PuRP No. 28: Zach Jemiola (144 points, 21 ballots) | Winter 2015 Ranking: NR | High Ballot 14, Mode Ballot 29
Coming into this year, Zach Jemiola's minor league career had been far from smooth. Colorado's ninth round pick in 2012 went straight from high school to Grand Junction, whereupon he was shellacked in a short professional debut. He returned to Grand Junction in 2013 and was ineffective again, posting a 5.21 ERA in 76 innings of work. Still, the Rockies moved Jemiola up to Low-A Asheville last year as one of the youngest players in the South Atlantic League ... where he struggled again, to the tune of a 5.06 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in 142⅓ innings of work.
The point is that, despite some poor results, the Rockies were intrigued enough by the promise of Jemiola's arm to keep giving him chances in the rotation. When Jemiola repeated in Asheville at the beginning of this year, some of that promise began to shine through. In 62⅔ innings with the Tourists, Jemiola posted a 3.16 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 7.5 K/9 before earning a rare midseason promotion to High-A Modesto.
With the Nuts, the 21-year-old Jemiola has a 3.99 ERA in 49⅔ innings while pitching to hitters that are, on average, more than two years older than him. The fact that he's in this situation at all speaks to how much the Rockies think of Jemiola and his live arm, but it was difficult for me to place him on my list (and I didn't have him anywhere close) when he has yet to have sustained success at the minor league level, particularly given that he hasn't struck out many hitters to date (6.5 K/9) despite a somewhat high walk rate (3.0 BB/9).
From all accounts in discussions with other Purple Row staff who have interviewed Jemiola, he's a guy to really root for ... so I will, too, in that small chance he becomes something more.
Contract Status: 2012 ninth round, not Rule 5 eligible, three options remaining
MLB ETA: 2018