With the 2011 World Series already set, it's high time that I began revealing the Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) list for Fall 2011, as voted on in early September. I will reveal these prospects five at a time to give people who aren't in the know a little bit more of information on them. I'll reveal the list a little bit more each day over the next week, with the top five coming out next Monday.
Forty 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 thirteen 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 thirty players on the PuRPs list were named on at least fourteen ballots. The first tiebreaker goes to the player who was ranked on the most ballots, then to the one who was ranked highest on an individual PuRPs ballot.
In all, 64 players received at least one vote for this PuRPs list, 52 got mentioned on multiple ballots, 34 were named on at least 13 ballots (and therefore were unmodified), and 24 were named on at least 30 ballots, showing that the top 80% of the list was more or less agreed upon by the community, if not necessarily the order. Here is a link to the polling thread.
All prospects who retained their Rookie of the Year eligibility (less than 130 ABs, 50 IP, and 45 days on the active roster) were eligible for selection on this list. Among last spring's list, Juan Nicasio (2), Rex Brothers (8), and Chris Nelson (13) exhausted their eligibility and were removed from consideration. In addition, Bruce Billings (22) was traded during the season. Though Alex White did end up losing his ROY status in his last start of 2011, at the time of the voting his rookie status was still intact, therefore he will appear on this list.
More discussion on the voting will be included in the final installment of this series, but here are the five players who came closest to inclusion on the Fall 2011 PuRPs List:
35. Dan Houston (47.7 points, 10 ballots), 2008 7th round, RHP at Tulsa (will be 25 Opening Day)
34. Mike Zuanich (70 points points, 14 ballots), 2008 28th round, 1B at Modesto/Tulsa (25)
33. Sam Mende (70 points, 15 ballots), 2011 31st round, SS/3B at Casper/Tri-City (22)
32. Dillon Thomas (77 points, 17 ballots), 2011 4th round, OF at Casper (19)
31. Edgmer Escalona (85 points, 16 ballots), 2004 FA (VZ), RHP at Colorado Springs/Rockies (22)
It's highly likely that of those 5 players only Escalona (who has an inside track at a bullpen spot in 2012) ever contributes at the major league level, but if there were a player to watch among the five in terms of a breakout season, it would be Dillon Thomas -- a toolsy young OF prospect who may repeat in a short season league in 2012. Both Houston and Zuanich are Rule 5 Draft eligible this off-season and are unlikely to be protected.
One interesting trend compared to this spring's list is that Escalona was the highest rated relief prospect on the list -- whereas in the spring four relievers made the cut.
For each player on the PuRPs list, I've included a link to their stats (via Baseball-Reference), their relevant "tool score indicators" compared to their league on a 1-100 scouting scale (which is explained here) per the wonderful Baseball Cube, their contract status (via Rockies Roster), their probable MLB ETA (assuming they do make the Show), and a note on their 2011 season. Unless otherwise noted, all ages listed are for Opening Day 2012.
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.
Results past the jump.
30. Hector Gomez (95 points, 16 ballots) -- Stats -- Spring 2011 Ranking: 18
It's the last chance for Hector Gomez. The soon-to-be 24 year-old SS prospect, who spent most of the year at AA and made a September cameo, might be the most frustrating player in Colorado's system. He has been in the top five in this list and has been rated in the top 100 prospects of all MLB by scouts and prospect mavens (95th by Baseball America before 2008). And yet, here he is, entering his final option year, coming off a season in which he struggled mightily at AA (.235/.272/.416) and suffered his typical injuries when he did get the call to the Show.
We are left to wonder where the quick wrists and five tool potential that had scouts drooling over Gomez when he came to the US went. What we've experience with Gomez the past few years is the exact opposite of what we want to happen with our plethora of young toolsy SS prospects (which will be revealed later on). The tools, damaged though they may be from many injuries, are still there for Gomez -- unfortunately, it looks as if he's running out of time. I hope that I'm wrong, because if Gomez finally puts it together he could certainly carve out a spot for himself on the roster.
Contract Status: 2004 FA (DR), 40 Man Roster, will likely be using a bonus (final) option year in 2012
MLB ETA: 2012 or bust
29. Jayson Aquino (101 points, 14 ballots) -- Stats - Spring 2011 Ranking: NR
Aquino is a player whose stats and youth are hard to ignore. Pitching as an 18 year-old in the Dominican Summer League in 2011, all Aquino did was throw 89.2 IP of 1.30 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 80/22 K/BB ball. The crazy thing is, he was even better in the league as a 17 year-old (61.2 IP, 1.02 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 59/9 K/BB)! Obviously he's a long ways away from the big leagues and the DSL is renowned as a pitcher's paradise, but those numbers are still eye-popping.
Of all the players from the DSL to make their debut stateside in 2012, it is Aquino and fellow pitcher Joel Payamps that I will be most eagerly anticipating. With a successful US debut as a 19 year old, Aquino could rocket up this list next fall.
Not available for the DSL
Contract Status: 2010 Amateur Free Agent (DR), Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining
MLB ETA: 2017
28. David Kandilas (102 points, 18 ballots) -- Stats - Spring 2011 Ranking: NR
Kandilas is a very interesting case -- after all, the 21 year-old Aussie OF was playing in Casper for the third time this past summer, but he was still at or below the average age for the league. In any case, the speedy outfielder hit .327/.398/.548 with 33 XBHs and 15 steals in 61 games for the Ghosts. I guess the 3rd time was the charm for Kandilas, who will probably open 2012 with Low A Asheville.
He's a long way away, but if Kandilas can maintain a patient approach at the plate and retain some of the power he showed this summer, he could find himself higher on the OF totem pole next year.
Contract Status: 2009 Amateur Free Agent (AU), Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining
MLB ETA: Late 2015
27. Joshua Slaats (123 points, 22 ballots) -- Stats -- Spring 2011 Ranking: 28
Slaats, a 23 year-old RH starter who spent the year at low A Asheville, wowed us last fall with a great 2010 debut season at Tri-City, in which he posted a 11.7 K/9 rate and a 1.95 ERA as a starter. In 2011, things didn't start well (7.54 ERA, 5.1 K/9 before the All-Star break), but after the break he was a different pitcher (2.76 ERA, 8.4 K/9).
Hopefully Slaats will turn out to be the 2011 2nd half version of himself. If he can distinguish himself from the mid-bottom of rotation prospect pack in Modesto next year, he'll move up quickly on this list and through the organization.
Contract Status: 2010 5th round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining
MLB ETA: 2015
26. Ben Paulsen (140 points, 22 ballots) -- Stats - Spring 2011 Ranking: 19
Paulsen, a 24 year-old first baseman at Tulsa, was doubtless helped in this poll by a strong spring training with the big league club and also by the fact that he's the highest rated primarily 1B prospect in the system. Unfortunately, his spring success didn't transfer over to AA, as he hit only .241/.296/.413 against age-appropriate competition.
Yes, he's an above average defensive 1B, but that kind of offensive production is not ideal for a 1B prospect in AA. There's not a whole lot to dream about when talking about Paulsen, but I see his upside as an Adam Laroche with less power -- and there's some value in that, though I don't see him as a MLB quality starter. However, given his proximity to the big leagues and the fact that the Rockies thought highly enough of him to send him to the Arizona Fall League this season, it would be foolhardy to rule out Paulsen contributing at the MLB level.
Contract Status: 2009 3rd Round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining
MLB ETA: 2013
Stay tuned for more PuRPs, with #25-21 coming tomorrow.