The emergence of Omar Carrizales this year was a pleasant surprise for Colorado's minor league system. The 20 year-old lefty outfielder from Venezuela flew under the prospect radar as a player who signed for just $30,000 in 2012 as a 17 year-old, but he has played well at every minor league stop so far. After a .302/.355/.353 line (115 wRC+) in the DSL as an 18 year-old, Carrizales was named one of the top 20 DSL prospects by Baseball America's Ben Badler. In 2014, the lefty outfielder came stateside and hit .307/.376/.379 (100 wRC+) during his age 19 season in Grand Junction, leading Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs to call him a "plus runner with contact skills" and landing him in McDaniel's "others of note" section.
In 2015, Carrizales did everything he could to make prospect hounds pay attention to him in Low-A Asheville. Early on, Carrizales was red hot, hitting .335/.384/.476 in the season's first half against pitchers that were on average 1.5 years older than him. In other words, he was doing what he had already done the last couple of years, but now with more power and in full-season ball. Unfortunately, Carrizales cooled off significantly down the stretch, hitting just .250/.297/.362 in the season's second half. In all, that added up to a .286/.333/.410 campaign (110 wRC+) with 27 extra base hits and 23 steals (but 16 CS) in 436 plate appearances. A good season for a player of that age, but one that didn't live up to the expectations created early on.
While I'm usually one of the few PuRPs voters to recognize and rank DSL players aggressively, I admit that, given his lower signing bonus, Carrizales really snuck up on me with his hot start in Asheville as a 20 year-old. Unfortunately the poor second half of the year, combined with a lack of power outside of hitter friendly McCormick field (.373 slugging on away games) and a lack of prospect pedigree led me to leave him just off my ballot this time around.
I'm guessing the Rockies will move Carrizales up to High-A Modesto in 2016, where his ability to hit against higher level pitching will be a great barometer for his future success -- and necessary to get him on the prospect radar. Carrizales will be Rule 5 eligible after this season, so the Rockies might have their hand forced if Carrizales plays very well next season.