DENVER -- Buoyed by the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, which brought prospects from the Indians, and supported by an underrated set of standout prospects in the low Minors, the Rockies tied with two other teams for the most prospects to make various full-season Top 20 lists in Baseball America's rankings for 2011.
The Rockies, Padres and Rangers each had nine players make the honored lists for full-season leagues. Factoring in the Rookie and Short-Season Class A leagues, the Rockies had 14 Top 20 prospects, third most in the Majors. The Padres and Rays have 18, and the Rangers and Blue Jays have 16.
Baseball America considers the lists indicators of the strength of a farm system in terms of developing players who have Major League futures. The lists do include players who have more or less graduated to the Majors -- meaning they had significant roles, rather than short stints or September callups -- so left-handed reliever Rex Brothers (10th in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League) was rated.
Also appearing on lists are outfielder Charlie Blackmon (17th, PCL), who had a run with the Rockies before breaking his foot; catcher Wilin Rosario (sixth, Double-A Texas League), who started regularly in September; and left-hander Drew Pomeranz (first, Class A Carolina League), who joined the Rockies in the Jimenez trade, progressed quickly and finished the year with a big league cameo.
The Baseball America rankings support a common belief in the industry that the Rockies are a year or two from having big league impact players in numbers.
Outfielder Tim Wheeler, who could be part of the Major League mix next season, is 12th in the Texas League ranking. The Rockies had three of the top 20 from the advanced Class A California League -- power-hitting third baseman Nolan Arenado (sixth), right-handed strikeout pitcher Chad Betts (ninth) and power-hitting outfielder Kent Matthes (20th).
Two recent top Draft choices showed up in the Class A South Atlantic League rankings -- outfielder Kyle Parker (12th) and left-hander Tyler Matzek (17th).
The team's other No. 1 prospect was its 2011 supplemental first-round pick, shortstop Trevor Story, who topped the Rookie-level Pioneer League. Joining Story on the Pioneer League ranking were shortstop Rosell Herrera (fifth), catcher William Swanner (ninth) and right-hander Danny Winkler (18th).
The magazine also noted that the Rockies have potential impact players who didn't make the lists, such as left-hander Christian Friedrich, a former top pick who is nearing big league readiness; former supplemental first-round pick Peter Tago, a righty; lefty Edwar Cabrera, whose 217 strikeouts at two Class A stops led Minor League Baseball; and left-hander Tyler Anderson, the 2011 No. 1 Draft pick out of Oregon.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.