Welcome to the BSN Denver Colorado Rockies Top 25 Under 25 where we will rank the organization’s best players who will be 25 years-old or younger on Opening Day 2017.
Our parameters for this list may be different than others it resembles so let us be clear about them:
- The list was created entirely by the BSN Rockies staff and had no other input from any outside sources.
- While giving credit for overall (or trade) value, we prioritized an ability to help the MLB club win immediately.
- In accordance with this, we also prioritized players with fewer question marks but potentially lower ceilings.
- Statistics were considered on equal level with scouting reports in addition to our own field reporting.
Our observations come through a combination of spending parts of each of the past four (going on five) seasons on the ground on the backfields at spring training and through our regular reporting from Rookie Level Grand Junction, talking to coaches, scouts, and journalists both on and off the record. Of course, countless hours are spent on MiLB.tv and combing over public reports from other credible sources.
No. 15: Antonio Senzatela, 22 (RHP)
Senzatela would rank much higher if nor for an almost entirely lost 2016 season. He was a Top 10 candidate coming into last year and got off to a stellar start, including looking phenomenal in big league camp at spring training.
He parlayed that into some good production for the Hartford Yardgoats but he had to leave an early start with a shoulder issue that appeared to worsen and also missed time after his mother passed away due to cancer. The-Year-That-Got-Away ended with Senzatela starting only seven games, but posting an impressive 1.82 ERA, striking out just over seven and waling just over two per nine innings.
Despite harnessing a fastball that can touch 97 mph — sitting more in the 93-95 range — Senzatela has never been a huge strikeout pitcher which has kept him lower on some national and even local prospect lists. Those who have been higher on him have noted his good command and decent, though clearly not dominant, mix of secondary pitches; slider, change-up and curveball. This combo led to him winning the California League Pitcher of the Year award in 2015 while putting up an eye-popping 2.51 ERA in a league with plenty of offensive ballparks. The best part for those who subscribe to the notion that the best talent to have at Coors is avoiding walks, Senzatela posted a miniscule 1.93 walks per nine innings.
The uncertainty about his future limits our ability to confidently project him. Thomas Harding of MLB.com is reporting that Senzatela is fully healthy and ready to go for 2017, and the Rockies Director of Player Development, Zach Wilson, spoke highly of the young pitcher when he spoke to BSN Denver as spring training a year ago.
Therefore, it wouldn’t be a complete shocker to see him assigned to Tripe-A right out of the gate if he shows up well at spring training. The most likely scenario, though, probably has Senzatela returning to Double-A and looking for a mid-season call up. Still, the Rockies have shown a willingness to move prospects quickly if a need arises and, more importantly, if that player is showing big league ability. Senzetela is the kind of player who could make a few quick jumps if everything is clicking.
The excellent command and high-end fastball give Antonio Senzatela a much higher ceiling that most players who would find themselves ranked at 15th on a list like this, but the Rockies strong system and a few question marks about how he will rebound after a tough year keep him exactly there.
As it currently stands, he is behind German Marquez and Kyle Freeland on the pitcher prospect rankings, and Riley Pint’s insane potential has stolen the spotlight from all three to some extent. But even if the wear and tear or numbers game end up pushing Senzatela into a bullpen role, that could still ultimately be more valuable to the Rockies needs.
However you look at it, Antonio Senzatela still represents a remarkable upgrade in depth options available to the club going into what they hope to be a window of contention.