The high elevation at Security Service Field, home of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, poses a unique challenge for the prospects making their way through the Pacific Coast League. The thinness of the air inflates offensive statistics and makes it difficult for pitchers to get their usual movement on breaking balls. After Jorge Lopez and Taylor Jungmann both struggled to the point that they were demoted to AA, it’s safe to say that David Stearns and the front office staff will be working to figure out a new plan for progressing some of their top prospects to the big leagues while limiting, or avoiding altogether, each player’s exposure to the environs up in the Rocky Mountains. It’s doubtful that that will help the Sky Sox improve upon their losing record of 67-71 next year, and it means that they’re unlikely to reprise having two players named to the Pacific Coast League Top 20 Prospects by Baseball America:
4. SS Orlando Arcia (Age 21)
Arcia entered this year as Milwaukee’s consensus top prospect and was considered by most outlets to be a top-25 overall prospect in the game. He won Milwaukee’s minor league player of the year in 2015, finally showing a plus hit tool and some developing power to go along with his strong arm and incredible ability in the field. Arcia didn’t hit quite as well in AAA this season as he did in the Southern League last year and struggled a bit in 55 big league games after being promoted in August, but he still looks like he should be an above-average regular at shortstop.
440 PA || .267/.320/.403 || 8 HR || 33 XBH || 15 SB
11. LHP Josh Hader (Age 22)
Hader was considered one of the lesser pieces of the summer 2015 blockbuster trade with Houston, but he’s improved his prospect stock in a big way since then. After 11 dominating starts in Biloxi (and a spot on the Southern League top 20 prospects list), Hader was promoted to AAA to finish out the season. He had an issue preventing runs with the Sky Sox, but his strikeout rate was still excellent and he was hurt by a big jump in BABIP. Ranked as the club’s #3 prospect by MLB Pipeline, the hope is that Hader’s command and changeup can both improve to match his plus fastball-slider combination, but if he can’t make it in the starting rotation then according to the scouts at Pipeline “there is little doubt that Hader could make an impact out of the bullpen thanks to his high-octane stuff and huge strikeout potential.”
69.0 IP || 5.22 ERA || 11.5 K/9 || 4.7 BB/9 || 1.435 WHIP
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference