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. 20: Kevin Padlo (136 points, 15 ballots) | Summer 2014 Ranking: 30 | High Ballot 14, Mode Ballot 19, 23, 24
Padlo, an 18-year-old third baseman who spent last season at rookie-level Grand Junction, was Colorado's fifth-round draft pick in 2014. Padlo signed for over-slot money at $650,000, was assigned to the Rockies' lowest stateside level, and immediately made an impression with his advanced approach at the plate. In 198 plate appearances against pitchers who were on average three and a half years older, the righty hit .300/.421/.594 (155 wRC+) with 27 extra-base hits.
Padlo's 15 doubles, four triples, and eight home runs amounted to him recording six more extra-base hits (.294 ISO) than singles. For most of the season he was walking more than striking out, though he finished just on the other side with a 15.7 percent walk rate and a 19.2 percent strikeout rate.
Although he racked up some errors, Padlo regularly showed off high-end athleticism and a strong arm at third base. He has the raw skills but will need to make some Arenado-like adjustments (he is similarly built) in order to turn that side of his game into a true weapon. Coaches speak highly of his makeup and some even predict that he will be the fastest riser among this year's Grand Junction crew.
That is pretty impressive for a guy who played 11 professional games while still only 17 years old. Padlo is likely prime for a promotion to a full-season level in 2015, a year in which he'll play half of the season at age 18.
Nick Faleris of Baseball Prospectus had Padlo as one of the three Rockies prospects on the rise:
The 2014 fifth rounder utilizes a high-effort swing that generates above-average pop, but has also limited his ability to handle quality secondary offerings. Fortunately for Padlo, quality secondary offerings were in short supply in the Pioneer League, and the former San Diego commit capitalized on that fact, slashing .300/.420/.594 over his 48-game professional debut. Because Padlo's game comes with effort across the board, there is an extreme amount of risk tied to the profile. Still, the strong debut and presence of above-average raw power makes for an enticing 2015 follow.
As Faleris notes, there's quite a bit of risk with a player like Padlo as this point. Still, while rookie ball stats are tough to glean a whole lot out of, it's easier to get excited about them when the player putting up good stats is so much younger than the average player in the league. If Padlo can in fact hit the stuff that doesn't go straight, and if he can make the most of his currently raw defensive tools at third, he's a player with everyday third base upside.
Contract Status: 2014 fifth Round, not Rule 5 eligible, three options remaining
MLB ETA: Late 2019