Summer 2013 Purple Row Prospects List: #15-11

Charlie Drysdale

Here are prospects 15-11 on the Summer 2013 Purple Row Prospects list, the Purple Row community's list of the top 30 Rockies prospects.

Today I reveal five more names on the Summer 2013 Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) list. As a reminder, 23 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 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 this 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 to date. For what it's worth, I'll also include where I put them on my personal ballot.

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 15-11:

15. Alex Balog (302 points, 21 ballots) -- Fall 2012 Ranking: NR -- High Ballot 8, Mode (most common when placed) Ballot 15

Balog, a 20 year-old RHP assigned to rookie 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. He ultimately signed for slot money at $795,200. Here's what David OhNo had to say about Balog:

Balog was considered a potential first rounder a month ago before tiring down the stretch. Still, Balog was available roughly 30-40 spots later than he should have been. 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.

The downside of course is that his results in college never quite matched up with the stuff, making him a candidate for relief instead. Plus, he has yet to make his professional debut. Still, the tools and the mid-rotation starter ceiling were enough for him to make every ballot (the first so far to appear on all of them), including mine at 15.

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

MLB ETA: Late 2016

14. Dan Winkler (326 points, 21 ballots) -- Fall 2012 Ranking: HM -- High Ballot 7, Mode Ballot 12, 13, 17

Winkler, a 23 year-old RHP at High A Modesto, has (along with Eddie Butler) raised his stock this year more than any other Rockies prospect with a dominant year at Modesto, including a shared no-hitter last week. In all, Winkler has gone 11-2 this year with a 2.02 ERA, a preposterous 0.76 WHIP, and has struck out 113 batters in 98 innings pitched (10.4 K/9) while walking just 25 (2.3 BB/9). His strikeouts total leads the entire minor leagues this year.

Sure, the 20th round pick in 2010 is maybe a little old for a prospect in the California league, but we certainly can't expect him to perform any better at the level than he has already. Here's Charlie's interview with Winkler for more on his success this year. The back-end starter ceiling and age relative to level were all that kept Winkler down at 19 on my ballot, though that was before the no-hitter. Continuing this performance at Tulsa later this summer or next year should shoot him into the top 10.

Contract Status: 2010 20th Round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: 2015

13. Will Swanner (346 points, 20 ballots) -- Fall 2012 Ranking: 5 -- High Ballot 6, Mode Ballot 12

Swanner, a 21 year-old catcher at 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 last year (.302/.385/.529), the catching prospect has struggled a little in Modesto, hitting just .239/.326/.340 and striking out 32% of the time while being overshadowed by fellow catcher Ryan Casteel.

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 a believer that those hit tools will play fine at first base or a corner outfield position (I put him 10th on my list) and I think that age for his level should be taken into account here. I'll be interested to see what happens with him in the second half of the year - if he resumes hitting well, he could be ticketed for Tulsa next year. Otherwise he might be a repeat at Modesto.

Contract Status: 2010 15th Round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: Late 2015

12. Jayson Aquino (364 points, 21 ballots) -- Fall 2012 Ranking: 14 -- High Ballot 9, Mode Ballot 14

Aquino, a 20 year-old LHP at short-season Tri-City, has been dominant every season he's pitched for the Rockies organization. He had a 1.02 ERA in his age 17 season and he followed it up with a 1.30 ERA the next year. In 2012 he slipped all the way down to a 1.66 ERA over two levels (including his stateside debut), with a WHIP of 0.90, while in 2013 in four starts the ERA is 3.13 and the WHIP is 1.13. So far, Aquino has a career line of 22-7, 1.53 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and a 8.4 K/9 rate over 282.2 innings. In other words, his performance as a professional has been pretty ridiculous thus far.

Once you get over the crazy numbers, it's important to consider context. Aquino pitched in the DSL for 2.5 years (who knows why he stayed that long), which does suppress power particularly. It's an environment where pitchers with great control like Aquino can thrive by pitching to contact. Then again, while Aquino didn't strike out as many hitters in Grand Junction (7.5 K/9) and so far at Tri-City (6.3 K/9), he's still been pretty darn effective in his cameo stateside (2.31 ERA, 1.04 WHIP over 66 IP).

I've been putting Aquino on my ballot for the last five iterations of this poll (he was 20th on mine simply because he's still very far away, he'll be Rule 5 eligible after this year, and the lower K rate stateside), but he needed to come to the US to finally receive up-ballot consideration. A move to full-season ball next year is probable, though it's possible we see him at Asheville by the end of next year.

Contract Status: 2010 Amateur Free Agent (DR), Rule 5 Eligible After 2013, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: Late 2016

11. Tom Murphy (407 points, 21 ballots) -- Fall 2012 Ranking: 15 -- High Ballot 6, Mode Ballot 9

Murphy, a 22 year-old catcher at Low A Asheville, is in the midst of a breakout year offensively. In the friendly confines of the South Atlantic League, Murphy is currently hitting .329/405/.690 with 17 HRs and 40 XBHs in 56 games. Of course, hitting like that as a 22 year-old in the SAL is one thing -- if Murphy is to really make the leap, he'll have to prove himself against better competition, and he'll have to do it quicker because of his age.

He's old for a prospect in Low A ball, but he's been limited by the fact that Colorado has two PuRPs manning the position at High A Modesto in Swanner and Casteel. Like Swanner, reports on Murphy's defense have shown concerns about his ability to stick behind the dish. Given the fact that Swanner's a level ahead and six months younger, he got the edge on my list (I had Murphy 13th), but Murphy's bat has been very potent this year and the chance he sticks at catcher is probably higher so I don't mind this placement by the electorate at all.

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

MLB ETA: 2016

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

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