With the departure of Matt Holliday, scanning the Colorado Rockies for potential keepers is a lot trickier. Last year, Tulowitzki joined Holliday as clear keepers from the Rockies. But now that is not the case. If Tulowitzki bounces back, he can still be a legitimate keeper in any league. Aside from him, the only other possible keepers should only be considered in deeper leagues where more keepers are called for.
1. Troy Tulowitzki
After a injury-plagued 2008, Tulowitzki is looking to bounce back in a strong way. The former #7 overall pick in the 2005 draft is still plenty young at just 24 years old. His first full season in 2007, Tulowitzki looked like a perennial keeper posting 24 homers, 99 RBI, 104 runs, 7 steals, and a .291 average. With all of his injuries last year, his stats nosedived to a tune of 8 homers, 46 RBI, .263 average in only 101 games. However, there is a glimmer of hope that he will reclaim his form. After the All-Star break, Tulowitzki showed signs of his true self posting .327 average with 5 homers and 30 RBI in 62 games. With a healthy 2009, he should return to fantasy relevance and mirror his ’07 numbers rather than ’08.
2. Ubaldo Jimenez
In his first full year, Ubaldo Jimenez looked like the prospect he was suppose to be. The hard throwing 25 year old can posted a 3.99 ERA while racking up 172 strikeouts and 12 wins for an injury-plagued Rockies team. Even though it’s not included in most fantasy categories, his 11 homers allowed is a very good sign. The main red flag is his command. If your league counts walks, it may be best to look somewhere else. His 103 walks was 2ndworst in the majors and helped contribute to a very mediocre 1.40 WHIP. If he continues improving like throughout last year he could turn into another Carlos Zambrano type pitcher. On the other hand he could just as easily be another one-year wonder like Oliver Perez years ago. Unfortunately for possible Ubaldo owners, I think the latter has a greater chance of occurring for 2009. It’s a risky proposition if you are relying him as a keeper but with a possible high reward.
3. Carlos Gonzalez
The former top prospect of the Oakland A’s is now a Rockie thanks to the Matt Holliday trade. Carlos Gonzalez struggled in half a season in the majors last year posting a .242/.273/.361 line. His 4 homers, 4 steals, 26 RBI, and 81 strikeouts in 85 games is hardly impressive, even for a rookie. He appears likely to start center field for the Rockies this year and moving from a pitcher-friendly park to a hitter-friendly park should help. He is still very young at only 23 years old and will only improve from last year. He is an excellent choice as a low-risk draft pick with a possibly high-reward for years to come. Assuming he starts, his 2009 numbers should look more like a .270 average with 17 homers, 65 RBI, 70 runs, and a few steals.
4. Chris Iannetta
A previous top 10 prospect of the Rockies farm, Iannetta was one of the breakout catchers last year. In only 104 games, he hit 18 homers and drove in 65 while posting a .264 average. For OBP leagues, he will be very useful after posting a .390 on-base percentage last year. But like most catchers, he will not be a significant contributor to steals or runs. Like most of the Rockies team, he is still very young at just 25 years old. Still entering his prime, he should continue to improve. And with more games played, he should hit at least 20 homers and drive in 75. Lowering his strikeout rate and with a little more luck than last here, he should also slightly improve on his average, climbing above .270.
5. Ian Stewart
Many would argue for Brad Hawpe or Huston Street here, but I’d rather go with upside rather than an older player that won’t improve or a dime-a-dozen closer. Ian Stewart is yet another one of the Rockies top prospects that has made it to the majors of late. The former 10th overall pick of the 2003 draft could land the starting job at second base or fill in for Garrett Atkins at third base at times. The 23 year old was quite inconsistent in half a season last year, but showed enough promise to possible breakout in a few years. In 81 games, he hit 10 homers, drove in 41, scored 33 runs, and had a .259 average. He has legitimate power but he may never be a high-average hitter due to his very high strikeout rate. However, when he did make contact, he made sure it was good contact. A 25% line drive rate is very high for any player and I naturally would think that would have to come down next year. The potential is there. Like Gonzalez, he can be a good low-risk, possible high-reward player. If he starts, 20 homers is within reach with 60 RBI, 60 runs and an average in the .260s.