Spring 2012 PuRPs List: #10-6

May 14, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Christian Friedrich (53) pitches the ball against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

This is the penultimate installment of the Spring 2012 PuRPs list. Here are PuRPs 30-26, 25-21, 20-16, and 15-11. 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 10-6:

10. Kyle Parker (616 points, 31 ballots) -- Fall 2011 Ranking: 7 -- High ballot 4, Mode (most common when placed) ballot 7, 10, 14

The 22 year-old Parker, a former college QB and current righty outfielder at Modesto, was expected to crush homers at the lower levels given his prodigious power. He smacked 21 last year in Asheville, yet given his first round pedigree (and thus raised expectations), the effort seemed to fall short. This season, he's putting together a pretty good but not great year (.271/.382/.426) that has been shortened to only 35 games due to a hand injury suffered in the first game of the year. As a result, his successes this season (a markedly lower K rate, a higher BB rate) need to be viewed somewhat through the prism of a small sample size.

With those cautionary flags duly raised, there's a reason that Parker was a 1st round pick despite never fully investing all of his time in baseball. The power is there, the patience at the plate is improving, and the athleticism (for a corner outfield position, anyways) is certainly present -- though it's been said that he's the most likely internal replacement for Todd Helton down the line. If he finds a consistent power streak and continues to develop into a fluid baseball player, Parker will be a top 5 PuRP sooner rather than later. He has hit .351/.489/.568 in his last 10 games, so that's a good start.

I just can't escape the feeling that Parker should be dominating High A ball if he has major league aspirations. As you've no doubt noticed, Colorado has a lot of similar outfield prospects in its system, and Parker has done little to distinguish himself from the pack -- which is why he fell to 17th on my PuRPs ballot, near the bottom of that pack of OF prospects.

Hit Tools

Speed
21
Contact
30
Patience
70
Batting
58
Power
87

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

MLB ETA: Late 2014

9. Tim Wheeler (619 points, 31 ballots) -- Fall 2011 Ranking: 8 -- High ballot 5, Mode ballot 11

Stop me if you've heard this one before -- a toolsy outfield prospect is fighting to make it into Colorado's crowded outfield. Like Parker and Charlie Blackmon, the 24 year-old Wheeler, a lefty outfielder in AAA Colorado Springs, has had an injury plagued 2012. At the time of the voting for this list, he hadn't really yet established any of the form that fueled his breakout 2011 campaign, but since then he's played well. That obviously hurt him a little in the voting (though he's still the top rated outfielder on the list), but if he keeps playing as he has so far this year, that shouldn't be a problem the next time around.

In 24 games in AAA, Wheeler is hitting .323/.398/.406. The only thing missing has been the power that enabled him to hit 33 homers (67 XBHs in all) last year and garnered him a spot in the Arizona Fall League -- he only has 8 XBHs so far this season, all doubles. This is probably stemming from the hamate bone injury he suffered early on that caused him to miss so much time in 2012. If his power stroke returns and the rest of his approach remains in sync, Wheeler could be a late season call-up for the Rockies.

Wheeler has played center field throughout his minor league career, which has set him apart somewhat from prospects like Dickerson and Parker, but there are doubts about whether he will stick there in MLB. Another knock on the left-handed outfielder is that he hasn't demonstrated the ability to hit left-handed pitching. That combined with his relative lack of success at lower levels in 2009/2010 and the logjam of top OF prospects on this list make me a little leery of Wheeler's MLB prospects.

That is why he's the guy among Colorado's top outfield prospects that I really wouldn't mind seeing getting traded -- as I believe that Colorado will be selling high (I ranked him 15th on my list). Wheeler has a bunch of potential though, and if he improves against lefties he could be a force at the ML level.

Hit Tools

Speed
84
Contact
54
Patience
51
Batting
61
Power
67

Contract Status: 2009 1st Round, Rule 5 After 2012, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: Late 2012/2013

8. Josh Rutledge (633 points, 30 ballots) -- Fall 2011 Ranking: 9 -- High ballot 4, Mode ballot 9

Coming into 2011, the 23 year-old Rutledge was known primarily as an elite defensive shortstop with a chance to stick in MLB as a glove man, but he was a guy that had struggled at the plate in a short cameo in Tri-City. Colorado jumped Rutledge straight up to Modesto in 2011 despite this, and they were rewarded richly for it. Rutledge was pretty much who we thought he was in the first half of the season, managing an average hitting line of .262/.351/.318, but he went positively thermonuclear in the season's second half, mashing to the tune of .411/.464/.664 with 42 XBHs in 65 games! In all, he finished with a .348/.414/.517 line with 51 XBHs at High A.

This outburst moved Rutledge from prospect afterthought to the heir apparent at 2nd base -- some were arguing that he should be up the big club as soon as this year. This season, Rutledge started off slowly again at Tulsa (.265/.294/.412 in April), but has heated up considerably recently, after voting for this poll was concluded (.351/.367/.622 in June). I know that I was a little worried about his lack of offensive production at Tulsa, which is why I ranked him at 12 on my ballot.

It looks like Rutledge might be looking to mirror his 2011 season -- which would almost certainly get him into AAA and to the higher reaches of this list by next year. That is, if he isn't already with the Rockies this September for a cameo appearance.

Hit Tools

Speed
76
Contact
65
Patience
22
Batting
94
Power
49

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

MLB ETA: 2013

7. Tyler Anderson (730 points, 31 ballots) -- Fall 2011 Ranking: 14 -- High ballot 2, Mode ballot 7

When I think about Anderson, a 22 year-old LHP at Low A Asheville, I can't help but think of Peter Tago. Not because they are in any way similar prospects (they aren't, really), but because they had excellent minor league debuts that were still fresh in the mind of the electorate when ballots were cast for this iteration of the PuRPs list. Anderson had a couple of rough starts after an excellent debut, but the Rockies' 1st rounder in 2011 has by and large put together a respectable 2012 to date -- 5-1, 3.14 ERA, 1.04 WHIP.

This jives well with the scouting report Anderson had out of college -- that he was a polished pitcher that should move quickly through the minors. The red flag with Anderson thus far has been his very poor strikeout rate in Low A ball (4.8 K/9). Sure, he's not walking very many either (1.8 BB/9), but having a high strikeout rate is a much better indicator of future success at this point than a low walk rate. If he's only striking out half a batter per inning in Low A, will Anderson ever become a viable MLB pitcher at Coors Field?

Then again, I'm probably extrapolating a little too much from 48 innings in pro ball. After all, he was still impressive enough to rank 9th on my list. We'll see if Anderson shows some better strikeout stuff the rest of the year.

Pitch tools (mostly from college at this point, where he struck out a batter per inning)

Control
50
K-Rating
71
Efficiency
67
vsPower
41

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

MLB ETA: 2015

6. Christian Friedrich (744 points, 31 ballots) -- Fall 2011 Ranking: 17 -- High ballot 3, Mode ballot 8

The 24 year-old (for 3 more weeks) Friedrich, a lefty currently in the Rockies' rotation, was something of a forgotten man coming into this season. Yes, he was a first rounder in 2008 and was once the top name on this list (as recently as Spring 2010), but it had seemed like he got to AA Tulsa and hit a wall. To wit, in 2011 (his 2nd year with the Drillers) Friedrich went 6-10 with a 5.00 ERA and 1.49 WHIP.

However, a light bulb turned on with Friedrich over the off-season and he dominated at AAA, going 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP in 5 starts with the Sky Sox before getting called up and continuing that form in his first two starts. To say that he's struggled at Coors would be an understatement (12.60 ERA, 2.53 WHIP in 15 innings at home), but he's been Colorado's best pitcher this year on the road (2.10 ERA, 1.17 WHIP in 30 road innings). Either way, Friedrich is enjoying his last appearance on this list by becoming a half decent major league pitcher (the decent half being the road half, naturally). I ranked Friedrich 10th on my ballot.

Pitch Tools

Control
67
K-Rating
91
Efficiency
80
vsPower
68

Contract Status: 2008 1st Round, 40 Man Roster, 2 options remaining

MLB ETA: Now

Tune in tomorrow when I reveal the top 5 PuRPS!

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