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Rockies prospect rankings: No. 23 Helmis Rodriguez used contact approach to achieve success

Rodriguez benefited from limiting walks in the pitcher-friendly Northwest League in 2014, but he'll likely have to start missing some bats to have success going forward.

Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

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 rankings, keep checking our PuRPs list StoryStream.

PuRP No. 23: Helmis Rodriguez (99 points, 11 ballots) | Summer 2014 Ranking: 27 | High Ballot 18, Mode Ballot 18, 21, 23

Rodriguez, a 20-year-old left-hander who played the year at Short-Season-A Tri-City, was a revelation in the pitcher-friendly Northwest League. In 91⅓ innings over 15 starts, Dark Helmis had a 1.97 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP against players who on average were almost two years older than him. That was markedly better than the 5.10 ERA and 1.39 WHIP he posted in the Pioneer League in 54⅔ innings in 2013.

Those are certainly impressive numbers and his left-handedness makes him more valuable, but I was hesitant to put Rodriguez on my list because the strikeout numbers (just 4.0 K/9 this year) aren't there. In addition, Rodriguez posted a FIP of 3.90, almost two runs higher than his ERA, indicating that he was fortunate to get the results he had in the NWL. A pitcher like Helmis, who has good command and pitchability at lower levels, often struggles to get hitters out at higher levels without strikeout stuff. However, if he maintains this pace at a higher level he'll jump onto my list (he's currently honorable mention).

Like with several other PuRPs that have already been mentioned so far, the Rockies will have an interesting decision to make with Rodriguez this offseason, as he will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft again after 2015. He was left unprotected and unpicked in this year's Rule 5, not surprising given that he hasn't made his full-season debut yet. That means that if the Rockies don't put Rodriguez on their 40-man roster after 2015, they will risk losing him to a team willing to stash him in the bullpen at the major league level all year. The Rockies protected Jayson Aquino in a similar situation recently despite how far away he was at the time.

Contract Status: 2010 free agent (Venezuela), Rule 5 eligible, three options remaining

MLB ETA: 2018