Baseball America continues their league honors by releasing the California League Top 20 prospects awards today. The Colorado Rockies feature three nominees on this year's list from their A+ affiliate, the Modesto Nuts.
Top position prospect Nolan Arenado (2nd round, 2009) comes in at #6 on this year's list after another very good season. The third baseman has dramatically improved his defensive approach while still maintaining an .833 OPS, no small feat in a park that suppresses right handed power numbers. Arenado struck out a mere 53 times in 583 plate appearances this season and hit 20 home runs.
Arenado may be Colorado's top position prospect, but he's not even the top third baseman on this list. Jedd Gyorko of the San Diego Padres system comes in at #2 overall after hitting for an 1.065 OPS in Lake Elsinore. The Arizona Diamondbacks' pitcher Tyler Skaggs holds the #1 overall spot on the rankings. Acquired as the centerpiece in 2010's Dan Haren trade, Skaggs was the best pitcher in the Cal League by far this season.
The Rockies had a top pitcher named to the list as well, as Chad Bettis (2nd round, 2010) rode a dominant season to the #9 spot on this list. Bettis struck out 184 batters in just 169.2 innings and was absolutely dominant at times. For a pitcher that many scouts considered a reliever coming into the draft, Bettis has shown great strides towards becoming a quality MLB starter.
Outfielder Kyle Matthes (4th, 2009) wrapped up the list at #20 overall after an incredible (but injury shortened) season. Despite only playing in 93 games, Matthes hit 23 home runs and 39 doubles, ending up with a 1.020 OPS on the year and garnering Cal League MVP honors.
Nuts' shortstop Josh Rutledge (3rd, 2010) was a notable omission from this list. Known for his glove, Rutledge was the big breakout in the Rockies system this season, hitting .326 with an .921 OPS for the season. After the All-Star break, Rutledge hit a remarkable .410 with a 1.124 OPS as he led the Nuts into the postseason.