If the players selected by the Rockies in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft need an example of how to make immediate waves within the organization, they don't have to look further than the club's first-round choice in 2010.
With the 26th overall pick, Colorado chose outfielder Kyle Parker, and the former Clemson quarterback -- now operating with baseball as his primary focus -- hasn't disappointed thus far. In his first professional season, Parker is hitting .294 with eight home runs and 47 RBIs for Class A Asheville, impressing scouts who laud his feel for the game and are enamored by his bat.
Though he is likely still a couple of years away from making plays at Coors Field, Parker has displayed the talents that led the Rockies to risk selecting him, knowing that Parker still had three years of football eligibility left. But Parker signed with Colorado shortly before the August deadline, and with his attention turned to the diamond, he leads a talented pipeline of Rockies prospects.
The list of those prospects is diverse, and several players on it have already made an impact for the big club. Right-handed pitcher Juan Nicasio, left-handed reliever Rex Brothers and outfielder Charlie Blackmon have made their Major League debuts with the Rockies this season, heading a list of talented Colorado prospects.
The Rockies pipeline is loaded with talented arms, including right-hander Peter Tago, the 47th overall selection in last year's Draft. Tago, currently rated as the club's sixth-best prospect, may take some time to develop, but he has a powerful fastball that will increase in velocity as he matures. Tago is 1-1 with a 4.73 ERA in three starts for Asheville this season.
Heading the Rockies' prospect list is left-hander Tyler Matzek, the No. 11 overall pick in the 2009 Draft. Matzek began the season with Class A Advanced Modesto, but he was demoted to Asheville in May after early struggles. Still, with the potential for a solid four-pitch mix (fastball, curveball, slider, changeup) the southpaw possesses a high ceiling, though he is likely a few years away from helping the Rockies.
After an up and down 2010 season, lefty prospect Christian Friedrich, the 25th overall selection in the 2008 Draft, has been mostly solid for Double-A Tulsa this season. He is 4-4 with a 4.37 ERA, and could potentially work his way to a September callup with the big league club this season. Right-hander Chad Bettis, the team's eighth-ranked prospect, has also pitched well for Modesto this season, going 4-3 with a 4.56 ERA in 12 starts.
A number of talented position prospects are making noise in the organization, too.
Heading the list is catcher Wilin Rosario, who may have already made his big league debut if it weren't for injuries. Rosario tore his anterior cruciate ligament last August, but he was successful in his rehab, allowing him to start the 2011 season on time. He is hitting .261 with nine home runs and 18 RBIs for Tulsa this season.
Third baseman Nolan Arenado, a second-round pick in 2009, is a player the Rockies hope can add some power to their lineup in the not-too-distant future. He is batting .271 with five home runs and 38 RBIs for Modesto.
Nick Kosmider is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.