Spring 2011 PuRPs List: #5-1

This is it, ladies and gentlemen -- the moment you've all been waiting for...okay, probably not, but it's here anyway! Today the top five Colorado Rockies prospects as voted on by the Purple Row community are revealed. On Monday I'll wrap up this series with a look at the list as a whole, but for now, let's take a look at the future stars in Colorado's minor league system.

Here are PuRPs 30-2625-2120-16, 15-11, and 10-6. 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.

 

5. Nolan Arenado (872 points, 34 ballots) -- Stats --  Fall 2010 Ranking: 4

Arenado, a 20 year-old third baseman at High A Modesto, is by far the best infield prospect in the system. His pure stroke got him named by Minor League Ball's John Sickels as the top Rockies prospect this offseason (and #80 in all of the minors by Baseball America), and with the numbers he put up last year as a 19 year-old in the South Atlantic League (.308/.338/.508 with 54 XBHs in 92 games), it's easy to see why. He's not the most patient of hitters, but he doesn't strike out much either due to his excellent contact skills. After a slow start in High A Modesto (where the average age is 22-23), he has picked the pace back up, hitting a respectable .283/.331/.429.

While Arenado has gotten slapped with the "destined for first base tag", reports (including this one from Muzia) have arisen stating that Arenado's defense at the hot corner has really improved. It's hard for a prospect to overcome the reputation created by a scouting report that states a player is "duck-footed and lumbers". Sure, Arenado's not going to win many footraces, but he's a passable defender at third now. Combined with his offensive potential, that should make for a quick ride through the system to the big leagues, maybe even before his 22nd birthday.

Hit Tools

Power
63
Batting
82
Speed
17
Contact
94
Patience
26


Contract Status: 2009 2nd Round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: Mid-2013

4. Tyler Matzek (891 points, 35 ballots) -- Stats --  Fall 2010 Ranking: 1

Let's just say that 2011 hasn't been a very good year for Tyler Matzek. Coming into the season, he was the consensus top Rockies prospect (#32 overall by BA), a pitcher who had been unhittable as a 19 year-old for Asheville. Yes, there were issues -- namely, that even though he was allowing only six hits per nine innings, he was walking just as many (he gave up 62 hits and 62 walks last year) -- but his K rate was 8.9 and his ERA was 2.92, good enough for a promotion to High A as a 20 year-old.

Then this year happened. In 10 awful starts for Modesto, Matzek put up a 9.82 ERA and a 2.42 WHIP. He was striking out 10.1/9, but he was walking 12.5/9. After being demoted to Asheville, he has walked 9 more men in 7.2 IP. Until he can find the plate (and, if some reports are to be believed, his velocity), Matzek doesn't look ready to progress much further.

So why did the community vote him as the 4th best prospect (two put him as the top guy, though one left him off the ballot entirely)? For the simple reason that of any prospect in the system, Matzek probably has the highest ceiling -- and he's still only 20 years old! He's one of two guys that I put in my elite tier because of his All-Star potential. With every poor outing and report of lost velocity or mechanics, the ceiling lowers from ace to mid-rotation starter, but what was once lost can again return. At least, that's what I keep telling myself.

Pitch Tools -- yes, that's the lowest possible rating in control

Control
1
K-Rating
77
Efficiency
26
vsPower
41

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

MLB ETA: 2014

 

3. Kyle Parker (907 points, 35 ballots) -- Stats --  Fall 2010 Ranking: 9

Colorado's 1st rounder (and former starting QB for Clemson) last year was touted by scouts as a raw hitter with some athleticism. Then he exploded offensively in his first month in Asheville (evidently enough to earn him a first place vote by a PR community member). Then the 21 year-old outfielder fell into an offensive funk from which he has yet to fully recover, ending up with a respectable hitting line of .274/.336/.447. Unfortunately, he's shown a tendency to strike out (around 26-27% of his PAs) four times as much as he walks, but plate discipline is something that can be taught a whole lot easier than raw power.

To be honest, I wasn't much of a fan when this pick was announced and I'm not sure about it now. Parker's plus power is a tool that I covet in prospects, though, and he showed in April that he was capable of punishing the baseball when he is hot. He's got some growing pains to get through, but he really only just began to focus on baseball full-time. If he emerges successfully from these pains, he's a corner outfielder or first baseman with plus power and an All-Star ceiling.

Hit Tools -- the patience score is highly influenced by his college numbers

Power
87
Batting
52
Speed
24
Contact
35
Patience
72

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

MLB ETA: 2014

 

2. Juan Nicasio (932 points, 35 ballots) -- Stats --  Fall 2010 Ranking: 13

Nicasio, a 24 year-old RH starter who is now plying his trade for the Rockies, rode the helium he created with his dominant start up from AA (5-1, 2.22 ERA, 6.30 K/BB ratio over 56.2 IP)  straight to the big leagues. His upper 90s sinking fastball makes fans and scouts alike salivate, and if his off-speed deliveries improve, Nicasio could be something special -- special enough that he was named the system's top prospect by two voters.

Since he was a late signee (at 19) out of the Dominican Republic, Nicasio has always been a little old for his level, advancing one per year. However, he has acquitted himself well, with a 3.40 ERA as well as a 4.49 K/BB ratio in 5 minor league seasons. So far in the majors he's shown the potential for high strikeout totals as well as good control. Those traits will serve him well in the Show.

Pitch Tools

Control
76.75
K-Rating
66
Efficiency
74
vsPower
68.25

Contract Status: 2006 Amateur Free Agent (DR), 40 Man Roster, 2 options remaining

MLB ETA: Now

 

1. Wilin Rosario (1020 points, 35 ballots) -- Stats --  Fall 2010 Ranking: 2

Unsurprisingly, Rosario was the runaway winner for the top prospect in the Spring 2011 PuRPs poll, garnering 25 of the 35 first place votes. The 22 year-old catcher was ranked #49 overall by Baseball America coming into the season despite the torn ACL he had suffered to end his banner 2010 season early, and it was easy to see why. Rosario has an elite arm behind the plate, elite power for a catcher, and he dominated AA offensively as a 21 year old (a rare combination indeed). Who knows, without the injury he could be in MLB right now.

Rosario has 20-25 HR potential in the big leagues (given playing time) while hitting for a little higher batting average than Chris Iannetta does now. With any luck, he could be showcasing his skills with Colorado this September or even sooner if the Rockies deal Jose Morales.

Hit Tools

Power
66
Batting
55
Speed
37
Contact
32
Patience
33

Contract Status: 2006 Amateur Free Agent (DR), 40 Man Roster, 2 options remaining

MLB ETA: Late 2011

 

I hope you enjoyed reading this series as much as I did writing it! Check back on Monday for my thoughts on the list as a whole.

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