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Rockies prospect rankings: No. 17 Dom Nunez one of minors' best hitters over the last month

Nunez looked lost to start the season in his first year of full-season ball. That, uh, is no longer the case.

PuRP No. 17: Dom Nunez (402 points, 35 ballots) | Winter 2014 Ranking: 13 | High Ballot 13, Mode Ballot 17

After Dom Nunez made the switch to catcher in the 2014 season, the scouting accolades followed. 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. After poor stats in his debut season in Grand Junction, Nunez repeated the level but this time was behind the plate (his high school position).

In 198 plate appearances, Nunez lived up to his athleticism and potential against pitchers who were 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 in 2014, read the interview conducted by our own Drew Creasman.

Meanwhile, national prospect watchers took notice of Nunez when evaluating the Rockies system. In fact, Nunez placed in the top 10 of Baseball Prospectus's end of 2014 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.
Early on this year, there was cause for concern for those on the Nunez bandwagon. The 20 year-old really struggled initially with Low A pitching that is again 18 months older than him on average. In the season's first half, Nunez limped to an ugly .216/.280/.251 line in 187 plate appearances -- a likely reason why he fell four spots on this list from his previous placement (I placed him 22nd on my ballot).

Since then though Nunez has been a one man wrecking crew. In 111 plate appearances since the SAL All-Star Break, Nunez has mashed to the tune of .376/.495/.741 with eight homers (he had none in the first half). That's downright Ruthian. In all, Nunez now has a very respectable .270/.358/.417 batting line (126 wRC+) in 298 plate appearances in Asheville. Furthermore, Nunez has walked almost the same as he's struck out (37 vs. 39 times), showing great patience at the plate, particularly in the last few weeks when his walk rate is approaching 20%.

Beyond the hitting numbers, Nunez has shown the raw tools and mental fortitude to stick behind the plate (though he does have 16 errors, six passed balls, and a 18% CS rate). 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. If Nunez can avoid too much of a drop off from his recent nuclear hot streak, he'll be moving on to Modesto next year to face another challenge in the California League.

Contract Status: 2013 sixth round, not Rule 5 eligible (2017), three options remaining

MLB ETA: Late 2018