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. 14: Antonio Senzatela (270 points, 16 ballots) | Summer 2014 Ranking: 20 | High Ballot 10, Mode Ballot 13
Senzatela, a 19-year old right-hander who pitched at Low-A Asheville in 2014, was very successful this year against hitters that are on average about three years older than him. In 144⅔ South Atlantic League innings, Senzatela had a 15-2 record, 3.11 ERA, and 1.18 WHIP (albeit with a 4.19 FIP). This line followed a stateside debut in Tri-City last year in which Senzatela had a 3.83 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 42 IP after utterly overmatching hitters in the Dominican Summer League.
To be sure, it's a very promising full-season debut for Senzatela -- and the reason why he rose from 29th on this list in Winter 2013 to 14th on this edition. If one were to quibble with his qualifications (and I did, ranking him 18th on my personal list), it would be that he doesn't seem to have the stuff to miss bats at a higher level. Indeed, Senzatela is a strike thrower (career 2.0 BB/9) who hasn't been able to generate strikeouts (career 5.7 SO/9, 5.5 this year). It's a sign that his stuff might not play at the major league level.
Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs, who placed Senzatela 24th among Rockies prospects, had this to say:
19-year-old Venezuelan righty works 90-94 and hits 96 but has a limited upside with below average off-speed and a 6'1/180 frame. The delivery and command are good and he's young enough that the stuff could improve; he could turn into a back-end type or spot starter with small improvements.
I think that's a fair assessment. Senzatela has thus far shown advanced pitching ability but his stuff currently is not good enough for him to succeed at higher levels. Still, he's got enough potential development in him to turn into a useful fringe major league arm. Senzatela has accomplished quite a lot for a prospect his age and is worth watching as he encounters hitters at higher levels, starting with the High-A California League next year. Senzatela will be Rule 5 eligible next year, so it's a very important year for him to show he deserves that 40-man roster slot.
Contract Status: 2011 international free agent (Venezuela), not Rule 5 eligible, three options remaining
MLB ETA: 2018