Spring 2012 PuRPs List: #20-16

Jun. 6, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Colorado Rockies second baseman D.J. LeMahieu throws to first base for an out in the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

This is the 3rd of 6 installments of the Fall 2011 PuRPs list. Here are PuRPs 30-26 and 25-21. 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 20-16:

20. Cristhian Adames (242 points, 19 ballots) -- Fall 2011 Ranking: 25 -- High ballot 7, Mode (most common when placed) ballot 15

The things to pay attention to with this right-handed shortstop are positional utility (by most accounts he has the ability to stick at shortstop in MLB) and youth (he's a 20 year-old in High A, like Nolan Arenado was last year). To wit, Baseball America ranked him as the best defensive infielder in Colorado's system. The question has always been with Adames -- can he hit well enough to make it to the Show?

Although he won't be old enough to drink legally until late next month, Adames has been playing well in the California League. While his batting line isn't incredibly impressive (.268/.325/.378), the age and defense variables make the season he's having particularly noteworthy. The Rockies organization obviously holds him in high regard given the path he's been set on so far -- he will almost certainly be protected from the Rule 5 draft after this year.

Has it been enough for me to see a MLB future? I ranked Adames 7th (maybe a little aggressive on my part), the high ballot in community voting, so that should give you an indication.

Hit Tools

Speed
28
Contact
78
Patience
59
Batting
63
Power
30

Contract Status: 2008 FA (DR), Rule 5 Eligible After 2012, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: 2015

19. Zach Putnam (253 points, 22 ballots) -- Fall 2011 Ranking: NR -- High ballot 13, Mode ballot 18

It's quite a contrast from Adames, a high ceiling player a few levels away from MLB, and Putnam, a 24 year-old right-handed relief pitcher in AAA that already has MLB experience. Putnam was acquired in the Kevin Slowey trade (we had Slowey for like 2 months) as a live relief arm profiling as a set-up reliever with the ability to get the ball up in the low-mid 90s with a quality sinking fastball.

His most favorable quality to me so far is his demonstrated ability to strike people out in the PCL while limiting the long ball. Putnam is currently sporting a 12.2 K/9 rate in AAA with a 0.7 HR/9. To be honest, Putnam isn't an elite relief prospect in the mold of Rex Brothers, but he should be a solid member of Colorado's bullpen for a few years.

That sort of prospect is one that I value a little less than other people due to the relative ease with which they are acquired, which is why I ranked Putnam 30th on my PuRPs ballot.

Pitch Tools

Control
69
K-Rating
86
Efficiency
86
vsPower
63

Contract Status: 2012 Trade, 40 Man Roster, 2 options remaining

MLB ETA: Now

18. DJ LeMahieu (259 points, 24 ballots) -- Fall 2011 Ranking: NR -- High ballot 12, Mode ballot 17

LeMahieu, a 23 year-old 2nd base prospect currently with the Rockies, was another prospect acquired in a trade this off-season -- as part of the Ian Stewart trade, which also brought back Tyler Colvin. The scouting report on LeMahieu has always been that, despite his size, he has never hit for power -- but he has always been a very good contact hitter.

In his minor league career, LeMahieu has a hitting line of .317/.353/.399 -- a line he basically duplicated this season in AAA. With that, it's important to note that he only has 8 home runs in 4 minor league seasons. In other words, high average, low strikeouts, low walks, low power. He has a limited ceiling as a MLB player, but he should be given lots of credit for already making it to the Show, which is why I placed him at 20 on my PuRPs ballot.

Hit Tools

Speed
67
Contact
91
Patience
22
Batting
82
Power
23

Contract Status: 2011 Trade, 40 Man Roster, 1 option remaining

MLB ETA: Now

17. Peter Tago (320 points, 28 ballots) -- Fall 2011 Ranking: 16 -- High ballot 12, Mode ballot 17

Tago, a 19 year-old (for another few weeks) RHP in Tri-City, was the youngest player in the Low A South Atlantic League last year at 18-19. Things didn't go so well, as he went 3-5 with a 7.07 ERA and 1.77 WHIP (this is reflected in the abysmal tool scores below). The struggles were enough for the Rockies to keep him in Extended Spring Training for a while, until short season ball began last week. It was an inauspicious beginning, as Tago got shelled last week too.

With that said, Tago represents the ceiling of a 2/3 starter in MLB given the velocity and movement on his pitches. Unfortunately at this point he has yet to show much of this potential in his professional career. Tago was probably a little young for Low A ball last year -- and he's still a little young for Tri-City this year. For that reason, it's easier to shrug off these early struggles as growing pains...but that period won't last forever.

There was a large gulf in between LeMahieu and Tago in terms of voting (starting with Tago, every prospect from here on out was named on at least 85% of ballots), but it's quite possible that Tago never makes it to MLB. He's a lottery ticket right now -- but his potential was enough for me to rank him 19th on my ballot.

Pitch Tools

Control
1
K-Rating
9
Efficiency
4
vsPower
25

Contract Status: 2011 Supplemental 1st Round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: Late 2016

16. Rosell Herrera (379 points, 29 ballots) -- Fall 2011 Ranking: 11 -- High ballot 10, Mode ballot 19

Of all the great Latin American players that have come through Colorado's system, the 19 year-old Herrera, a switch hitting SS/3B at Asheville, received the largest signing bonus ($550,000) as a 16 year-old. The toolsy Herrera showed quite a bit of this promise last year, hitting .284/.361/.449 as an 18 year-old in the Pioneer League. Keith Law (ESPN Insider) named him as the Rockies' top sleeper prospect going into 2012.

This year, that hit tool hasn't manifested itself in Low A, as Herrera has limped to a .211/.277/.295 line in part time duty in the crowded Asheville infield. That's the reason for his slide on this PuRPs ballot, but it's important to remember that the guy is just 19 with plenty of room to mature on and off the field. I put Herrera at 13 on my ballot, at the bottom of my highly projectable tier of players.

Hit Tools

Speed
79
Contact
47
Patience
68
Batting
55
Power
39

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

MLB ETA: 2016

PuRPs 15-11 should be revealed tomorrow.

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