Over the years, the Colorado Rockies have, at times, struggled to find pitching. On Monday night, by trading Troy Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays, the Rockies added three top-prospect-type arms in their continued attempt to develop pitching from within. How long Jose Reyes is with Colorado appears up in the air, so let's focus on the young pitchers who are a part of the franchise's future.
Jeff Hoffman is at the top of the list. Hoffman was No. 3 on the Blue Jays' Top 30 at the time of the trade, and No. 69 on the Top 100. Hoffman immediately becomes the Rockies' second-best pitching prospect behind Jon Gray, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 Draft. The East Carolina star was the ninth overall selection of the 2014 Draft, but Hoffman was just getting back to the mound following his Tommy John surgery from May of last year.
Hoffman has been making up for lost time fairly quickly, making his debut in the Class A Advanced Florida State League then earning a promotion to Double-A after 11 starts. His stuff -- a mid-90s fastball that can touch 98 mph, a big plus curveball and an above-average changeup -- was starting to sharpen the more mound time he got. Hoffman is an athletic strike-thrower, and there's every hope his stuff will continue to come all the way back to be the front-line starting pitching prospect he clearly was before the injury.
Miguel Castro gives Colorado another hard-throwing right-hander. No. 5 on Toronto's list when the deal was announced, Castro actually broke camp this spring on the big league staff and even served as the Blue Jays' closer for a spell. He's both started and relieved over the course of his career, and his long-term role could still be up for debate. What's not up for debate is Castro's raw power stuff, highlighted by a 70 fastball (on the 20-80 scouting scale) that has reached 99 mph, especially in shorter stints. His best secondary offering his his changeup, which is a tick above average, and he continues to work on improving his slider. While Castro has struggled with his control a bit in 2015, he has generally commanded his fastball well, keeping it down in the zone effectively.
Finally, there's Jesus Tinoco, No. 29 on Toronto's list, the right-hander the furthest away from the big leagues of this group. But there's a lot to like here, starting with his 6-foot-4 frame. Tinoco gets his fastball up to the mid-90s, throwing it with a lot of sink. He complements it with a breaking ball that looks like it should be at least Major League average when all is said and done and a changeup he continues to get a good feel for. Since making his full-season debut in May, Tinoco has done a better job of throwing strikes consistently.
All three of these right-handers have above-average to plus fastballs, from the mid-90s on up. But perhaps more important than that, all three have shown an ability to throw those outstanding heaters with sink. All three have exhibited a propensity to generate ground-ball outs when they aren't missing bats, with Tinco's 1.8 career GO/AO mark standing out the most. Power with sink, the Rockies believe, is the key to success in pitching in Coors Field.
The Blue Jays, for their part, haven't shied away from trading Minor League arms away to try and make a run at the postseason. Reyes (along with Mark Buehrle and others) was first acquired from Miami in a deal that sent Henderson Alvarez, Anthony DeSclafani and Justin Nicolino, all three of whom have pitched in the big leagues, to the Marlins. To get R.A. Dickey from New York, they sent a young right-hander by the name of Noah Syndergaard to the Mets.
Whether Hoffman, Castro and Tinoco have the same kind of success remains to be seen. But history does seem to indicate the trio will all see big league time at some point.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayo on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.