Prospects lie. Their lies are so believable that writers and bloggers both national and local accept and compound the falsehoods. These aren’t lies of intentional deception. Instead, they’re lies of action. Fantasies, always at least partially founded, emanate from things like “projectable frames” and “quick hands” and that triple slash in the Sally that then become numbers on a list. There’s no culpability on their part. Prospects, after all, simply work to prove their truth. But still, they lie.
The Reds signed former Rockies prospect Rosell Herrera to a minor-league deal, according to MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. Herrera, an infielder-turned-outfielder from Santo Domingo, signed with the Rockies as an international free agent in July 2009.
While he didn’t exactly skyrocket up prospect lists, Herrera made an immediate impression and earned national attention because of it. His solid debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2010, when he was 17 years old, led to Baseball America ranking him as the Rockies’ 12th best prospect. A good but not great stateside debut with the Casper Ghosts of the Pioneer League, along with a reshuffled prospect deck, dropped him to 16th after the 2011 season.
Herrera’s next two minor-league seasons were contrasts, and only one ended up foreshadowing the truth. In 2012, he split time between Tri-City and Asheville. But Herrera struggled against more advanced Class A pitching, slugging just .272 in 63 games. He fell off Baseball America’s Rockies top 10 afterward. Still, he was a 19-year-old playing full-season baseball for the first time, and he was going to get an opportunity to prove himself.
In Herrera’s second try at Asheville, he seemed to do just that. At 20 years old, he broke out to hit .343/.419/.515 for the Tourists. It’s true that the hitting environment in Asheville is favorable to hitters, but it’s also true that Herrera gave no reason for anybody to disbelieve that the season was a sign of things to follow. In the Purple Row Prospects (PuRP) poll after the 2013 season, the community voted him the fourth best prospect in the organization. Purple Row readers are sometimes bullish on players coming off a great season, but Baseball America was as high as the Purple Row community. They named him the Rockies’ third best prospect (after Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler). Not only that, but he cracked BA’s top 100 prospects, landing at number 86.
Then, Herrera’s upward trajectory first flattened and then took a dip. He had an injury-plagued and unimpressive first try at High-A Modesto in 2014, and then he had an injury-free but equally unimpressive second try in 2015. After 2013, the Rockies acted to protect Herrera from the Rule 5 draft by placing him on the 40-man roster; after 2015, they released him and exposed him without restriction to the other 29 teams. The Rockies re-signed him to a minor-league deal the next day. Rosell and the Rockies performed that very same dance after the 2016 season.
Not this year though. The Rockies granted Herrera free agency on November 6th, and on November 17th the Reds signed him to a minor-league deal and an invitation to Spring Training. The prospect who was with the Rockies’ organization for eight and a half years and who received PuRP votes in every round from pre-season 2010 to mid-season 2017 never was able to crack the major-league roster.
Herrera could very well do it for the Reds though. He’s still just 25, and he’s been able to hold his own in Triple-A. It also helps that the Reds are in rebuild mode and may have room for him in their outfield. I hope he does it. I’d love to see Herrera playing in the majors, finding a comfortable truth opposed to the lies we told.