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Colorado Rockies prospects April update for top-ranked players

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Ryan McMahon leads the PuRPs in the opening month of the season

Rockies fans can luxuriate in the the successful month that was April, but four of the Rockies’ minor-league teams also started play last month. These rosters included the vast majority of the top prospects in the Rockies’ farm system.

Twice a year, the Purple Row community ranks the top prospects in the system, leading to our Purple Row Prospects list (PuRPs). Here’s a quick update on each of the top 30 PuRPs through April:
Note: all stats are through April 30.

1. Brendan Rodgers (High-A Lancaster)

.320/.333/.440, 3 2B, 3.7 BB%, 25.9 K%, 6 Games

Rodgers missed most of the month of April with a hand injury. While he hasn’t started putting up the ridiculous numbers that everyone is expecting from him in Lancaster’s extreme hitting environment, he’s starting to get on track, and it may just be a matter of time before he does.

2. Jeff Hoffman (Triple-A Albuquerque)

3.86 ERA, 1.179 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, 2.9 BB/9

There have been some worries about Hoffman’s slow start to the spring and a lot of speculation as to the cause. His last start was extremely encouraging though, and it appears that the changes to his delivery may finally be paying off.

3. Riley Pint (Single-A Asheville)

3.07 ERA, 1.773 WHIP, 6.1 K/9, 7.4 BB/9

Pint’s had an up-and-down start to the season. He’s still sitting in the upper 90s , topping out 100+ mph, and he still has a wicked curveball. Despite some improvements to his delivery, he’s still struggling with in-game command, but with his work ethic, we could see things click for him soon.

4. Raimel Tapia (Triple-A ABQ)

.389/.436/.611, 10 2B, 3 3B, 7.7 BB%, 14.1 K%

Tapia has been destroying Triple-A with multiple hit games seemingly an everyday occasion. He went hitless in a brief two-game call up when Gerardo Parra was on paternity leave. The Rockies are stacked at outfield in the majors already, and David Dahl may also be returning soon, so Tapia may have to spend the entire season in Triple-A unless he or another member of the Rockies outfield gets injured or traded.

5. German Marquez (Triple-A ABQ, MLB)

MLB: 7.20 ERA, 1.900 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 3.6 BB/9
Triple-A: 2.70 ERA, 0.800 WHIP, 16.2 K/9, 0.0 BB/9

Marquez might have had the most interesting month of April of any of the Rockies prospects. He started the season in the big-league bullpen after getting beat out for the starting jobs, then he didn’t appear in a single game before being sent down to Triple-A to make room for Chris Rusin. He dominated Triple-A while getting stretched back out to starting. His first start back was rough, but Sunday’s start was quite good. There’s a very real chance Marquez won’t be eligible for the next PuRPs’ vote.

6. Tom Murphy (MLB Disabled List)

Murphy has yet to play in a game after breaking his forearm in spring training. Let’s hope he begins his rehab appearances later this month.

7. Ryan McMahon (Double-A Hartford)

.375/.422/.675, 4 HR, 14 XBH, 8.9 BB%, 15.6 K%

McMahon has probably had the best April of any of the Rockies prospects. After his struggles for Hartford last season, McMahon has rebounded in a huge way. He’s got great strikeout and walk rates and is hitting the cover off the ball on a nightly basis. With a full season of Double-A experience already under his belt, he may be a candidate for an early promotion to Albuquerque.

8. Kyle Freeland (MLB)

2.93 ERA, 1.446 WHIP, 5.2 K/9 3.9 BB/9

A Denver native, Freeland beat out Hoffman and Marquez for one of the two open starting pitcher positions in spring training. He made his major-league debut in the Rockies home opener and has performed much like you’d expect a top pitching prospect to. He’s had some good games and some struggles, but the overall trend has been positive.

9. Ryan Castellani (Double-A HFD)

4.79 ERA, 1.306 WHIP, 10.9 K/9, 3 BB/9

Considering that Castellani just turned 21 in April, his Double-A numbers are extremely impressive. While he has given up more runs and hits than usual, his K-rate has also rocketed to a career high.

10. Antonio Senzatela (MLB)

2.81 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 5.1 K/9, 2 BB/9

At the beginning of spring training, Bud Black mentioned that Senzatela was in the running for a spot in the Rockies rotation, which made me chuckle considering his lack of experience in the upper minors. Now, Senzatela is the one laughing, as he’s been the Rockies’ best starting pitcher.

11. Peter Lambert (High-A LAN)

4.67 ERA, 1.185 WHIP, 10 K/9, 2.7 BB/9

When looking at Lambert’s season, just remember that he’s pitching the in most hitter-friendly park in a hitter-friendly league. The strikeout and walk ratios continue to be encouraging.

12. Yency Almonte (Double-A HFD)

1.52 ERA, 1.014 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, 3.4 BB/9

“Showtime” Almonte is good, enough said. Okay, maybe another sentence. As much as he’s risen through the rankings already, he’s poised for another big jump maybe even into the top five.

13. Jordan Patterson (Triple-A ABQ)

.188/.329/.435, 3 HR, 14.1 BB%, 30.6 K%

For most teams, Patterson would have earned a spot on the active roster with his performance last season in Triple-A, unfortunately he’s stuck behind the Rockies outfield depth. He’s managed to still produce a 103 wRC+ despite the abysmal average due to his high on-base and slugging percentages.

14. Dom Nunez (Double-A HFD)

.175/.313/.325, 2 HR, 16.7 BB%, 16.7 K%

The strikeout and walk rates are encouraging for Nunez and the low average may be BABIP induced. His calling card may always be his defense, but the bat does need to pick up at some point.

15. Forrest Wall (High-A LAN)

.289/.348/.434, 2 HR, 8.6 BB%, 17.2 K%

After a disappointing first go in High-A, Wall has had a solid start to the season while also playing a new position in the outfield. 17 of Wall’s 19 games this season have been in the outfield, including 15 in centerfield. It will be interesting to see how Wall ends up looking defensively in the outfield, but the bat is starting to heat up again.

16. Pedro Gonzalez (N/A)

Gonzalez is still in extended spring training awaiting an assignment to one of the organization’s short-season teams.

17. Ben Bowden (N/A)

The Rockies top relief prospect, Bowden has been rehabbing in extended spring training.

18. Robert Tyler (N/A)

Tyler is in extended spring training.

19. Colton Welker (Single-A ASH)

.320/.373/.467, 2 HR, 6.0 BB%, 14.5 K%

The Rockies have excelled in drafting high-school third baseman. In his second professional season, Welker looks even better than his first. If he manages to develop more power as he matures, watch out.

20. Sam Howard (Triple-A ABQ, Double-A HFD)

Triple-A: 3.38 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 10.13 K/9, 0.00 BB/9
Double-A: 2.25 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 5.63 K/9, 3.38 BB/9

Howard has had a weird April. After a somewhat surprising assignment, Howard started a single game in Triple-A, before being reassigned back to Double-A where he’s had a pair of four-inning outings as he get stretched back out from non-use.

21. Daniel Montano (N/A)

Montano will probably start the season in the DSL, though he may follow the Pedro Gonzalez path and get reassigned once the short-season teams start play.

22. Garrett Hampson (High-A LAN)

.303/.358/.364, 7 SB, 8.2 BB%, 15.5 K %

Hampson has adapted well to an aggressive promotion to High-A in his first full professional season. He’s still not hitting for much power, and probably won’t ever hit for much, but he is showing good on-base skills and speed, which are useful traits for a middle infield prospect.

23. Tyler Nevin (Single-A ASH)

.225/.333/.282, 1 HR, 11.9 BB%, 23.8 K%

After having only a single plate appearance last season, Nevin was hoping to make up for lost time this season. He’s started slow, but considering how much time he missed, it’s not that surprising.

24. Jairo Diaz (Triple-A ABQ)

Diaz has had three rehab appearance this season, with the last one on April 15. He was recently activated from the DL and assigned to Triple-A, where he’ll hopefully begin pitching soon.

25. Harrison Musgrave (Triple-A ABQ)

5.60 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, 6.11 K/9, 5.09 BB/9

Musgrave has really struggled this season, which is unfortunate. The Rockies have been testing their starting pitching depth, and a good version of Musgrave might have been called up.

26. Parker French (Double-A HFD)

4.43 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 3.98 K/9, 3.98 BB/9

A college draft pick, French has moved very quickly through the system and is in Double-A in only his second full professional season. The key to French’s past success has been his minuscule walk rate, which countered his low strike-out rate. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case this season.

27. Mike Nikorak (N/A)

After hearing positive things about Nikorak from camp about finally putting things together, those hopes were quickly dashed. He is going to undergo Tommy John surgery.

28. Sam Moll (Triple-A ABQ)

5.68 ERA, 2.21 WHIP, 5.68 K/9, 5.68 BB/9

Moll has struggled even worse than he did last season. Also, those repeating stats are not typos.

29. Wander Cabrera (N/A)

Cabrera is expected to lead the wave of top DSL prospects to come stateside this year. Expect to see him in either Boise or Grand Junction when short-season ball starts in June.

30. Jose Gomez (Single-A ASH)

.323/.344/.430, 4 SB, 3.1 BB%, 20.4 K %

Unlike last season, Gomez is actually striking out at a relatively high clip. Just like last season, Gomez is hitting the ball extremely well. He’s also been the primary shortstop for Asheville this season.

★ ★ ★

Outside of the PuRPs, the Rockies have had some other prospects make their case in April to be considered for the next poll. Due to graduations, a few prospects falling off the list, and the Rockies not having a first round pick, there will be ample opportunity for these players to join the top 30 this summer.

Here are eight of the top performers this season not listed on the PuRPs list, in alphabetical order.

Matt Carasiti (Triple-A ABQ)

0.00 ERA, 1.57 WHIP 11.57 K/9 5.14 BB/9

Carasiti has avoided giving up runs due to his great strikeout rate. Unfortunately, his command issues from his major-league sting seemed to have followed him back to Triple-A.

James Farris (Double-A HFD)

2.00 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 9.00 K/9 1.00 BB/9

Farris has been as good as promised since being acquired for Eddie Butler. With a half season of Double-A already under his belt last year, expect Farris to be on the fast track to Triple-A if he continues to pitch well.

Vince Fernandez (Single-A ASH)

.279/.330/.453, 4 HR, 7.4 BB%, 21.1 K%

Fernandez hit three home runs in the first four games of the season. He’s since cooled off a bit, which would be expected, but is still having a great season.

Sam Hilliard (High-A MOD)

.354/.429/.519, 2 HR, 8 SB, 10.8 BB%, 23.7 K%

Hilliard has had the best season by a Lancaster hitter so far this season. He’s picked up his stolen base pace a bit from last season, and if he can tap into more of the power he showed last season in Asheville he could be a 20-40 guy, which is pretty rare.

Austin House (Triple-A ABQ)

0.84 ERA 0.74 WHIP, 7.59 K/9, 2.53 BB/9
House has pitched extremely well to start his second season in Triple-A. Hopefully, the Rockies bullpen will stay healthy and he won’t be needed, but there’s a decent chance that House could be in the Rockies pen sometime this season.

Brian Mundell (High-A LAN)

.289/.353/.511, 4 HR, 9.8 BB%, 17.6 K%

While not hitting doubles at the prolific pace that he was last season ,all is not lost for Mundell, who has been to turn some of them into home runs. How much of that is added strength versus the friendly confines of Lancaster has yet to be determined.

Antonio Santos (Single-A ASH)

1.80 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 8.40 K/9, 0.90 BB/9

Before the season, Asheville pitching coach Ryan Kibler called Santos the best pitcher in the league, and Santos has made him look pretty smart. The increased strikeouts are extremely encouraging, and Santos should be on everyone’s watch list.

Max White (Double-A HFD)

.303/.382/.530, 2HR, 8 SB, 11.8 BB%, 25.0 K%

It’s been a tough development road for White, who was a second round pick back in 2012. The Rockies challenged him with an assignment to Hartford despite some rough numbers last year in High-A ,and so far White is putting together the best season of his career.