as O.A.S. finalists, the aforementioned Forrest Wall posted an astonishing 4.73 PAG in his pro debut for Rookie Grand Junction as an 18 year-old. The first rounder is already considered one of the top hitters in the system at a position some seen in fantasy baseball as quite scarce.  When running my a tale of the tape though, 2014 – 5th rounder Kevin Padlo had nearly as promising a debut while a year younger than Wall and without much of the fanfare. Had the Murrieta Valley HS (GA) draftee played an entire year in the Pioneer League, his 48 game sample size would have equated to being amongst the league leaders in a bevy of offensive categories. The 6’2 – 200 lb. righty won’t turn 19 until mid-July and for a young hitter to post numbers like he did, yet still raw in several phases of his game (including his defense (.917 Fld %), Padlo offers extreme promise moving forward.  Expect Padlo to advance to Short Season Tri-City in 2015 with the chance to see LoA Asheville by seasons end. 
SS – Trevor Story  – Short Season Tri-City/HiA Modesto/AA Tulsa  – 22 yo;  –  (2011 – 1st round)

  • .263  – 26 2B  –  14HR  –  48RBi  –  69R –  23SB  –  .367/.475/.841 slash  –  csPAG: 3.59
  • It’s funny when you track prospects for the amount of time Jim and I have. Not just for the website, but for the duration of our combined tenure in fantasy leagues dating back to the 1990’s. The prospect turnover we see from year to year varies greatly. I guess it depends on the system and how quickly players either fail to stay or receive promotions. Even though this is the inaugural UTR Organizational All-Star list, it seems like shortstop Trevor Story has become one of the elder statesman within the hitter portion of most pre-season prospect lists. He was the highest rated shortstop in my rankings this year, however Story’s star has fallen a bit since posting a 3.89 PAG score in 2012 with HiA Modesto. The 6’1 – 175 lb. righty has all the tools to become one of the premiere hitters in the system. Yet, Story seems to have failed so far in pulling everything together mechanically at the plate and in the field. The Irving, TX native played all but two 2014 games in HiA and Double A. He posted a stellar 4.48 PAG in 50 games for HiA Modesto, but fell back to earth in 56 games with a 2.82 for Double A Tulsa. I think Story repeats AA Tulsa in 2015 and hopefully he can synchronize both mind and body to again become one of the superlative prospects in the system. 
LF – Raimel Tapia  – LoA Asheville  –  20 yo;  –  (2010 – International FA/DR)  –
  •  .326  – 32 2B  – 9HR  – 72RBi  – 93R  – 33SB –  .382/.453/.836  – PAG: 3.70
  • I have nothing against picking Raimel Tapia as my Rockies O.A.S. All-Star. However, the UTR in me was hoping someone would step up the plate and post as equal a season as the young Dominican.  Max White, a 2012 – 2nd rounder out of Williston HS (FL), not only posted a scant 2.73 PAG in a repeat of LoA Asheville, but his 4+:1 K:BB ratio certainly didn’t help his case.  Drew Weeks, a 2014 – 7th rounder out of the University of North Florida, logged a solid debt season with a 3.16 PAG for Short Season Tri-City. Thirty four percent of Weeks’ hits came as extra bases while the 21 year old committed only one error in 72 chances in the field. Weeks is right in the meaty part of the age/level curve so he’ll have to overplay his status to gain any sort of strong attention. As far as Tapia, you have to be living under a rock to not know that the slender 6’2 – 160 lb. lefty is one of the supreme prospects in an already stacked Rockies system. Tapia supplies outstanding bat-to-ball skills and can control the strike zone especially deep in counts. Defensively, Tapia can play all over the outfield, yet I chose him as my left fielder after the defensive pie chart showed 35% of the time he played left field; more than center and right field in 2014. If Tapia can keep his emotions in check focusing on a positive approach, he could easily break into many Top 100 prospect lists as early as next season. He should play all season for HiA Modesto in 2015. 

 

CF – David Dahl – LoA Asheville/HiA Modesto –  20 yo;   (2012 – 1st round)
  • .299  – 41 2B  –  14HR  – 55RBi  – 83R  – 21SB  –  .335/.492/.827   – csPAG: 3.69
  • It’s hard to imagine where the 6’2 – 195 lb. lefty would be had he not lost [practically] an entire season of development in 2013. The Oak Mountain HS (AL) draftee looked back upon a 2012 pro debut with Grand Junction that saw him lead the Pioneer League in hits (106), slugging % (.625), OPS (1.048) and total bases (175). Disciplinary action and a season ending injury forced Dahl to shelf his would-be sophomore season until 2014; and he didn’t disappoint. The top hitting prospect in the system is headed for either HiA Modesto to start the 2015 season or straight to Double A Tulsa where he should continue to lay his claim as the centerfielder of the future in Colorado. 
RF – Yonathan Daza  – Rookie Grand Junction  –  20 yo;  –  (2010 – International FA/VE)
  • .370  –  4HR  –  35RBi  – 38R  – 19SB  –  .415/.490/.905   –  PAG: 4.19
  • The Rockies right field O.A.S. choice was a close a decision. What it came down to was several secondary, tertiary statistics and even then, it was sketchy photo finish. Mostly because this position doesn’t offer much in the way of a collection of top level prospects. Twenty-five year old Kyle Parker (2010 – 1st round/Clemson) is the guy most poised to take over in right field, but he’s also being discussed as a future first baseman.  However, getting back into UTR mode, 6’2 – 190 lb. Jonathan Daza is the kid I’m most excited about. Gaza came to the organization boasting an advanced bat, gap-to-gap power, good actions in the outfield and average speed, but the young Venezuelan’s first two seasons in the minors were horrid.  In 2011-12, he posted a putrid 1.69 PAG batting .222 with only 12 extra-base hits in 284 at-bats.  2013 saw a three-peat of the Dominican Summer League and Daza finally showed improvement scoring a 2.64 PAG batting .291 with 11 doubles, 24 RBI’s and even stole 11 bases. In 2014 though, something clicked. Gaza came to play and play he did.  He ranked third in batting and led the Rookie Grand Junction club in hits, doubles and stolen bases. Defensively, I believe Daza’s game seems more that of a center fielder. Either way, Daza has jump started his game and hopefully he can continue the momentum for Short Season Tri-City this coming season. 

 

 

Top 5 Starting Pitchers – (Mention Points) / TPS
 
1. RHP Johendi Jiminian – (14) cSR/TPS .112
  •  21 years old – (LoA Asheville)
  • Undrafted – 2012
  • Ranked #27 by Baseball America
  • The Dominican native came into his own in 2014, his first year of full-season ball. He nearly doubled his workload from the previous season and kept his peripherals steady. If he can only increase his K9 rate (7.2), it could vault him from under the radar to true prospect status. He throws a low 90’s fastball with decent life, along with near a plus breaking ball and curve. He’ll be another pitcher making the trek into the California League to have his stuff tested.
2. RHP Matt Flemer – (10) cSR/TPS .119 
  • 23 years old – (HiA Modesto)
  • 27th round – 2012
  • 2014 Breakout
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (April 17thJuly 8th)
  • The Modesto staff didn’t have the best season in 2014, but Flemer was a bright spot though his stats were pedestrian. The right-hander fits the same mold to a pitcher that I mentioned yesterday with the Diamondback in Brandon Sinnery. Though their stats aren’t outstanding, they’re the work-horse types that eat a lot of innings and could be a valuable back-of-the-rotation specimens. The Rockies could definitely use this caliber of pitcher.
3. RHP Konner Wade  (10) cSR/TPS .131
  • 22 years old – (LoA Asheville)
  • 7th round – 2013
  • UTR Mention (July 2nd)
  • Wade had a nice season despite dealing with some injuries. He got stronger as the season progressed improving his stat line each month. He finished 8-8 with 3.61 ERA and showed decent command with 35 walks/ 94 strikouts over 142 innings. You would like to see a high K-rate, but that should come with the improvement of his slider, which was a swing-and-miss pitch coming out of college. His fastball sits in the low 90’s with heavy sink and induces ground balls. He saw a decrease in that rate (49%) this past season compared to 2013 (60%).
4. RHP Antonio Senzatela – (9) SP/TPS .138
  • 19 years old – (LoA Asheville)
  • Undrafted – 2011
  • Ranked #24 by Baseball America / #19 MLBPipeline
  • How impressive for the young Senzatela to pick-up 15 wins over 26 starts during his first year of full season as a pro. He ended the season going 15-2 with a 3.12 ERA. He has a 3-pitch mix, but lacks consistent secondary pitches. He has an easy repeatable delivery of a low 90’s fastball with sink that generates ground balls. He also shows good command of a splitter and an improving curveball. Not sure where the right-hander will be assigned in 2015 considering he’ll be 20 years old for the whole season. If he can improve his secondaries, Senzatela’s upside will move him up quickly.
5. LHP Jorge Oviedo – (8) SP/TPS .109
  • 17 years old – (DSL Rockies)
  • Undrafted – 2014
  • The Rockies have always made in-roads with Latin American talent, but may have found a gem in a lefty from Venezuela. Oviedo, in his debut season in the DSL, has already established himself with swing and miss control. He has solid mechanics with a high 80’s fastball and solid secondary offerings of a curveball, and changeup. Oveido’s pinpoint control will be his stamp to move through the system. He only walked 8 batters in the 68.2 innings this past season.
 
Top 3 Relief Pitchers – (Mention Points) / TPS
 
 1. RHP Troy Neiman – (10) RP/TPS .071
  • 23 years old – (LoA Asheville)
  • Undrafted – 2013
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (April 24thMay 29th)
  • The Rockies may have stumbled on a future bullpen arm in Neiman. The right-hander put together an outstanding season at California St. University (Chico) in 2013, but went undrafted in June. The Rockies later signed the 6′ 6″ Neiman and assigned him to Short-Season Tri-City where he continued his success. This season was no different, as Neiman went 7-1 with a 1.59 ERA and striking out 89 over 79 innings. Neiman teamed up with fellow UTR OAS Antonio Senzatela on a one-hitter back in July.
2. RHP Shane Broyles – (8) cSR/TPS .081
  • 22 years old – (HiA Modesto / Double-A Tulsa)
  • 14th round – 2012
  • Broyles had an atrocious 2013 a Lo-A Asheville so the organization made the decision to give him a try in the bullpen. The move maybe attributed to an early scouting report on Broyles, about his fastball flattening out and has become more hittable. He also was having issues and confidence in his secondary pitches. The overall potential is there for Broyles, so could it be that the change to relief is just to work things out? With his promotion to Double-A Tulsa, I believe he’s there to stay, as Colorado’s relief pitching depth chart is a mess.
3. LHP Trent Daniel – (6) RP/TPS .086
  • 22 years old – (LoA Asheville)
  • 17th round – 2013
  • Possible future lefty specialist for the Rox. Daniels, along with Troy Neiman, were instrumental coming out of the bullpen in securing the South Atlantic League championship.
Top 5 TPS – Starting Pitchers
 
 1. LHP Kyle Freeland – SP/TPS .097
  • 21 years old – (Pioneer League Grand Junction / LoA Asheville)
  • 1st round – 2014
  • The PFL is the keeper fantasy league where Marc and I are team owners. The draft from last March was winding down and I had a few collegiate arms on my flier list which were about to be top picks in MLB June draft. My top 2 were damn near neck and neck and were being projected to go to the Rockies. Being an owner of Jhoulys Chacin, the time was coming for his replacement. So I took who I thought would be the best fit for Colorado….Aaron Nola, who went to Philly on the slot before. Thanks to the Cubs pulling the unexpected trigger on Schwarber two picks sooner, which then caused Freeland to fall to the Rox. In either case, it was a no-lose situation, though Nola could get the Show before Freeland.  Freeland saw limited limited action over two levels, but was dominant going 3-0 with a 1.15 ERA and 5.5 K/BB ratio.
2. RHP Juan Pena – cSR/TPS .107
  • 18 years old – (DSL Rockies)
  • Undrafted – 2014
  • UTR Mention (July 10th)
  • Debut season in the DSL, Pena went 4-2 with a 1.16 ERA. He could possibility get an assignment state-side in 2015.
3. LHP Jorge Oviedo – SP/TPS .109

  • 17 years old – (DSL Rockies)
  • Undrafted – 2014
  • The Rockies have always made in-roads with Latin American talent, but may have found a gem in a lefty from Venezuela. Oviedo, in his debut season in the DSL, has already established himself with swing and miss control. He has solid mechanics with a high 80’s fastball and solid secondary offerings of a curveball, and changeup. Oveido’s pinpoint control will be him stamp to move through the system. He only walked 8 batters in the 68.2 innings this past season.
4. RHP Johendi Jiminian –  cSR/TPS .112

  •  21 years old – (LoA Asheville)
  • Undrafted – 2012
  • Ranked #27 by Baseball America
  • The Dominican native came into his own in 2014, his first year of full-season ball. He nearly doubled his workload from the previous season and kept his peripherals steady. If he can only increase his K9 rate (7.2), it could vault him from under the radar to true prospect status. He throws a low 90’s fastball with decent life, along with near a plus breaking ball and curve. He’ll be another pitcher making the trek into the California League to have his stuff tested.
5. RHP Alex Balog – cSR/TPS .117
  • 21 years old – (LoA Asheville)
  • 2nd round – 2013
  • No surprise Balog came in under Johendi Jiminian, as they are a mere imagine of each other. Power pitchers with a big breaking balls that chew-up a lot of innings. Blog had a bounce back year in 2014 after suffering an injury that cut his previous short. 
 
Top 3 TPS – Relief Pitchers
 
 1. LHP Yoely Bello – RP/TPS .057
  • 23 years old – (Pioneer League Grand Junction)
  • Undrafted – 2010
  • Bello was the final trade piece in the deal that sent Chris Nelson to the Yankees. Bello languished in the Gulf Coast League with the Yankees for two season (2012/2013) after spending two years in the DSL. Facing hitters much younger than the recently turned 24 year old, Bello embraced the change of scenery going 4-1 with a 1.17 ERA over 26 appearances, his best season so far. He got to pitch in long relief and the closer roles and has received comps to Brian Fuentes.
2. RHP Troy Neiman – RP/TPS .071

  • 23 years old – (LoA Asheville)
  • Undrafted – 2013
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (April 24thMay 29th)
  • The Rockies may have stumbled on a future bullpen arm in Neiman. The right-hander put together an outstanding season at California St. University (Chico) in 2013, but went undrafted in June. The Rockies later signed the 6′ 6″ Neiman and assigned him to Short-Season Tri-City where he continued his success. This season was no different, as Neiman went 7-1 with a 1.59 ERA and striking out 89 over 79 innings. Neiman teamed up with fellow UTR OAS Antonio Senzatela on a one-hitter back in July.
3. RHP Rayan Gonzalez – RP/TPS .081
  • 23 years old – (HiA Modesto)
  • 21st round – 2012
  • 2014 Breakout
  • Ranked #14 by Baseball America / #18 MLBPipeline
  • Gonzalez was hittable (10.4 H9) is 2014, but thats to be expected in the California League. Good news is that the right-hander kept his GB rate (59%) intact with his mid 90’s fastball and biting cutter/slider combo.
 
2014 Breakout Grades
 
The following pitchers were chosen in early March. Their selection was based solely on their previous season’s TPS rating and using the UTRMinors.com criteria for those under the radar.
 
 SP Matt Flemer –  Came in above at #2 receieving (10) mention points of his 28 appearances. He was the lone bright spot in a dismal Modesto staff this season that went 43-97 and allowing an average of 5.6 runs per game. Grade C+ 
 
RP Rayan Gonzalez – Gonzalez basically had a stable year statiscally. The hard-throwing right-hander should excel outside the Cali League with an assignment to Double-A Tulsa in 2015. Grade C-
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