2019 Colorado Rockies Top 10 Chat
J.P. (Springfield, IL): Thanks for chatting, Tracy. At this point, what does Castellani project as to you, given his struggles in Hartford last year?
Tracy Ringolsby: He still has a strong prospect as a starter. Last year was a learning experinece for him. He found himself becoming a more traditional pitcher in terms of throwing more over the top. By the end of the Arizona Fall League he was back where he needed to be, dropping down with velocity. It's a rare combination but it works for him.
Frank (Indianapolis, IN): While you don't get a vote in the matter, how many of your top 10 do you think are worthy of making it into BA's top 100 prospects list?
Tracy Ringolsby: Frank, I am not as keyed in on other organizations. I leave that up to the BA staff that spends hours, days, weeks researching that. I will just say I think the Rockies have depth in terms of quality. The way they use the players at mutliple positions in the minors only improves opportunities of the position players moving up.
Sam (Washington, DC): Between RHPs Almonte, Feltner & Lawrence - who are you highest on and why?
Tracy Ringolsby: Feltner projects to be a solid big league starting pitcher. I see Almonte and Lawrence most likely in a relief role. Almonte has the arm to be a dominate, late-inning type. Lawrence is interesting, having worked on his submarine type approach with former Rockies reliever Steve Reed. He has shown an ability to maintain velocity. He has more of a right-handed specialist feel about him. Amonte could become a more versatile eight-inning type.
Eric (Denver, CO): What can you tell us about 1B Roberto Ramos?
Tracy Ringolsby: Ramos is forcing his way into legitimate prospect status. For those who down played his power at Lancaster, the fact he followed up in the second half of the season with a similar display at Double-A Hartford answered questions. His contact ratio is going to have to get better, however, at the next two stops. He was cut short in his winter league stint in Mexico when he broke a finger.
Grant Lavigne (Future Top 100?): Thanks for chatting with us today. Just how good can my bat be? Scouts raved about my advanced pitch recognition and patience this year. Is a FV 55-60 hit / 60+ power realistic?
Tracy Ringolsby: Lavigne caught many by surprise with the ease in which he made the transition into pro ball. He was only at rookie-level Grand Junction but his strikezone recognition and power as a high school player from Connecticut was off the charts. He drew more walks (45) than he had strikeouts (40). He has to continue to grow but he most likely will become the first position payer from New Hampshire to sign out of hgih school and make it to the big leagues. He also is a quality defensive player.
Dan (So Cal): Hey, thanks for the chat. Any under the radar guys you like coming to Lancaster I can keep an eye on.
Tracy Ringolsby: He is not under the radar but it wouldn't be a surprise to see Grant Lavigne open the season there, skipping Boise, and becoming one of the most-talked about players in the South Atlantic League. This should be a strong year for Asheville given the strength of the Rockies draft last June.
Colton Welker (AA): All I've done everywhere I've played since being drafted in 2016 is hit. There are some concerns about my swing not conducive to hitting for power and my home/road splits. However, as I fill out do scouts see a 60 hit / 55 power plus defensive 3rd baseman at maturity? If so, aren't those combination of tools (albeit it a slightly different mix) pretty comparable to Austin Riley and a potential top 50 prospect?
Tracy Ringolsby: Without the injury in 2018, Welker could have won the Cal League batting title. The power numbers aren't eye-popping but the ball does jump off the bat. It's a matter of fine tuning, and cutting down on strikeouts to provide more contact which would turn into more production. He, however, is high on the list of Rockies porspects.
Matt (Golden, CO): Thanks for chatting us with today. The Rockies seem to have a few clear cut tiers. Brendan Rodgers is in a tier of his own at #1 and then #2-#4 would be the 2nd tier. Is it fair that #2-#4 is probably closer than #1 to #2? Do scouts see Grant Lavigne joining that 2nd tier within the system in 2019?
Tracy Ringolsby: Scouts see Lavigne as Tier 1. Let's see, hits for average, hits for power, make contact, solid around the bag.
Alex (Bay Arae): Even with Colton Welker's still developing power and somewhat extreme home/road splits, he has proven to be a plus hitter which I would argue is the best starting point for a young hitter. Do scouts see some untapped future power in hit bat eventually to at least have a 55 grade (20-25 HRs)? With his elite hitting ability and above-average to plus defense at 3rd, if the power shows up more consistently in 2019 should we expect him to really jump up the top 100?
Tracy Ringolsby: I am not involved in the Top 100 and I wouldn't speculate. I will, however, say he is on track to have solid power. As it is he hits for average and run productions despite striking out nealry one out of four at-bats. As he refines his strikezone discipline the production will only grow.
Ken (Lakewood CA): Fair to say that Welker's future depends a whole lot on whether or not Arenado resigns with the Rockies?
Tracy Ringolsby: No. Welker's future depends on how Welker performs. He is a quality third base candidate, and a good enough athlete he could move to first base or outfield spot if necessary at the big-league level. That is a big factor in the Rockies playing minor league players at multiple positions so they have more options for reaching the big leagues.
Nick (NJ): How does Garrett Hampson fit into the Rockies plans for 2019? Do you think he'll make the team out of spring training? Is he going to wind up as a back up to Ryan McMahon (and eventually Brendon Rodgers) at 2b or will they move him to the OF? Thank you.
Tracy Ringolsby: I wouldn't be surprise of Hampson winds up the second baseman, and at least a platoon with Ryan McMahon. His athletic ability and quickness could have him eventually in a super-sub role. He has spent time at shortstop and in center field. He could play left field, too, paritcularly with his speed at Coors Field.
Raul (Tucson, Az.): Tracy, thanks for the chat. What are you hearing about right-hander Ryan Feltner? Is he as good as his numbers at Grand Junction or getting by on guile for now?
Tracy Ringolsby: He was impressive enough at Grand Junction that instead of the original plan of a relief role, the Rockies figure to give him an extended look as a starter. He has the three-pitch potential, although the breaking ball needs refinement, and figures to add velocity. The Rockies, by design, are careful in the work load for pitchers out of the draft in light of normally heavy work loads in the spring before they are drafted.
Clayton (Galveston): Hey Tracy! Is Daniel Murphy a fair comp for Brendan Rodgers? Or who would be a good comp for him? Thanks! Oh and I love your hat!!!
Tracy Ringolsby: Rodgers is more of a a natural middle infielder. The plan would be to keep him in the middle of the infield, and if not at third base. In his time in pro ball he reinforced the idea he can play shortstop, although the Rockies are fairly solid that position at this point with Trevor Story. The versatility just adds to his options to make the jump to the big leagues.
Angie (Denver): What kind of ceiling/floor does Garrett Hampson have?
Tracy Ringolsby: Long-term, he has the speed and versatility to be one of that new breed of super-subs, capable of getting extensive player time because of his ability to play mutliple positions. He brings speed to a lineup.
Wes (Wautoma, Wisconsin): Garrett Hampson gives me a vibe a being a Trea Turner kind of player. Hampsons minor league average, OBP and slugging percentage are almost equal, but actually slightly better, than what Turners were in the minor leagues. Am I off base to think Hampson could have Trea Turners MLB upside?
Tracy Ringolsby: Offensively, I see Hampson as an upgrade, but I don't think the arm strength is there in terms of an every day third base. He, however, has the aptitude to get his playing time at a variety of positions, and being an invaluable part of a roster.
Moe (Chicago): Was Wes Rogers considered for the Top 10? Is he still a Top-30 prospect?
Tracy Ringolsby: This will be a big winter for Wes. The Rockies love his makeup and phsyical talents. He, however, had a challenge in 2018. That makes 2019 a big year for him to rebound. He has the focus and mental approach to be capable of that. As the late Hal Keller used to say, "You never know how good a player is until you see him struggle." Translation, the bottom line is the ability to bounce back. The game is, afterall, built on dealing with failure. Success? Getting a hitting in 3 out of 10 at-bats.
Clayton (Galveston): Tracy we LOVED you during your days at the Rocky Mountain News! (I've since relocated from Aurora.) You'll always be a favorite, my friend! Anyway, how is Mike Nikorak doing? Is he still a prospect? Thanks so much!
Tracy Ringolsby: Clayton, thanks for the kind words. Mikorak is definitely still on the radar. It took 16 months but he fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, and in a brief time at short-season At Boise at the end of last season, he rekindled expectations of what he can do with his three-pitch mix, including a solid mid-90s fastball.
Jack (North Shore): Where does Robert Tyler profile? As a rotation guy or bullpen or closer?
Tracy Ringolsby: With a quality two-pitchmix of a fastball that hits 101, and a changeup the future is in late innings. He's not afriad to challenge hitters with a strike.
Michael (Scranton): With the Rockies logjam of 1B/3B types, would it make sense to trade one or two of them for more help in weaker areas?
Tracy Ringolsby: It is something the Rockies have and will consider. It just depends on who is coming and who is going. As the old saying goes, anybody is avaialable in the right deal.
Jimmy (Key West): Thanks for that chat! If Nolan doesn't resign, which internal candidate is the most ready to take over 3B in 2020? Also, do you think the Rox will get Nolan resigned or will he test the FA market?
Tracy Ringolsby: If Nolan doesn't return in 2020 the door is wide open for top prospect Brendan Rodgers.
The guessing game on Nolan isn't easy. I do think he would like to stay. A lot could depend on pressures from outside. The Rockies showed an ability to be creative with Charlie Blackmon so it will be interesting. I don't see any reason for the Rockies to react to the uncertainty until late July. That way the Rockies will know if they are a serious contender and decide to keep him even if free agency is looming, or they could get a high return from a team feeling Nolan is a difference maker. As opposed to some who were dealt at the deadline a year ago, Nolan brings a very good persona with him.
Lou (Littleton): What can we reasonably expect from Brendan Rodgers? Is .280-20HRs-10SB and solid defense realistic? And do you think Brendan will make the team out of Spring Training? Or does the Murphy signing allow the Rockies to be a little more patient with Rodgers?
Tracy Ringolsby: I don't think there was a plan to keep Rodgers even before Murphy signed, although he could force a reconsideration. Given the presence of Hampson and McMahon, I think the Rockies plan has been to give Rodgers some time at Triple A before forcing the issue.
William (Denver): Hey Tracy! Thanks for doing chat. On Ryan Vilade - heard rumblings - even after his strong 2nd half - that his body was "bad" and scouts doubted whether he could succeed at higher levels. Are those valid concerns?
Tracy Ringolsby: The Rockies have been pleasantly surprised by how well he has paid shortstop and the talk of having to move him to first or third is on hold, at least for now. The difference between a good scout and a bad scout? Bad scouts also beat down prospects because they will be right more often than wrong. Good scouts see potential areas of growth and encourage working with young players to get getter.
Norm Chouinard (Connecticut): Hi Tracy, Always a pleasure to read your comments here. Would appreciate an update on a college guy who pitched in the PIO - Ryan Feltner. Will he make the book? Does he have much projection left?
Tracy Ringolsby: The Rockies actually feel he showed enough in short-season that they are thinking he could be a starting pitcher if he refines a breaking pitcher. The initial thought was a bullpen role.
Neal (Columbia, SC): Vilade is one of the nicest players I have met during all my years attending minor league games. Watched him struggle at the start of the year to putting every single ball in play by the end. Is his ceiling a DJ LeMahieu?
Tracy Ringolsby: I don't know if he will be off the charts defensively, like LeMahieu, but he will have more power/run proeuction and be a quality overall player.
Alex (SF): Colton Welker is on the brink of the top 100. If his power starts to show up more and his home/road splits become less extreme, can you see Welker vaulting himself not only into the top 100 but the top 50? He seems to already have a 60 hit / 50 power mix. If that power starts to tick into the 55 range with his 55 defense, that sounds like a pretty complete 3rd baseman.
Tracy Ringolsby: I'm not real good on discussing top 100 or top 50 because I haven't been involved in that for years, but the power is there. He is, as they say, "hitterish." He has a very good idea of what he is going at the plate, and as he gets to higher levels I see him being a better hitter. Why? Because pitchers have more of a plan and throw more strikes so for a quality hitter they become more predictable. Did you know that George Brett never hit .300 in the minor leagues?
Alex (Bay Area): Colton Welker continued to show his plus hit tool in 2018 but still have not developed the power expected from a elite 3rd base prospect. What were scouts saying about Welker after his 2018 season? Are they confident that his power will eventually come since he's such a good hitter? Would a future .300/.370/.480 triple slash seem reasonable?
Tracy Ringolsby: He has the swing and strength that home runs will come. Keep tabs on the extra base hits, more than the home runs.
Grant Lavigne (LoA): After being drafted as the highest HS draftee out of New Hampshire in 2018, I hit the ground running. How do I compare vs. fellow draft power hitters Nolan Gorman and Triston Casas? Are scouts universally sold that I'm not only going to hit for power but also end up with a 55-60 hit tool?
Tracy Ringolsby: There's no question about Lavigne's hitting ability. The young man hit for power in his first pro expeirence and walked more than struck out. He is extremely agile for his size.
Alex (Bay Area): Was Grant Lavigne overlooked in the draft due to the fact he played in a cold weather state? His bat seemed to be even more advanced than scouts had previously thought when he tore through the Pioneer League. Would you be surprised if Lavigne was the #1 prospect in the system in 2020 once Rodgers and Hampton graduate in 2019?
Tracy Ringolsby: Scouts know the safe way is to down play New England hitters because of limited exposure and limited quality opposition. Give credit to Mike Garlatti. He went to bad for Lavigne early and hard, and it paid off for the Rockies.
Matt (CO): Tracy, the Rockies have had a couple of big international classes recently. Who are the players who have yet to come stateside that you anticipate climbing these rankings?
Tracy Ringolsby: I am hesitant to react to evaluations on the Dominican Summer League. It is a good experience for the young players, and gives them a chance to mature a little more. However, over time, it has become apparent that the key to success on the field is so tied to adapting off the field, and until you see how a young man deals with that challenge it isn't wise to make judgments.
Tyler (Connecticut): Someone who was in the Top Ten not too long ago was Dom Nunez, who has struggled in back to back years at Hartford, do you still see any tools that make him jump out as a Top 30 Prospect or anyway he can adjust to at least be a big league back-up?
Tracy Ringolsby: Dom is a quality receiver, but has to show some offensive ability to get back into the picture.
Bryan (Illinois): Which of the Colorado catching prospects have the best chance of contributing at the major league level?
Tracy Ringolsby: Let's just say the catching situation is a concern in Colorado, but then it is most places. Face it, when Yaider Molina, who is on the downward side of his career, remains at the top of the list of MLB catchers it underscores the trouble teams have had developing players at that position.
Tyler (Connecticut): Everyone talks about the tremendous middle infield depth the Rockies have but at the upper levels of the minors there’s a lot at first base too when it comes to Top 30 Prospects. Where do you see Roberto Ramos, Brian Mundell, and Tyler Nevin starting this year, and with the Daniel Murphy signing along with having Ian Desmond does Ryan McMahon start in the majors?
Tracy Ringolsby: McMahon will be int he mix at second base. Desmond will be in center field or left field. As for the three prospects, Nevin is the one with the biggest upside. He figures to make the move to Double-A, at least, with the others filling in around him. He had an eye-opening Arizona Fall League, underscoring the potential Rockies scout saw. It was a matter of staying in the lineup.
oneforthree (SF): What do you make of Ryan Feltner's debut? Even as a college pitcher in the Pioneer League, his stat line looks impressive - particularly the sudden lack of walks. Has something clicked, or is there more to the story?
Tracy Ringolsby: There was nothing to dislike about his pro debut. It will be interesting to watch as his workload expands. The Rockies are going to give him a long look as a starter.
Lamar (Texas): Any thoughts on Tommy Doyle moving on up the ranks? Like him at UVA but haven’t seen any news lately
Tracy Ringolsby: Doyle was a bright spot at Low-A Ashville last year. Ignoring the hitter-friendly enviornment, he was a factor as the Tourists' closer. He has the fastball and imposing size to move up the ladder.
Bob (CO): The Welker writeup is quite bullish. His HR total for the Cal was nothing special. What makes you think he can be a middle of the order, impact bat?
Tracy Ringolsby: He has the bat speed. He's a high school draft, making the moves up the ladder. He is hitting for average and has strength. I see him as one of those many players who gets better each step of the way. Nolan Areando's highest home run total in the minor leagues? 20. In 1,695 minor league at-bats he hit 49 home runs.
Brodie (Orange County): What is the outlook on David Hill? Is he healthy? I know he came back from Thoracic Outlet Surgery. What is the outlook moving forward? Is he still a Prospect? A future Big Leaguer?
Tracy Ringolsby: He remain a prospect. This will be a season for him to get back on the mound and re-establish where he belongs in the pecking order.
oneforthree (SF): What's the ceiling for Rico Garcia?
Tracy Ringolsby: Let's say he has exceeded his ceiling -- and that is a compliment. Garcia has pitched his way into serious prospect status. Face it, he was a 30th round draft. Those guys are usually signed to fill out rosters. To Rico's credit he didn't accept that idea. He had an opportunity and has taken advantrage of it. Let's say, the way he has performed, there is no ceiling.
Spencer (Hartford, CT): The Rockies have to be pleased with the first-year returns on Grant Lavigne from the 2018 MLB draft. His performance seems encouraging, especially as it relates to the hit tool and strike zone awareness which resulted in him having very little swing and miss, and more than walks than Ks, which is extremely rare in minor league baseball. What did they see that others didn't? Given his young age, will they take a methodical approach with him?
Tracy Ringolsby: They aren't going to push Lavigne, but will move him along as he shows he is ready. Give Rockies area scout Mike Garlatti credit. He didn't shy away from pushing hard for Lavigne, ignoring the history of high school players out of Connecticut, knowing that the pool was not deep. He got to know the player and the coach, watching him play against some better competition and suceed and never backed down. And give scouting director Bill Schmidt credit for trusting the evaluation of his scouts. It was a good job of evaluating the talent of a player and not being afraid to speak up for what was seen.
Will (Ithaca-NY): Is Breiling Eusebio still projected as a starter, even after TJ surgery? He had a lot of hype coming into the year.
Tracy Ringolsby: Right now the focus is getting him on a mound int he spring, and hopeing he is ready by the end of April to join a full-season A team. There's no reason to eliminate him from consideration as a starter. How he pitches when he returns to competition will determine that. He will be on a limited workload initially, giving him a chance to build up arm strength.
Sammy (Denver): Who has more offensive upside, and who is more likely to reach it? Nevin or Vilade?
Tracy Ringolsby: Nevin is going to be a big time player. Very athletic, smooth swing, very focused. He is built tall and lean. If you look at him you realize the mother's genes overpowered father Phil (TIC).
Danny (Colo Springs): Does Pint still have believable no 1 upside? Is it time to quit on him or is there still a stud in there?
Tracy Ringolsby: This is really the make or break year. The physical talent remains, but the injuries have limited the development. He needs to get on the mound and pitch. The arm strength and velocity are for real. The command has to come. But the wait is worth it.
Bobby (Arizona): Thoughts on Tom Murphy and Dom Nunez?
Tracy Ringolsby: The hope was one or both would be ready without question by now, but it hasn't happened. Nunez has never had the hitting tools of Murphy so Murphy has had the edge. Will be interesting to watch Murphy in the spring and see how he responds to the adversity of last year.