Colorado Rockies

 

 2006 Finish:  76-86, 4th in the NL West, 12 games back

Manager:  Clint Hurdle, 6th season, 5th full

Comings:  RHP LaTroy Hawkins, RHP Jason Hirsh, RHP Taylor Buchholz, CF Willy Tavares, RHP Rodrigo Lopez, OF John Mabry, RHP Danny Graves

Goings:  RHP Jason Jennings, RHP Chin-hui Tsao, RHP Jose Mesa

Offense:  3B Garrett Atkins and LF Matt Holliday both had monster years. Atkins had a line of .329/.409/.556 with 29 HRs and 120 RBIs while walking 79 times compared to 76 SOs.  Holliday’s line was .326/.387/.586 with 34 HRs and 114 RBIs.  RF Brad Hawpe had a good year hitting .293 with 22 HRs and 84 RBIs.  This trio has quietly become one of the best 3-4-5 in the NL.  1B Todd Helton may not put up the numbers he once did, but .302/.404/.476 is not bad.  SS Troy Tulowitzki got his first taste of big league action.  More on him below.  2B Jamey Carroll hit over .300 but will make way for former Met Kaz Matsui.  C Chris Ianetta will probably be the primary catcher.  He got his feet wet last year and is considered one of the top catching prospects in baseball.  SS Clint Barmes will probably take over in an utility role if he is not traded.  Tavares was brought in from Houston to man the spacious Coors centerfield as well as applying pressure on the bases.  The Rockies will also try and get more at bats for power prospect Jeff Baker who hit 5 HRs in only 18 games and an OPS of 1.204 last year. 

Rotation:  LHP Jeff Francis led the Rockies with 13 wins and is establishing himself as one of the top young lefthanders in the majors.  RHP Aaron Cook is a solid innings eater whose record does not reflect how good a pitcher he is.  RHP Jason Hirsh was brought in from Houston along with RHP Taylor Buchholz to compete for rotation spots.  More on Hirsh  below.  RHP Rodrigo Lopez and who has 147 career starts was brought in from Baltimore.  RHP Josh Fogg and RHP B.K. Kim were both brought back and both will have to fight to win a rotation spot.  It is rumored either one of them could be had.

Bullpen:  LHP Brian Fuentes is one of the most unconventional closers in baseball but he gets results as evidenced by his 30 save.  Hawkins was brought in to pitch the eighth.  LHP Jeremy Affeldt has always had good stuff but has yet to harness it.  RHP Danny Graves is coming to try and find his old stuff that made him a dominant closer at one time.  Of note is former Cardinal RHP Dave Veres who is trying to make a comeback.

Prospects:

Troy Tulowitzki-SS-Number 15 of the  Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects.  Made his big league debut 14 months after he was drafted.  Played at Long Beach State where he was Bobby Crosby’s successor.  Struggled in the early going in Colorado, but got better as the season went on, then was named the Top Prospect of the Arizona Fall League. 

Franklin Morales-LHP-Number 30 on e America’s Top 100 Prospects list.  Has been compared to C.C. Sabathia.  Considered the top pitching prospect in the California League last year.  A true power lefty, he has a 95 MPH fastball and a sharp breaking curveball.  Struck out 179 in 126 innings.  Stands 6’3″ but seems to still be growing.  Will start the year in Double A and could see action in Colorado before the end of the season. 

Jason Hirsh-RHP-Number 42 on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list.  Top Houston Astro prospect that was included in the deal for Jason Jennings.  Was pitcher of the year in 2005 for the Double A Texas league and 2006 in the Triple A Pacific Coast League where he went 13-2 with a 2.10 ERA.  Started 9 games for the Astros going 3-4 with an ERA over 6.  Stands 6’8″ but he is more of a control pitcher than a power one.  His fastball does sit at 91-93.  Should battle for a spot in the Rockies’ rotation.

Analysis:  The lineup is very good with some exciting young players.  Holliday/Atkins/Hawpe is an exciting young trio that the Rockies need to lock up long term.  Francis is continuing to get better and better.  The Rockies have one of the best farm systems in baseball that should continue to supply the big leauge team with affordable young talent.  I think that it is very realistic that the Rockies could finish above .500 this year and could possibly compete for the division title.

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