TDG’S Triple Play: Colorado Rockies!
The Triple Play is back for a fifth season! This regular feature is broken down by senior writer Phil Barrington and he is joined by a rotating panel of some of the best Dynasty Baseball writers in the business. If you’re new to the Triple Play, this series breaks down an arm, a bat, and a prospect within each organization for your reading pleasure!
Kris Bryant, Age: 30, Position: 3B/OF
Analysis by: Ryan Felix Fernandes
He was born in the winter of his 30th year,
Coming home to a place he’d never been before,
He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again,
You might say he found a key for every door.
This song had to be playing when GM Bill Schmidt agreed to sign Kris Bryant to that seven year deal worth $182 million dollars last off-season. Those are the lyrics from the classic, “Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver. (except for a couple tweaks to fit Kris Bryant). I can’t say I listened to the whole song. I just remember hearing them in those old Coors commercials when I was a kid. But, those lyrics fit in what the Rockies had hoped with the signing of Kris Bryant. Signings of “older” players to these huge contracts are usually when a GM and/or organization thinks a player can go back to the numbers they put up in their peak years if they can get them to be part of their organization so they can mold them to what they want and “be born again.”
Not that Kris had a bad 2021 at all! He was named to the All-Star team with the Cubs for the fourth time in seven years. He was traded at the deadline when Cubs management felt they should gut my heart and trade away a number of key pieces of the 2016 World Championship team! I’ll never forgive you Jed Hoyer! Kris still continued to perform very well and finished the season with the Giants who were in a playoff run. He became invaluable for his flexibility to play a number of positions while the Giants dealt with injuries and finished the season with a pretty line of .265/.353/.481, 25 home runs, 73 RBIs, and 86 runs while striking out at a respectable 23% clip. He followed that up in the playoffs in which he slashed .471/.500/.647 in the playoffs with a home run and two RBI in 18 plate appearances.
The one thing that worries me is that his body has been breaking down a bit before last season. That is where you got to give kudos to Scott Boras! He is the best agent in the business and does get his clients top dollar. Maybe, I can get him to represent me? I can see it now.. I’d walk in and just tell all the TDG top honchos, “Hey guys I feel I’ve been putting in some damn great work, my numbers of views and likes are above average. I’m a team player, everyone loves me! I haven’t gotten hurt and never called off of work. I feel I am a huge asset to the team and my best years are ahead of me… Wouldn’t you agree? I mean.. I don’t want to have to go to Bleacher Report or see if MLB.com needs a guy who pulls my numbers like me. Why don’t we talk about dollars? And that is when Boras walks in while I play that old O’Jays song on my phone, “For the love of money.” Yeah treat me right TDG or else I’m getting Boras to do my next deal.
Sorry, but sometimes you just need to make sure you take care of yourself so yes, I have rehearsed that in my head before. Bryant is still fairly young and with the DH spot in the NL to help him from taking too much of a beating throughout the season along with the thin air of Colorado that always help with the offensive numbers. I knew some were still very high on him before the season started. But, as they say, sometimes availability is more valuable than ability.
Playing in only 42 games this season in which he has had only 160 at bats with a .306/.475/.851 line to go along with five home runs and 14 RBI. He has three separate stints on the IL with this latest one a couple of days ago and is walking around in a boot with no timetable of coming back this season. So you might be asking why am I wasting your time talking about a guy who isn’t playing this season, will be on the wrong side of 30 next year, with numerous injury concerns, and made everyone’s 2022 busts lists. Well, that is a good question…Shoot! I didn’t think I could come up with that many reasons against rostering him. But, wait I remember now where I was going with this.
You need to look at Bryant’s performance last season, and yes, I know that is last season. With three separate stints to the IL it had to mess with the continuity that is needed for hitters and those injuries were different parts of his body that affected his swing mechanics. Coupled with it being a small sample size I felt using the 2021 numbers were better to use. In 2021, Bryant had a number of eye-catching stats that show he is still able to hit a high elite type level like he did in his Rookie of the Year and MVP seasons. His maxEV was still at 110.4 with 39 barrels giving him a barrel rate of 10.3% which was his third best year with only his Rookie of the Year and MVP year having a higher percentage. He also had a HardHit of 39.7% last season which was his second best with only his rookie year being higher. He also had his second least season of soft hit contact at 16.8%. These numbers do not suggest to me that he slowed down or regressed.
It is just a matter of Bryant coming into 2023 healthy and” be born again” like John Denver sang. With the concerns that I already listed, many dynasty managers might be quick to move from Bryant and might be available for a minimal cost. I would like to see what a healthy KB can do in Colorado for a full season before writing him off and you should too. I wonder if Boras can get TDG to pay for my lunches and dinners with the new deal? Ohhhh!! And an assistant to get me my lunches and dinners. Just tweeted @BorasCorp right now!!
Warming Bernabel, Age: 20, Position: 3B, Level: High-A
Analysis by: Phil Barrington
Warm me up
Warming Jose Bernabel comes straight out of the Dominican Republic, signed during the 2018 international signing period for $900K as the then ranked 33rd overall international player. Signed as a shortstop, the Rockies have since moved him to third base. The right-handed Bernabel is a solid 6’0, 180 pounds, and began his professional career in 2019, playing in the DSL. He had a lackluster showing there; in 55 games he had only three steals, four homers, and slashed .250/.320/.387.
Then 2020 Covid made him miss a season of pro ball development; but he returned in 2021, starting at Single-A Fresno for 21 games, which were bad (no need to review the stats, take my word for it). However, the Rockies sent him to the Arizona Fall League, where Bernabel made himself known to all. Hitting six homers, five steals and slashing .432/.453/.743 over 22 games will do that.
Now we’re cooking with gas
Enter 2022, Bernabel was starting to get noticed by the baseball community, making it to 7th on the Rockies prospect list on FanGraphs. Though the fantasy community at large still had not caught up, as he made no top 100 lists of the 13 lists I track in the preseason. Bernabel returned to Fresno where, in 65 games, things went much, much better. Slashing .317/.390/.504 with ten homers and 21 steals, he earned a promotion to High-A Spokane on July 4th.
Although two and half years younger than the average player at High-A, he has not stopped hitting since, slashing .312/.323/.505 with four homers and two steals in 23 games as of this writing. Bernabel has been hitting in the four or five spots in the lineup since his promotion. Fangrpahs gave him a future 45 grade in the preseason, while now Mlb.com has given him a future 50 grade, and he is climbing prospect lists in fantasyland.
Light my Fire
It confounds me that The Microwave (yes, I am giving him that nickname) is only rostered in 12% of Fantrax leagues; in my 40-man to 65-man roster leagues he is rostered (mainly by me, but I digress). While he is quite an aggressive swinger (2.1% walk rate at High-A though a 9.7% before his promotion), that I see as a good thing at the lower levels; and it is not like Bernabel is striking out a crazy amount, as he has maintained 13% K-rate at Single-A and 14.4% at High-A. Bernabel is going to appear on a lot of preseason 2023 top 100 lists, with good reason. Better to grab him now, while half of your league has moved on to fantasy football, and beat the rush in 2023.
Dyan Jorge, Age: 19, Position: SS, Level: Rookie Ball
Analysis by: Phil Barrington
Wait a sec…Dyan Jorge is not a pitcher, you say. Triple Play is a hitter, pitcher and prospect, you continue. Well…which Rockies pitcher to write up, I retort. Who, who, who can we think of? German Marquez or Kyle Freeland? Everyone knows those two. How about the rest of the rotation? Jose Urena, Austin Gomber, or Ryan Fletner (who?, doesn’t matter). Any of the relievers? Yeah, no one cares. How about a Rockies pitching prospect? Oh wait, do those exist? No, they don’t. So, as the Triple Play QB, I am calling an audible (that’s for all you fantasy footballers out there), and picking another prospect. For this, we are going real, real deep, and that means youth. Dyan Jorge, come on down.
Ballad of a Thin Man (with some big shoulders)
Dyan Yamel Jorge, a 6’3, 170-pound shortstop from Cuba, was the 15th best international prospect (from mlb.com) and the Rockies signed him for a cool $2.8 million. Jorge defected from Cuba in 2019 and is long and lean, though with noticeable upper body strength, perfect to project some future power. He is expected to stay at shortstop, and possibly compete with current top prospect Ezquiel Tovar (and the aforementioned Bernabel) for a starting spot on the 2025 Rockies team. He has played Shortstop and has hit leadoff so far for the DSL Rockies this season, his first in professional baseball. Though if he fills out more a move centerfield may be in the cards.
Let’s look at his numbers so far in the DSL: 182 ABs, Jorge has four homers, 13 steals, 51 Runs + RBI and a slash line of .308/.392/.434. What I really like is the 23 walks to only 30 Ks, good for an 11% walk rate to only 14.7% K rate. Those are all solid numbers, and line up with his 50-grade hit tool and 40-grade power tool. At his size, the power should continue to develop, and if he can keep even a bit of that speed, he has the chance to be a big league regular, and possible star.
He has been compared to another tall and thin Cuban, Alexei Ramirez. The two-time Silver Slugger Ramirez didn’t start his big-league career until he was 26, but he still was good for 15/15 on average, and Jorge can do that, with more home runs possible. Jorge said this about the comp: “It gives me great pride that I’m being compared to such a great player, one that I’ve watched the trajectory of his career since I was a child.”
Don’t think twice, it’s alright (and add Jorge to your deep league Dynasty teams)
While there isn’t much video out there on Jorge yet, this two-minute compilation from before he was drafted was a good look into his swing and size. Never forget the Coors Field effect, either, which is what makes all their hitting prospects so tempting (and their pitching ones so bleh).
By the time Jorge reaches the big leagues, I have him as a 25/15 guy with a .275 average, and .350 OBP, with the chance to add more homers as he fills out. A big part of the fun of Dynasty baseball is being ahead of the curve, and for both Jorge, only 4% rostered in Fantrax, and Bernabel, add them now, and watch them shoot up off-season and preseason 2023 prospect lists.