Spring 2012 PuRPs List: #25-21

Today I reveal five more names on the Spring 2012 PuRPs list. Here are PuRPs 30-26. As a reminder, 31 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 11 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 30 players on the PuRPs list were named on at least 14 ballots.

For each player on the PuRPs list, I've included a link to their stats (via Baseball-Reference), their relevant "tool score indicators" compared to their league 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 2012 season to date. For what it's worth, I'll also include where I put them on my personal ballot.

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.

Here are PuRPs 25-21:

25. Kent Matthes (154 points, 19 ballots) -- Fall 2011 Ranking: 22 -- High ballot 14, Mode (most common when placed) ballot 24

The 25 year-old Matthes, a right-handed outfielder currently plying his trade in Tulsa, was named the 2011 California League MVP despite having his season cut short by injury. And deservedly so -- his line was .334/.378/.642 with 65 extra base hits. This caused him to shoot up prospect lists (John Sickels ranked him 11th while Baseball America had him 8th) despite his advanced age for the level.

Unfortunately, things have not gone well for Matthes in AA Tulsa, as he has struggled mightily at the plate -- his line so far is .195/.252/.376 for the Drillers. Some of this could be from lingering effects from the hand injury that prematurely ended his 2011 season, but that's becoming less of an excuse as time goes by. Still, the high esteem of the scouting community for Matthes' power as well as the shine from 2011 were enough for me to put Matthes at 18 on my PuRPs ballot.

Hit Tools

Speed
52
Contact
33
Patience
32
Batting
64
Power
76

Contract Status: 2009 4th round, Rule 5 Eligible After 2012, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: Late 2013

24. David Kandilas (174 points, 19 ballots) -- Fall 2011 Ranking: 28 -- High ballot 17, Mode ballot 21

The Kandy-Man, a 21 year-old outfielder playing for Asheville this year after playing 3 seasons in Casper, hails from Australia and played for the country in the 2011 Baseball World Cup. He has flashed good OBP skills thus far to accompany his great speed. His batting average isn't great, but his plate discipline (25 walks to 21 strikeouts) as a younger player in the SAL has been an eye-opener, leading to a .250/.388/.411 line.

Still, it should be said that Kandilas is playing the 4th outfielder role with the Tourists and he was injury for a few weeks. It's tough to evaluate a player like Kandilas given a lack of every-day playing time, but I'm lowering my expectations for him because of this fact -- he got lost in the shuffle of OF prospects on my ballot and didn't make the cut for me. If he can earn some more playing time and maintain that plate discipline, he'll force his way into my consciousness and onto my ballot.

Hit Tools

Speed
90
Contact
66
Patience
38
Batting
64
Power
46

Contract Status: 2009 FA (AU), Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: 2016

23. Sam Mende (197 points, 25 ballots) -- Fall 2011 Ranking: HM -- High ballot 18, Mode ballot 23

The 22 year-old Mende, a right-handed 2B/3B playing for Asheville, is a 31st round draft pick in 2011 that crushed the ball in Casper and didn't stop in Low A (like Corey Dickerson). Playing every day as an age-appropriate player in the SAL, Mende has hit .314/.379/.545 with 33 extra base hits so far.

He didn't have much of a prospect pedigree entering the minors, but Mende has certainly made a name for himself so far in his professional career, so much so that Mende was 22nd on my ballot. A repeat performance in High A will push him into the top 20 even with 2012 draftees being included.

Hit Tools

Speed
56
Contact
32
Patience
45
Batting
54
Power
78

Contract Status: 2011 31st round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: Late 2015

22. Joe Gardner (222 points, 25 ballots) -- Fall 2011 Ranking: 18 -- High ballot 15, Mode ballot 17

Gardner, a 24 year-old RHP at Tulsa and the third best pitching prospect in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, draws immediate comparisons to former Rockies pitcher Aaron Cook, in that Joe Gardner's bread and butter as a pitcher is inducing a LOT of ground balls. His ground out to air out ratio for 2011 was 2.30:1 (this year it's 1.46:1). The problem, like that with Aaron Cook, is that his strikeout rate is below average for a top prospect despite being able to get up into the mid 90s -- though his 6.6 K/9 rate in 2012 is an improvement from last year and he has reduced his BB/9 to 2.5.

His line this year isn't bad (3-3, 4.70 ERA), but then again it isn't good enough for a mid-season promotion to AAA either. In order for Gardner to be successful, he has to generate more strikeouts while maintaining his ground-ball tendencies. In all, Gardner is a polished prospect with a good sinker that is relatively close to the big leagues, which is why I ranked him 24th on my list. With the Rockies badly needing some pitching depth this season, perhaps Gardner could provide a spot start near the end of the year. If not, he'll be in line for a AAA berth next year and a cup of coffee sometime next year.

Pitch Tools

Control
33
K-Rating
49
Efficiency
57
vsPower
83

Contract Status: 2011 Trade, Rule 5 Eligible After 2012, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: 2013

21. Harold Riggins (229 points, 23 ballots) -- Fall 2011 Ranking: NR -- High ballot 13, Mode ballot 23

The 22 year-old Riggins, a right-handed 1B at Asheville, was another player who dominated an over-matched Pioneer League as a college draftee and who kept hitting in the SAL. Thus far in Low A Riggins is hitting .311/.396/.547 with 28 extra base hits.

He's limited defensively, which will deservedly hurt his prospect stock, but if he keeps hitting at this rate in High A and beyond that won't matter too much. I was enough of a believer in Riggins to put him at 21 on my ballot, but if he doesn't keep hitting at this rate he'll fall off of it quickly because of his limited skill set.

Hit Tools

Speed
23
Contact
15
Patience
80
Batting
67
Power
84

Contract Status: 2011 7th round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: Late 2015

Stay tuned for PuRPs 20-16, coming soon!

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