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Colorado Rockies Top 25 Under 25: No. 11: Tony Wolters

Drew Creasman Avatar
February 22, 2017


Welcome to the BSN Denver Colorado Rockies Top 25 Under 25 where we will rank the organization’s best players who will be 25 years-old or younger on Opening Day 2017.

Our parameters for this list may be different than others it resembles so let us be clear about them:

  1. The list was created entirely by the BSN Rockies staff and had no other input from any outside sources.
  2. While giving credit for overall (or trade) value, we prioritized an ability to help the MLB club win immediately.
  3. In accordance with this, we also prioritized players with fewer question marks but potentially lower ceilings.
  4. Statistics were considered on equal level with scouting reports in addition to our own field reporting.

Our observations come through a combination of spending parts of each of the past four (going on five) seasons on the ground on the backfields at spring training and through our regular reporting from Rookie Level Grand Junction, talking to coaches, scouts, and journalists both on and off the record. Of course, countless hours are spent on MiLB.tv and combing over public reports from other credible sources.

No. 11: Tony Wolters, 24 (C)

There’s an ongoing debate both in the sabermetric community and among the BSN Denver staff about the merits of current pitch-framing statistics, but there is little debate (anymore) that a catcher with a slick glove can do a world of good for a pitching staff.

This is arguably most important at Coors Field, where stealing extra strikes means limiting the oppositions ability to wreak havoc on the offensive environment. It is even more important when dealing with a young staff. The Rockies oldest starting pitchers are 27-years-old.

This is ultimately why Tony Wolters will get his fair share of starts behind the dish whether he is officially designated the “starter” or not. He has proven to be an immaculate framer and an all-around very solid defensive catcher. It can be difficult to measure the full value of that but no ballplayer of any stripe from any time will tell you that the backstop is anything less than vital to the heartbeat of a team.

Wolters can be that heartbeat.

But he may also be, by far, the worst hitter on the team. Posting a .259/.327/.395 slash line (75 wRC+) over 230 plate appearances last season, and striking out 23 percent of the time, Wolters doesn’t currently inspire a ton of confidence at the plate. It’s worth noting that he got better as the year went along but Wolters couldn’t be a more dramatic counterpoint to Murphy who managed a 145 wRC+ and nearly matched Wolters in fWAR despite having 49 plate appearances to Wolters’ 230.

(Spoiler: More on Murphy later in this list.)

It shouldn’t be forgotten that, in a pinch, Wolters can also play at shortstop or second base. He is also looked upon favorably by base-running stats and while his four stolen bases from a year ago is nothing to write home about, it’s four more steals than most catchers get. He also swiped 19 bags one year in the minors and under direction of new first base coach Tony Diaz, the whole team may be asked to run more.

Because Tony Wolters is unlikely to ever have a big, scary bat — though we believe he will continue to improve — he just doesn’t have the potential ceiling of the guys above him on this list. He’s got all the intangibles, especially smarts and work ethic, and could very well end up being one of the smartest pickups of the first few years of the Jeff Bridich era but the offensive limitations and the likelihood that he is ultimately usurped by Murphy make this the highest we could go.

We reserve the right to look back on this ranking later and feel stupid, but — all together now — this has as much to do with the uber talented youth in the Rockies organization than anything else.

Join us next time as we break into our Top 10!




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