PuRP No. 29: Hamlet Marte (130 points, 25 ballots) | Winter 2015 Ranking: 25 | High Ballot 15, Mode Ballot 26
Marte was tied with Harrison Musgrave in points, but he wins the tiebreaker because he appeared on more ballots. The 21-year-old catcher, who plays for Short Season-A Boise, has only 91 plate appearances to date in the Northwest League. But he's making the most of them in a notorious pitcher's league, hitting .288/.348/.463 (136 wRC+) at an age-appropriate level. This is coming after Marte hit .329/.404/.509 (136 wRC+) in 188 PAs for the Grand Junction Rockies last year. Before that, Marte won the Dominican Summer League MVP in 2013 with a .292/.382/.452 line (148 wRC+) and a rare (for the DSL) seven homers, albeit in his third season of action at that level.
Defensively, the tools are there for Marte to succeed -- particularly arm strength -- but they haven't translated to throwing out baserunners (just five out of 27 this year). In addition, Marte had 12 passed balls and five errors in just 34 games behind the plate last year and another three in 17 games this year, putting his pitch blocking skills somewhat into question. If he can stick as a catcher, Marte has considerable potential value to the organization. However, to climb the list Marte must distinguish himself in full-season ball and behind the plate as a legitimate catcher (or just continue to knock the tar off the ball, which would make his bat playable at any position).
Marte will be Rule 5 eligible after 2015, though I don't see the Rockies protecting him because of how far away he is from major league contribution. Indeed, at his current development rate he's a player who most likely will make it to minor league free agency before he makes it to Colorado. Still, the bat potential is obviously there and if he can clean up his work behind the plate he's a valuable organizational asset. He missed my personal ballot this time, but some impressive stats at a full-season affiliate would go a long way toward establishing his prospect credibility.
Contract Status: 2011 free agent (Dominican Republic), Rule 5 eligible after 2015, three options remaining
MLB ETA: Late 2018