Colorado RockiesOur expert from ScoutPRO.com,Shawn Childs, helps you prepare for your big fantasy baseball draft.
Colorado Rockies Team Projection
After moving backwards for 3 straight seasons, the Rockies won 10 more games than 2012 last season. However, their offense scored the least amount of runs (706 - 10th in the majors) in franchise history for a full season, finishing 15th in the majors in HR's (159), 3rd in batting average (.270) and 9th in SB's (112). Their pitching staff continues to be one of the worst in baseball (4.44 ERA - 28th in the league), but they did a much better job of limiting HR's (136 - 24th). In addition, the Rockies pitchers finished 29th in the majors in K's (1064). In the offseason, 1B Todd Helton retired and P Roy Oswalt and P Rafael Betancourt became free agents. Colorado did sign 1B Justin Morneau, P LaTroy Hawkins, and P Boone Logan, and acquired P Brett Anderson, OF Drew Stubbs, OF Brandon Barnes, P Jordan Lyles, and P Franklin Morales in multiple trades during the offseason. Overall, Colorado should have a better offense, but their pitching staff will rank well below the league average. Furthermore, the Rockies bullpen lacks upside arms. Based on all of this, it looks like another long season for Colorado.
1. 2B Josh Rutledge
Rutledge is a good example of a young player with a short resume getting drafted at full value in 2013, but his lack of plate discipline led to him hitting his way out of the majors in late May (.242 with 5 HR's, 13 RBI's, and 5 SB's in 157 at bats). He played well at AAA (.371 with 4 HR's and 24 RBI's in 143 at bats), but he played even worse after he was recalled in June (.143 with 1 HR and 3 RBI's in 70 at bats). His failures led to a 2nd trip to the minors. Josh played well in September in limited at bats (.328), but his K rate (19.8%) was slightly below 2012. However, his walk rate (7.0%) did show some growth. Rutledge is a career .328 hitter in the minors with 26 HR's, 134 RBI's, and 32 SB's in 998 at bats. He doesn't have a great approach, but his K rate is low enough where his batting average should be an asset in Colorado. I expected him to emerge as the starting second baseman for the Rockies. While he has the most upside on the team at the position, his skill set isn't ideal to bat at the top of the lineup (although he may end up being the best option if he hits well). Possible 15/20 skill set with upside across the board.
2. 3B Nolan Arenado
Arenado was able to get valuable experience in the majors last season. Nolan hasn't played at as high of a level over the last 2 years as he showed during his breakout 2011 season at High A (.298 with 20 HR's and 122 RBI's in 517 at bats). He is a career .290 hitter in the minors with 49 HR's and 286 RBI's in 1,675 at bats. His K rate (14.1%) has been asset during his entire career (10.2%), but his walk rate (4.5%) was short with Colorado and wasn't much higher in the minors (6.8%). Arenado was a better player against LH pitching (.296 with a .486 SLG %), and only had 14 K's in 135 at bats against lefties. Overall, Nolan delivered less than replacement stats from the third base position in 2013, but he is a high upside player with a plus contact rate. Arenado has 20+ HR power, but may need another season to develop in the majors. His approach and lack of speed will keep him from hitting in the top part of the batting order, unless his batting average makes a huge step forward. Let's set the bar at .290 with 17 HR's and 75 RBI's. His RBI rate (16%) was above the league average in 2013, but he didn't have a high RBI total due to short chances. Colorado's lineup will have more depth this year, which gives him a better opportunity for success.
3. OF Carlos Gonzalez
Sometimes it's easy to forgot how good a player is in baseball if you don't own him in the fantasy market. Gonzalez put up monster stats for a player that really played 2/3 of the season. Carlos was on a pace for a 100+ runs, 35+ HR's, 100+ RBI, and 30+ SB season. However, his year was ruined by a right middle finger injury that limited him to only 37 at bats after the All Star break. Cargo had success against both RH (.297 with a .622 SLG %) and LH (.310 with a .535 SLG %) pitching. His one glaring negative was the huge jump in his K rate (27.1% - 19.4% in 2011 and 19.9% in 2013), although his walk rate (9.4%) has been just above the league average over the last 3 seasons. His HR/FB rate (23.9%) was a career high, and it has been in an elite area for the last 4 years. Gonzalez has a career high FB rate (40.5%). It looks like he made an effort to swing for the fences more (which led to higher K rate), but Carlos was able to maintain his .300 batting average. Surprisingly, he was a much better player on the road (.332 with 14 HR's in 193 at bats). In early January, Gonzalez had emergency surgery on his appendix. Cargo is expected to be 100% healthy by the start of the season. Solid 20/20 player with upside across the board, however, his batting average may have risk if Carlos doesn't fix the K issue.
4. SS Troy Tulowitzki
Another baseball season; another Tulowitzki injury. Troy is a great player and a clear edge at his position. Without a full season of at bats, he can't make the impact fantasy players need to win leagues. Last year, he suffered a broken rib in mid June, which cost him about a month of the season. Later in the year, Troy had a minor oblique issue. His K rate (16.6%) was slightly above his career average, while his walk rate (11.1%) was just off his career high. Tulowitzki was very good against both RH (.310 with a .560 SLG %) and LH (.318 with a .482 SLG %) pitchers, but he hit 21 of his 25 HR's against RH pitching. He had the 2nd highest HR/FB rate (18.1%) of his career. Over the last 4 seasons, Troy has missed 210 games. If he ever played a full season, he would be a huge edge at his position. He has high upside in batting average with a 30/100 skill set. Without the injury risk, he would be a top 5 selection in 2014. It's tough to ignore his talent as he could pop for a career year at any time.
5. 1B Justin Morneau
Morneau hasn't been an impact player since his 2010 season. His K rate (17.3%) has been above his career average in 3 of the last 4 seasons, while his walk rate (7.9%) has been much shorter since his concussion issue. From 2004 to 2009, Justin was an elite run producer (19.7% RBI rate). Over the past 4 years, he has only been about the league average (15%). Furthermore, his success against LH pitching (.206) has taken a huge hit over the last 3 years. Last year, Morneau found his power stroke in August (9 HR's with 21 RBI's), but he was not productive after his trade to the Pirates in September (no HR's and 3 RBI's in 77 at bats). His approach at the plate did show growth with Pittsburgh (14.1% walk rate and 13.0% K rate). Overall, the move to Colorado could be intriguing for Morneau. His skill set has been on the decline after his head injury, but this is the first time in many years where he has a nice supporting cast around him. His FB rate (40.3%) is high enough where 30 HR's could be within reach this season. My gut tells me he is going to have a solid.300, 30/100 season, but his recent lack of success against lefties makes me believe the bar should be lowered a notch or two. His price point should be more than fair, and he could play poorly and still deliver a 20/80 season.
6. OF Michael Cuddyer
Cuddyer set a career high in batting average (.331) in 2013 that led to the NL batting title. Just like Gonzalez and Tulowitzki, Michael missed 30+ games of the season. In early May, he had a bulging disk in his neck, which cost him a 2 weeks on the DL. Late in the year, he had a wrist forearm injury that he was able to play with. His K rate (18.5%) and his walk rate (8.5%) were both below his career averages, however, Cuddyer crushed RH pitching (.350 with .555 SLG %). He played well at home (.356 with 11 HR's and 45 RBI's in 225 at bats) and on the road (.311 with 9 HR's and 39 RBI's in 264 at bats). Michael has had a strong HR/FB rate (16.9%) during his 2 seasons with the Rockies, but he had a high GB rate (49.7%) and a low FB rate (30.1%). Overall, Cuddyer is on the downside of his career. He is playing in a great ballpark and maybe he is this generation's version of Dante Bichette. His batting average isn't repeatable, but it should still be an asset. Michael has 20+ HR power, but the HR upside is limited due to his low FB rate. The Rockies lineup has enough talent to score a lot of runs if everyone stays healthy. Possible .290 with 25 HR's and 90 RBI's.
7. C Wilin Rosario
Rosario has had back to back 20 HR season with 70+ RBI's. His K rate (23.4%) doesn't support his batting average (.292) and his walk rate (3.2%) flat lined last year. He also missed the last 2 weeks of the season with a calf injury. Wilin was a plus hitter against LH pitching (.323 with a .546 SLG %), and his K rate (17.4%) was an asset against lefties. He also hit well against RH pitching (.279), but he had a higher K rate (25.9%). Rosario came out of the box on fire (.350 with 7 HR's and 19 RBI's in April) and played real well in June, July, and August (.317 with 11 HR's and 44 RBI's). Over his last 144 at bats, Wilin didn't take a walk. His HR/FB rate (17.1%) was a career low, but it has been elite during every season in the majors. Rosario had success against sinkers (.391 - .652 SLG %), sliders (.284 - .549 SLG %), and cutters (.406 - .688 SLG %). Wilin would have the least amount of value against a pitcher with a plus changeup (.188 - .250 SLG %). He has plus power with 30+ HR upside, but his free swinging style will invite batting average risk. His batting average last year was about the same at home (.293) as it was on the road (.290).
8. OF Charlie Blackmon
Blackmon finally had a chance at regular at bats in August and September (.332 with 5 HR's, 18 RBI's, and 4 SB's in 184 at bats), and had success against both RH (.314) and LH (.296) pitching. His K rate (19.0%) was higher than his minor league career (13.1%). Additionally, Charlie had one of the lowest walk rates (2.7%) in the game (8.0% walk rate in the minors). He is a career .309 hitter in the minors with 39 HR's, 283 RBI's, and 94 SB's in 1,964 at bats. His success in batting average in 2013 was driven by a high LD rate (27.2%). Blackmon will compete with Drew Stubbs and Corey Dickerson for playing time in left field. While he has enough talent to add value to the Rockies lineup and possibly bat leadoff, his skill set may not be strong enough to be an everyday player without an injury. He has 10/30 upside with a full time job. If he doesn't gain a starting job, Charlie will be a high value replacement if the Rockies have an injury in the outfield.
9. OF Corey Dickerson
Dickerson has an upside bat. He is a career .321 hitter in the minors with 78 HR's, 279 RBI's, and 43 SB's in 1,480 at bats. His K rate (19.3%) and walk rate (7.5%) should come in about major league average. Corey struggled in his limited at bats with the Rockies against LH pitching (.194 - .306 SLG %). Last year, he had a huge infield FB rate (25.0% - too much swinging for the fences). Dickerson isn't a great outfielder and has below average speed. His power gives him the edge in left, but he won't see full time at bats until he proves he can handle lefties in the majors. He has high upside in power with a strong enough approach to deliver a positive batting average.
10. OF Drew Stubbs
Stubbs is trying his best to hit his way out of the league. His K rate (29.3%) remains his biggest downfall, but his walk rate (9.2%) is above the league average. Drew has only hit .199 over the last 2 years against RH pitching with a huge K rate (30.5%). His lack of success making contact led to Stubbs losing playing time over the 2nd half of 2013. While his power is somewhat limited due to his high GB rate (46.5%), Drew has the best chance to get playing time against LH pitching. Overall, he will add depth to the outfield and speed off the bench. Stubbs has upside if he could have his K rate moving in the right direction, but he'll never lose his batting average risk. Possible 20/30 player with 550 at bats, but his value is trending toward a less than 400 at bat season.
11. C Jordan Pacheco
He will be the backup catcher this season and adds some flexibility to the roster. He is a career .285 hitter with short power and some speed.
12. MI D.J. LeMahieu
The Rockies gave him the majority of at bats at second base last year after Rutledge was sent back to the minors. He hit .280 with 2 HR's, 28 RBI's, and 18 SB's in 404 at bats. His walk rate (4.4%) is extremely low, while his K rate (15.4%) was a career high. D.J. hit .321 during his minor league career with no power and mid teens speed. His skill set will work better as a bench player in 2014.
13. 3B Ryan Wheeler
He will compete for a backup corner infielder role this year. Wheeler is a career .311 hitter in the minors with 61 HR's, 376 RBI's, and 20 SB's in 2,075 at bats.
14. OF Brandon Barnes
He has a slim chance of making the Rockies if everyone stays healthy. Barnes was able to get 408 at bats with the Astros in 2013 (.240 with 8 HR's, 41 RBI's, and 11 SB's), but his high K rate (28.5%) and low walk rate (4.7%) give him no chance of ever earning a starting job in the majors.