DENVER -- Last season the Rockies gave their fans a preview of their top prospect, right-hander Jon Gray, with nine starts under tight pitch limits. His chance to grab a rotation spot will be closely watched this spring.
Gray is one of several players who will be in Major League camp and in whom the Rockies have much hope.
Over the last several days, we have taken a look at players On the Rebound and The New Guys. Now, the Rockies' Prospects to Watch, which consists of players who will enter 2016 with rookie status.
INF Cristhian Adames: Adames has seen limited big league time over the last two seasons, but he put himself on the big league radar last season while hitting .311 with a .362 on-base percentage at Triple-A Albuquerque, and with a strong spring could factor in competition for at-bats at shortstop at the beginning of the regular season.
RHP Miguel Castro: Capable of touching 99 mph with his fastball, Castro made his Major League debut with the Blue Jays early last season, and was part of the trade that sent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto. Castro was a starter and a reliever with the Blue Jays, but the Rockies will likely keep his power arm in a relief role. He'll battle for an Opening Day roster spot.
OF David Dahl: Dahl is part of a group of outfielders who hit for average and run fast. It's the ability to cover center field and a strong, accurate arm that have many believing Dahl is tantalizingly close to the Majors. He battled a slow start and injuries, but had stellar chunks of production last year at Double-A.
RHP Jairo Diaz: Diaz struggled early at Albuquerque in 2015, but harnessed his electric fastball enough to have success in the Majors in the final days of the season. Although the Rockies have loaded the back of the bullpen with veterans, there is room for Diaz if he puts up a strong spring.
RHP Carlos Estevez: Estevez has the big body and power stuff that the Rockies like in the late innings. After putting up ERAs of 1.37 in Class A and 4.50 in Double-A, then accounting well for himself in the Arizona Fall League, Estevez is on the 40-man roster and could advance quickly.
LHP Kyle Freeland: Elbow and shoulder issues limited him to a combined nine starts at the Rookie and Class A levels last season. But Freeland dominated against top prospects in the Arizona Fall League. After a rough first outing (six runs in 2/3 of an inning), Freeland gave up one earned run, 13 hits and three walks against nine strikeouts in 14 innings over his final three starts.
RHP Gray: Gray (No. 33 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100) struggled last spring before finding his form about a month into the Triple-A Albuquerque season. Already possessing a fastball and changeup that both can be electric, Gray added a curveball as an offspeed pitch to the arm side. The Rockies are confident in his talent, but Gray must show savvy to earn a rotation spot.
RHP Jeff Hoffman: The Blue Jays selected Hoffman (No. 52) ninth overall out of East Carolina in 2014 even though he was returning from Tommy John surgery. The Rockies considered selecting him then before taking Freeland, but got him in the Tulowitzki trade last season. Last year, mostly in Double-A, he posted a 1.17 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched).
3B Ryan McMahon: The Rockies have their third baseman in Nolan Arenado, but you get the feeling there will be a place somewhere for McMahon (No. 48). In three seasons since being selected in the second round out of Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, Calif., McMahon has hit .297 with a .372 on-base percentage and .524 slugging percentage.
RHP German Marquez: The acquisition of Marquez, along with lefty reliever Jake McGee, from the Rays for outfielder Corey Dickerson made the Rockies a little deeper in terms of power prospects. Tampa Bay placed him on its 40-man roster after seeing him strike out 104 in 139 innings last season and foreshadow what could develop into a solid curveball.
LHP Sam Moll: A third-round pick in 2013 out of the University of Memphis, Moll had a 2.63 ERA in 38 outings at Class A and Double-A last season. He was at his best in Double-A, with a 1.23 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings. In Class A, where he pitched 53 2/3 innings, left-handers hit .175 and righties .221. The Double-A split, granted in a limited sample, was .222 left, .094 right.
C Tom Murphy: After playing in just 27 games in 2014, Murphy breezed through Double-A (.249, 13 HR, 44 RBIs in 72 games) to earn a promotion to Triple-A and a get-your-feet-wet look in the Majors at year's end (.257, 3 HR in 11 games). He also represented Team USA in the Pan Am Games, and will attempt to win a job as part of the tandem with veteran Nick Hundley.
OF Jordan Patterson: The left-handed Patterson has the athletic body and positional versatility -- both outfield corners and first base -- that the Major League club needs, since it tends to carry an extra pitcher. Patterson went .297./.364/.543 with 17 home runs and 18 steals at the Class A and Double-A levels last season.
RHP Antonio Senzatela: Last year, his first on a full-season team, Senzatela pitched at Class A Asheville and finished sixth in the hitter-friendly South Atlantic League in ERA at 2.51. Senzatela has the heavy fastball, and is developing his changeup and breaking pitches. He had 143 strikeouts in 154 innings last season, and earned a spot on this year's 40-man Major League roster.
C Dom Nunez: A middle infielder when the Rockies selected him out of Elk Grove (Calif.) High School in the sixth round in 2013, Nunez showed athletic ability and leadership defensively at Asheville last season. By hitting 13 homers, Nunez, 21, has the bat that can advance him quickly at a position where power is treasured.
SS Trevor Story: The presence of Tulowitzki allowed the Rockies to take Story out of Irving (Texas) High School 45th overall in 2011 and groom him carefully. Last year, Story saw time at third and second, which not only increased his versatility, but made him more ready for the frequent infield shifts the team employs. Could he begin the year as the starting shortstop, especially with Jose Reyes' availability uncertain because of legal issues?
OF Raimel Tapia: Tapia, 22, led the Rockies' organization in batting and stolen bases in 2014 and produced at a .305/.333/.467 clip at Class A Advanced Modesto last year to earn a spot on the Major League 40-man roster. Although he is known more for his bat than his defense, he can play all three outfield positions -- good traits in an organization that values positional versatility.