Vilade, Vavra emerging in Rockies ranks
Each offseason, MiLB.com goes position by position across each system and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in their organization. Click here to locate your favorite club.The 2019 season wasn't an easy one for the Rockies franchise, which won just 71
Each offseason, MiLB.com goes position by position across each system and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in their organization. Click here to locate your favorite club.
The 2019 season wasn't an easy one for the Rockies franchise, which won just 71 games at the big league level coming off back-to-back playoff appearances and had only one of its six stateside affiliates (Rookie-level Grand Junction) make the postseason. A torn labrum ended the year of top Colorado prospect
The Rockies, an organization that relies on homegrown talent, have already made some changes in the Minor League picture for 2020 as they reckon with an unexpected downturn in Denver. Some promising pieces are in the mix as they search for the elusive formula to be consistently competitive in the National League West.
Rockies Organization All-Stars
First baseman --
"He's just gotten impressively good," Schaeffer said. "The kid hits. You see what he did in the Cal League. I mean, that's a hitter-friendly place, but still. He put up exceptional numbers."
Castro scuffled some in Double-A, but started to figure things out late, hitting .273/.444/.485 over his last 12 games with Hartford before returning to Lancaster to help the JetHawks' playoff push.
"He came up to Double-A, and he played solid defense and made good adjustments defensively," Schaeffer said. "He did struggle a little bit. Pitchers pounded him in nonstop, and he had a tough time making an adjustment to that. But at the end of his tenure there, he started making the adjustment, hit a couple homers. He takes every at-bat seriously. That's one thing about Luis that really stands out. When he steps in that box, he's not ever taking an at-bat off."
Second baseman --
"He's a good player," Asheville manager Robinson Cancel said. "He's not far away from the big leagues. ... He can hit. He's pretty smart. He does everything, pretty much. We know there are some things he needs to work on, but along the way, he's going to get better at it. I believe he's going to be a good player in the big leagues."
Third baseman --
"I'll tell you what, he's a grinder," Cancel said. "He competes. He's a good player. He'll work to do good all the time. He'll work hard, and he'll work on what he needs to get better at. If he needs to get something fixed, he'll work at it until he gets it fixed. He's a steady player, smart baserunner, he's got some pop. I think he led the league in OPS. [He did, at .937.] He's going to be an interesting guy next spring."
MiLB.com Organization All-Stars: Team by Team
"He's a baseball rat," Class A Advanced Lancaster manager Scott Little said. "He is a competitor. He's got a lot of energy. He works hard. He wants to play every day. He gets out there and competes, and he's learned a lot about himself, I think, in the last couple of years. He was supposed to start last year in Asheville, competed and got better and better and better every day with us. He had a good start, little lull, but then he finished strong."
The shortstop got 83 games at his natural position and another 46 at third base, where his manager sees potential.
"Don't get me wrong -- I don't mean this in a bad way, because he is 20 years old and had a good year -- but there are a lot of things he needs to keep working on defensively," Little said. "He strives to become better. He knows he needs to get better, and he can make some good plays and let some routine plays get away from him. This kid recognizes what he needs to do and he works hard. There's no doubt in my mind, he could play shortstop, third base. ... If he plays outfield or ... wherever they stick him, he's going to be fine, because he's going to swing the bat and be a great addition to any baseball team he's on. He's a really good team player and he does what it takes to win."
Utility player --
"Sean could be an everyday player at whatever position is needed," Little said. "He's an average to above-average outfielder. He's a really good first baseman. He's got a little work to do at third, but he got better. He held his own, and his biggest thing is he can swing the bat. If he can stay healthy, there's no telling what kind of numbers he can put up."
The UCLA product turned in a .292/.354/.496 slash line with 13 homers in his second full pro season.
"He's turned into a really nice hitter," Little added. "He showed more power this year. He's driven in runs. He's a clutch hitter. He can play good enough in the field at whatever position need be. He doesn't necessarily have to be labeled utility. That's just a little icing on the cake for him, the fact that he can play multiple positions."
Right-handed starter --
"Especially in today's game," Schaeffer said. "He avoided injury all season. I want to say maybe he missed one start, I think, but it felt like he was in our rotation the whole year, which I think he was. He's just consistent, man. He really meshed with our pitching coach, Steve Merriman, and he just wants to learn nonstop. Always trying to improve himself, always one of the first guys in the clubhouse to get his treatment done, take care of his body, always try to eat the right thing. He's just a professional. I've watched him grow up. I had him in Asheville [in 2017], and he's just been a steady guy."
The Georgia Tech product went 12-6 with a 3.56 ERA and career-best 1.31 WHIP. He fanned 115 while walking just 22 in 144 frames -- the lowest innings total of his three full seasons.
"He had a great year his first year in Double-A, commanding his fastball, throwing his changeup in any count, mixing in a pretty good breaking ball," Schaeffer said. "Mainly, he competes, he knows what he's got, and he's smart. He's a very cerebral pitcher."
Left-handed starter --
"I think when he started the season, he just didn't know what was coming at him from the competition standpoint, but he made the adjustment through the season," Cancel said. "He knew that he needs to compete every outing and that's what helped him the most."
Relief pitcher --
"Even though he's not an upper-90s (mph) guy, he's got some good carry on his fastball," the manager said. "I think he's a spin-rate guy, and that's what helps him the most because his fastball gets in to hitters very quick even though he's 92-93."
The UConn product went 13-for-16 in save chances and recorded a 2.90 ERA with 67 strikeouts in 59 innings.
Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun.