The next wave includes Wilin Rosario, a catcher with plus power and arm strength who made his MLB debut in September, and Nolan Arenado, who led the minors with 122 RBI this year. Arenado just concluded a tour in the Arizona Fall League that saw him hit .388/.423/.636 with 6 HR and 33 RBI, take home MVP honors, and draw glowing reports from those in attendance (here's a scouting report from Adam Foster of Project Prospect). Rosario is still playing in the Dominican Winter league, where he has 21 hits, 6 HR, and a league-leading 26 RBI.
If there's one player in the Rockies system to get excited about, it's Arenado. Rosario will likely open 2012 as the Rockies starting catcher, whereas Arenado is still yet to face Double-A pitching and therefore not currently in line for a big league job out of Spring Training. Rockies General Manager Dan O'Dowd had this to say of Arenado, "He has changed our thinking in regards to third base." Foster has spent the last month showering the kid with praise and there is no better compliment than being compared to Albert Pujols (or even Bryce Harper for that matter):
Arenado has an uncanny knack for getting his hands through the ball. I see some Pujols in him. I really do. If Arenado doesn't wind up being a well-above-average MLB hitter, I'll be surprised. Throw in potential average or better defense at third base and you have one of the top prospects in baseball. It wouldn't shock me if he ends up having a better career than (Bryce) Harper, not in the slightest. - Foster
Sometime late next season or in 2013, Arenado will make his MLB debut joining Rosario and Troy Tulowitzki in the Rockies infield and giving the Rockies three two-way players at premium positions who all possess plus power. "That's the beauty of young players. You don't know what their timetable is going to be," O'Dowd said. "[Arenado] is pushing the envelope in many ways." Given that Carlos Gonzalez is a superstar locked up with a deserved superstar contract and young outfielders like Charlie Blackmon, Tim Wheeler, and Corey Dickerson are in the system and on the way, the expectation is that going forward the Rockies shouldn't have trouble scoring runs like they did in 2011 when the club scored the second fewest runs in the franchise's 19-year history.
In other words, only the '94 Rockies scored fewer runs than the club did this year. Also in '94, the club was being managed by Don Baylor, their catcher was Joe Girardi and shortstop was Walt Weiss. Marvin Freeman led the team in WAR with a 4.0 mark as he posted a 179 ERA+ and finished 4th in the Cy Young voting despite only making 18 starts.
The point is that this franchise has come a long way from 1994 and within a year and a half the lineup is going to include names like Tulowitzki, Gonzalez, Arenado, and Rosario. Depending on how that lineup is filled out, the outcomes range from good to great. If the Rockies young pitchers are still standing when this lineup fills out, the club could finally be in line for sustained success.