Today I reveal the fourth installment of 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 next five members of the Summer 2014 PuRPs List:
15. Ryan Casteel (326 points, 20 ballots) -- Winter 2013 Ranking: 11 -- High Ballot 7, Mode Ballot 13, 14, 15
Casteel, a 23 year-old catcher at AA Tulsa, is the first prospect on this list to have been listed on every ballot, though he did drop four places from the last list. Casteel tore apart the California League last yea in a big-time breakout year - and while he hasn't quite reached those heights this year in AA, he's been a pretty good player for the Drillers. Casteel has a .282/.334/.459 line with 12 HR in 332 plate appearances against players who are on average a year older than him.
The question with any catching prospect is whether they will stick behind the dish at the big league level. This year Casteel, who is reportedly a good defensive catcher, has been sharing catching duties with the next player on this list and others - playing only 28 of his 77 games behind the plate this year. That might be by design, but it's tough to have confidence in Casteel as a catcher if he isn't given more reps on his AA team. Still, I ranked Casteel as Colorado's top catching prospect on my ballot (14th overall), just ahead of his batterymate in Tulsa. He'll probably be protected with a 40 man roster slot this off-season and could be up with the Rockies as soon as next year.
Contract Status: 2010 17th Round, Rule 5 after 2014, 3 options remaining
MLB ETA: 2015
14. Tom Murphy (331 points, 20 ballots) -- Winter 2013 Ranking: 9 -- High Ballot 8, Mode Ballot 15
Murphy, a 23 year-old catcher at AA Tulsa, has unfortunately had something of a lost year this season due to injuries, including shoulder stiffness, that have limited him to 27 games this year. I have it on good authority that the Rockies were really in love with Murphy this time last year as a prospect despite concerns about him staying behind the plate, and the fact that he started 23 out of the 27 games he's played this year at catcher (over Casteel) show me that he's number one on Colorado's catching prospect ladder.
In his 109 plate appearances in AA, Murphy has struggled offensively, putting up a .213/.321/.415 line. Should he make his way back from his injury before the year is out, Murphy will need to show the offensive form that got him promoted directly from Low A to AA last year. There really isn't a whole lot in the way of Murphy and Coors Field, but he has to prove that his offense will be able to mask his reported defensive deficiencies. Because I think that Murphy will bounce back when he's healthy and that he'll be a prime candidate to move up to the Show as soon as next year, I placed Murphy 15th on my ballot.
Contract Status: 2012 3rd Round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining
MLB ETA: 2015
13. Dan Winkler (343 points, 20 ballots) -- Winter 2013 Ranking: 12 -- High Ballot 7, Mode Ballot 13
Winkler, a 24 year-old RHP who plied his trade this year for AA Tulsa, was having arguably the best year of any Rockies pitcher, minors or majors, before succumbing to the injury bug last month and getting Tommy John surgery. In 70 innings of work, Winkler had a 1.41 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 2.2 BB/9 rate, and a 9.1 K/9 rate - at times overshadowing the three pitching prospects at Tulsa rated even more highly than he. There were rumblings that Winkler was in line for a promotion to AAA or even the big leagues before his injury.
Alas, Winkler's season has been cut short and he'll have to try to regain his magnificent form upon his return. Winkler's been a little old for an elite prospect at every level and his 20th round draft status hasn't been helpful for his prospect pedigree, but it's hard to ignore dominance like that at the AA level. The back-end starter projection (which goes out the window if he keeps up that K rate at higher levels) and age relative to level were all that kept Winkler down at 17 on my ballot. If he comes back as the same pitcher next year, I suspect that Winkler will crack the top ten with ease, and then the Rockies rotation.
Contract Status: 2010 20th Round, Rule 5 After 2014, 3 options remaining
MLB ETA: 2015
12. Forrest Wall (344 points, 20 ballots) -- Winter 2013 Ranking: NR -- High Ballot 6, Mode Ballot 10
Wall, a 18 year-old second baseman at rookie ball Grand Junction, was Colorado's pick in the Competitive Balance Round A of this year's draft, held right after the first round (Wall was the 35th overall pick) and he signed for an over slot bonus of about $2 million. It's very unusual to see a high school second baseman drafted this high, but there's a reason. Resident prospect guru David Hood had this to say about Wall when he was drafted:
Wall is available at pick 35 because of a couple of arm injuries, one that has led him to 2nd base, where he's likely to stay career-wise, with a fallback of centerfield (with minus arm) if need be, but not as likely. Wall is going to hit. His set up is a little noisy and he can get out on his front foot a little early, but Wall exhibits plus bat speed and the ability to barrel balls. He's a little slight of frame despite a listed height of 6'1, but the bat speed gives him the chance for solid to above average pop, a plus from second base. Wall also exhibits plus, usable speed, making him a threat on the bases and a high triples number candidate in Coors Field.
In other words, Wall is a second baseman who is very likely to stick there, but he's an athletic bat-first (he's a lefty) second baseman. So far in his professional career, Wall has shown off that hit tool - putting up a .321/.400/.396 line in 60 plate appearances against players that are on average 2.5 years older than him. I was excited enough by the projectability of the hit tool that I ranked Wall 9th on my list.
Contract Status: 2014 Supplemental 1st Round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining
MLB ETA: 2018
11. Tyler Anderson (391 points, 20 ballots) -- Winter 2013 Ranking: 10 -- High Ballot 5, Mode Ballot 9, 11
Anderson, a 24 year-old LHP at AA Tulsa, was a first round pick in 2011 who was expected to move quickly through the organization with a mid-rotation ceiling. The results have been there at every step of the way (career 2.56 ERA, 1.12 WHIP over 292 IP), but unfortunately so too have been injuries that limited him last year and have caused the Rockies to be very cautious with him this year in Tulsa. Colorado instituted a 75 pitch count or so with Anderson and has only recently allowed him to toss more than 80 pitches in an outing.
Beyond the injuries and the leash Colorado has put on Anderson, he does have a 7.7 K/9 rate in AA - which is just fine, but it isn't indicative of a high major league ceiling. Still though, Anderson does have a major league floor if healthy and has the multiple secondary offerings necessary to stick as a starter in the Show if he's able to provide some good innings for a rotation that desperately needs it. Encouraged by Anderson's effectiveness this year in Tulsa, I placed him 11th on my list this time around.
Contract Status: 2011 1st Round, Rule 5 Eligible after 2014, 3 options remaining
MLB ETA: 2015
Stay tuned the next installment of the 2014 Summer PuRPs List!