Today I reveal five more names on the Winter 2013 Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) list. 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.
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 PuRPs 25-21 (players 25-22 were very close in voting):
25. Max White (103 points, 15 ballots) -- Summer 2013 Ranking: 23 -- High Ballot 16, Mode (most common when placed) Ballot 24, 27
Contract Status: 2012 2nd Round, Not Rule 5 eligible, 3 options remaining
MLB ETA: 2018
24. Will Swanner (105 points, 14 ballots) -- Summer 2013 Ranking: 13 -- High Ballot 14, Mode Ballot 29
Swanner, a 22 year-old catcher who spent the year playing at age 21 for High A Modesto, has been known for two things throughout his career -- his prodigious power and his poor contact rate at the plate. After all, in his first professional season Swanner swatted a homer every 11 PAs but didn't walk a single time, while striking out 40% of the time.
After a breakout year in the South Atlantic League as a 20 year-old in 2012 (.302/.385/.529), the catching prospect has struggled considerably in Modesto, hitting just .239/.324/.425 with 13 HRs and striking out 32% of the time while being overshadowed by fellow catcher Ryan Casteel. At least the contact rate has improved - he walked 11% of the time this year.
The big knock on Swanner is that he might not stick as a catcher defensively at higher levels, so the fact that he's not hitting at an elite level gives one pause (and is the reason he's dropped on this year's ballot). Still, I'm enough of a believer that those hit tools will play fine at first base or a corner outfield position to put him 19th on my list.
I'm interested to see what the Rockies do with him next year - Tom Murphy clearly has passed him on the ladder and Casteel might have too. Will he repeat in Modesto or will he move up to Tulsa in lockstep with Casteel? It depends on what the Rockies do with Murphy, who skipped Modesto altogether last year. I think it's more likely that Swanner will end back up at Modesto while Murphy and Casteel handle Tulsa. The decision will give us a clearer indication of how the Rockies see their young catcher prospects stacking up.
Contract Status: 2010 15th Round, Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining
MLB ETA: Late 2016
23. Jordan Patterson (106 points, 13 ballots) -- Summer 2013 Ranking: NR -- High Ballot 15, Mode Ballot 18
Patterson, a 22 year-old outfielder who played the season at age 21 for rookie level Grand Junction, put up a very nice debut season in a good hitter's environment (.291/.389/.495 in 249 plate appearances). Colorado's 4th round pick out of South Alabama this year, Patterson is a big guy (6'5") who has the power and hit tools to profile as a corner outfielder.
Our own Drew Creasman had an interview and a scouting report of Patterson in his DC in GJ series. Here's an excerpt:
Patterson can hit too. While I was there it seemed like he produced nothing but line drives. He has a beautiful, compact, left-handed swing and watching him take batting practice was a treat...The arm is an absolute cannon, the athleticism is clearly there and he is every bit of the 6'5", 215 pounds that he is listed as. He moves well, hits well, throws exceptionally, and has absolutely zero noticeable ego.
While Patterson did indeed impress in his debut season, he probably needs to stick in the outfield for him to stay on the prospect radar. I'd like to see him at a higher level to better gauge his ability, which is why I left him off my list this time. If he continues this in Asheville next year, I'll be more confident that he belongs.
Contract Status: 2013 4th Round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining
MLB ETA: 2018
22. Taylor Featherston (107 points, 12 ballots) -- Summer 2013 Ranking: 25 -- High Ballot 10, Mode Ballot 30
Featherston, a 24 year-old middle infielder who played this season at age 23 for High A Modesto, quietly played very well as the double play partner of the more heralded Trevor Story in the Nuts infield. Playing second base almost every day, Featherston hit .292/.342/.484 with 54 XBHs in 516 PAs, which certainly helps mitigate the fact that he's a little old (at least compared to top prospects) for the level.
Story's presence will continue to keep Featherston from playing SS (his college position) regularly at higher levels, but he should continue to play everyday at second in Tulsa next year. I placed Featherston (whose most likely outcome is a high quality org-player) at 30 on my list, though if he produces this line at AA I might be enticed to consider his case more seriously than as a low ceiling high floor player.
Contract Status: 2011 5th Round, Rule 5 eligible, 3 options remaining
MLB ETA: 2015
21. Pat Valaika (145 points, 16 ballots) -- Summer 2013 Ranking: NR -- High Ballot 10, Mode Ballot 17, 18, 19, 24, 27, 30
Valaika, a 21 year-old shortstop who played this season at age 20 for advanced short season Tri-City, was the last of the 2013 Rockies draft picks to sign because his UCLA team won the College World Series this year (he was the PAC 12 defensive player of the year this season while hitting cleanup for the Bruins). He might lack the arm strength to play shortstop at the big league level, which will hurt his value, but he definitely has promise as a utility infielder at the next level. He's the leading candidate to man shortstop at Asheville next year (or second base at Modesto with Rosell Herrera).
Valaika held his own in a tough hitter's environment while playing good defense at a premium position, enough for me to place him 22nd on my personal ballot. His triple slash hitting line of .240/.345/.390 in 178 plate appearances might not look like much, but given his age, position, and league those were perfectly acceptable numbers (the NW League average triple slash was .245/.327/.343). His patience (13% BB rate) and contact ability (18% K rate) will serve him well at higher levels.
Contract Status: 2013 9th Round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining
MLB ETA: 2017
Stay tuned for more installments of the 2013 Winter PuRPs List in the near future!