Purple Row Prospects List, Winter 2013: 20-16

Charlie Drysdale

Here are prospects 20-16 in the Winter 2013 Purple Row Prospects list, the Purple Row community's list of the top 30 Rockies prospects.

It's time to 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 20-16 - all five of these players spent their 2013 season in short season ball:

20. Alex Balog (151 points, 16 ballots) -- Summer 2013 Ranking: 15 -- High Ballot 17, Mode (most common when placed) Ballot 21

Balog, a 21 year-old RHP who spent the season at age 20 playing for rookie-level Grand Junction, was Colorado's competitive balance second round pick in this year's draft out of the University of San Francisco. The righty was the 32nd rated prospect overall by Baseball America but lasted until the 70th pick, leading many to label him a steal.

Here's what David OhNo had to say about Balog after the draft:

It's not often you get the chance to draft a tall collegian with a mid 90's sinking fastball, but Rockies did just that. Balog also shows promise in his breaking pitches, and despite his size, he's highly athletic and can repeat his delivery and should develop a solid change. Athleticism still gives him some upside.

Unfortunately, Balog's pro debut got off to a rough start, which caused him to take a five spot tumble from the last list. Over seven starts and 30 innings, Balog got knocked around to the tune of a 9.30 ERA and 1.97 WHIP while posting a paltry 5.1 K/9 rate. Obviously this is a very small sample size, but it's a worrisome debut. Balog's still got enough of that new prospect shine on him to rank 17th on my ballot...and he could easily be a top ten guy in the next list if he provides better results on the next level.

It will be interesting to see where the Rockies place Balog in 2014 - will they send him to Low A Asheville for full season ball or will the team hold him back into short season Tri City? Given his pedigree and age I'd say the former, but I wouldn't be too surprised if it was the latter.

Contract Status: 2013 Supplemental 2nd Round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: 2017

19. Dom Nunez (177 points, 15 ballots) -- Summer 2013 Ranking: 21 -- High Ballot 11, Mode Ballot 13, 14, 18, 23, 25, 28

Nunez, a 19 year-old middle infielder who played this season at age 18 for Grand Junction, was Colorado's 6th round pick in this year's draft but was rated as (and paid like, receiving a $800k bonus) 2nd or 3rd round talent (ranking 65th on Baseball America's Top 100 list). Nunez had poor stats this year (.200/.269/.323 in 217 plate appearances) as a young player, though his stats were depressed by an extremely low (especially against Rookie League defenders) .210 BABIP. Normalizing that BABIP gives him a much more respectable batting line.

Even taking into account the poor results in 2013, Nunez still gives fans a lot to love as a prospect, boasting defensive versatility, athleticism, and a solid contact tool. Here's what Rockies senior director of scouting operations Marc Gustafson had to say about Nunez right after the draft:
"We're going to start him out in the infield," Gustafson said. "We took a premium athletic, handsy type player that has a good bat, meaning that there's some versatility. We're providing a young man to the development department that can play in the middle of the infield, corner, third base position."
Nunez, who placed 13th on my list, is a blank canvas for fans to dream on because of his positional value and athleticism. We'll see if the Rockies are big enough believers in Nunez to jump him up to full season ball next year at age 19 or if we'll see him back in one of the short season leagues.

Contract Status: 2013 6th Round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: 2018

18. Wilfredo Rodriguez (185 points, 17 ballots) -- Summer 2013 Ranking: 19 -- High Ballot 16, Mode Ballot 18

Rodriguez, a 20 year-old catcher who spent the year at age 19 for short season Tri-City, was the most pleasant surprise of the 2012 draft class in 2012 besides David Dahl. The Puerto Rican hit .319/.370/.452 in 183 PAs as a very young player in the Pioneer League while receiving good reviews for his ability behind the plate. His youth led the Rockies to send him to Tri-City for 2013 instead of a full season league for a little more seasoning.

Rodriguez's surface level stats were less impressive in Tri-City (.270/.355/.326 in 167 PAs), but then again the Northwest League is a much tougher offensive environment than the Pioneer League. Still, it would have been nice to see a few more extra base hits from Rodriguez (he only had six this year). The receiving abilities and the passable offense earned him the 18th spot on my ballot. If this translates into a successful full-season debut next year, Rodriguez will get top ten consideration on the next list.

Contract Status: 2012 7th Round, Not Rule 5 eligible, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: Late 2017

17. Sam Moll (224 points, 18 ballots) -- Summer 2013 Ranking: 27-- High Ballot 14, Mode Ballot 16

Moll, a 22 year-old RHP who spent this season at age 21 at Tri-City, was Colorado's 3rd round pick in this year's draft. Moll had the same sample size to work with that 2nd round pick Alex Balog (see above) had - just 30 innings pitched - but he was much more successful in those innings, putting up a sterling 1.80 ERA and 1.00 WHIP with a 8.7 K/9 rate in a favorable pitching environment.

David OhNo wrote up a nice profile on Moll when he was drafted. Here's an excerpt:

If he wasn't 5'11", Moll might have had looks as a first rounder. A lefty pitching at 92-94 while flashing 96 with cut or tail has a 60 present fastball. His curve-now-slider has hard 1-7 break, and could also be a 60 pitch with work. Moll is athletic, repeats his delivery, and has improved his control every step of the way.

Just as Balog's sample was not indicative of his true talent level, Moll's dominant 30 inning stretch does not necessarily portend full season success. Still, you'd much rather have your prospects have Moll's line than Balog's. Moll probably will end up as a reliever, but Colorado has given him a chance to start (as they did with Chad Bettis). If Moll's secondary pitches develop he could be a back-end starter. He placed 21st on my personal ballot.

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

MLB ETA: 2017

16. Raimel Tapia (244 points, 18 ballots) -- Summer 2013 Ranking: NR -- High Ballot 9, Mode Ballot 11, 17

Tapia, a 20 year-old outfielder who played this season at age 19 for Grand Junction, was a highly regarded international sign for the Rockies back in 2010 (though Joel Payamps and Johendi Jiminian received larger bonuses). After two years in the Dominican Summer League, Tapia made his way stateside this year...and all he did was win the Pioneer League Player of the Year Award.

In 286 plate appearances Tapia was unconscious, hitting .357/.399/.562 with 33 extra base hits against pitchers 2-3 years older than him on average - all the while playing a solid center field. He didn't wasn't a very patient hitter (5% BB rate), but it's hard to quibble with a .399 OBP and all of that swinging didn't lead to a lot of strikeouts (11% K rate). That's just about as good of a stateside first impression that you can make.

Drew and Bryan tag-teamed a great article about Tapia this summer, in which they got some great quotes from Tapia. Here's my favorite:

"When I get in the box," said Tapia (through Estevez), "I'm thinking 'this guy can't beat me.'"

Tapia had been on the fringes of my PuRPs list heading into this year, but that huge increase in slugging percentage caught me very off guard - enough so that my enthusiasm about Tapia is maybe a little lower than others. I placed Tapia 20th on my ballot, but another great performance in Asheville moves him into the top ten.

Contract Status: 2010 FA (DR), Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: 2018


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

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