Purple Row Prospects List, Winter 2013: 30-26

Christian Bergman in action for Modesto last year - Charlie Drysdale

It's time for the Winter 2013 Purple Row Prospects list, the Purple Row community's list of the top 30 Rockies prospects.

It's time for the Winter 2013 Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) list, the Purple Row community's list of the top 30 Rockies prospects. I will reveal these prospects five at a time to give people who aren't in the know a little bit more of information on them.

In this edition of the PuRPs poll, 19 ballots were cast, with 30 points being granted for a first place vote, 29 for second, etc. Until a player was named on 7 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 7 ballots. The first tiebreaker goes to the player who was ranked on the most ballots, then to the one who was ranked highest on an individual PuRPs ballot, and the 3rd is the mode ballot (but no ties were broken in this edition).

In all, 58 players received at least one vote for this PuRPs list, 51 got mentioned on multiple ballots, 31 were named on at least 7 ballots (and therefore were unmodified), and the top 25 were named on over 2/3 of ballots, though not necessarily in the same order. Here is a link to the polling thread.

All prospects who retained their Rookie of the Year eligibility (less than 130 ABs, 50 IP, and 45 days on the active roster) were eligible for selection on this list. Among this summer's list, several players exhausted his eligibility or were not with the organization anymore. They are:

  • Corey Dickerson (7) - with the MLB team
  • Rafael Ortega (16) - claimed on waivers by the Texas Rangers in the middle of balloting. Almost everyone had put Ortega on their ballot initially - he would have been in the 10-15 range on this list - but many of them rescinded their vote when this news occurred. Six ballots left him on, and that was enough to make Ortega PuRP 26 in this list. Since he is not in the organization anymore, I followed the precedent of players like Shane Lindsay and removed him from the final list and moved everybody else up one slot.
  • Edwar Cabrera (18) - also claimed on waivers by the Rangers
  • Chris Jensen (26) - traded to the A's in the Brett Anderson deal. Jensen also appeared on a few ballots this time around, but his ballot totals would have placed him 36th in voting.
  • Charlie Culberson (28) - with the MLB team
  • Rob Scahill (30) - with the MLB team

More discussion on the voting will be included in the final installment of this series, but here are the five players who came closest to inclusion on the Winter 2013 PuRPs List, the Honorable Mention PuRPs:

35. Erick Julio (29.1 points, 6 ballots), 2013 FA (CO), RHP (16)
34. Joel Payamps (37.7 points, 6 ballots), 2010 FA (DR), RHP at Grand Junction (19)
33. Scott Oberg (42.9 points, 6 ballots), 2012 15th round, RHP at Modesto (24)
32. Carlos Herrera (44.6 points, 6 ballots), 2013 FA (VZ), SS (16)
31. Jose Briceno (50 points, 7 ballots), 2010 FA (VZ) C at Grand Junction/Asheville (21)

Payamps was the only returning HM player from the summer list. He signed for $465,000 in 2010 and was named among the top prospects in the Dominican Summer League by Baseball America in 2011, but he struggled in his stateside debut (6.06 ERA, 1.72 WHIP) and is likely looking at a repeat in short season ball next year. He rated 31st on my list.

Briceno had something of a breakout year in 2013. After a 26 PA debut stateside in 2012, the Venezuelan catcher was jumped up to Low A Asheville for the beginning of the year. Though he struggled in limited action as a 20 year-old in the South Atlantic League, Briceno was re-assigned to Grand Junction mid-summer and raked there in 160 plate appearances (.333/.356/.614). He ranked 28th on my personal list.

Oberg is not a guy on anybody's prospect radar due to his mid-round draft status (15th), age (23 in High A), and position (minor league reliever). Still, he was very effective in Modesto as a closer this year (1.86 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 10.3 K/9 in 53 IP). He was not placed on my ballot.

Herrera and Julio are both 16 year-old Latin American bonus babies. Herrera, a shortstop praised for his athleticism, signed for $1.2 million this summer out of Venezuela. Julio, a RHP from Colombia with multiple potential plus pitches, signed for $700,000. Neither player has played as a professional yet - but these two will either shoot up this list (taking the Rosell Herrera route) or they will disappear (as most do). I ranked them 23 and 24 on my ballot.

On to the top 30...

For each player on the PuRPs list, I've included a link to their stats (via Baseball-Reference), their contract status (via Rockies Roster), their probable MLB ETA (assuming they do make the Show), and a note on their 2013 season. For what it's worth, I'll also include where I put them on my personal ballot. All ages are as of April 1st, 2014.

Remember that the statistics pages are not 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 the first members of the Winter 2013 PuRPs List:

30. Ryan Warner (54 points, 9 ballots) -- Summer 2013 Ranking: HM -- High Ballot 21, Mode (most common when placed) Ballot 23, 26, 27

Warner, a 20 year-old RHP who pitched for Tri-City as a 19 year-old in 2013, rebounded from a rough pro debut at Grand Junction in 2012 nicely. In 15 starts in the pitcher friendly advanced short season Northwest League, Warner threw 88 innings of 3.36 ERA, 1.16 WHIP ball - good enough for me to rank him 27th on my list. Unfortunately, the 6'7" Warner's plus fastball didn't lead to a lot of strikeouts (4.7 K/9), which is a red flag for a prospect at that level.

Just as we took his bad GJ debut (7.00 ERA, 1.69 WHIP) with a grain of salt due to the Pioneer League's hitter friendly environment, so too should we be dubious of the NW League and its multiple pitcher's havens. Warner should make his full season debut next year at age 20 in the hitter friendly South Atlantic League, so we'll see if Warner can maintain his progress.

Contract Status: 2012 3rd Round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: 2018

29. Antonio Senzatela (56 points, 10 ballots) -- Summer 2013 Ranking: 29 -- High Ballot 19, Mode Ballot 26

Senzatela, a 19 year old RHP who pitched in the Dominican Summer League as an 18 year-old and then made his stateside debut in Tri-City, is an awfully long ways away from contributing to the Rockies and is unknown to all but prospect hounds and the faithful readers of Pebble Reports. So why is he on this list? Well, it's hard to ignore a 0.72 ERA (over 62.2 IP) and 0.86 WHIP in a prospect's first inaugural season as well as a rave review from Baseball America's Ben Badler.

A 2013 repeat in the DSL saw Senzatela put up similar numbers in 51 IP (1.76 ERA, 0.69 WHIP). He was then brought to Tri-City, where in 42 IP he provided solid results against much tougher competition (3.83 ERA, 1.44 WHIP). The red flag among these stats (and the reason he rated only 31 on my list) is his K rate. Senzatela is a strike thrower (career 1.7 BB/9) guy who just doesn't miss bats - his K/9 rate was just 4.3 in Tri-City and is 5.8 for his career. It's a sign that his stuff might not play at the major league level.

The group of Jayson Aquino (further up on this list), Senzatela, Payamps, Angel Lezama, and Helmis Rodriguez create a formidable armada of Latin arms making their way through the system's lower levels.

Contract Status: 2011 FA (VZ), Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: 2019

28. Terry McClure (62 points, 12 ballots) -- Summer 2013 Ranking: HM -- High Ballot 21, Mode Ballot 22, 26, 28, 30

McClure (whom you may remember from such articles as Here Comes the Metric System and Dial M for Murderousness) fits the bill of a prospect whose potential you can dream on but who is extremely far away from tapping into it. McClure's a very athletic player who has the frame and bat speed to develop power down the road. I ranked him 33rd on my list.

The 8th round pick in this year's draft (who signed for $250,000), who played outfield for Grand Junction this year, didn't turn 18 until after the Pioneer League season was over. As you might expect, he struggled against pitchers who were four to five years older than him (.254/.348/.328 in 157 PA). McClure will probably be in line for a GJ repeat next year (or maybe a move to Tri-City) - with another year of baseball instruction under his belt, McClure should be much improved at that point.

Contract Status: 2013 8th Round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: 2019

27. Tim Wheeler (74 points, 7 ballots) -- Summer 2013 Ranking: HM -- High Ballot 9, Mode Ballot 29

Wheeler, a 26 year-old who played 2013 as an outfielder in AAA Colorado Springs at age 25, appears to be something of a flash in the pan. As a 23 year-old in AA Tulsa in 2011, Wheeler had a triple slash stat line of .287/.365/.535 with 33 home runs and 57 extra base hits. Wheeler's season high in homers outside of that year is just 12 - and he's hit just 7 in his two years at Colorado Springs.

Sure, there were some extenuating circumstances (a broken hamate bone no doubt contributed to the loss of power), but it's tough to be very excited about an outfielder who hit .262/.330/.355 with five homers in the hitter's paradise of Colorado Springs in 2013.

Wheeler has a high probability of playing in the major leagues by virtue of his proximity to the Show (and his first round pedigree), his speed, and his defensive utility, (I ranked him 29th on my personal list). Those dreams took a step back when the Rockies removed him from the 40 man roster this past off-season. That and Wheeler's vanishing power make the likelihood he will ever be an impact player very, very small. At this point, he's insurance against a spate of injuries, though I think that Kyle Parker and Kent Matthes have moved ahead of him in that regard.

Contract Status: 2009 1st Round, Rule 5 Eligible, 2 options remaining

MLB ETA: 2014

26. Christian Bergman (77 points, 9 ballots) -- Summer 2013 Ranking: 22 -- High Ballot 16, Mode Ballot 20, 28

Bergman, a 25 year-old RHP at AA Tulsa, pitched very well this year, sporting a 3.37 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 171 IP. Scouting reports show that Bergman goes after hitters aggressively with a nice fastball-change repertoire and doesn't walk a lot of people (career 1.5 BB/9) - but he doesn't strike out a lot of people either (career 6.3 K/9).

As a senior sign in the later rounds of the 2010 draft, Bergman's prospect chances were largely written off by most prospect watchers. Then a funny thing happened - Bergman has continued to get results at every level he's pitched at in his professional career, with this year being his most impressive yet. Bergman was not added to the 40 man roster this past off-season and was not selected in the Rule 5 draft, indicating that the front office (and those around baseball) don't have high hopes for his future.

The low K rate and advanced age (a typical MLB prospect in the Texas League would be 23 or younger) are what holds Bergman from being higher on this list, as both are historical indicators of struggling to get hitters out at the major league level. Bergman was 34th on my list - and though it's tough to see him as a MLB starter, he's proved his doubters wrong every step of the way so far. All he can do is continue that trend, perhaps at AAA in 2014.

Contract Status: 2010 24th Round, Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: Late 2014

Stay tuned for more installments of the 2013 Winter PuRPs List in the near future!

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