Rockies Prospects: Hot, Cold, and Surprising PuRPs of the month

Eddie Butler - by Charlie Drysdale

A look at the Rockies prospects having the best and worst performances a month into the season. Including a few non-PuRPs who have stepped up their game.

This week marked the end of the first full month in the minor leagues, so I wanted to take an unbiased look at how the top prospects in the Rockies system (PuRPs) were doing. The reason I say unbiased, is because the PuRPs polling thread is around the corner and I don't want to influence anyone's votes through my own preferences, but I figured it would be good to look at the hottest, coldest and most surprising prospects to consider for the PuRPs poll. All statistics listed are through Wednesday.

Skyrockets in Flight

Catcher Tom Murphy is the hottest prospect in baseball. He leads the entire minor leagues, with a minimum 60 plate appearances, in OPS at 1.423 and he's slugging at an unworldly pace. His seven home runs leads the organization and he's throwing out base stealers at a higher rate than he did last year. So, not only is he playing well with the bat, but he's also fielding a very tough position at a competitive level.

Shortstop Rosell Herrera has returned to Asheville and this time he's ready to play. The tall infielder has six home runs on the season and is second in OPS to Murphy. Herrera's stock was extremely low last season when he hit only .202 in Asheville before being sent down to Short-season Tri City. This season his portfolio is on the rise, as he is exceeding the playing level many expected of him last year.

Kyle Parker and Corey Dickerson are a couple of outfielders who moved up this season after sharing time in Modesto's outfield last year. Dickerson skipped over Tulsa after playing only 67 games in Double-A and hasn't missed a beat. The left-handed Dickerson is batting .374 and has already put up a 15 game hitting streak and has five triples through April nearly match his total from last year. Parker meanwhile has performed up to expectations hitting .276 with six home runs. While Kyle's statistics may not be eye-popping, he has come up big when needed this year and already has a pair of walkoff hits.

From a pitching standpoint there is no one hotter than Eddie Butler right now. He's thrown three games, of one-hit shutouts this season and sports a 1.76 ERA. Butler's strikeout rate is at a solid, if not spectacular 8.34 K/9. The Achilles heel for the 2012 Supplemental First Rounder is the fact he's walking people at an unusual clip compared to last season, but his groundball rate of 70% is inducing plenty of double plays to counter the extra runners.

Chad Bettis has enjoyed a successful return from his injured shoulder that kept him completely out of last season. He hasn't been spectacular, but a 4.06 ERA his first month back shows the rust is shaking off quite nicely. His peripheral numbers indicate there's some better games ahead as his BABIP will begin to normalize, it currently sits at .381. Chad has rediscovered his strikeout pitch since coming back and reports are that his velocity is sitting in the healthy mid-90's.

The two Tylers of Matzek and Anderson are doing well to start the season, at least going by their ERA's which are within points of each other at 3.18. Anderson's peripherals are a little brighter however, as he's inducing more groundballs, walking fewer batters and striking out more people. Matzek's strike out rate is at an all-time low and he's giving up more flyballs than is usual for him.

Stuck in Folsom Prison

Probably the most disappointing performances this season has to be from Trevor Story and Will Swanner, both are hitting south of the Mendoza line and have yet to find their stroke. Swanner is having the most trouble adapting to High-A pitching, where he's striking out at nearly a 50% rate and still maintaining a normal BABIP, so there's no good news on the horizon for this young catcher. Story is showing signs of coming out of his slump as he's reached base safely in eight consecutive games and is batting .250 in that time period.

Sky Sox outfielder Tim Wheeler is another player scuffling in the first month of the season. Coming off a broken hamate last season, it was expected his power would return this year. However, he's batting only .202/.311/.270 without a single home run in Triple-A Colorado Springs.

From a pitching standpoint, most of the Rockies starters are doing well, although it was surprising to see Parker Frazier, Joe Gardner and Rob Scahill moved to the bullpen. Frazier and Scahill have adapted well to their new roles, but the third person in the Ubaldo trade is really struggling right now with a 5.96 ERA in Double-A Tulsa.

It's a little tough to see Supplemental First Rounder Peter Tago assigned to Extended Spring Training again and most likely headed back to Short-season Tri City. There hasn't been much to add value to his status since he was drafted three years ago.

Believe It or Not I'm Walkin' on Air

Listed in the table below, are a handful of non-PuRPs who have been making the most of their opportunities this year. They are players who are having a good month and are an appropriate age for the level they're at.

Catcher Ryan Casteel is taking advantage of Will Swanner's slump by hitting .306/.348/.629 for High-A Modesto. Casteel has always played an understudy to Swanner, but he's taking a lead role this year and is hitting so well, that he's also been called on to DH in a few games.

Derek Jones was the Rockies eighth round selection in last years draft, but he didn't get much of an opportunity until David Dahl missed his flight this year. Jones has four home runs and is one of the system's leaders in stolen bases with six. As a left-handed hitter, he provides some roster flexibility as he can play outfield and first base.

Modesto's pitching staff has been light's out this season and starters Dan Winkler, Ben Alsup, and Chris Jensen have all contributed. Winkler leads the three with a 2.57 ERA, which doesn't include his one hit shutout with nine strikeouts on Thursday. Jensen is the youngest of the three, but Alsup carries the best strikeout rate. Anyway you slice them, it's a good looking staff right now.

While relievers are rarely included in the PuRPs list, Rex Brothers being one of the recent exceptions, there are a couple that have pitched well this past month. Scott Oberg surprised many Rockies fans when he skipped Asheville and was assigned to High-A Modesto. Oberg has been hot and cold, with eight saves and a 3.38 ERA on the hot side and four blown saves on the cold side. Ryan Arrowood has been working as a piggy back reliever who is averaging two and a half innings per outing. He has a 2.25 ERA and has one of the best strikeout rates in the system.

The table below lists the PuRPs in order split into hitters and pitchers. At the bottom are the players not ranked as a PuRP, but who have been playing well this first month.

HITTERS

Age

Tm

G

PA

Iso

HR

BABIP

K%

BB%

SB

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS ▾

wOBA

David Dahl, OF - Low-A

19.17

ASH

10

42

0.150

0

0.344

19%

4.8%

2

0.275

0.310

0.425

0.735

0.309

Nolan Arenado, 3B - MLB

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Trevor Story, SS - High-A

20.58

MOD

30

124

0.089

1

0.261

33.9%

7.3%

4

0.170

0.244

0.259

0.503

0.231

Kyle Parker, OF - AA

23.75

TUL

31

131

0.204

6

0.301

18.3%

6.1%

1

0.276

0.321

0.480

0.801

0.377

Will Swanner, C - High-A

21.75

MOD

21

85

0.091

1

0.314

48.2%

8.2%

1

0.156

0.235

0.247

0.482

0.210

Corey Dickerson, OF - AA

24.08

COL

25

106

0.222

2

0.412

12.3%

5.7%

3

0.374

0.406

0.596

1.002

0.403

Rafael Ortega, OF - AA

22.08

TUL

7

27

0.000

0

0.100

18.5%

7.4%

1

0.080

0.148

0.080

0.228

0.120

Tim Wheeler, OF - AAA

25.42

COL

26

103

0.068

0

0.277

23.3%

11.7%

2

0.202

0.311

0.270

0.581

0.270

Tom Murphy, C - Low-A

22.17

ASH

19

83

0.477

7

0.513

22.9%

14.5%

2

0.415

0.531

0.892

1.423

0.577

Rosell Herrera, SS/3B - Low-A

20.67

ASH

30

137

0.233

6

0.424

19%

11.7%

6

0.362

0.444

0.595

1.039

0.453

Wilfredo Rodriguez, C - Extended

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Cristhian Adames, SS - AA

21.92

TUL

24

90

0.050

0

0.318

16.7%

8.9%

3

0.259

0.326

0.309

0.635

0.332

Harold Riggins, 1B - High-A

23.25

MOD

28

116

0.194

4

0.479

44%

11.2%

0

0.262

0.345

0.456

0.801

0.350

Taylor Featherston, SS - High-A

23.67

MOD

18

85

0.158

2

0.365

25.9%

5.9%

4

0.276

0.353

0.434

0.787

0.338

Charlie Culberson, 2B - AAA

24.17

COL

28

114

0.184

3

0.337

20.2%

3.5%

3

0.284

0.310

0.468

0.778

0.329

Julian Yan, OF - Low-A

21.58

ASH

27

112

0.109

1

0.355

33.9%

5.4%

8

0.228

0.291

0.337

0.628

0.269

Sam Mende, IF - High-A

23.42

MOD

13

47

0.068

0

0.321

34%

2.1%

3

0.205

0.255

0.273

0.528

0.228

Ryan Garvey, OF - Extended

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Max White, OF - Extended

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

David Kandilas, OF - High-A

22.75

MOD

27

121

0.066

1

0.346

22.3%

11.6%

7

0.267

0.355

0.333

0.688

0.322

Miguel Dilone, 2B - DSL

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Kent Matthes, OF - AA

26.42

TUL

32

137

0.237

4

0.34

21.2%

4.4%

6

0.283

0.331

0.520

0.851

0.365

NON-PuRPs

Ryan Casteel, C - High-A

22

MOD

16

66

0.323

4

0.341

21.2%

6.1%

1

0.306

0.348

0.629

0.977

0.379

Derek Jones 1B/OF - Low-A

23

ASH

26

113

0.244

4

0.412

23%

7.1%

6

0.327

0.405

0.571

0.976

0.400

Ben Paulsen 1B - AAA

25.67

COL

20

85

0.237

2

0.391

16.5%

5.9%

0

0.338

0.376

0.575

0.951

0.413

PITCHERS

Age

Tm

G

BF

IP

ERA

FIP

SIERA

GB%

LD%

BABIP

K%

BB%

KS%

HR/9

BB/9

K/9

Chad Bettis, RHP - AA

24.17

TUL

6

130

31

4.06

3.01

2.73

46.7%

20%

0.381

25%

4%

18%

0.870

1.45

9.58

Tyler Anderson, LHP - High-A

23.5

MOD

7

160

39.2

3.18

4.18

3.36

49.6%

10.6%

0.252

23%

6%

19%

1.360

2.27

8.17

Tyler Matzek, LHP - AA

22.67

TUL

6

133

31

3.19

3.85

4.80

37.1%

18%

0.295

19%

14%

15%

0.290

5.23

7.26

Edwar Cabrera, LHP - Injured

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Eddie Butler, RHP - Low-A

22.25

ASH

7

166

41

1.76

3.81

3.25

70.9%

5.8%

0.163

23%

13%

21%

0.440

4.83

8.34

Jayson Aquino, LHP - Extended

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Joe Gardner, RHP - AA

25.25

TUL

11

105

22.2

5.96

4.13

4.00

49.3%

20.3%

0.333

21%

11%

17%

0.790

4.76

8.74

Rob Scahill, RHP - AAA

26.33

COL

10

108

25.2

3.86

3.71

3.39

53.2%

15.2%

0.333

20%

6%

17%

1.050

2.1

7.71

Peter Tago, RHP - Extended

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Christian Bergman, RHP - AA

25.08

TUL

7

161

39.2

3.18

3.63

3.68

45.8%

15%

0.270

19%

5%

9%

0.910

1.82

7.03

Parker Frazier, RHP - AA

24.58

TUL

9

87

21.1

2.95

4.09

4.22

45%

15%

0.339

20%

10%

15%

0.840

3.8

7.17

Ryan Warner, RHP - Extended

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Danny Winkler, RHP - High-A

23.33

MOD

6

138

35

2.57

3.23

3.08

37.2%

16%

0.233

25%

6%

16%

0.770

2.06

8.74

NON-PuRPs

Ben Alsup, RHP - High-A

24.75

MOD

7

155

36

3.50

3.09

3.11

46.2%

23.6%

0.311

25%

7%

21%

0.750

2.50

9.50

Chris Jensen, RHP - High-A

22.75

MOD

7

164

39

4.15

3.28

3.11

42.7%

17.1%

0.295

23%

4%

20%

0.920

1.62

8.77

Scott Oberg, RHP - High-A

23.25

MOD

14

61

13.1

3.38

3.73

4.11

37.8%

16.2%

0.303

25%

15%

18%

0.680

6.08

10.13


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