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Rockies prospect rankings: No. 13 Dom Nunez experienced a smooth transition back to catcher

Nunez's prospect profile skyrocketed after a successful return to catching, a position that will make his bat much more playable.

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. 13: Dom Nunez (281 points, 16 ballots) | Summer 2014 Ranking: 19 | High Ballot 7, Mode Ballot 12, 15

Nunez, a 19-year-old catcher who played this year for rookie-level Grand Junction, was Colorado's sixth-round pick in the 2013 draft but was rated as -- and paid like, receiving an $800,000 bonus -- a second- or third-round talent, ranking 65th on Baseball America's Top 100 list. Nunez had poor stats in 2013 (.200/.269/.323 in 217 plate appearances) as a middle infielder, but the Rockies converted him back to his high school position of catcher this year in his repeat tour of the Pioneer League and it appeared to pay serious dividends.

In 198 plate appearances, Nunez has lived up to his athleticism and potential against pitchers who are 18 months older than him on average, putting up a .313/.384/.517 line (129 wRC+) combined with advanced receiving behind the plate. For more on Nunez this year, read the interview conducted by our own Drew Creasman.

Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs, who placed Nunez 21st among Rockies prospects, had this to say:
From powerhouse Sacramento-area high school that's had Derek Hill, J.D. Davis and Rowdy Tellez go high in the last two drafts, Nunez moved behind the plate as a prep senior as the ideal fit for his tools. A 6th rounder in 2013 that got an over-slot $800,000, Nunez has a line drive bat with below-average power and is coming along nicely behind the plate with the tools to stick if the aptitude is there.
Even more encouraging for Nunez's prospect stock was his placement in the top 10 of Baseball Prospectus's Rockies prospect list. Here's a selection of what Nick Faleris wrote about Nunez:
The NorCal prep product has a traditional catcher's frame, compact and sturdy, with more than enough athleticism and lateral quickness to grow into a solid defender in time. Nunez's years as a middle infielder have no doubt helped him to transition behind the dish, particular in the catch-and-throw department where he displays a quick and clean transfer and impressive accuracy. Offensively, the young backstop stood out in the Pioneer League for his ability to get to pitches across the hit zone, utilizing a compact and efficient swing to spray line drives across the field. Nunez should graduate to full-season ball in 2015 where he'll look to continue to build on the momentum gained this year.
The athleticism is there and so is the defensive utility you look for in a prospect. As an added bonus, Nunez's work ethic, intelligence, and character are all praised in the highest regard by coaches and teammates, meaning at the very least the effort should match the projected tools.

The next step is proving it above rookie ball, which Nunez should get the chance to do next year in Asheville.

Contract Status: 2013 6th Round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining

MLB ETA: 2019