Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/8/14
Colorado doesn’t have a deep system but it has a few intriguing arms and some promising up-the-middle talents. There are a number of prospects that could be poised for big 2013 seasons.   #1 Nolan Arenado (3B) Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA 21 573 147 36 12 39 58 0 .285 .337 .428 .339 Arenado’s season didn’t go quite as hoped and he had a very inconsistent year. Questions have been raised about his maturity level but most young men his age (21) have questionable behavior at times, so he probably deserves a mulligan and an opportunity to prove he can learn from his mistakes. The California native held his own in 2012 at double-A. He hits for average because he makes solid contact and uses the whole field. Arenado also has solid power thanks to plus bat speed, and his swing could generate 15-20 homers in his prime. He absolutely creamed left-handed pitching to the tune of a 1.043 OPS. When I saw him play in 2012 he was struggling against off-speed pitches. The young third baseman was a poor fielder when he entered pro ball but he’s made significant strides and should be able to stick at the position. He has a strong arm and has improved his actions. Colorado has some depth at third base as the 2013 season begins with the likes of Jordan Pacheco, Chris Nelson and fellow rookie Ryan Wheeler, but Arenado has the highest ceiling of the group. He’ll likely open the year in triple-A but could see the majors by mid-season.   #2 Trevor Story (SS) Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA 19 548 129 43 18 60 121 15 .270 .361 .499 .388 Story, 20, has quickly become one of the Rockies’ top prospects. After a respectable pro debut in 2011, he exploded in full season ball last year. He shows flashes of a solid approach at the plate but tries to force things at times and gets away from his strengths, leading to high strikeout rates. Story has above-average power potential and started to show that in 2012 with 43 doubles and 18 home runs. In the field, Story is a very steady fielder with good range. His arm strength is average and there have been suggestions that he could eventually move to third base or second base, although the organization is committed to him at shortstop for the time being. A scout I spoke with said he didn’t expect the infield prospect to be a long term shortstop but added, “That guy can swing the bat.” The Texas native will move up to high-A ball where he should enjoy hitting in the California League. Don’t be shocked if he reaches double-A in the second half of the year. Story could see the majors in late 2014 or 2015.   #3 David Dahl (OF) Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA 18 306 106 22 9 21 42 12 .379 .423 .625 .454 Dahl improved his value between draft day and the end of the year more so than any other 2012 draft pick — a bold statement for a player that went 10th overall. A left-handed hitter, he posted a .379 batting average with excellent gap power. The Alabama native should be a true five-tool player once his power develops into more over-the-fence pop. He has above-average speed that helps him both on the base paths and in the field. Dahl is a solid center-fielder with a plus arm and good range. He should open 2013 in full-season ball and could move fairly quickly through the system. It will be interesting to see how he adapts to failure for the first time in pro ball. He needs to get stronger and polish all aspects of his game as he climbs the ladder. Dahl could be ready for the majors by late 2015 or 2016 if he can continue to build upon his pro debut.   #4 Kyle Parker (OF) Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA 22 463 120 18 23 66 88 1 .308 .415 .562 .423 Parker made significant offensive strides in 2012 but it’s hard to know how much of a role the potent California League played in the spike. He improved almost every aspect of his game, including his power output, walk rate, strikeout rate, and batting average. A former star college football player, focusing on the game full time has really helped him in areas of his game, such as pitch recognition and contact rate. He’s also learning that he doesn’t have to pull the ball to take it out of the park. Parker is a prototypical slugging outfielder with limited speed and his modest arm strength will likely keep him cemented in left field. The 23-year-old prospect will open 2013 in double-A but he could slug his way to the majors by the end of the year. His emergence could push Michael Cuddyer to first base in 2014 (assuming Todd Helton doesn’t return). As a right-handed corner outfielder with a limited tool box, Parker will have to continue to put the ball over the wall if he’s going to be an everyday big league contributor.   #5 Tyler Matzek (P) Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP 21 28 28 142.1 134 7 9.67 6.01 4.62 3.80 The 11th overall selection in the 2009 draft, Matzek entered pro ball with a lot of hype and hefty expectations. He posted a 9.82 ERA in 10 high-A games in 2011 before taking a step backward and reworking his approach from the ground floor up. Matzek returned to high-A ball in 2012 and pitched much better in the hostile environment of the California League, thanks in part to a more mature approach. The lefty has dominating stuff when he finds the strike zone (95 walks) and struck out 153 batters in 142 innings. His curveball has plus potential but his changeup remains a work-in-progress and could develop into an average offering. Matzek, whose command and control may never be better than average, started 2012 off extremely well with an ERA under 3.00 in April and May but struggled again in July and August. He needs to find a way to be more consistent and build up his durability to get through a full season. He’ll likely open 2013 in double-A and will face a stiff test against the more mature hitters.   #6 Tyler Anderson (P) Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP 22 20 20 120.1 102 5 6.06 2.09 2.47 3.17 The Rockies’ first round draft pick from 2011, Anderson got a late start last year thanks to an injury. Once he joined low-A in May, the left-handed hurler posted impressive numbers. He has outstanding control and walked just 28 batters in 120.1 innings of work. Standing 6’4” he gets a good downward angle on his pitches and produces above-average ground-ball rates, which should serve him well pitching in Colorado. Anderson’s repertoire includes a fastball with fringe-average velocity for a southpaw but it has good movement and deception in his delivery helps it play up. His changeup has plus potential and his repertoire rounds out with a cutter and curveball. The Nevada native could very well open 2013 in double-A and could even see the majors by the end of the season, depending on the big league club’s needs. He doesn’t have a huge ceiling but could provide a lot of innings as a No. 3 or 4 starter.   #7 Eddie Butler (P) Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP 21 13 12 67.2 59 1 7.32 1.73 2.13 2.34 Butler, drafted in the second round out of Radford University, could end up being a steal for the organization. The right-hander has premium fastball velocity in the 93-97 mph range, along with good movement. He induces outstanding ground-ball rates with the heater. Both his slider and changeup need a fair bit of polish and the development of his repertoire will help determine his future role. His control was above-average during his debut in small sample size. Butler, soon to be 22, dominated the Pioneer League in his debut. If he comes out strong in his first spring training, the Virginia native has a shot at opening the year in high-A ball but low-A is a more likely assignment. He has the potential to develop into a No. 3 starter, or a high-leverage reliever if his secondary pitches fail to develop as hoped.   #8 Chad Bettis (P) Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP 22 27 27 169.2 142 10 9.76 2.39 3.34 2.73 Bettis missed all of 2012 after injuring his shoulder late the previous year. He’s reportedly full strength now and is ready for the double-A challenge. The right-hander has very good stuff with a fastball that works in the low 90s and can touch 95-96 mph. He also has a slider that is a plus pitch at times. His changeup has average potential. The right-hander could stand to work down in the zone more consistently, which will help him combat the hostile environment of his future home ball park. Previously considered a future high-leverage reliever, his repertoire has rounded out well which should help him stick as a starter at the big league level. However, he doesn’t have a huge frame and he’s already suffered some injuries during his brief pro career that put his durability into question. If he comes back with little rust, Bettis could see the majors late in 2013 with an eye on a permanent big-league role in ’14.   #9 Jayson Aquino (P) Age G GS IP H HR K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP 19 16 16 108.1 77 3 9.14 1.66 1.66 2.22 The organization has been extremely patient with Aquino but, after parts of three years in the Dominican Summer League, appears ready to take the training wheels off for good. The right-hander opened 2012 in the DSL but was brought over to North America in time to make seven starts in the advanced-rookie Pioneer League. He showed good control, decent stuff and was durable — averaging more than six innings per start. Still just 20, the left-hander has an impressive repertoire that includes three pitches that have average to plus potential. His fastball velocity is just average right now in the 87-91 mph range but it could see a bump up in velocity as he matures and fills out. Both his secondary pitches — a curveball and changeup — are above-average for his age and he commands them well. He’s produced above-average ground-ball rates in the low minors and continued success in that area will serve him well if his fastball velocity doesn’t improve. Aquino could see full-season ball with a strong spring.   #10 Ryan Wheeler (3B) Age PA HR SB AVG OBP ...
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