It's time for the revelation of the 2017 preseason Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) list, our community's ranking of the top 30 Colorado Rockies prospects. The top 30 prospects will be revealed one at a time over the next few weeks 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, 39 ballots were counted, with 30 points granted for a first place vote, 29 for second, etc. Until a player was named on 13 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 13 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 (one tie in the top 30 was broken in this edition).
In all, this balloting was marked by a fractured electorate beyond the top 23 or so players. There were 69 players who received at least one vote for this PuRPs list (up from 68), 56 got mentioned on multiple ballots (down from 59), and 32 were named on at least 13 ballots (down one from last time) and therefore were unmodified. The top 15 players were named on over 90 percent of ballots cast, though not necessarily in the same order, while only two PuRPs failed to appear on at least 50 percent 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 midseason 2016 list, David Dahl (1) and Tyler Anderson (10) 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 their 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-68. Luis Guzman (0.1 points, 1 ballot) — 20-year-old lefty in Grand Junction with a 8.4 K/9 in 59 IP.
T-68: Tyler Bugner (0.1, 1) — 22-year-old lefty OF, 21st round pick in 2016, hit .328 in part-time duty at rookie-level Grand Junction last season.
T-66. Max George (0.2, 1) — 20-year-old 2B/3B repeated at Low A Asheville, posted a 128 wRC+ fueled by a .372 OBP
T-66. Enrique Saldana (0.2, 1) — 17-year-old righty SS in the DSL had a 119 wRC+ there, he was a big bonus Latin America signee in the 2015 class
T-63: Alfredo Jose Garcia (0.3, 1) — high-bonus Latin America signee in the 2016 class
T-63. Erick Julio (0.3, 1) — 19-year-old righty pitcher, big money Latin American signing in 2013 who posted a 4.05 ERA as a starter for Short Season A Boise in 2016
T-63. Helmis Rodriguez (0.3, 1) — 22-year-old LHP, Dark Helmis split time between the pen and the rotation in High A Modesto, posting a combined 3.36 ERA in 131 IP.
T-61. Noel Cuevas (0.4, 1) — 25-year-old righty OF split time between Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque. He raked in the former and struggled in the latter.
T-61. Yeikel Blandin (0.4, 1) — 16-year-old OF is the top position player signing for the 2016 Latin America class
T-57. Stephen Cardullo (0.5, 1) — 29-year-old minor league journeyman utility player finally made the Show after raking in Albuquerque.
T-57. Johendi Jiminian (0.5, 1) — 24-year-old RHP was good in relief in 58 Double-A innings this year (2.30 ERA)
T-57. Gabriel Estrada (0.5, 1) — 17-year-old RHP posted a 2.45 ERA in 40 IP in the DSL as a starter
T-57. Max White (0.5, 1) — 2012 second rounder still is just 23, but the lefty OF only put up a 86 wRC+ in Modesto
56. Mike Tauchman (0.6, 1) — 26-year-old lefty OF had a 92 wRC+ playing the whole year in Albuquerque
55. Breiling Eusebio (1.1, 2) — Another 2013 LA signee, the 20 year-old LHP starter struggled somewhat (5.26 ERA) in the starting rotation for Boise
T-53. Shane Carle (1.5, 2) — 25-year-old RHP spent most of the year in Albuquerque’s rotation and posted a 4.19 FIP in a tough environment
T-53. Javier Medina (1.5, 2) — 2015's third rounder is another 20 year-old starter (a RHP) for Boise who struggled to a 5.72 ERA against older players.
52. Carlos Herrera (1.7, 2) — 20-year-old shortstop who was on my personal ballot even at mid-year 2016 but who narrowly fell short this time around. The righty was Colorado's big signing from the 2013 Latin America class ($1.2 million bonus) and he played his age 19 season in Low A ball. That said, Herrera posted just a 78 wRC+ in 2016. He’s definitely someone I’ll be keeping an eye on next year.
51. Jeffri Ocando (1.8, 3) — 17-year-old RHP had 23 DSL innings, mostly as a starter - he made the most of them with a 0.39 ERA and 11.3 K/9.
50. Sam Hilliard (2.1, 3) -- the 22-year-old lefty OF got some SLEEPER ALERT! love from John Sickels before the year and posted a 128 wRC+ for Asheville.
49. Wes Rogers (3.9, 3) — 22-year-old righty OF stole 48 bases this year for Modesto after swiping 53 bags last season - his wRC+ dropped to 93.
48. Zach Jemiola (4.6, 3) — 22-year-old RHP, the former PuRP was added to the 40-man roster after a full year in the Hartford rotation.
47. Julian Fernandez (4.9, 4) — 21-year-old RHP had a 1.17 ERA (albeit with a 7.8 BB/9) in 23 relief innings for Boise. Dude throws GAS (touches 102) - he’s the type of arm the Rockies might protect from the Rule 5 draft in the future.
46. Anderson Amarista (5.8, 4) — 18-year-old RHP, big bonus Latin American signing in 2015 who posted a 3.52 ERA and 9.0 K/9 as a starter in 46 DSL IP.
45. Luis Noguera (9.2, 6) — 16-year-old LHP, he's a well thought-of player (No. 17 for Baseball America among international free agents) the Rockies signed in the 2016 international signing period.
44. Alex Balog (10.2, 4) — 24-year-old RHP, the 2013 second rounder had been a PuRP in seven consecutive lists, but he finally dropped out after a blah season in Hartford’s rotation in 2016 (and a good two start stretch in Modesto) - he narrowly missed my personal list but more out of habit than actual results.
43. Rosell Herrera (11.1, 4) — 24-year-old righty OF, he’s been eligible for every list (and has received votes on my personal ballot) since I started running the poll in Spring 2010 (that’s 14 lists). The former top 100 prospect in MLB is no longer on Colorado's 40-man roster, but the tools are there and he posted a 112 wRC+ at Double-A -- and he was still a year younger than average for the league. Still, I don't blame fellow voters who have grown tired of waiting for the tools to manifest themselves at a higher level. He finally dropped off my ballot this time around.
42. Dillon Thomas (11.9, 5) — 24-year-old lefty OF, the 2011 fourth rounder had a 117 wRC+ this year for Hartford.
41. Rayan Gonzalez (16.2, 10) — 26-year-old RHP, another electric arm (career 10.2 K/9) the Rockies added to the 40 man roster this off-season, posted a 3.12 ERA and 8.5 K/9 for Hartford in 52 IP.
40. Jesus Tinoco (21.5, 10) — 21-year-old RHP, the Third Guy in the Tulo trade dropped off the PuRPs list thanks to a terrible (6.86 ERA) year spent between Asheville and Modesto and middle reliever scouting reports. Tinoco actually did make my personal list at #28 as an arm with potential to be a MLB reliever, but I don’t disagree with the electorate that a step back in ranking was in order.
39. Manuel Melendez (30.2, 7) — 19-year-old lefty OF, he hit .294 with a 94 wRC+ in his stateside debut in Grand Junction.
38. Willie Abreu (31.5, 10) — 21-year-old lefty OF, 2016’s sixth rounder is a mountain of a man who posted a 98 wRC+ for Boise.
37. Jerry Vasto (37.5, 8) — 24-year-old LHP, the reliever rose out of obscurity to dominate in Modesto and pitch well in Hartford (3.03 ERA, 10.3 K/9 in 28 IP) – he could be a factor in the big league pen as soon as 2017.
36. Omar Carrizales (40.2, 9) — 21-year-old lefty OF, the former PuRP had a 105 wRC+ in Modesto, got promoted to Hartford but struggled there (56 wRC+ in 84 PA).
Finally, here are the five players who came closest, the Honorable Mention PuRPs:
35. Matt Carasiti (45 points, 14 ballots), 2012 sixth round, RHP at AA/AAA/MLB (24)
34. Pat Valaika (46.5, 11), 2013 ninth round, SS at AA/AAA/MLB (24)
33. Jack Wynkoop (46.9, 10), 2015 sixth round, LHP at Low/High-A (23)
32. Brian Mundell (84, 18), 2015 seventh round, 1B at Low-A (22)
31. David Hill (90, 15), 2015 fourth round, RHP at Low-A(22)
Here are some notes on the five honorable mention PuRPs:
Carasiti had quite the season, starting in Double-A Hartford and getting promoted first to Triple-A Albuquerque and then to the Show. The 25-year-old righty reliever, a sixth-round pick in 2012, earned the first 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. After seven scoreless innings with the Isotopes, Carasiti got the call to MLB, where he did not fare well—he allowed 16 earned runs with 25 hits and 11 walks in 15 innings, though he did strike out 17.
There hasn't been a lot of buzz with Carasiti, but here was Dan Farnsworth of FanGraphs' blurb on him before the 2016 season (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
In 2016 Carasiti was added and removed from the 40 man roster—he passed through waivers and was re-signed on a minor league deal last month after the Rule 5 Draft had concluded. With his stuff and proximity to the big leagues, it appears quite likely that Carasiti will be a contributor to the major league bullpen next year as a depth option. I placed Carasiti 30th on my personal ballot with a Future Value of 40 as a MLB reliever with a chance of being a set-up man or even closing.
Valaika is another player who played at three levels in 2016. The 24-year-old shortstop, picked in the ninth round of 2012 after winning the College World Series at UCLA, began the year repeating the Double-A level at Hartford. There he posted a 109 wRC+ with a .269/.314/.450 slash line before earning a promotion to Triple-A. Despite mighty struggles with Albuquerque (39 wRC+, .209/.226/.327 line in 115 PA), it was clear the Rockies had him in their future plans when they added Valaika to the 40 man roster in September as a utility option. With the Rockies, Valaika had five hits and struck out eight times in 19 plate appearances.
Unlike Carasiti, Valaika remains on the 40-man roster. He’ll act as valuable infield depth (probably at Albuquerque) with his ability to competently play second, short, or third. He doesn’t stand out in any one single attribute, but he’s solid everywhere. Those truths led me to place Valaika 27th on my personal ballot with a 40 Future Value as a MLB utility player.
Wynkoop also earned a promotion in 2016. The 23-year-old lefty starter, a 2015 sixth rounder, was famous coming out of college because he just doesn't walk many people. In his first full year in professional ball this trend continued, as Wynkoop walked just 12 batters in 170 innings pitched across Asheville and Modesto (0.6 BB/9). Despite working in the mid 80s with his fastball, Wynkoop actually saw more success in Modesto than he did in Asheville—seeing a decrease in ERA from 3.47 to 2.68 and an increase in his K/9 from 7.0 to 8.3.
On the surface, the mediocre velocity and stuff would tend to temper Wynkoop’s projection, a large reason why he didn’t make my personal ballot. With that said, he obviously knows how to command that stuff with deception and control, something that could get him noticed by the national scouts if he replicates that performance in Hartford (maybe) next year.
Mundell is a player who was pretty much off the prospect radar entirely heading into 2016, but who forced PuRPs voters to pay attention with a massive campaign for Asheville. The 22-year-old righty first baseman, 2015's seventh rounder, hit well in his pro debut for Boise, but he was a beast in the South Atlantic League for Asheville in 2016. In 611 plate appearances for the Tourists, Mundell had a .313/.383/.505 line (152 wRC+) with 74 extra-base hits (including a minor league-leading 59 doubles). Mundell wrought this destruction while limiting his strikeouts (13.6 percent K rate) and maintaining a decent walk rate (9.2 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 was hard to ignore Mundell's 2016 campaign. I’m interested to see how he handles High-A ball.
Finally, Hill is a player who fell into Colorado's lap in the fourth round with the 133rd overall selection in 2015. The San Diego RHP had been rated as the 44th-best prospect in the draft by Baseball America (four spots ahead of Colorado second rounder Peter Lambert, a member of the PuRPs list). After a decent debut season for Short Season-A Boise, the 22-year-old Hill 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 was 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 just off my ballot, but he is really interchangeable in my mind in prospect value with the first few players on the PuRPs list. As a pitcher with size, stuff, pedigree, and some unlucky results, I look for Hill as a breakout candidate for next year, likely with Lancaster.
Stay tuned for the unveiling of the preseason 2017 PuRPs list!