Spring 2011 PuRPs List: #10-6

This is the penultimate installments of the Spring 2011 PuRPs list. Here are PuRPs 30-2625-2120-16, and 15-11. From here on, the prospects listed here are likely to reach MLB, and once they get there, produce at the least at a league average level.

As a reminder, thirty-five ballots were cast in this edition of the PuRPs poll, with 30 points being granted for a first place vote, 29 for second, etc. Until a player was named on twelve ballots, his vote totals were modified on a sliding scale to avoid an individual ballot having too much say over the community forecast -- but none of the above players had that problem, as all thirty players on the PuRPs list were named on at least sixteen ballots.

For each player, I've included a link to their stats (via Baseball-Reference), their relevant "tool scores" on a 1-100 scouting scale (which is explained here) per the wonderful Baseball Cube, their contract status (via Rockies Roster), their probable MLB ETA (assuming they do make the Show), and a note on their 2011 season so far.

Remember that neither the tool scores nor the statistics pages are the end-all be-all when evaluating these players. Context is hugely important (such as the player's age relative to the league's average or the league average offensive numbers), as is the fact that injuries to prospects can affect both their tools and their stats.

 

10. Tim Wheeler (759 points, 35 ballots) -- Stats -- Fall 2010 Ranking: 16

Coming into this year, Wheeler was almost a forgotten man in the minds of PuRPs voters. The former first round pick had just struggled through two mediocre years at Tri-City and Modesto respectively. Nevertheless, the Rockies promoted Wheeler to AA Tulsa, and boy has he rewarded their faith in him. All the 23 year-old center fielder (and leadoff man) has done is destroy the Texas League offensively.

In only 63 games, Wheeler already has 17 HRs and 36 XBHs, hitting .315/.400/.610 so far. His walk rate is over 10% and his K rate is around 20%, which is certainly respectable given his offensive production elsewhere. Oh yeah, did I mention that he has plus speed as well (11 SB this year)? Wheeler is yet another toolsy left-handed hitting outfielder for the Rockies (counting Rafael Ortega, that's 3 guys that fit this bill in Colorado's top 12 prospects) -- it's a great problem to have.

There's still plenty of room for doubt with Wheeler, especially given his offensive mediocrity at Modesto and Tri-City and some concerns that his defense won't play in center at the MLB level, but the power he's shown this year have given fans plenty of room to dream on Wheeler's potential. It certainly moved him up a tier on my ballot.

Hit Tools

Power
62
Batting
58
Speed
85
Contact
60
Patience
48

Contract Status: 2009 1st round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: 2012

9. Christian Friedrich (777 points, 35 ballots) -- Stats -- Fall 2010 Ranking: 3

Besides perhaps Hector Gomez, no PuRP fell more in the minds of Rockies fans as much as Friedrich did since the last poll. Friedrich, a 23 year-old LH starter at Tulsa, was the top PuRP on the Spring 2010 list (ahead of Jhoulys Chacin), then number 3 in last fall's list after an injury-plagued 2010 campaign at Tulsa. This year, he repeated the level and has pitched slightly better, lowering his walk rate and his ERA. Yet, he slides down the list six slots. Friedrich has twice been a Baseball America top 100 prospect (95 pre-2009, 33 pre-2010) for a reason -- he has polished off-speed stuff, decent control, and solid velocity with a great feel for pitching.

What the last year and a half have showed us is that Friedrich probably won't be the ace he was shaping up to be after his stellar 2009 (his K rate has come down from an ungodly 12 K/9 to a solid 7.3 K/9), but there's no reason that he can't be a 3/4 starter at the least in the big leagues. Given the Rockies' current shortage of lefty starters, I wouldn't be surprised if Friedrich got a long look for a rotation spot next spring (if injuries don't press him into duty sooner).

Pitch Tools

Control
67
K-Rating
95.33
Efficiency
85
vsPower
72.67

Contract Status: 2008 1st round, Will be Rule 5 Eligible After 2011, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: 2012

 

8. Rex Brothers (815 points, 35 ballots) -- Stats -- Fall 2010 Ranking: 12

Brothers, a 23 year-old lefty reliever who has been pitching for the Rockies the past couple of weeks, is one of those guys that creates a wide disparity of opinion as to how he should be valued. This is because he fills a need at the major league level and he has a chance to be an elite reliever, but the fact remains that as a reliever his potential MLB impact is limited. Brothers is the only prospect thus far to be listed as #1 on a PuRPs ballot (twice), but then again, Brothers received votes for each place between 1 and 14. Personally, I was on the lower end (13), but it had nothing to do with my opinion of his ability, just the relative dearth of value his position provides.

The lefty fireballer is good at his job, as his crazy 14.5 K/9 rate and 2.89 ERA at hitter-friendly Colorado Springs will attest. In fact, in his minor league career Brothers has a 11.8 K/9 rate. If he can keep his walk rate down, Brothers could be the anchor of Colorado's pen for years to come.

Pitch Tools

Control
30.67
K-Rating
92.67
Efficiency
73.33
vsPower
58

Contract Status: 2009 1st round, 40 Man Roster, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: Now

 

7. Charlie Blackmon (838 points, 35 ballots) -- Stats -- Fall 2010 Ranking: 8

Here's another guy that is proving his prospect worth at the major league level. The 24 year-old toolsy lefty outfielder has flashed the combination of a sweet swing, great contact skills, and plus speed in his short major league stint. In 4 minor league seasons, Blackmon hit .316/.376/.475 while stealing 74 bases. His pace seemed to accelarate in Colorado Springs, as he scorched the PCL to the tune of .337/.393/.572 with 33 XBHs, 49 runs, and 49 RBIs in 58 games. It was enough to get him three first place votes in community balloting.

If he can continue to keep his K rate down and his sweet swing doesn't elude him, Blackmon will be a great major league player, perhaps even an All-Star caliber guy.

Hit Tools

Power
53
Batting
91
Speed
84
Contact
92
Patience
26

Contract Status: 2008 2nd round, 40 Man Roster, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: Now

 

6. Peter Tago (860 points, 35 ballots) -- Stats -- Fall 2010 Ranking: 6

Of the top ten PuRPs, Tago certainly has the highest bust potential and is the furthest away from the Show. This is only natural, since he's an 18 year-old pitcher at low A Asheville who made his minor league debut a month ago, with only four starts under his belt. However, there is a ton of room to dream about the potential of an arm like Tago. The movement his pitches exhibit, the loose arm action that propels them to the plate, the easy velocity, all of it points to a very high ceiling. Scouts love him -- only time will tell if the stats (and fans) will as well.

Pitch Tools

None available 

Contract Status: 2010 1st round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: 2015

PuRPs 5-1 are coming up tomorrow morning -- guess the order if you can!

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