Today I reveal the first five names on the Summer 2014 Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) list. In this edition of the PuRPs poll, 20 ballots were cast, with 30 points being granted for a first place vote, 29 for second, etc. Until a player was named on seven ballots, his vote totals were modified on a sliding scale to avoid an individual ballot having too much say over the community forecast -- only one of the players on this edition of the list was listed on fewer than seven 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 2014 season. For what it's worth, I'll also include where I put them on my personal ballot. All ages are as of July 1, 2014.
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 the first members of the Summer 2014 PuRPs List:
30. Kevin Padlo (51 points, 9 ballots) -- Winter 2013 Ranking: NR -- High Ballot 20, Mode Ballot 24
Padlo, a 17 year-old (when drafted, just turned 18) third baseman at rookie level Grand Junction, was Colorado's fifth round draft pick this year. Padlo signed for over slot money at $650,000, was assigned to Grand Junction, and has immediately made an impression with his advanced approach at the plate. His line through 46 plate appearances is .324/.457/.649 - gaudy numbers to be sure, numbers that might prime him for a promotion to a full season level next year as an 18 year-old if he maintains them.
Rookie ball stats are tough to glean a whole lot out of, but it's easier to get excited about them when the player putting up good stats is 3.5 years younger than the average player in the league. I placed Padlo 30th on my personal list more for his youth/draft placement than anything else, but if he maintains this line he'll shoot up my ballot in the winter list.
Contract Status: 2014 5th Round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining
MLB ETA: Late 2019
29. Jordan Patterson (61 points, 9 ballots) -- Winter 2014 Ranking: 23 -- High Ballot 20, Mode Ballot 21, 27
Patterson, a 22 year-old outfielder playing at Low A Asheville, looked like a disappointment halfway through the year. His batting line was just .256/.350/.391, but since then he's heated up considerably, producing a .356/.427/.586 line in 87 plate appearances. Colorado's 4th round pick out of South Alabama last year, Patterson is a big guy (6'4") who has the power and hit tools to profile as a corner outfielder but who is overshadowed at times by his outfield teammates in Asheville - both of whom occupy places far higher on this list.
Patterson probably needs to stick in the outfield for him to stay on the prospect radar. He's impressed of late as a slightly older than average prospect in the SAL, but I'd like to see him at a higher level to better gauge his prospect status, which is why I left him off my list this time. If he continues this second half level of production the rest of the year, I'll be more confident that he belongs.
Contract Status: 2013 4th Round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining
MLB ETA: 2018
28. Chris Martin (67.7 points, 6 ballots) -- Winter 2013 Ranking: NR -- High Ballot 13, Mode Ballot None/All
The 28 year-old Martin is the one player on this list that qualified despite being listed on less than a third of ballots. The most likely reason that Martin didn't make more ballots is that voters didn't realize that he was still eligible to be a PuRP. After all, Martin was a major league contributor to Colorado's bullpen this year, putting up a 6.89 ERA (but 3.78 FIP) in 15 2/3 innings for the Rockies. A reliever is hardly ever a high level PuRP, but the high probability of Martin contributing to the major league club moved him onto my list at 26.
Originally drafted by the Rockies in 2005 but not signed, Martin was injured in college and didn't start his professional baseball career until 2010 in the independent leagues, signing on with Boston in 2011 and progressing quickly to AAA before coming over to the Rockies along with Franklin Morales in exchange for Jonathan Herrera this past off-season. Albert Chen of SI has Martin's great story here. Martin is currently on the AAA DL, but he's a candidate to return this September (if not sooner) to the big leagues when rosters expand.
Contract Status: 2013 Trade, 40 Man Roster, 2 options remaining
MLB ETA: Now
27. Helmis Rodriguez (80 points, 11 ballots) -- Winter 2013 Ranking: NR -- High Ballot 18, Mode Ballot 25
Rodriguez, a 20 year-old LHP at Short Season A ball Tri-City, has been a revelation in the pitcher-friendly Northwest League. In 44 2/3 innings over seven starts, Dark Helmis has a 1.61 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP against players who on average are about two years older than him. 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 (5.2 K/9 this year) aren't there. A pitcher like Helmis, who has good command and pitchability at lower levels, often struggles to get hitters out at higher levels - if he maintains this pace at a higher level he'll jump onto my list.
The Rockies will have an interesting decision to make with Rodriguez this off-season, as he will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft after this season. That means that if the Rockies don't put him on their 40 man major league roster that they could risk losing Helmis to a team willing to stash him in the bullpen at the major league level all year. Given that he hasn't emerged from short season ball yet, the risk isn't high, but the Rockies protected Jayson Aquino in a similar situation recently.
Contract Status: 2010 FA (VZ), Rule 5 Eligible After 2014, 3 options remaining
MLB ETA: 2018
26. Taylor Featherston (84 points, 13 ballots) -- Winter 2013 Ranking: 22 -- High Ballot 10, Mode Ballot 29
Featherston, a 24 year-old middle infielder playing for AA Tulsa, has quietly played pretty well as the double play partner of more heralded prospects like Trevor Story and Cristhian Adames at every step of his minor league career. Playing second base almost every day, Featherston has a .266/.331/.448 line with 38 XBHs in 384 PAs - not especially special because he's not young (at least compared to top prospects) for the level. Still, there's value in a player with middle-infield defensive value and a decent stick.
The presence of more highly regarded prospects will continue to keep Featherston from playing SS (his college position) regularly at higher levels, but he should continue to play everyday at second at Tulsa or Colorado Springs the rest of the year. I didn't place Featherston (whose most likely outcome is a high quality org-player) among the top 30 on my list, though if he continues producing at this level he could be a candidate for a cup of coffee in the big leagues next year.
Contract Status: 2011 5th Round, Rule 5 Eligible After 2014, 3 options remaining
MLB ETA: 2015
Stay tuned for more installments of the 2014 Summer PuRPs List in the near future!