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Rockies prospect rankings: Relievers dominate PuRPs spots 30 through 26

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We begin unveiling the top 30 Rockies prospects as voted on by the Purple Row community.

Bobby DeMuro

Now that we've taken a look at the honorable mention players who received votes but ultimately fell short of midseason 2016 edition of the Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) list, it's time to examine the players that did make the cut. As a reminder, in this edition of the PuRPs poll, 52 ballots were cast, with 30 points granted for a first place vote, 29 for second, etc.

For each player on the PuRPs list, I'll include a link to individual stats (via Baseball-Reference), PuRPs voting stats, contract status (via Rockies Roster), a note on the 2016 season to date, and a scouting report from a national prospect writer. For what it's worth, I'll also include where I put each player on my personal ballot. 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. And so we go ...

30. Matt Carasiti (146 points, 23 ballots) -- Preseason Ranking: NR -- High Ballot 19, Mode Ballot 21

How did he enter the organization?

2012 sixth round, St. John's University

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

The 25-year-old righty reliever netted himself quite the birthday present over the weekend when he received a promotion from Double-A Hartford to Triple-A Albuquerque. Carasiti earned that promotion after an electric half-season pitching in his home state. With the Yard Goats this year, Carasiti posted a 2.31 ERA (3.45 FIP) over 39 frames, earning 29 saves along the way. The closer distinguished himself with a minuscule 0.90 WHIP, a stellar 9.9 K/9, and 1.6 BB/9.

Things weren't always this rosy for Carasiti, who put up mediocre numbers as a starter during his draft year at Rookie-level Grand Junction and then struggled mightily in the rotation in 2013 for the Low-A Asheville Tourists (7.94 ERA in 93 innings). A move to the pen was just what the doctor ordered and Carasiti immediately took to relief, sharply elevating his strikeout rate while dramatically reducing his ERA in the bullpen with both Asheville and High-A Modesto the past two years.

Want to know more? Bobby DeMuro's interview with Carasiti preseason has great info on his journey through the minors.

What do the scouts (and Purple Row) say?

I'll put it this way: top 100 prospect in baseball Ryan McMahon says that Carasiti is the pitcher he'd least like to face. DeMuro had another great piece this spring with quotes from throughout the organization about the bright future of Carasiti (and some from the man himself).

Nationally there hasn't been a lot of buzz with Carasiti, but here was Dan Farnsworth of Fangraphs' blurb on him preseason (he ranked Carasiti 28th in the system):

Carasiti's stuff was pretty impressive in the Arizona Fall League, flashing above-average with three pitches. He has a mid-90s fastball with some sink, a hard slider and an inconsistent but promising splitter. He has a pretty safe future as a big league reliever and has the upside of a setup guy if his secondary stuff reaches its peak effectiveness and consistency.

Fastball: 50/55/60 Slider: 45/50/55 Splitter: 40/45/55 Command: 40/45/45
Overall: 35/40/50

When's he going to get to the Rockies and how good will he be once he's there?

It appears quite likely that Carasiti will be a contributor to the major league bullpen within the next year or two, though the Rockies will probably need to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft this winter if they want that future to be with them. I placed Carasiti just off my personal ballot, but I'd assign him a Future Value of 40+ as a likely MLB reliever with an outside chance of closing.

***

29. Alex Balog (169 points, 26 ballots) -- Preseason Ranking: 22 -- High Ballot 16, Mode Ballot 21, 22, 23, 28, 29

How did he enter the organization?

2013 second round, University of San Francisco

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Alex Balog is a player who just looks like a MLB pitcher. The 24-year-old right-handed starter is 6'5, 210 pounds and throws his fastball on a steep plane in the 90s with regularity as part of a four-pitch mix. That's a pretty good start to a prospect resume. So why then hasn't Balog distinguished himself as a prospect after four seasons in the organization?

Part of it is health; Balog has been limited to just 30 innings this year (across Modesto and Hartford) after suffering an arm injury in spring training. He lost two months of 2015 to a groin injury, and his first professional season was also cut short due to injury. When he's been healthy, though, there's still something that doesn't square with the stuff --- namely, Balog has a career 6.5 K/9 and 1.38 WHIP despite the aforementioned advantages. It all adds up to a puzzle, but the nice thing about the Rockies system is that success from a prospect like Balog at this point is just an added bonus.

What do the scouts say?

Balog's scouting reports are what has kept him continually on these lists the last few years. Here's MLB.com:

Balog's best pitch is a heavy low-90s sinker, the type of weapon needed to survive in unforgiving Coors Field. While he doesn't miss a ton of bats, he generates a lot of groundouts with his two-seamer. He also has good sink on his changeup, the best of his secondary offerings.

Balog's curveball is better than his slider/cutter, though neither breaking ball grades as better than average. One of the better strike-throwers in Colorado's system, he could emerge as a back-of-the-rotation starter.

Dan Farnsworth of Fangraphs:

The limiting factor is [Balog's] lack of strikeout potential, as none of his pitches project to induce swings and misses in the future.

His control is ahead of his command, but it alone may be strong enough to get him a big league job. He will have to step up his location within in the zone as he progresses to Double-A and Triple-A, but there is some promise here that the Rockies could have a durable number four or five on their hands.

Fastball: 50/55/55 Slider: 40/45/50 Curveball: 40/45/50 Changeup: 40/45/55 Command: 40/45/50
Overall: 40/45/50

When's he going to get to the Rockies and how good will he be once he's there?

If he can begin inducing more swing-and-miss results, Balog's a potential "out of nowhere" prospect who could provide valuable starter depth in the 2018 prospect wave. With that said, Balog will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter if the Rockies don't put him on the 40-man roster. Balog was 27th on my ballot with a Future Value rating of 40+, a nod to his role as MLB starter depth in the system.

***

28. Parker French (197 points, 31 ballots) -- Preseason Ranking: NR -- High Ballot 9, Mode Ballot 30

How did he enter the organization?

2015 fifth round, University of Texas

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

French made this list mostly on the strength of his numbers this year. Despite being a fifth-round pick last year, the 23-year-old righty starter had very little fanfare as a prospect coming into this year, mostly due to the fact that as a college senior French was likely picked when he was so that the Rockies could save draft slot money for other players. Indeed, French commanded only a $100,000 bonus from Colorado to sign, a figure that was well below slot.

After a decent debut campaign last year at Grand Junction, French has pitched very well this year. He began the year at Asheville, where his 1.17 ERA and 0.91 WHIP over 23 innings quickly proved that a promotion was needed. At Modesto (at a league average age), French has thrown 107 innings with very good results -- 2.61 ERA, 3.82 FIP, 0.95 WHIP, and 1.3 BB/9. He isn't missing a lot of bats (6.4 K/9), but French really has been effective this season.

What do the scouts (and Purple Row) say?

French has yet to be mentioned as a player to watch in Colorado's system by any national prospect writer, though he was given a nice write-up by Baseball Prospectus's Wilson Karaman back in June:

Signed under slot by Colorado as a fifth-round senior-sign last summer. French has a durable frame and moderate athleticism, and he repeats his delivery well despite some effort and violence in the finish. He works off a potent two-seam fastball with solid weight that generates ground ball contact, and he dictates the game pace with an up-tempo style. The change plays well off his fastball, though he lacked feel at times and it shows present immaturity. He struggles to snap off his breaking ball and lacks a swing-and-miss pitch. If the changeup improves he can eat innings at the back of a rotation, and if it doesn't there's still potential bullpen utility on the strength of his solid control of a very heavy sinker.

Karaman clocks French's fastball at 90-93 and grades it as a 50 pitch given its heavy sink, good movement, and strong command. The secondary pitches are below average at present (best is a 40 grade changeup), and those will need to develop if French is going to crack a big league starting rotation.

Bobby DeMuro of this very website had a lengthy piece on French this past spring, including an interview that focused on his low walk rate and his need to work on his approach to lefties.

When's he going to get to the Rockies and how good will he be once he's there?

French has yet to meet a ladder of the minor leagues at which he couldn't pitch well, but unless his secondary pitches improve markedly he probably will soon. Assuming that improvement is made, French would be in line for a late 2018/2019 debut as starter depth or middle relief for Colorado. Because of the stuff profile and the lack of strikeouts I didn't seriously consider French for my list (the only PuRP this time around for which that is the case), but I'm very hopeful to be proven wrong. In all, I'd give French a Future Value of 35+ as an intriguing organizational arm at this point.

***

27. Ben Bowden (232 points, 32 ballots) -- Preseason Ranking: NR -- High Ballot 16, Mode Ballot 20, 27

How did he enter the organization?

2016 second round, University of Vanderbilt

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Bowden is on this list due mostly to his scouting profile and prospect pedigree, since he doesn't have much professional experience to look at currently. After being drafted early in the second round of this year's draft, Bowden signed for a slightly above-slot $1.6 million bonus after vacillating between Vanderbilt's rotation and bullpen during his collegiate career.

The 21-year-old lefty ended up in the bullpen in college and has started that way in the pros, though the Rockies have not ruled out a return to the rotation for him as soon as next year. Bowden was assigned directly to a full-season affiliate (the only draft pick to be given that treatment), where in 10 relief appearances (8⅓ innings) for Asheville, he has an unsightly 6.48 ERA with five walks and 13 hits, but he has struck out 11 batters.

What do the scouts say?

A second-round pick typically has at least one major league-caliber tool and for Bowden it's his low- to mid-90s fastball from the left-hand side. Importantly, Bowden is not a one-trick pony, boasting two secondary pitches and command that grades out as average as well. MLB.com ranked Bowden 67th overall pre-draft and had this to say about him:

Bowden has a 90-95 mph fastball that plays quicker because he throws it with late life and good downhill plane, though he has yet to prove he can maintain his velocity over long starts. He shows good feel for a sinking changeup and also has a three-quarters breaking ball that varies between a low-80s slider and an upper-70s curveball.

Bowden's control and command have improved in each of his seasons at Vanderbilt. Whichever team drafts him in the first three rounds this June will have to decide whether to develop him as a potential No. 3 or 4 starter or move him quickly as a possible high-leverage reliever.

The question of what the Rockies decide Bowden's path is going forward will determine in large part his ceiling as a prospect.

When's he going to get to the Rockies and how good will he be once he's there?

The short answer is that it depends on if Bowden is a starter or a reliever. In relief, Bowden has the potential to move quickly and become the first player in Colorado's 2016 draft class to reach the big leagues (think Rex Brothers), perhaps as soon as late next year or 2018. If he's a starter I think the more likely gestation period is elongated into 2019 or 2020. If he's a reliever, Bowden is an intriguing high-leverage option who would probably settle into a set-up role. As a starter, he's a potential mid-rotation guy.

Because of the uncertainty around him, Bowden was a tough guy for me to rank, but the combination of stuff and pedigree ultimately led me to place him 21st on my personal ballot. Currently I'd give him a 45 Future Value as a potential mid-rotation starter or late-inning reliever.

***

26. Sam Moll (244 points, 28 ballots) -- Preseason Ranking: 25 -- High Ballot 13, Mode Ballot 23

How did he enter the organization?

2013 third round, University of Memphis

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Quite simply, Moll is a near major league-ready, high-leverage lefty reliever. The 24-year-old was expected to move quickly after his full-time conversion to the bullpen, but his ascent has been marred by a broken toe, bone chips in his elbow, and another injury this year that has him currently rehabbing in Grand Junction. As a result, despite being in his fourth professional season Moll has just 145⅓ innings of experience under his belt. He's pitched very well at every stop, though, so the ceiling is obviously there for a major league contributor.

After pitching for Modesto and Hartford in 2015, the Rockies jumped Moll straight up to Triple-A Albuquerque this year, where he's held his own in a tough pitching environment. In 32 innings over 25 appearances, Moll has a 3.09 ERA (4.00 FIP), though his 6.8 K/9 is below par (he posted a 9.7 K/9 rate in 2015). If he can return strong from his rehab in Grand Junction, Moll is a September call-up candidate due to his Rule 5 Draft status after this year.

What do the scouts say?

Scouts love Moll's stuff profile and have consistently rated him as a prospect to watch in the system. Dan Farnsworth of Fangraphs had him 21st in the system preseason:

Moll has a solid collection of pitches that would normally project in a starting rotation, but his high-effort arm and injury history make the bullpen a safer option for him long-term. He throws mid-90s heat with a hard slider from a low three-quarters angle that will make him very tough on lefties. He may have platoon issues in the big leagues, though his changeup should be good enough to keep right-handers off balance so he can put them away with his fastball and slider.

He has an outside chance at being a closer candidate, but I think his likely role is in the seventh or eighth inning. Look for him to get an opportunity with the big league pen as soon as this year, where his stuff and competitiveness will make him a useful option in some capacity.

Fastball: 55/60/65 Slider: 45/50/55 Changeup: 40/45/45 Command: 40/45/45
Overall: 40/45/50

MLB.com also rated Moll among Colorado's top prospects:

What Moll lacks in size, he makes up for in arm speed that produces lively 93-96 mph fastballs. He can get swings and misses with his heater as well as his slider, a mid-80s pitch with depth that works against lefties and righties. He'll even flash a plus changeup at times, though he doesn't use it much as a reliever.

Moll throws strikes and keeps the ball down in the zone, so he'd merit a look as a starter if his size didn't lead to concerns about how he'd hold up over a full pro season in the rotation.

When's he going to get to the Rockies and how good will he be once he's there?

As stated above, Moll is a potential September call-up if things fall into place just right. If not, he's a lock to be put on the 40-man roster. Moll's an arm I expect to be a regular in the bullpen next year and for the next few years as a set-up man or LOOGY. I hope Moll's presence (and that of others like him at Triple-A) keeps the Rockies front office from being tempted to throw money at a mediocre major league reliever this offseason. I ranked Moll 28th on my ballot with that reliever profile and gave him a 40+ Future Value as an MLB reliever with late-inning potential.

Stay tuned for more installments of the midseason 2016 PuRPs list!