It's time for the reveal of the 2016 midseason Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) list, our community's ranking of the top 30 Colorado Rockies prospects. The top 30 prospects will be revealed five at a time over the next week or so to give people who aren't in the know a little bit more of information on them. First up, an intro to the list and then a rundown of every player to get votes, plus the five honorable mention PuRPs.
In this edition of the PuRPs poll, a record (I think) 52 ballots were cast, with 30 points granted for a first place vote, 29 for second, etc. Until a player was named on 18 ballots, his vote totals were modified on a sliding scale to avoid an individual ballot having too much say over the community forecast -- though none of the top 30 players on this edition of the list were listed on fewer than 18 ballots. The first tiebreaker goes to the player who was ranked on the most ballots, then to the one who was ranked highest on an individual PuRPs ballot, and the third is the mode ballot (no ties in the top 30 were broken in this edition).
In all, 68 players received at least one vote for this PuRPs list (up from 66), 59 got mentioned on multiple ballots (up from 44), and 33 were named on at least 18 ballots (even with last time) and therefore were unmodified. The top 17 players were named on over 90% of ballots cast, though not necessarily in the same order, while only one PuRP failed to appear on at least 50% of ballots. Here is a link to the polling thread.
All prospects who retained their Rookie of the Year eligibility (less than 130 ABs, 50 IP, and 45 days on the active roster) were eligible for selection on this list. From the preseason 2016 list, Jon Gray (1), Trevor Story (7), Miguel Castro (12), Cristhian Adames (15), and Carlos Estevez (24) exhausted their rookie eligibility and were not eligible for this list.
For each player on the PuRPs list, I'll include a link to individual stats (via Baseball-Reference), contract status (via Rockies Roster), and a note on the 2016 season. For what it's worth, I'll also include where I put each player on my personal ballot. For players receiving votes I'll provide the B-R link and voting stats, plus a short blurb where I deem one pertinent. All ages are as of the time the article was posted.
Remember that the statistics pages are not the end-all be-all when evaluating these players. Context is hugely important (such as the player's age relative to the league's average or the league average offensive numbers), as is the fact that injuries to prospects can affect both their tools and their stats. I'll make sure and make mention of instances where this is the case as we go on.
More discussion on the voting will be included in the final installment of this series, but here are the players who received votes but not enough for inclusion on the 2016 preseason PuRPs List:
T-66. Hamlet Marte (0.1 points, 1 ballot) -- arguably the best name on this list
T-66: Daniel Suero (0.1, 1) -- 20-year-old hit .308 at rookie-level Grand Junction last season
T-66: Alfredo Jose Garcia (0.1, 1) -- high-bonus Latin America signee this year
65. Correlle Prime (0.1, 1) -- former PuRP has struggled against older Double-A competition this year
64. Antonio Santos (0.2, 1) -- being a 19 year-old starter at Short Season-A Boise is tough to do, and his numbers show it
63. Josh Fuentes (0.3, 1) -- Nolan Arenado's cousin crushed it at Low-A, hasn't heated up High-A the same way
62. Joel Diaz (0.4, 1) -- 20-year-old has had a hot stateside debut at GJ (.838 OPS in 78 PAs)
61. Johendi Jiminian (0.4, 2) -- 23-year-old has been very good in relief in 40 Double-A innings this year
60. Ryan Casteel (0.6, 1) -- unfortunately Casteel has been released since polling began -- he's in Double-A for Seattle
59. Helmis Rodriguez (0.7, 1) -- Dark Helmis had been in long relief until recently for Modesto, but he's back starting
58. Yonathan Daza (0.8, 2) -- the 22-year-old is hitting .306 as a regular with Asheville this year
57. Sam Hilliard (0.8, 2) -- the 22-year-old got some SLEEPER ALERT! love from John Sickels before the year and has a .801 OPS for Asheville.
55. Yeikel Blandin (1.2, 2) -- he's the top position player signing for this year's Latin America class
54. Breiling Eusebio (1.4, 2) -- another 19-year-old who is struggling somewhat in the starting rotation for Boise
53. Pat Valaika (1.5, 3) -- Hartford's shortstop is producing roughly a league-average offensive year at age 23
52. Erick Julio (1.6, 2) -- big money Latin American signing in 2013 who is pitching well as 19-year-old for Boise
51. Anderson Amarista (1.6, 2) -- big bonus Latin American signing in 2015 who has gotten his career off to a nice start in the DSL
50. Max White (1.7, 3) -- 2012 second rounder still is just 22, but he's not exactly shining at Modesto this year
49. Javier Medina (4.7, 4) -- 2015's third rounder is another 19-year-old starter for Boise who is struggling a bit. That's four Boise starters so far, all of whom have been 19!
48. Zach Jemiola (4.9, 4) -- the 22-year-old former PuRP has managed to stick in the Double-A rotation, though his numbers are nothing to write home about.
47. Dillon Thomas (8.3, 5) -- the 2011 fourth rounder has been about league average this year (.777 OPS) for the Yard Goats.
46. Manuel Melendez (9.3, 6) -- the 19-year-old is hitting .293 in his first season stateside at GJ
45. Jose Gomez (11.3, 6) -- also a 19-year-old making his stateside debut for GJ, he's hitting .371 with an .868 OPS
44. Carlos Herrera (12.4, 7) -- this is a player I believe the electorate is sleeping on a bit (I placed him 23rd on my personal ballot). Yes, Herrera has struggled somewhat this year (.620 OPS), but remember that he's just 19 years old playing full-time in the South Atlantic League. He's also Colorado's big signing from the 2013 Latin America class ($1.2 million bonus).
Herrera was on MLB.com's preseason top 30 Rockies list, with this scouting blurb summarizing his place in the prospect landscape:
Herrera stands out for his polish relative to his age and his potential to develop into a four-tool shortstop. He has the quickness and actions for the position, and his arm has gotten stronger since he turned pro, ending any questions that he might have to move to second base or center field.
With bat speed and a handsy left-handed swing, Herrera can contribute at the plate as well. A line-drive, contact hitter, he already uses the entire field but still needs to tighten his strike zone. While his slight frame is unlikely to translate into much power, he does have the plus speed to steal bases.
43. Luis Noguera (17.3, 6) -- he's a well thought-of (No. 17 for Baseball America among international free agents) LHP the Rockies signed in this year's international signing period.
42. Wes Rogers (22, 11) -- the speed demon has 33 steals this year for Modesto after swiping 53 bags last season.
41. Colton Welker (24, 9) -- 2016's fourth rounder is hitting .301 with a .757 OPS for GJ as an 18-year-old.
39. Rosell Herrera (50, 12) -- the former top 100 prospect in MLB is no longer on Colorado's 40-man roster, but the tools are there and he's producing a league -verage line at Double-A (110 wRC+) -- and he's still a year younger than average for the league. He's on my personal list at No. 30, but I don't blame fellow voters who have grown tired of waiting for the tools to manifest themselves at a higher level.
38. Jerry Vasto (60, 15) -- it's been the Jerry Vasto show this year at Purple Row; the 24-year-old lefty reliever has risen out of obscurity with a fantastic year across two levels.
37. Willie Abreu (71.1, 16) -- this year's sixth rounder is a mountain of a man who has a .292 average and .782 OPS (131 wRC+) for Boise.
36. Wander Cabrera (72.7, 12) -- Colorado's trade return for Rex Brothers from the Cubs this past offseason was this 18-year-old who has pitched very well this year in the DSL and could come stateside later this year.
Finally, here are the five that came closest, the Honorable Mention PuRPs:
35. Garrett Hampson (78.2 points, 16 ballots), 2016 third round, SS at Short Season-A Boise (21)
34. Jairo Diaz (94.2, 15), 2014 trade (Angels), RHP on 60-day disabled list (25)
33. David Hill (107, 19), 2015 fourth round, RHP at Low-A Asheville (22)
32. Brian Mundell (112, 23), 2015 seventh round, 1B at Low-A Asheville (22)
31. Omar Carrizales (128, 24), 2012 IFA (Venezuela), OF at High-A Modesto (21)
Here are some notes on the five honorable mention PuRPs:
Hampson was drafted by the Rockies with the 81st overall pick in this year's draft out of Long Beach State, a move that was seen as a bit of a reach by mainstream pundits -- for instance, MLB.com had him rated as the 115th-best prospect in the draft. The 21-year-old shortstop was signed for $750,000, slightly below the pick's slot value, and was assigned to Short Season-A Boise. There, Hampson has proved to be one of the Hawks' best players. He has a .317/.406/.463 line in 143 plate appearances so far as an age-appropriate player. In the tough Northwest League, that's good for a 151 wRC+.
Here's a blurb from the draft write-up on Hampson:
Hampson is the quintessential scrappy college gamer type, but one with some tools he can count on. Hampson has plus speed, his carrying tool on both sides of the ball. It allows him to have enough range to stay at shortstop defensively and to be a base-stealing threat offensively. He has enough arm to play the premium position, though his best chance at being a regular might come at second baseman in the future.
What kind of profile Hampson has will depend on his bat. There's no power to speak of, but if he hits he could be a speedy every day guy on the right side of the infield. At worst, there's a high probability of him becoming a valuable utilityman at the big league level.
Hampson just missed my personal list, but I think he's a player who could make the Show and I'm intrigued by where the Rockies assign him for his first full-season action. Conceivably he could be a player who, given the presence of Carlos Herrera and Brendan Rodgers in Asheville currently, might be jumped to Modesto later this year or moved up to Hartford next year.
Diaz is a player who probably wouldn't have been eligible for this list had he not required Tommy John surgery this spring and is someone who might have gotten lost in the shuffle with voters as a result (he was 27th preseason). The 25-year-old right handed pitcher, who was acquired from the Angels in exchange for Josh Rutledge after the 2014 season, is a potential closer with a very live arm. Diaz has a fastball that has been graded by scouts as a 75-80 grade pitch with upper 90s velocity, movement, and command, complemented by an average slider.
When Diaz is at his best, he looks like a closer. His fastball can sit at 96-98 mph and peak at 100, with hitters tending to pound it into the ground when they manage to make contact. His slider can be a wipeout pitch with sharp break, arriving in the upper 80s and reaching 93 mph.
When Diaz isn't at his best, he gets hit as hard as he throws. His fastball straightens out, his slider loses bite, and his control and command disappear. He has the stuff but has yet to demonstrate the consistency to handle a late-inning role in the big leagues.
Diaz was 29th on my personal list -- he's a player whose presence (among others, several of whom made the PuRPs list this time around) should make Jeff Bridich and the Rockies front office think twice about throwing money at middling relief options next year like they did with Chad Qualls and Jason Motte before this season. When he gets back from the injury, Diaz should slot directly into the MLB bullpen.
Hill is a player who fell into Colorado's lap in the fourth round with the 133rd overall selection last year. The San Diego product had been rated as the 44th-best prospect in the draft by Baseball America (four spots ahead of Colorado second rounder Peter Lambert, who did make the PuRPs list). After a decent debut season for Short Season-A Boise, the 22-year-old Hill has posted very good peripheral numbers for Low-A Asheville in 82⅓ innings -- 9.0 K/9, 1.5 BB/9, 3.30 FIP -- but his ERA of 4.48 is less impressive due in no small part to a .357 BABIP allowed.
Here's MLB.com on Hill:
Hill can reach 95 mph with his fastball but usually operates at 90-92 mph with a two-seamer that plays up because of its sink and his ability to command it. While his low-80s slider shows flashes of becoming a solid offering at times, he gets around it and turns it into a less effective slurve at others. He also needs more consistency with his splitter/changeup, though he trusts the pitch and can get swings and misses with it.
Hill has a compact delivery that he repeats well, allowing him to pound the bottom of the strike zone. His lack of a true plus pitch likely limits his ceiling to that of a No. 4 starter, but he's a good bet to reach it. The Rockies like the way he competes and also think he could become a seventh-inning reliever if needed.
I ranked Hill 35th on my ballot, but it's a testament to the depth of this system that a player like Hill is buried this far down on prospect lists. As a pitcher with size, stuff, pedigree, and some unlucky results, I look for Hill as a breakout candidate for next year, likely with Modesto.
Mundell is a player who was pretty much off the prospect radar entirely heading into 2016, but who has forced PuRPs voters to pay attention with a massive campaign for Asheville. 2015's seventh rounder hit well in his pro debut for Boise, but the 22-year-old has been a beast in the South Atlantic League this season. In 432 plate appearances for the Tourists, the righty first baseman has a .332/.398/.522 line (161 wRC+) with 54 extra-base hits (including a minor league-leading 44 doubles). Mundell has wrought this destruction while limiting his strikeouts (12.6 percent K rate) and maintaining a decent walk rate (8.6 percent).
Mundell's best tool is his plus raw power from the right side of the plate, though he employs a mature approach and resists the temptation to swing for the fences. With his bat speed, strength and discipline, he could hit for average and power and do some damage if he makes it to Coors Field.
Recruited as a catcher by Cal Poly, Mundell spent most of his college career at DH with limited time at first base. He led short-season Northwest League first basemen with 11 errors in 56 games during his pro debut but has worked hard and looked better this year. He probably will be an adequate defender at best and doesn't offer much speed on the basepaths.
I'm generally leery of ranking first base prospects with limited positional flexibility (especially those who aren't young for the level), so it's not surprising that Mundell wasn't close to my top 30 this time around. With that said, it's been hard to ignore Mundell's campaign so far. Will the Rockies give him a bump to Modesto? It would appear that Asheville holds no more mysteries for him.
Finally, Carrizales is a player who, despite basically zero prospect pedigree ($30,000 signing bonus in 2012), has played his way onto the prospect radar of PuRPs voters. After three straight successful years moving up the organizational ladder, Carrizales has once again proven his ability to hold his own in the California League. In 378 plate appearances with Modesto, the 21-year-old lefty outfielder has a .312/.355/.451 line (117 wRC+) with 28 extra-base hits and 13 steals. That batting average ranks him seventh in the notoriously hitter-friendly Cal League.
Purple Row's own Bobby DeMuro talked at length with Carrizales earlier this year about his hitting approach among other topics. Dan Farnsworth of Fangraphs had this to say about Carrizales before the season:
Carrizales lit up the South Atlantic League in the first half of 2015, using his above-average bat speed to put up some power numbers he hadn't demonstrated before. He cooled off dramatically in the second half, calling into question how much of his power improvement was for real. His swing doesn't project for a ton of fly balls, and he will not be physical enough to project for real power in the future.
His plus speed adds a stolen base dimension to his game, but his reads and decision-making on the bases need a lot of work. Overall, Carrizales has some interesting tools that could make him a useful player, but it's still too early in his development to see a definite path to the big leagues.
Though there isn't too much buzz about Carrizales from national prospect writers, observers of Carrizales (who was 26th in the preseason list) have noted his plus speed and his plus arm in the outfield to go with what appears to be a promising contact tool. Carrizales is not likely to develop much power, so his development is very much tied to the growth of the contact tool (much like fellow Rockies prospect outfielder Raimel Tapia) as he moves up the minor league ladder. I had Carrizales just off of my personal list, but he's a guy I think Purple Row is ahead of the national writers on.
Stay tuned for the unveiling of the midseason 2016 PuRPs list!