GRAND JUNCTION -- When it comes to prospects -- and certainly the Colorado Rockies are no exception -- there are the names everyone knows, the names some people know, and the names almost nobody knows.
But it is the fault of our own faculties that betray's us when we observe only the world that we "know" when of course the world that is is much broader, more complicated, and more interesting than that.
Every year, I make a pilgrimage to my hometown of Grand Junction, sometimes I make a few, and every time I make it a point to catch up with Development Supervisor Tony Diaz. He knows baseball. He knows people. And he has been responsible for honing my own focus on players like Carlos Estevez and Jordan Patterson. These were names that fell into one of that latter two categories listed above who are now much more well known than they were at the time.
Given such little opportunity to observe, Diaz' perspective becomes invaluable. And so, I ask my annual question about who to look out for; players a little farther off the radar.
"Colton Welker reminds me of Nolan Arenado at this stage of his career."
The praise doesn't get much higher than that, Diaz understanding that such a comparison doesn't necessarily mean we should expect the same results, but says that Welker, a six-foot-two third baseman, has shown all kinds of promise with wizardry at the hot corner and a .339 average entering today.
"Jose Gomez has a great glove, real chance to be a Major League shortstop," Diaz tells me. He goes on to describe Gomez in a similar way I heard him talk about Emerson Jimenez in the past who has proven to be a phenomenal defender but has struggled with the bat.
In a small sample size so far in 2016, Gomez (19) is hitting .417 and slugging .510.
Diaz pointed out the power promise of outfielder Manuel Melendez and mentioned that he loves the attitude of the entire catching regimen but when pressed listed Gomez and Welker as the guys to keep your eyes on beyond the obvious names. So, don't be surprised when these two end up being something exciting in a few years.