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Rockies' young outfielders turning heads early

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The power potential of Rockies outfield prospects was on display Sunday, for the second time in as many Spring Training games.

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Sunday's 8-6 loss to the D-backs featured a laser-like home run from left-handed hitting Corey Dickerson, who hit a combined .304 with 40 doubles, seven triples and 22 homers at Class A Modesto and Double-A Tulsa last season. He then posted a .364 average in the Arizona Fall League, good for eighth-best in the AFL. Also, Kyle Parker, the team's top Draft pick in 2010, added a two-run single.

Add that to the home runs hit by Tim Wheeler and Kent Matthes in Saturday's opener, and it has been a strong early showing for Rockies outfield hopefuls.

Dickerson (eighth round in 2010), Wheeler (supplemental first round, 2009) and Matthes (fourth round, 2009) all have legitimate reason to dream of appearing in the Majors before the end of this season -- although there is depth at the positions already. Parker put up strong numbers in Class A ball last year.

"They did a nice job," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Dickerson, that was a laser. I didn't think that ball was going to get out of the park. But he's hit his whole life, one of those guys that can flat-out hit. Matthes and Wheeler had the home runs yesterday. Those guys have shown up well."

Wheeler suffered an injury to the hamate bone of his right hand last year at Triple-A Colorado Springs, and spent the year hitting for average (.303) rather than run production (two home runs, 37 RBIs), but is in better position to show his power this year. Wheeler also is making a case for his defensive versatility.

He has been playing center field, but talk has been that he would project defensively in a corner position. But Saturday he sprinted deep into the left-center gap to snag a deep Adam Eaton line drive. Sunday, a liner by Martin Prado turned him around, but he kept his movements controlled and caught the ball low.

"This is the first I've ever seen him," Weiss said. "It's tough to say right now, but the reports on him are that yes, he can play center field. That doesn't mean he may not end up as a corner guy, but it looks to me like he runs around pretty well out there."

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