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Colorado Rockies: Top Ten Prospects Post 2010 Draft Edition

We’re more than a third of the way through the season and the Rockies are still one of the most inconsistent teams in the league. The potential is there, but Colorado can’t seem to put it all together for an extended period.

Fear not, Rockies fans.

Help is on the way… eventually.

Here’s an updated look at how the Rockies top prospects look in the minors (including three new additions from the 2010 draft) so far this season:

10. Jordan Pacheco (C) – Pacheco really wasn’t on anyone’s radar entering the 2010 season. However, through early June, he ranks near the top of the Rockies’ organization in batting average, hits and on base percentage.

Scouts have begun noticing the 24-year old catcher and he’s a good bet to move up a level or two before the season is over. He is old for the California League and still needs to prove himself before being looked at as a legitimate prospect. In all likelihood, he will probably never become an every-day major leaguer, but you never know with a player like this.

ETA: Late 2011

9. Hector Gomez (SS) – It seems like Gomez has been a prospect for the better part of a decade and he has only seen time in two games this season due to injury.

He’s never been that impressive in the minors. He’s no longer the 18 year-old phenom he once was. Gomez may be in danger of never making it unless he can show a major-league ready bat sometime soon.

ETA: Maybe Never…

8. Peter Tago (RHP) – Though Tago was chosen with the 47th overall selection in the 2010 draft, he was rumored to be going much higher. An 18 year-old right hander out of California, Tago is said to have hit 96 on the gun with his fastball.

He’s tall and lanky who will likely fill out as he gets a little older. As high school pitchers go, he’s no sure thing, but the upside may pay off in the end.

Tago might develop into a reliable starter or bottom out without reaching the majors. It’s far too early to tell where he’ll end up.

ETA: 2014

7. Rex Brothers (LHP) – A bulky 22-year old who was chosen in the late first round in last year’s draft, Brothers is on the fast track for the majors. The Rockies never tried him as a starter, instead electing to promote him as a reliever to High-A Modesto just 17 appearances into his pro career.

In 29 innings this season, Brothers is averaging more than a strikeout per inning and recently reeled off eight consecutive innings of shutout ball, allowing two hits and striking out 12. He’ll likely become a major league contributor within the next two seasons.

ETA: Mid 2011

6. Chad Bettis (RHP) – The Rockies have already signed their second round pick, Bettis, who looks to join the major league bullpen within the next two seasons.

He was Team USA’s closer last season and looks to be far more comfortable in a relief role than as a starter, where he had some control problems.

Bettis already shows a plus-fastball and a quality breaking bal. He could have gone earlier in the draft than the second round when Colorado took him. Baseball America had him ranked ahead of both of Colorado’s first round picks.

It was a nice pick for the Rockies as Bettis has a good chance of contributing on some level as a major leaguer.

ETA: 2012

5. Tim Wheeler (OF) – Wheeler is a five-tool player but doesn’t do anything extremely well. His on base percentage of .357 is nice to see, as are his 11 stolen bases. However, he doesn’t project to be a huge stolen base threat at the next level, nor is his ability to hit for contact something special.

The key for Wheeler is developing his power stroke. If he can refine his swing and find 18-20 home run power, he will likely be an average or slightly below average major leaguer.

ETA: 2012

4. Wilin Rosario (C) – Entering 2010, many thought that Rosario was the organization’s third best prospect, slotted right behind Matzek and Friedrich. Playing for Double-A Tulsa, the catcher started slowly but has picked it up in the last ten games, hitting .350 with four home runs and nine RBIs.

He’s raised his season line to .272/.323/.503, not bad for a catcher, but not spectacular either. He projects as a starting catcher in the majors, but he needs to show more patience at the plate if he wants to be something special.

ETA: Late 2011

3. Kyle Parker (QB) – It’s a sad state of affairs when the only thing the media seems to be able to say about Parker is that he’s currently Clemson’s starting quarterback.

In case you hadn’t heard, he’s also a power hitting outfielder who will be one of the Rockies’ top prospects if he chooses to sign with the team this summer. It was a high-risk pick for the team because it’s no guarantee that he’ll walk away from football.

His demands are said to be high. Nevertheless, since the Greg Reynolds pick a couple of years ago, the Rockies seem to have made a commitment to choosing the best player available and they did the same thing here.

Parker’s developing power stroke is a good sign and he could easily blossom into one of the best power-hitting prospects in the minors. For now, he’s still a somewhat unproven kid with an impressive athletic pedigree.

ETA: 2013

2. Christian Friedrich (LHP) – Easily the Rockies’ most exciting prospect in 2009. However, Friedrich hasn’t been quite as sharp in Double-A Tulsa this season. He’s hit his first rough patch in 41 starts in the minors and it will be interesting to see how he responds.

In eight starts this season for Tulsa, Friedrich has failed to last more than five innings in half of them. Nevertheless, his strikeout- to-walk ratio has remained solid and he’s only had one game that really blew up in his face. Expect a comeback for this young lefty who projects as a top-of-the-rotation starter.

ETA: Late 2011

1. Tyler Matzek (LHP) – Still only 19 years old and four starts into his pro baseball career, Matzek has already begun delivering on his immense potential. In a recent mailbag, Baseball America’s Jim Callis said that Matzek ranks above all high school starters in the last two drafts, including 2010 No. 2 overall pick Jameson Taillon.

In 19 2/3 innings of work this season, Matzek has tallied 25 strikeouts compared with 12 walks, surrendering four total runs. It’s a small sample size, but encouraging nonetheless. He could be an ace in the making.

ETA: Early 2013





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Ubaldo Jimenez’s Blistering Beginning: Why He Is Eyeing Greatness in Colorado

At this point in the season, it is difficult to comprehend just how good Ubaldo Jimenez has been.

Towards the end of last season, it was clear that Jimenez was blossoming into the Rockies’ staff ace.

After a 1-3 start that saw him carry a 7.58 ERA into a May 1 start against San Francisco, Jimenez reeled off 25 consecutive starts of six innings or more in 2009, never once allowing more than four runs.

Not factoring in the slow start and a forgettable Sept. 15 outing against the Giants, Jimenez was 14-7 on the year with a 2.84 ERA. His consistent and dependable play was one of the main reasons Colorado made the playoffs for the second time in three years.

This year, Jimenez may not only be the best player on his team; he may be the best player in the league.

Nine starts into the season, Jimenez has allowed a grand total of seven earned runs. In an April 16 contest against Atlanta, Rockies starter Jason Hammel gave up seven earned runs in less than two innings.

The next day, Jimenez threw a no-hitter.

Jimenez currently has his ERA just a shade under 1.00. Only St. Louis’ Jaime Garcia has an ERA under 2.00 among starters in either league. No other starter in the league has more than six wins, save Tampa Bay’s David Price. Jimenez has eight.

So how is he doing it? What’s changed?

Actually, it’s not so much that Jimenez is doing something dramatically different from years past. Rather, he’s doing what he used to do, but he’s doing it better.

In 2009, Jimenez was the hardest throwing starting pitcher in the league. His fastball averaged a blistering 96.1 mph. So far in 2010, Jimenez has dialed up his average fastball to an unthinkable 96.8 mph, a full 1.2 mph faster than every other starter in the league, and 2.4 mph faster than everyone but Felipe Paulino and Justin Verlander.

It may not seem like much, but when a pitcher’s fastball is nearly three percent better than every other pitcher’s offering in the entire world, it makes a difference.

It’s the equivalent of a golfer hitting his drive 10 yards further than everyone else on tour, on every course, and every hole. It’s a major competitive advantage.

But an improved fastball doesn’t represent the main change in Jimenez’s game. He isn’t even throwing it as much as he once did. Just two years ago, Jimenez threw his fastball (at that time averaging 94.9 mph) nearly 70 percent of the time.

So far in 2010, he has thrown the fastball only 59.1 percent of the time, relying much more heavily on his change-up, a pitch he throws at 88.2 mph (still faster than many starter’s fastballs).

Considering how often he throws it, Jimenez’s change-up may be even more overpowering than his fastball. While he has modestly increased his velocity on his fastball, his change-up velocity has dropped 1.4 mph and has shown a marked change in movement.

Using one of the best fastballs in the game and keeping hitters off-balance with a second plus-pitch with movement, Jimenez has emerged as a force in the National League and has been gaining steam as an early Cy Young candidate.

The right-hander is on pace for a 29-4 record, 210 strikeouts, and 25 earned runs. If Jimenez could put a season like that together, it would go down as one of the single greatest pitching performances in Major League History. Forget the Cy Young Award. We would be talking about historical greatness.

I’d say the young guy is off to a pretty solid start.

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Colorado Rockies 2010 Player Power Rankings

The Rockies have been disappointing this season. There. I said it.

Colorado has been average, mediocre, maybe even boring.

Some guys have been on fire from the start while others can’t seem to figure it out, ruining the party for everybody.

Read on to find out who’s been carrying his weight and who’s looked awful so far in 2010.


30. Jason Hammel (SP) – That 7.52 ERA isn’t going to cut it. Even for a fifth starter, Hammel has been nothing short of abysmal this season.

29. Clint Barmes (2B) – When your manager has to defend you in the media to justify keeping you in the every-day lineup, things aren’t going well. Barmes has been a black hole at the plate this season.

28. Esmil Rogers (SP)

27. Rafael Betancourt (RP) – After pitching lights-out at the end of last season, Betancourt has looked terrible in 2010. Add his signing to the long list of reasons why putting money into relief pitching is a bad idea.

26. Greg Smith (SP)

25. Dexter Fowler (CF) – Honestly, Fowler hasn’t done anything well this season. Do I need to be the first one to suggest that some time in Colorado Springs might do him some good?

24. Chris Iannetta (C) – I’m with everyone else on Iannetta. He looked bad in limited time this season, but he really didn’t get a long enough look to justify sending him to Triple-A. Either bring him back up or send him elsewhere for a couple of prospects. He’s too good a player to be sitting in Colorado Springs.

23. Melvin Mora (U)

22. Franklin Morales (CP) – I still have high hopes for Morales, but every time he seems to take a step forward, he ends up back where he was. Maybe this is as good as it gets for him. Maybe he’s going to be a mediocre middle reliever forever. Bummer.

21. Paul Phillips (C)

20. Eric Young Jr. (U) – Always an adventure in the outfield, EY Jr. looks like he needs some seasoning in the minors before he can become a productive major leaguer. Knowing where he’s come from, there’s no doubt he’ll keep fighting.

19. Ryan Spilborghs (OF)

18. Aaron Cook (SP)

17. Jason Giambi (1B) – Giambi has walked in a fourth of his plate appearances this year. It’s not the production fans expected, but it’s something.

16. Randy Flores (RP)

15. Matt Daley (RP)

14. Seth Smith (OF)

13. Jeff Francis (SP) – Two strong starts coming back from injury and fans are already talking about the good old days. I want so badly to believe he’ll be back to his old ways, I’m just not sure it’s going to happen.

12. Jorge De La Rosa (SP) – They hype for De La Rosa was as big as it was for anyone coming into the season, but the injury has derailed his hopes of padding the resume before hitting the open market in the offseason.

11. Matt Belisle

10. Todd Helton (1B) – At times this season, Helton has been hard to watch. At some point, we’re all going to have to admit that he’s nearing the end of the line. At least his on base percentage remains stellar.

9. Jhoulys Chacin (SP) – It’s been a really nice start for Chacin in the majors, probably better than expected. He has the talent to be a No. 2 starter in the majors and this may be the year he starts to show it.

8. Carlos Gonzalez (OF) – CarGo has been a productive middle of the order bat, but his .317 OBP ranks ahead of only Clint Barmes among regular starters. To become a real offensive force, he has to get on base more often.

7. Manuel Corpas (CP) – Corpas has filled in nicely as the team’s closer filling in for Franklin Morales, but fans should remember his struggles in 2008 and 2009. When Huston Street returns, this team will be much better.

6. Ian Stewart (3B) – Stewart is quietly having a very solid season for the Rockies. The strikeouts are a concern, but he seems to be filling out as a player. It’s nice to see.

5. Joe Beimel (RP) – Signed at the tail end of spring training, Beimel has been unbelievable this season. You can’t ask much more from a guy who holds a WHIP and an ERA under 1.00.

4. Brad Hawpe (OF) – Having Hawpe in the lineup changes the entire dynamic of the team. Coming into the season, I saw him as potential trade bait, but at this point I think he may be the key to making the playoffs for a second straight year.

3. Miguel Olivo (C) – As impressive as Olivo has been filling in for Iannetta, there is little evidence that he can keep it up for the entire year. Don’t be surprised if Olivo takes another face plant before the season is out. I don’t trust him yet.

2. Troy Tulowitzki (SS) – I hesitate putting Tulo this high because he really needs to hit for more power and his usually stellar defense has been sloppy at times this season. As usual, the team performs as Tulo does, and the team has been wallowing in mediocrity this year. He needs to produce more runs if the Rockies are headed for the playoffs.

1. Ubaldo Jimenez (SP) – Surprised to see him at the top of the list? Probably not… There’s really nothing you can say except Jimenez has done nothing but exceed fans’ lofty expectations coming into the season. He is one of the single most valuable commodities in baseball, and he looks to become Colorado’s most dominant starting pitcher ever.

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Colorado Rockies Looking Shaky Despite Ubaldo Jimenez’ Heroic Efforts

One thing is certain for this year’s Colorado Rockies: Ubaldo Jimenez is the star of the team.


Jimenez was credited for one run on two hits in his last start against the Los Angeles Dodgers and it was one of his worst starts of the season. His ERA went up and he took the loss.


That’s right: Two hits, one earned run, one loss and an ERA still under 1.00.


If the playoffs started today, Jimenez would win the National League Cy Young Award.


The rest of the team? Not as impressive…


Entering the season, the Rockies were seen as a team that could compete for a pennant in the National League. While the Phillies added Roy Halladay and the Cardinals brought back Matt Holliday for a full season, the Rockies’ young nucleus was supposed to take another leap forward in 2010.


It hasn’t happened.


Troy Tulowitzki’s power has all but disappeared. Chris Iannetta played his way onto the Triple-A squad. Clint Barmes is struggling to get his on base percentage over .300. Todd Helton looks like a shadow of his former self. The list goes on.


The Rockies pitching staff, thought to be one of the deepest in the league, has been riddled with injuries. The only two starters that remain from spring training are Jimenez and veteran Aaron Cook, who has been one of the worst pitchers in all of baseball this year.


Here is a team that people thought would have legitimate contact and power hitters at every position on the diamond. Instead, the Rockies lineup has toiled in mediocrity.


Here is a team that didn’t seem to have a single hole on its pitching staff.


Instead, Colorado tosses out Esmil Rogers and Greg Smith two out of every five games and can’t find a reliable power arm to close out games.


You wonder how the team has stayed near the .500 mark this far into the season. And then you remember Ubaldo Jimenez.


No one player has meant more to his team this year that Jimenez, who owns six of the Rockies fifteen wins.


Just think, if this guy started every game for the Rockies, the team would be sitting at a crisp 27-4. We can only dream.


Chances are, Jimenez won’t stay on this pace all season. If he doesn’t, the rest of the team needs to step up. If they can’t, there are going to be some big changes in Denver come July 31 and Rockies fans can prepare for an October filled with San Francisco Giants baseball.

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