Editor's note: We've made a change with the PuRPs list this year, deciding to unveil each player individually over the course of a few weeks. To keep track of the list, keep checking our PuRPs list StoryStream.
PuRP No. 24: Jose Briceno (96 points, 12 ballots) | Summer 2014 Ranking: HM | High Ballot 14, Mode Ballot 24, 25, 27, 28
Briceno, a 22-year-old catcher who repeated for Low-A Asheville after playing there at the end of 2013, made the most of his second tour with the Tourists. In 350 plate appearances, he hit .283/.336/.476 (125 wRC+) while throwing out 44 percent of baserunners from behind the plate. That came after putting up a .333/.356/.614 line (137 wRC+) in Grand Junction the previous season.
Briceno didn't make my top 30 in the summer, but a glowing scouting report from Kiley McDaniel really made me take another look at his credentials. McDaniel rated Briceno as the No. 11 prospect in the system and had this to say about the young backstop:
Briceno is a young catcher still working on the finer points defensively, but the athleticism and tools are there to stick behind the plate and the arm is plus. The raw power is average and there's just enough feel to hit that he could get to it in games. It's a longshot but potential everyday catchers don't grow on trees, so scouts are more than willing to give Briceno a chance.
The everyday catcher potential is what led me to place Briceno 16th on my list and relegate a player like Hamlet Marte, who might not stick at catcher, to honorable mention status. A similar performance by Briceno next year at High-A will likely move him well up this list the next time around.
Briceno was left unprotected in this year's Rule 5 Draft, like fellow PuRP Johendi Jiminian. Unlike Jiminian, Briceno will be granted minor league free agency after the 2015 season, so if the Rockies would like to keep him after this year, the catcher must be placed on the 40-man roster. Here's to Briceno making that decision an easy one for the Rockies.
Contract Status: 2009 free agent (Venezuela), Rule 5 eligible, three options remaining
MLB ETA: Late 2017