10) Trevor Story – SS/2B
Date of Birth: November 15th, 1992
Height/Weight: 6’1”/ 180 pounds
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round (45th overall) in the 2011 draft
One player who has been slow to develop in the Rockies minor league system is shortstop/second baseman Trevor Story. A 1st round pick of the Rockies in the 2011 draft, Story has moved up slowly through the minor league system, making incremental improvements every year. Story has had a lot of ups and downs in his short professional career, although he may finally be nearing the end of his prospect status. Story reached Triple A for the first time last season, splitting his time nearly 50-50 between Double A and Triple A over the course of the season. In 69 games in Double A, Story slashed .281/.373/.523. In 61 games in Triple A, Story slashed .277/.324/.504, while walking less and striking out a bit more. Story likely needs at least another half year at Triple A until he is considered ready to be a potential full time big leaguer.
Despite his slow movement through the Rockies system, Story does have a lot of raw talent that he is beginning to refine. Story has arguably the best bat speed of any player in the entire system, allowing him to exceed at the plate. He also has a good deal of power, but has toned back his aggressiveness at the plate in favor of a more balanced approach overall. Story has played significant time at both shortstop and second base, as well as third base, and figures to get some time at all three positions going forward. Story’s versatility, both in the field and at the plate, should help him get to the big leagues, although it remains to be seen if that will be in a full time role or in a utility role. Either way, Story should be a useful major leaguer in the long term for the Rockies.
9) Kyle Freeland – LHP
Date of Birth: May 14th, 1993
Height/Weight: 6’3”/ 170 pounds
Acquired: Drafted in 1st round (8th overall) in 2014 draft
As is evidenced by the sheer number of high upside pitchers in their minor league system, the Rockies have made their long term goals pretty apparent. Kyle Freeland is yet another high upside pitcher in the Rockies system, although he comes as a left hander. Freeland got as high as A ball last season, pitching to a 4.76 ERA in 39 2/3 innings. Freeland didn’t strikeout as many hitters as in past stops, but did sport a sub 2 BB/9, which is definitely a strong mark.
Freeland only sits in the low-90s, which is a bit of a different look than most of the other Rockie pitchers on this list, although his deceptive delivery allows his fastball to appear even faster. Freeland throws his fastball with a good amount of sink, which allows him to get a lot of ground ball outs, which should, once again, play well at home run happy Coors Field. He also uses a low-80s slider, that doubles as a cutter, and will be considered a plus pitch in the long run. Add to that a changeup with a good amount of sink, and Freeland has the potential to have three plus pitches when all is said and done. Some question marks about his delivery have caused some to be doubtful about his ability to stay in the starting rotation long term.
8) Mike Nikorak – RHP
Date of Birth: September 16th, 1996
Height/Weight: 6’5”/ 220 pounds
Acquired: Drafted in 1st round (27th overall) in the 2015 draft
Yet another Rockies right handed pitcher, Nikorak was picked by the Rockies with their first round pick in the 2015 draft, or at least their second first round pick. Nikorak came into the draft directly out of high school, so he is still only 19 years old currently. In his first taste of professional ball, he started eight games, compiling a plus 11 ERA in just 17 innings. The main issue for Nikorak was his BB/9 of over 16, which accompanied his K/9 of just over 7. Not a great debut in professional ball for the pitcher, although he still has quite a bit of time to grow.
Once again, the Rockies have yet another hard throwing right hander. Nikorak consistently hits 94-97 mph, and flashes the potential for even more speed. While his fastball is his best pitch, as it comes with a great deal of movement, the biggest knock against Nikorak is his struggles with command. This was demonstrated in his 16 BB/9 in his professional debut, and represents a big question mark for him going forward. With that being said, he does already possess a plus curveball as well as a changeup that has the potential to be a plus pitch in the future.
7) Raimel Tapia – OF
Date of Birth: February 4th, 1994
Height/Weight: 6’2”/ 160 pounds
Acquired: 2011 International Free Agent
Signed out of the 2011 International class, Raimel Tapia has stirred up quite a bit of disagreement on his potential for future success. While some see the high potential a player like Tapia has, others see a player fraught with question marks. Tapia spent a majority of his 2015 season in High A ball, finishing with a slash line of .303/.333/.467 with a wRC+ of 112. Tapia also sported a relatively high 17% strikeout rate as well as a low 4% walk rate, which both do not represent the best marks.
While Tapia may be a bit of an enigma, he is an all around terrific athlete, perhaps the best in the Rockies entire minor league system. At the plate, Tapia is more focused on making solid contact, and has shown a good ability to put the ball in play consistently. While he profiles as more of a line drive hitter currently, he does have some decent raw power that could translate into in game power in the long term. If Tapia can add further size and strength during his development, he could hit for more consistent power. In the field, Tapia plays with a ton of energy, and can cover all three outfield positions. There have been some knocks against him that he plays with too much energy, but that is something that can be worked out as he continues to mature. Tapia has a bit of an unorthodox swing, but his ability to make adjustments on the fly bodes well for his long term future as a big leaguer.
6) Ryan McMahon – 3B
Date of Birth: December 14th, 1994
Height/Weight: 6’2”/ 185 pounds
Acquired: Drafted in 2nd round (42nd overall) of 2013 draft
Next on the list is a third baseman, out of California, who has already drawn comparisons to Nolan Arenado on the back of both his strong defensive ability and explosive potential at the plate. Ryan McMahon was a second round pick from back in 2013, who has already shown an enormous amount of long term potential for the Rockies. In a full season of High A ball in 2015, McMahon slashed .300/.372/.520 with a wRC+ of 141 with eighteen home runs. McMahon has already shown great potential at the plate as well as tremendous raw power. At this point, McMahon profiles as a pretty much prototypical third baseman, with the potential for significant upside.
At this point, McMahon is considered a pretty good all around player at third base, as he profiles as above average in all aspects of his, save for his speed, which leaves something to be desired. At the plate, McMahon shows a good deal of raw power that he has been able to tap into during games, as well as a strong ability to make consistently good contact. At the plate, one of the main concerns is his plate discipline and awareness of the strike zone, although that should develop with time. At only 21 years of age, time is certainly on his side going forward. Add his defensive potential to his offensive ability, and McMahon profiles as a future everyday Major Leaguer if all falls right. McMahon has a strong throwing arm, good range, and a decent glove at third base that has the potential to be a gold glove some day. Overall, McMahon is a prototypical third baseman by appearances and performance, and should stay there in the long term.
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