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Colorado Rockies prospect Harrison Musgrave could see the majors in 2017

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PuRP No. 25, Harrison Musgrave

25. Harrison Musgrave (215 points, 24 ballots)

Musgrave was a breakout pitcher for the Rockies in 2015, emerging out of relative obscurity (he was an eighth round pick who had already undergone Tommy John surgery) to pitch very well in High-A Modesto and Double-A 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 burly 24-year-old lefty starter repeated Double-A, but he quickly received a promotion to Triple-A Albuquerque after 40 1/3 strong frames in Hartford (1.79 ERA, 0.69 WHIP).

With the Isotopes, Musgrave faced a very difficult pitching environment in the Pacific Coast League and a step up in competition against players that were on average 2.7 years older than him. In 113 Triple-A innings over 19 starts, Musgrave had a respectable 4.30 ERA but a 5.40 FIP. Musgrave's pedestrian 6.3 K/9 rate and an elevated 3.2 BB/9 rate fueled that discrepancy. The fact he showed reverse platoon splits (in a small sample, admittedly) is also worrying—lefties hit .319 off Musgrave compared to .253 for righties. The good news was that Musgrave improved down the stretch, including a 2.67 ERA over 30 1/3 innings in August.

In any case, Musgrave was the fastest player from the 2014 Rockies draft class to reach Triple-A because he has repeatedly shown himself to be a polished innings eater option should his number be called.

MLB.com currently has Musgrave ranked 25th in the system:

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.

John Sickels of Minor League Ball gave Musgrave a C+ grade entering the 2016 season, but noted that his flyball tendencies would hurt him—especially in Colorado:

Musgrave was an eighth round pick in 2014 from West Virginia University. He was hit pretty hard in his pro debut that summer but 2015 was much different. He opened in the Cal League (one level higher than expected before spring training began) and dominated. Moving up to Double-A didn’t change matters and he finished the season with a 13-5, 2.99 record with a 136/32 K/BB in 147 innings. Musgrave is not a blazer, featuring a fastball in the 88-92 range, but he has a plus change-up and his delivery makes the ball tough to pick up. Neither his slider nor his curveball is fully reliable but that hasn’t hurt him so far. One thing that probably will hurt him in this system: he is a definite fly ball pitcher vulnerable to homers when he makes a location mistake. I like Musgrave enough to go with a Grade C+ as a potential back-end starter but this will be a tough environment for him.

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 Musgrave is the type of prospect who will need an opportunity for a spot start to arise to get a call-up. He’ll be Rule 5 eligible after the 2017 year, so it’s possible that if the Rockies want to add him to their 40 man roster they’ll add him and call him up in September.

In a crowded Rockies system with a number of higher upside arms, Musgrave just made it onto my personal list at 29. 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—depth that doubtless will be needed in the next few seasons.