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Rockies prospect rankings: Pair of Latin products highlight PuRPs no. 21-25

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Unveiling the next five Rockies prospects in our midseason PuRPs list as voted on by the Purple Row community.

Let's keep the midseason 2016 Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) list reveal rolling. Tuesday we revealed prospects 30-26, today we go with prospects 25-21. 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.

25. Harrison Musgrave (267 points, 31 ballots) -- Preseason Ranking: 23 -- High Ballot 12, Mode Ballot 23

How did he enter the organization?

2014 8th Round, University of West Virginia

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Musgrave was a breakout pitcher for the Rockies in 2015, emerging out of relative obscurity to pitch very well in High A Modesto and AA New Britain. In all, he threw 147 1/3 innings of 2.99 ERA ball with a respectable 1.14 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, and 2.0 BB/9. This year, the 24 year-old lefty starter repeated the AA level, but he quickly received a promotion to AAA Albuquerque after 40 1/3 strong frames in AA Hartford (1.79 ERA, 0.69 WHIP).

With the Isotopes, against players that are on average 2.8 years older than him, Musgrave has a 4.83 ERA and a 6.05 FIP in 72 2/3 innings. In addition to the elevated ERA, Musgrave's K rate is a pedestrian 5.8/9 while his BB rate has elevated to 3.5/9. While some regression was certainly expected due to the step up in competition and the Pacific Coast League's offense-friendly environment, the extent of the regression is still worrisome.

That written, Musgrave is the fastest player from his Rockies draft class to reach AAA because he has shown himself to be a polished innings eater option should his number be called.

What do the scouts say?

Most reports I've read see Musgrave as a fringe MLB contributor in middle relief or as a spot starter given his lack of plus stuff. Dan Farnsworth of Fangraphs listed him 32nd in the system preseason:

Musgrave had an excellent season rolling through High-A and Double-A lineups. Not big on stuff, he has found success filling up the strike zone with a four-pitch mix from a somewhat deceptive delivery. He steps with a closed stride and whirls around with a low three-quarters slot that he repeats well, but his command remains in need of work.

His arsenal isn't very projectable, with none of his pitches projecting as much above average. His 2016 performance in the upper minors will help put his possible future role into focus, though I see his talents giving him a middle relief role or spot starter job in the big leagues. The stuff isn't quite there to turn lineups over, and the command floor he would have to reach to make it work is likely a tall order.

Fastball: 45/50/50 Slider: 40/45/50 Curveball: 40/45/55 Changeup: 40/45/50 Command: 40/45/50
Overall: 35/40/45

MLB.com was more sanguine about Musgrave's secondary stuff and future role in their preseason report:

Musgrave's fastball usually hovers around 90 mph and tops out around 93, but it's effective because he commands it and hides it well with his deceptive delivery. It also plays well off his best pitch, a changeup that often tumbles at the plate. He has yet to find a reliable breaking ball, with his slider featuring more promise than his curveball.

While Musgrave won't blow hitters away, he pounds the strike zone and competes. He's pretty much a finished product at age 24, so his ceiling looks limited as a back-of-the-rotation starter, but he's also a safe bet to reach it.

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

If Musgrave breaks through to Colorado, it will be as a spot starter or long man - a Chris Rusin-esque role. He might be ready to do that now, but next year is a more likely timeline for a call-up if one is forthcoming. In a crowded Rockies system with a number of higher upside arms, Musgrave just missed my personal list, but I'd give him a Future Value of 40+ as a nod to his polish and the fact that he's near-ready MLB rotation depth.

***

24. Daniel Montano (304 points, 29 ballots) -- Preseason Ranking: HM -- High Ballot 14, Mode Ballot 22

How did he enter the organization?

2015 International Free Agency (Venezuela)

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Montano was given Colorado's biggest Latin America free agent signing bonus, $2 million, last year at age 16 after he was rated the 12th best international prospect in that class by MLB.com. Montano didn't make his professional debut until this year for Colorado's Dominican Summer League team.

In his first professional season, the 17 year-old outfielder is hitting .252/.327/.497 with seven homers and 20 extra base hits in 162 plate appearances. That might not sound like much, but in the tough DSL offensive environment against pitchers that on average are over a year older than him, that hitting line equates to a 131 wRC+. Rockies prospects who have posted those kinds of lines in the DSL, especially at that age, have tended to do very well indeed when they do come stateside.

What do the scouts (and Purple Row) say?

Most US-based scouts haven't provided a report on Montano to this point, but here was the blurb provided by MLB.com before last year's international signing period:

He's lean -- some evaluators even describe him as lanky -- and he is athletic, with room to grow. On defense, some scouts view him as the ideal center fielder because of his ability to read balls off the bat and his defensive instincts. He has also impressed evaluators with his reactions to balls hit into the gaps.

In the batter's box, Montano is a natural left-handed hitter with a fluid stroke and a good approach in games. He has also shown some power.

Montano's arm is best described as playable, and he has enough arm strength to play his primary position in center field. He does have some experience playing in the infield, particularly at second base, but his future will be in the outfield as long as he continues to develop.

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

Montano is a player who is so far away from the major leagues that providing a concrete timeline would be foolhardy, but a major league debut is at least four more seasons after this one away for Montano. He's a very projectable outfield prospect (another left-handed one, I'm afraid) whose carrying tool may be his power once he grows into his frame.

That's a profile I can dream on...and did, ranking Montano 18th on my personal list. Though he is very far away, the high signing bonus and initial reports led me to put a 45+ Future Value on Montano, a rating that could move significantly either way depending on his development once he gets stateside.

***

23. Sam Howard (311 points, 34 ballots) -- Preseason Ranking: HM -- High Ballot 15, Mode Ballot 21, 25

How did he enter the organization?

2014 3rd round, Georgia Southern University

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

After a disappointing start to his professional career in 2014, Howard bounced back onto the prospect radar with a strong 2015 in Asheville. Over 134 innings for the Tourists, Howard had a 3.43 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 8.2 K/9, and 2.1 BB/9 to reach the edge of these rankings preseason.

This season for High A Modesto, the 23 year-old lefty starter built on that Asheville success. In 65 2/3 frames with the Nuts, Howard put up a 2.47 ERA (3.44 FIP) and 1.02 WHIP while overpowering California League hitters with a 10.0 K/9 rate, earning a quick promotion to AA Hartford. You can read more about that Asheville and Modesto success in Bobby DeMuro's profile of Howard from this April.

With the Yard Goats against players that are on average about 1.6 years older, Howard's performance has regressed considerably. In 41 1/3 innings over eight starts to date with Hartford, Howard possesses a 5.83 ERA, 6.30 FIP, 1.87 WHIP, and 5.6 K/9 against Eastern League hitters. It's certainly a step up in competition - we'll see if Howard can rise to the occasion the rest of the year.

What do the scouts say?

Dan Farnsworth of Fangraphs rated Howard 30th in the system preseason:

Howard progressed well in 2015 with a stellar year in the South Atlantic League including a run of 22.2 scoreless innings. Though his stuff is around average across the board, he may have the command he needs to fit comfortably in the back of a big league rotation. His fastball sits in the low-90s with little movement but great location, while his slider is a sharp, downward-breaking pitch that has strikeout potential when he locates it. His changeup is exceptional for how well he replicates his fastball arm speed, making it another average to tick above pitch. He will have to earn every step up the ladder, but Howard could be a nice value in a few years.

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

MLB.com had Howard 27th preseason:

Howard now operates regularly in the low 90s and has reached as high as 96 mph with his fastball, which has quality sink that yields a lot of groundouts. His changeup has tumble and he throws it with deceptive arm speed. After throwing both a curveball and slider in college, he now operates with just the latter, which shows potential but still gets slurvy.

Howard never had trouble throwing strikes but learned during a rough pro debut that he needed to operate down in the strike zone. He could begin to advance quickly through the Minors, eventually winding up in Coors Field as a No. 4 starter.

Finally, John Sickels of SB Nation blog Minor League Ball put him 18th:

18) Sam Howard, LHP, Grade C+: Age 23, polished strike thrower drafted out of Georgia Southern in third round in 2014, 3.43 ERA with 122/32 K/BB in 134 innings in Low-A, ground ball pitcher with low-90s fastball, average-to-plus change-up, decent slider, throws strikes. More of a potential number four but could move quickly from this point.

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

With the trajectory Howard appears to be on now, I'd foresee a repeat at AA Hartford next year. The most realistic MLB debut date would probably be in 2018 for Howard - the first year after he'd become Rule 5 eligible. A polished back-end starter prospect like Howard is definitely a valuable asset for this system, worthy of a rank of 25 on my ballot and a 45 Future Value.

***

22. Tyler Nevin (344 points, 40 ballots) -- Preseason Ranking: 20 -- High Ballot 14, Mode Ballot 23

How did he enter the organization?

2015 Supplemental 1st round, California HS

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Nevin has the good fortune of MLB bloodlines in the case of his dad Phil, a former #1 overall draft pick himself. Along with those bloodlines, Nevin also has his draft position and the $2 million bonus he signed for in his favor. Finally, all accounts I've read about Nevin indicate a plus makeup that typically leads to a higher prospect floor. That's a pretty good start for the 19 year-old third baseman.

Nevin also displayed patience (13% walk rate) if not power in his professional debut with Grand Junction last summer. In all, Nevin produced a .265/.368/.386 line in 223 plate appearances against pitchers that were on average 2.9 years older than him, good for an average 100 wRC+. Unfortunately for Nevin (and his prospect stock), he appears to have disappeared into the Springfield Mystery Spot this year. He has yet to make his 2016 debut due to a hamstring injury, but has been assigned to the Asheville Tourists if he is able to get on the field this season.

What do the scouts say?

Dan Farnsworth at Fangraphs was the low man on Nevin, putting him 26th in the system preseason:

Nevin was drafted 38th overall in 2015, with the Rockies valuing his makeup, feel for hitting and hopeful development of power as he matures. He is a fairly polished player for a high school draftee, showing obvious signs of being the son of former major leaguer Phil Nevin.

His simple swing and advanced approach may help him advance quicker than most prospects his age, though his lack of torque and a swing path built for line drives leaves me skeptical about his future power production. That, coupled with the likelihood of moving off third base across the diamond or to the outfield make Nevin an interesting prospect, but one that will need everything to break right with his bat to be a starting option.

Hit: 40/55/60 Power: 30/40/45 Run: 40/40/40 Field: 40/45/50 Throw: 50/50/50
Overall: 35/45/50

MLB.com was more bullish, placing Nevin 17th in the system preseason:

Taller and more athletic than his father was, Nevin is an advanced hitter for his age. He works counts and tries to drive the ball from gap to gap with a quick line-drive stroke. As he gets stronger and adds more leverage to his right-handed swing, he could hit 20 homers per season.

Though some scouts believe Nevin will wind up on an outfield corner or at first base, the Rockies are confident he'll stick at third base. He has the actions, hands and arm to play at the hot corner, and they think he can improve his first-step quickness. He has below-average speed but good instincts on the bases.

John Sickels also positioned Nevin 17th in the system:

17) Tyler Nevin, 3B, Grade B-/C+: Age 18, son of Phil Nevin, compensation pick in 2015 draft, hit .265/.368/.386 with 29 walks, 42 strikeouts in 189 at-bats, good plate discipline but has yet to tap the power potential in his 6-4, 200 pound frame, has defensive tools to stick at third. Needs experience but no need to rush with McMahon ahead of him.

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

Given that 2016 appears to be a lost season for Nevin, 2020 is looking like the target at this point. Given Colorado's other intriguing options at the hot corner already in the system (plus one Nolan Arenado), it seems unlikely that Nevin will play there if he does make it to the Show - but what do I know? More likely, Nevin would be a first base option or a big bat off the bench at that level. Overall the prospect pedigree and tools led me to rank him 22nd in the system and slap a 45 Future Value on Nevin as a potential MLB contributor.

***

21. Pedro Gonzalez (359 points, 35 ballots) -- Preseason Ranking: 28 -- High Ballot 13, Mode Ballot 19, 20, 21, 24, 26

How did he enter the organization?

2014 International Free Agency (Dominican Republic)

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Gonzalez was the big international signing during the 2014 period, receiving a $1.3 million bonus from the Rockies. A 6'3" shortstop when he was signed, Gonzalez has now sprouted up to 6'5" at least and may still be growing. As a result, Colorado moved him off the position before this season, placing him in center field. You heard me - a right-handed hitting outfield prospect!

In the Dominican Summer League last year, Gonzalez started off gangbusters before settling into a .251/.318/.418 line with eight homers (rating him 4th overall in the DSL) over 282 plate appearances - good for a 108 wRC+. Unfortunately, the 18 year-old Gonzalez has struggled mightily this year in his stateside debut in Grand Junction. Over 124 plate appearances to date, Gonzalez has an anemic .186/.242/.301 line with just one homer (32 wRC+). The tools offensively and defensively have been evident, but the results haven't yet shone through for Gonzalez.

What do the scouts say?

Gonzalez was ranked 20th on MLB.com's list:

With bat speed and a 6-foot-5 frame that provides terrific leverage and hints at future strength, Gonzalez has tremendous power potential. Though his right-handed swing naturally gets long and he had a 29 percent strikeout rate in his debut, he shows feel for hitting with his ability to use the opposite field and make adjustments. Considered a below-average runner when he signed, he now flashes plus times but figures to lose a step as he matures physically.

Gonzalez has grown two inches and added 15 pounds since signing, and he has room to put on 50 more. The Rockies figured he'd outgrow shortstop, where he made his debut, so they're moving him to center field in 2016. He figures to eventually wind up in right field, where his strong arm would be an asset, and one club official says Gonzalez reminds him of a young Alex Rios.

John Sickels had Gonzalez just missing the top 20:

The Rockies spent $1,300,000 to sign Pedro Gonzalez out of the Dominican Republic in 2014. When signed, he was listed at 6-4, 160, lean, lanky, and projectable. He's up to 6-5, 175 now and could very well end up at 6-6, 200+ as he matures. His power potential is excellent and he demonstrated what he can do with his long levers in the Dominican Summer League. He also demonstrated the downside of his size with a very high strikeout rate, a long swing, and issues with strike zone judgment. The Rockies hope those issues will subside as he gets at-bats and irons out his swing mechanics. Gonzalez was used at shortstop and third base last year with poor results so he's moving to the outfield, supposedly in center though my guess is that he ends up in right field eventually. Grade C+, high ceiling but with unanswered questions.

Finally, Dan Farnsworth placed him 16th in the system:

Gonzalez was one of the Rockies' biggest international signings last year, and offers a tremendous ceiling as an offensive player with the physical tools to eventually play a solid infield. His first professional experience was a mixed bag, as he held his own offensively despite striking out at a high rate, as well as flashing his tools on defense but making a ton of errors. He still has a ton of physical maturation in front of him, and his swing shows enough potential to be a power bat when he grows up.

The Rockies' plan for now is to convert Gonzalez over to center field. The strikeouts are a bit worrisome, though it being his first professional season is not really a surprising thing. Look for him to settle in this year at the plate, and hopefully we can get a better sense of what he will do in the contact department. The team sees potential as a five-tool producer if things break right.

Hit: 30/45/55 Power: 35/55/60 Run: 45/40/45 Field: 45/50/55 Throw: 55/55/55
Overall: 30/45/60

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

Obviously Gonzalez's struggles this year are concerning and so is the fact that he's four to five years away from the Show. With that written, if Gonzalez does make the Show he's a very intriguing player with plus power potential that will play up in Coors Field. I'm aboard the hype bus for Gonzalez, placing him 19th on my personal ballot, which equated to a 45+ Future Value as a high potential MLB contributor.

Stay tuned for more installments of the midseason Purple Row Prospects list!