Dahl leads talented group of Rockies' Minor Leaguers
Parker, Bettis also project to join potential five-tool outfielder in Majors
DENVER -- For a franchise that has two huge stars no older than 28, it's fitting that the Rockies' top prospect is just a year removed from high school baseball.
If all goes as planned, outfielder David Dahl will eventually join Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez in the heart of Colorado's lineup. In his first year of professional baseball, Dahl proved he was worth the 10th overall pick the Rockies used to select him in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.
With the Rookie-league Grand Junction Rockies, he earned the Pioneer League Most Valuable Player Award last season. Dahl has a swing that can blast a ball into the outfield bleachers, but also slap one into every corner of the park, and he hit .379 with nine homers, 57 RBIs, 22 doubles and 10 triples with Grand Junction.
Not too shabby for a 67-game season.
Dahl made it only 10 games with the low Class A Asheville Tourists this season before he tore his hamstring, and his return is at least several weeks away. However, Rockies assistant director of player development Zach Wilson said he is the rare five-tool talent, meaning he can hit for power, hit for average, run, throw and field.
"He just needs experience, he needs to see better pitching along the way," Wilson said. " … Like all young players, you got to continually make adjustments as you move up the ranks, because the pitching gets better, the strike zones get smaller."
The wait to join The Show could be shorter for Kyle Parker, another outfielder with a powerful bat. Parker -- a two-year starter at quarterback for Clemson -- was the Rockies' first-round Draft choice in 2010.
After starting with Asheville and moving to high Class A Modesto in 2012, the Rockies promoted him to Double-A Tulsa this year. Parker's offensive might has transferred to the higher Minor League level, where he has drilled 11 home runs and driven in 25 runs while hitting .270.
"It's a guy that can hit, he can swing the bat with authority," Wilson said. "He can leave the yard at all parts of the park."
Parker shows the biggest room for growth on the defensive end. As a dual-sport athlete in college, Parker is still learning the intricacies of professional baseball.
"He's still learning how to play the game, especially defensively," Wilson said. "But he does have a feel to hit. It is a power bat that has a chance to hit in the middle of the lineup one day."
Just two picks after selecting Parker, the Rockies snagged Chad Bettis -- the organization's top pitching prospect, according to MLB.com -- in the second round of the 2010 Draft. He missed the entire '12 season with a shoulder injury, and Colorado promoted him to Double-A upon his return. Bettis' ERA has climbed slightly in Tulsa, but he still projects as a future piece of the Rockies' pitching staff.
Though he's sidelined with an oblique injury, Wilson said Bettis is "certainly on the right path" to make his debut at Coors Field.
"It's a power approach to everything that he does," Wilson said. "It's a power delivery and it's power secondary pitches as well. So he has the arsenal to compete in a number of different roles here at the big league level."
The Texas Tech product, 24, has a fastball that climbs into the upper-90s and is a steady dot on the Rockies' radar.
Tyler Anderson may one day join Bettis in the starting rotation. A left-hander who frustrates batters with placement rather than Bettis-like power, he was a first-round selection out of Oregon in 2011.
With Modesto, Anderson has a 3.80 ERA in eight starts with 39 strikeouts.
"It's not the type of stuff that's overpowering, it's a command type of arsenal," Wilson said. "So he's right where he should be right now. He's facing the type of hitters that are still giving him a challenge. At the same time, he's at a level where he can have some success, too."
Eddie Butler, Anderson's Minor League teammate, is rising through the farm system quickly after the Rockies picked him 45th overall in the 2012 Draft. Butler earned the call to Modesto thanks to a fastball that reaches 97-98 mph and a speedy sinker.
Another promising bat comes in the hands of shortstop Trevor Story, another 2011 first-rounder. Story, 20, opened 2013 with Modesto and has the chance to be a five-tool player, Wilson said. He has struggled at the plate, hitting .207, but does have four homers and 24 RBIs.
Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.