7/27/2014 9:00 P.M. ET
Gray, Butler remain atop Rockies' updated Top 20 list
Five Colorado prospects also make overall Top 100 Prospects at midseason revamp
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
With the passing of the Draft signing deadline, teams have had a recent influx of talent into their farm systems, and with that, we've updated the Top 20 Prospects lists of all 30 teams.
To be on a list, a player must have rookie eligibility. To qualify for rookie status, a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the 25-player limit period, excluding time on the disabled list or in military service.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average.
Check out all 30 team Top 20 lists and the Top 100 on Prospect Watch.
1. Jonathan Gray, RHP
Preseason rank: 1
MLB Top 100 rank: 15 (Preseason: 14)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 80 | Slider: 70 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 55 | Overall: 65
Gray didn't enter the spring of 2013 with much fanfare, and his teammate Dillon Overton was considered to be Oklahoma's best Draft-eligible pitcher. That quickly changed as Gray's fastball was regularly clocked up to 100 mph, propelling him into the conversation for the top overall pick, before settling at No. 3 overall with the Rockies.
Gray has excellent size for a right-hander, and he uses it to generate easy velocity. He throws his fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s. Gray's slider is his best offspeed pitch and he also throws a solid changeup. He displayed impressive command in his professional debut, and he pitches well off his fastball.
It didn't take long for Gray to reach Class A Advanced Modesto after signing, then he went right to Double-A for his full-season debut. He has the stuff to become a front-line starter.
2. Eddie Butler, RHP
Preseason rank: 2
MLB Top 100 rank: 30 (Preseason: 41)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 75 | Curveball: 55 | Slider: 65 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 60
Butler came on strong in the second half of his junior year at Radford, and he continued to pitch well at Rookie-level Grand Junction after signing. That run continued in 2013, as he appeared in the Futures Game and compiled a 1.80 ERA (the second-best mark in the Minor Leagues) at three levels.
Butler throws his fastball in the mid-90s, and he can reach 99 mph. His wipeout slider is his best offspeed pitch, and his changeup and curveball give him a chance for four average-or-better offerings. Butler has had command problems in the past, but his walk rate improved throughout 2013. His loose easy delivery should make it possible for him to pound the zone at a high rate.
Before the Draft, some scouts thought Butler might be a better fit in the bullpen. Those concerns have been quieted and he now has the look of a potential front-line starter.
3. David Dahl, OF
Preseason rank: 3
MLB Top 100 rank: 44 (Preseason: 71)
Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 60 | Run: 60 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60 | Overall: 55
Dahl made a splash in his professional debut, winning the Pioneer League MVP Award in 2012, but he was unable to build on that success in '13. Dahl played on Opening Day in Class A Asheville, but he was then sent back to extended spring camp for disciplinary reasons. He returned to Asheville three weeks later, only to tear his right hamstring, ending his season in early May.
Dahl is a pure hitter with an innate feel for putting the bat on the ball. He has some pop in his bat already and he could develop above-average power as he physically matures.
Before the injury, Dahl had above-average speed, and he used it well offensively and defensively. He covers ground well in the outfield and he has a strong arm. Dahl appears to have recovered from what was essentially a lost year for him, and he is getting back on track this season.
4. Kyle Freeland, LHP
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
MLB Top 100 rank: 75 (Preseason: 2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Slider: 60 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 60 | Overall: 55
A big Cape Cod League performance for Freeland led to a huge junior year at Evansville, allowing the Colorado native to go to his hometown Rockies at No. 8 overall.
Batters react to Freeland's fastball as if he's throwing harder than 90-93 mph, because he has some deception in his delivery and the pitch has heavy life. He can reach 95-96 mph. Freeland throws a true slider in the low 80s, and he can turn it into more of a mid-80s cutter at times. He'll also display an average changeup at times, getting good sink on it.
Freeland throws from a lower arm angle and features more effort in his delivery than scouts like to see in a starter. But he should be able to work out of a rotation in pro ball, because he has two swing-and-miss pitches and he throws strikes.
5. Raimel Tapia, OF
Preseason rank: 9
MLB Top 100 rank: 96 (Preseason: NA)
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 55 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
When a Dominican teenager comes and makes his United States debut, the organization hopes he can just adjust and hold his own. Tapia went out and won the Pioneer League batting title while ripping off a 29-game hitting streak.
With an easy left-handed swing, Tapia has a knack for making consistent solid contact. He doesn't strike out much, nor does he draw many walks. There's more power to come as Tapia continues to mature. He's played all over the outfield and he has the speed to stay in center field for now. Should Tapia outgrow the position, he has more than enough arm to play right field, and he could profile well there when all is said and done.
Tapia will play all of the 2014 season at age 20, giving full-season ball a try for the first time.
6. Rosell Herrera, SS
Preseason rank: 4
MLB Top 100 rank: NA (Preseason: 99)
Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
After struggling so much at Class A Asheville that he was demoted to Short-Season Tri-City in 2012, Herrera returned to the South Atlantic League in '13. All he did the second time around was win the MVP Award and the batting title with a .343 average.
An improved swing was crucial to Herrera's turnaround. With his mechanics smoother than before, he has begun driving the ball more and tapping into his raw power. Herrera is a switch-hitter and hits for average well from both sides, but his power mostly comes as a left-hander.
Herrera has also improved defensively. Still, most scouts believe he will eventually outgrow shortstop. Herrera has played some third base already, and he could also fit at second base if he does in fact have to change positions.
7. Ryan McMahon, 3B
Preseason rank: 5
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
A former high school quarterback at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., a program known as QB High, McMahon chose to focus on baseball as a senior, and he parlayed that into becoming a second-round pick in the 2013 Draft.
McMahon's tremendous debut in the Pioneer League and solid turn in his first full season has Colorado excited, and for good reason. McMahon has the chance to develop into something all teams covet: a left-handed-hitting third baseman. He has good bat speed and a smooth swing, which, along with a solid approach at the plate, should allow him to hit for average. The power showed up immediately in McMahon's debut and it should continue to develop as he matures. He has good hands and an above-average arm, with the skills necessary to stick at the hot corner.
The former QB is a natural leader on the field, and that should serve McMahon well as he moves up the Rockies' Minor League ladder.
8. Kyle Parker, OF/1B
Preseason rank: 6
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 60 | Run: 40 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
A two-sport star at Clemson, Parker became the first player in NCAA history to throw for 20 touchdowns and hit 20 home runs in the same school year. He has steadily risen through the Minor Leagues since giving up football, and Parker has hit at least 21 home runs in each of his first three professional seasons.
Parker has the strength and the bat speed to generate plus power. He is at his best when he utilizes an up-the-middle approach, and he should be able to hit for a decent average.
Parker began his career as a corner outfielder, but Colorado has increasingly used him as a first baseman. While the Rockies brought in Justin Morneau to replace Todd Helton, Parker could be the team's long-term answer at first base.
9. Forrest Wall, SS/2B
Preseason rank: None (CBA)
Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 45 | Run: 70 | Arm: 35 | Field: 45 | Overall: 50
One of the best high school hitters in the 2014 Draft class, Colorado felt fortunate Wall was still there for it to take in the Competitive Balance Round A at No. 35 overall.
Two distinct shoulder injuries concerned some scouts, as Wall separated his left shoulder in March, forcing him to miss a few games. But an injury to his right shoulder that required labrum surgery in 2011 is more troubling. He's been limited to second base as a result. Wall's bat is good enough to make up for the concerns about his arm. He has a quick left-handed swing and he makes consistent line-drive contact. Wall has a surprising amount of power for his size, and he outhomered Jose Bautista in the first round of a charity home run derby in February. He has outstanding speed, making him a basestealing threat as well.
Wall may be an offensive-minded second baseman in the future, but one who can impact the game with his tools in a number of ways.
10.Tom Murphy, C
Preseason rank: 7
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 30 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
Joe Hesketh may be the most successful big leaguer to come out of the University of Buffalo, having pitched for parts of 11 seasons. Murphy has the chance to surpass his fellow alum's accomplishments.
Murphy has the skills to be an everyday catcher at the highest level. He doesn't have a bad approach at the plate, though whether he can continue to hit for average remains to be seen. Murphy does have plenty of power, though, enough to keep hitting balls out of ballparks. Behind the plate, he has a strong arm and moves well, giving him the chance to a solid all-around backstop.
The Rockies double-jumped Murphy to Double-A near the end of the 2013 season, putting him on a fast track to Coors Field, where Colorado hopes he can eventually settle in as the team's starting catcher.
11. Trevor Story, SS
Preseason rank: 10
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 40 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
Story's first two full seasons of pro ball were vastly different, with a strong first season resulting in a championship and a second year that saw the infielder deal with extended adversity for the first time. He earned a promotion in 2014, showing he can learn from failure.
Story has good bat speed and some extra-base pop, but he became way too aggressive in 2013, leading to a very high strikeout rate. He runs well and is a threat on the basepaths. Story has played more shortstop than anything else, though he has seen time at third. Some feel his defensive skill set would fit better at the hot corner. Story gets very high marks for his leadership skills and plus makeup, even during his struggles.
Whether Story is an everyday player on the left side of the infield or a solid super-utility type remains to be seen, though he's back heading in the right direction.
12.Tyler Anderson, LHP
Preseason rank: 11
Scouting grades: Fastball: 50 | Curveball: 45 | Slider: 45 | Changeup: 60 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
A former first-round pick taken as an advanced college lefty who could move quickly, Anderson has been slowed by injuries, but he still has the pitchability to reach a big league rotation.
Recovered from a stress fracture in his elbow, Anderson should be ready for a full season of innings. When healthy, he attacks hitters with four pitches which he can throw for strikes. Anderson's fastball is average, but he can throw it to both sides of the plate. He has a plus changeup that has a ton of fade and sink to it. Anderson will throw two breaking balls, with his cutter-like slider a touch better than the curve. All of it comes from a funky delivery which causes deception, making it tougher for hitters to pick up the ball.
Anderson may profile as a back-of-the-rotation starter, but if he can stay healthy, he could reach that ceiling fairly quickly.
13. Cristhian Adames, SS
Preseason rank: 15
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 30 | Run: 40 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
There is little question that Adames can handle the defensive rigors of playing shortstop at the highest level. How far his bat comes will determine whether he could one day play there regularly.
Moving steadily through Colorado's Minor League system, Adames has always shown easy, fluid options at short, with good-enough range, hands and plenty of arm to stay there. The questions surrounding him are about his bat. A switch-hitter who's a bit better from the right side, Adames has always been adept at putting the ball in play, and has shown decent strike-zone knowledge. With very limited power and below-average speed, he doesn't have that much of an offensive ceiling.
Adames had played shortstop and little else for much of his career. His path to the big leagues might be as a utility man who can play on both sides of the infield. Adames saw more time at second and third in 2014 as a result.
14. Emerson Jimenez SS
Preseason rank: 14
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 30 | Run: 60 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
Jimenez's exciting United States debut in 2013, followed by his ability to hold his own in the South Atlantic League in '14, has the organization excited about his potential to become an everyday shortstop -- even if it's way off in the future.
Signed in 2011, Jimenez performed very well in the Short-Season Pioneer League in '13. A left-handed-hitting shortstop, he has good bat speed at the plate, though added strength and a better knowledge of the strike zone will help his offensive game. Jimenez has excellent speed, which should help him on both sides of the ball. He has the range and the arm to stay at shortstop long-term.
Jimenez is not going to move Troy Tulowitzki off of shortstop anytime soon, and the Rockies will be sure not to rush him. Jimenez does give Colorado a middle infielder who will definitely stick at the premium position long-term.
15. Dom Nunez, C
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
Nunez mostly played shortstop in high school, but when he moved behind the plate in his senior year, he gave many teams, including the Rockies, an idea. Colorado let Nunez play the infield during his pro debut after signing an above-pick value bonus, then moved him behind the plate for the 2014 season.
Heading back to the Pioneer League, where he made his pro debut, has helped. Nunez has a quick left-handed swing with a solid approach at the plate. As he adds strength, he should also add some power down the line. Nunez runs OK for a catcher and is not a baseclogger. He's solid across the board defensively, though he has a ways to go to become a complete catcher.
The Rockies rave about Nunez's makeup and the natural leadership skills teams love to see in their regular backstops.
16. Sam Moll, LHP
Preseason rank: 12
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Moll was a starter at Memphis, but his power stuff and bulldog mentality made many feel he'd be better suited coming out of the bullpen.
Moll did a little bit of both during his pro debut. The southpaw's fastball plays up, hitting the mid-90s in shorter stints. Moll couples it with a nasty slurve-like breaking ball that he throws with a hard sharp break. Moll's changeup is behind the other two pitches, and he will need to improve it if he wants to continue starting. It was a small sample size, but he was much more effective in relief than he was as a starter last summer in the Northwest League.
Moll will also have to get healthy. Elbow issues made 2014 a washout, so he'll need to log some innings to truly get a sense of what his future role might be.
17. Scott Oberg, RHP
Preseason rank: 17
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 40 | Overall: 45
The University of Connecticut has built quite a nice baseball program, producing top prospects like George Springer, Matt Barnes and Mike Olt. If his first full season is any indication, Oberg, a former Tommy John surgery recipient, should join the list of Huskies who are big league bound.
Oberg was tied for second in the Minors with 33 saves in 2013, relying largely on his fastball-curveball combination. The right-handed reliever's fastball can touch the mid-90s, and his hard breaking ball is a hammer out pitch. He also has a changeup, giving hitters a third look. Oberg is very aggressive on the mound, with some effort in his delivery, and he will need to throw more strikes as he moves up the ladder.
With Oberg's stuff and mindset on the mound, if he can refine his command, he has the chance to continue closing at the highest level.
18. Rayan Gonzalez, RHP
Preseason rank: 16
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Cutter: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Sometimes power relief arms can be found in unlikely places. Colorado thinks it may have found one in the 21st round of the 2012 Draft by way of Bethune-Cookman University.
Armed with a hard sinking fastball that can touch the mid-90s, missing bats and inducing a ton of ground-ball outs, Gonzalez had a very successful first full season -- even seeing some time as a closer. He complements the fastball with a cutter/slider that has a ton of bite. Gonzalez's control improved in 2013 compared to his summer debut, and his bulldog mentality is very well suited for short-relief work.
Pitchers who throw hard and keep the ball down in the zone have the chance to succeed in Coors Field, and it might not take Gonzalez too long to get there, with the chance to close games if his fastball command improves.
19. Daniel Winkler, RHP
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Fastball: 45 | Slider: 45 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 55 | Overall: 45
Because of fringy stuff across the board, it's difficult to figure out this Central Florida product's profile, but Winkler simply continues to pitch too well to ignore.
While Winkler will never light up radar guns, he misses a lot of bats -- he led the Minors in strikeouts with 175 in 2013 -- thanks to a lower arm slot that causes deception when he delivers his average fastball. His breaking ball and changeup grade out about the same, but his ability to command all of his pitches well makes his modest stuff play up.
Because of the lack of wow stuff, Winkler will have to continue proving himself at every level, but he's cleared every hurdle so far.
20. Antonio Senzatela, RHP
Preseason rank: None
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60 | Curve: 45 | Splitter: 50 | Control: 45| Overall: 45
Signed out of Venezuela in 2011, Senzatela put himself on the prospect map when he made his United States debut mid-summer in 2013.
Now he's giving full-season ball a try, armed with a potential three-pitch mix and the potential to be a starting pitcher long-term. With a free and easy delivery, Senzatela sits in the low 90s with his sinking fastball that generates a ton of groundball outs. His best secondary pitch is his splitter, which he commands well, and he has a curveball that is improving.
Still very young -- age 19 for the entire 2014 season -- Senzatela is fairly physically mature. But he has tremendous upside that he'll try to reach as he continues to learn how to pitch in a professional rotation.