Finally, here are the top five Purple Row Prospects. In the first five installments I've revealed prospects #30-26 , #25-21, #20-16, #15-11, and #10-6 on the Fall 2010 PuRPs list. Here is the sixth and final installment of the Purple Row community prospect list as ranked by 27 voters, with 30 points being granted for a first place vote, 29 for second, etc.
The top four players on this list are potential top 100 prospects in all of baseball (the top three top 50 guys) while the fifth player has been a top 100 prospect in the past.
For each player, I've included a link to their stats (via Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs), their relevant "tool scores" on a 1-100 scouting scale (which is explained here) per the Baseball Cube, their contract status (via Project Libra), their probable MLB ETA (assuming they do make the Show), and a note on their 2010 season.
Remember that neither the tool scores nor the statistics pages are 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.
5. Chris Nelson (635 points, 27 ballots) -- Stats -- Spring Ranking: 16
Nelson, a 24 year-old right-handed infielder who spent the bulk of the season with Colorado Springs, enjoyed a healthy breakout campaign. His line of .317/.379/.498 (164 wRC+) as a middle infielder is, needless to say, particularly impressive. The toolsy infielder is lauded for his exceptionally quick wrists, giving him plenty of power potential, and his disciplined approach at the plate. What makes Nelson even more valuable, ostensibly, is the Rockies' hole at second base. However, for some reason the ex-shortstop is buried behind EY2 and Herrera on the depth chart at the position. Hopefully Nelson dominates at AAA next year and forces the issue quickly.
Contract Status: 2004 Draft 1st round, 40 Man Roster, one option remaining
MLB ETA: 2011, might begin season with team if he impresses in spring training
4. Nolan Arenado (690 points, 26 ballots) -- Stats -- Spring Ranking: 13
Arenado, a 19 year-old righty third baseman who played this season for Asheville, is probably the best pure hitting prospect in the system. Playing against pitchers several years older than him, Arenado posted a .308/.338/.520 line (135 wRC+). with 12 homers and 41 doubles. As a hitter, he's growing into his power potential and already has exceptional contact skills, though he could stand to improve his plate discipline a little. The red flag on Arenado is his footwork on defense, which is why many have projected him moving to first base and taking over for Todd Helton full-time when he arrives on the scene in a few years.
Contract Status: 2009 Draft 2nd round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, three options remaining
MLB ETA: 2013
3. Christian Friedrich (731 points, 27 ballots) -- Stats -- Spring Ranking: 1
Friedrich, a 23 year old lefty starting pitcher who spent an injury-plagued season with Tulsa, had a bit of a setback after his sterling 2009. Over 18 starts Friedrich went 3-6 with a 5.05 ERA (4.21 FIP) while dealing with injuries to his elbow. However, as recently as last year Friedrich was showing off four plus pitches with great command and putting up a 2.41 ERA (2.54 FIP). His tools are still outstanding and he's likely to return to his dominant self soon. If he does not, then his stock will naturally fall. Friedrich could see a MLB opportunity open up soon if the Rockies don't re-sign Jeff Francis or Jorge De La Rosa this offseason, leaving Colorado bereft of southpaw starters.
Contract Status: 2008 Draft 1st round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, three options remaining
MLB ETA: Late 2011/Early 2012
2. WIlin Rosario (759 points, 27 ballots) -- Stats -- Spring Ranking: 5
Rosario, a 21 year-old right-handed catcher who played this year in Tulsa, had a breakout campaign that was prematurely ended by an August ACL tear. Perhaps no Rockies prospect was having a better year than Rosario until the injury, as his batting line of .285/.342/.552 (143 wRC+) and 19 home-runs in just 73 games as a catching prospect hitting against pitchers much older than him will attest. Rosario also dazzled scouts with his performance at the MLB Futures game, showing off his excellent arm by throwing out two runners. In other words, he's a mighty fine catching prospect, whose only real flaws are his injury status (out until mid-2011) and his purported need for growth in game-calling. Reports have said that Rosario will return from the injury at full-strength, and if he does he could be in the Show as soon as early 2012.
Contract Status: 2006 Amateur Free Agent (DR), Rule 5 Eligible, three options remaining
MLB ETA: Late 2012
1. Tyler Matzek (805 points, 27 ballots) -- Stats -- Spring Ranking: 3
Matzek, a 19 year-old lefty starting pitcher for Asheville, was darn near unhittable this year (his first professional action). Of course, part of the reason for that was that he walked a bunch of hitters. All together, Matzek went 5-1 in 18 starts with a 2.92 ERA (4.32 FIP) against hitters 2-3 years older than him with 88 strikeouts (and 62 walks) in 89.1 IP. In any case, Matzek has the highest ceiling of any prospect in the system. Matzek's fastball sits in the mid 90s and has plus off-speed stuff as well. Here are two scouting reports on Matzek, one pre-draft and one during this season from Scouting the Sally.
Matzek dominated voting, pulling in 23 first place votes and placing no lower than 3rd on any ballot.
Pitch tools: not available
Contract Status: 2009 Draft 1st round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, three options remaining
MLB ETA: 2013
I'll post the full list tomorrow as well as some commentary on its composition.