The Colorado Rockies’ season ended in disappointing fashion after they lost the Wild Card game to the Diamondbacks. Nonetheless, their 87-75 record was a big improvement over last year. Their success was in large part due to their great core of stars. Additionally, they have an abundance of young talent, most notably top prospect Brendan Rodgers, waiting for their chance to join that core in the coming years.
10. Yency Almonte, RHP
- Age: 23
- Drafted: 2012, Round 17(537) – LAA
- Acquired by trade in 2016
2017 stats: (Double-A Hartford): 76.1 IP, 5-3, 2.00 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 71 K, 31 BB. (Triple-A Albuquerque): 35 IP, 3-1, 4.89 ERA, 1.77 WHIP, 22 K, 21 BB.
After bouncing from the Angels to the White Sox, Almonte finally broke out upon arriving with Colorado. Last season, his first in the Rockies’ system, he led all farmhands with 156 strikeouts pitching at the Double-A level. Almonte is built for durability and has shown he can handle many innings. This season, he picked up right where he left off last year at Double-A. In 14 starts, he maintained an ERA of 2.00 and a WHIP of 1.17. His electric stuff earned him a promotion to Triple-A, where he struggled a bit. Almonte threw 35 innings with Albuquerque and posted an ERA of 4.89 and WHIP of 1.77. He had trouble keeping his fastball down like he did in Double-A, making him susceptible to the long ball. He also didn’t have the same command, posting an unimpressive BB:KK rate of 21:22. After proving he was ready for a promotion in his year and a half at Double-A, expect Almonte to start next season at Triple-A.
9. Tom Murphy, C
- Age: 26
- Drafted: 2012, Round 3(105) – COL
2017 stats: (Triple-A Albuquerque): 38 games, .255/.312/.426, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 22 R, 9 BB, 56 K. (MLB Colorado): 12 games, .042/.115/.083, 1 RBI, 1 R, 2 BB, 9 K.
Had it not been for a fractured forearm this spring, Murphy may have spent the bulk of 2017 at the big league level. Instead, the power-hitting catcher had to work his way back and try to salvage what was left of his season. In 38 games with Albuquerque, he batted .255 with four homers and 19 RBI. While his dip in production at the plate was expected as he worked to get back to 100 percent, his lack of discipline at the plate was concerning. He walked just nine times compared to 56 strikeouts. Nonetheless, he managed to find his way onto the big league club for a short time, spending 12 games with the club. He collected just one hit, a double, and walked twice while striking out nine times. If the Rockies don’t re-sign Jonathan Lucroy, expect Murphy to have the same chance at winning the starting job as he did this spring.
8. Garrett Hampson, 2B/SS
- Age: 23
- Drafted: 2016 Round 3(81) – COL
- MLB.com lists: Top 10 2B Prospects (#9)
2017 stats: (High-A Lancaster): 127 games, .326/.387/.462, 8 HR, 70 RBI, 113 R, 51 SB, 56 BB, 77 K.
Hampson’s first full professional season was about as resounding of a success as you can get. He shined at nearly every part of the game in 127 games with the JetHawks. He batted .326 with 12 triples, eight homers, and 51 stolen bases. Hampson also had a great eye at the plate, striking out just 77 times and working 56 walks. While he’s primarily played shortstop in his career, he spent a lot of time at second in 2017. He didn’t have any problem at the position and even played well enough to break into the top-10 second base prospects, coming in at No. 9 on MLB.com’s list. Hampson’s on-base abilities and great speed have him projected to be a mainstay at the top of lineups for years to come.
7. Ryan Vilade, 3B
- Age: 18
- Drafted: 2017, Round 2(48) – COL
2017 stats: (RK-PIO): 33 games, .308/.438/.496, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 23 R, 5 SB, 27 BB, 31 K.
The Rockies took Vilade with their top pick in this year’s Draft. At 18, Vilade already has impressive power from the right side and should only get better as he gets stronger. He performed well in his professional debut, batting .308 across 33 games with the Grand Junction Rockies. He also put five balls over the fence and walked almost as many times as he struck out (27:31).
6. Ryan Castellani, RHP
- Age: 21
- Drafted: 2014, Round 2(48) – COL
2017 stats: (Double-A Hartford): 157.1 IP, 9-12, 4.81 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 132 K, 47 BB.
Following a breakout year in 2016, Castellani didn’t quite have the same success but performed well at times this season. Castellani posted a 4.81 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 157.1 innings with the Yard Goats. His biggest problem was the long ball, which is no surprise when pitching in difficult environments. On the bright side, his velocity was up from last year, his fastball now sitting around 97, and his slider has come a long way. He has good control and walked just 47 batters while striking out 132. Castellani still has some things to figure out, but he may be closer to the big leagues than most of his peers in the system.
5. Peter Lambert, RHP
- Age: 20
- Drafted: 2015, Round 2(44) – COL
2017 stats: (High-A Lancaster): 142.1 IP, 9-8, 4.17 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 131 K, 30 BB.
Like most of the pitching prospects in the Rockies system, Lambert had to deal with tough pitching environments at Lancaster. Despite allowing 18 homers, he still managed to post a decent 4.17 ERA and kept batters to just a .267 average. He walked just 30 and struck out 131 in 142.1 innings with the JetHawks. Lambert showed the highest velocity of his career in 2017, working in the mid-90s and hitting 96 with great command. His three-pitch repertoire, along with his consistent delivery, gives him the looks of a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter when he’s developed. The environments he’s pitching in won’t get any easier, but Lambert put together a great season, all things considered.
4. Colton Welker, 3B
- Age: 20
- Drafted: 2016, Round 4(110) – COL
- MLB.com lists: Top 10 3B Prospects (#6)
2017 stats: (Single-A Asheville): 67 games, .350/.401/.500, 6 HR, 33 RBI, 32 R, 5 SB, 18 BB, 42 K.
Welker has had an advanced approach at the plate since he was in high school, and it’s transitioned well at the professional level. It has allowed him to pick his pitches well and make hard, consistent contact to every part of the field. His power has already increased since turning pro and should only get better. In 67 games with Asheville, he batted an incredible .350 with six homers and 33 RBI. He drove the ball into the gaps, as well, logging 18 doubles and a triple as well. He’s currently the No. 6 third base prospect in baseball but could move up that list after his impressive, albeit short, 2017 season.
3. Ryan McMahon, 1B/2B/3B
- Age: 22
- Drafted: 2013, Round 2(42) – COL
2017 stats: (Double-A Hartford): 49 games, .326/.390/.536, 6 HR, 32 RBI, 28 R, 7 SB, 20 BB, 39 K. (Triple-A Albuquerque): 70 games, .374/.411/.612, 14 HR, 56 RBI, 46 R, 4 SB, 21 BB, 53 K. (MLB Colorado): 17 games, .158/.333/.211, 1 RBI, 2 R, 5 BB, 5 K.
McMahon posted the worst numbers of his career last year. He subsequently bounced back with his best professional season in 2017. His season spanned three levels, including his first cup of coffee with the Rockies. He started in Double-A, where he batted .326 with six homers and 32 RBI. After being promoted to Triple-A, his stock rose even higher. In 70 games, he batted .374 with 14 homers and 56 RBI. His incredible stint at Triple-A showed the Rockies he was ready for the highest level, so they rewarded him and gave him a shot. In 17 games with the Rockies, he collected three hits and walked five times. McMahon’s great season, as well as his great versatility in the field, will give him a great shot at cracking the Opening Day roster in one way or another next season.
2. Riley Pint, RHP
- Age: 19
- Drafted: 2016, Round 1(4) – COL
- MLB.com lists: Top 100 Prospects (#54)
2017 stats: (Single-A Asheville): 93 IP, 2-11, 5.42 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 79 K, 59 BB.
The Rockies took Pint with the No. 4 overall pick in last year’s Draft. He’s since become the Rockies’ most exciting pitching prospect in years. His electric fastball has reached 102 and sits in the high-90s deep into games. It’s complemented with a great curve and changeup that has already improved immensely. Despite his electric stuff, Pint has had trouble putting it all together. His control and command haven’t been great, and he tends to overthrow his pitches too often. While this can be attributed to his age (he’s just 19), the Rockies are concerned that it could lead to an injury. His first full season wasn’t perfect, but Pint did show signs that he can be a future ace if he perfects his craft and can stay healthy.
1. Brendan Rodgers, SS/2B
- Age: 21
- Drafted: 2015, Round 1(3) – COL
- MLB.com lists: Top 100 Prospects (#6), Top 10 SS Prospects (#2)
2017 stats: (Double-A Hartford): 38 games, .260/.323/.413, 6 HR, 17 RBI, 20 R, 8 BB, 36 K. (High-A Lancaster): 51 games, .387/.407/.671, 12 HR, 47 RBI, 44 R, 6 BB, 35 K.
The two players taken ahead of him in the 2015 Draft, Dansby Swanson and Alex Bregman, have already made an impact at the Major League level. Rodgers has had a tougher path, being hit with injuries on more than one occasion in his short professional career. Rodgers has a great combination of contact ability and power as well as an advanced approach at the plate. In 89 games split between Double-A and High-A, Rodgers batted .336 with 18 homers and 64 RBI. Despite not yet getting a big taste of the higher levels, Rodgers shouldn’t be far off from the Majors. He has all the tools to be a solid everyday player and could make an impact as early as next season.