It's time for the reveal of the 2017 midseason Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) list, our community's ranking of the top 30 Colorado Rockies prospects. The top 30 prospects will be revealed five at a time over the next week or so to give people who aren't in the know a little bit more of information on them. First up, an introduction 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, 40 ballots were cast, with 30 points granted for a first place vote, 29 for second, etc. Until a player was named on 14 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 14 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 (no ties in the top 30 were broken in this edition).
In all, 66 players received at least one vote for this PuRPs list (down from 69), 58 got mentioned on multiple ballots (down from 59), and 33 were named on at least 18 ballots (up one from last time) and therefore were unmodified. The top 18 players were named on over 90 percent of ballots cast, though not necessarily in the same order, while only three 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 (fewer than 130 ABs, 50 IP, and 45 days on the active roster) as of July 7th, when polling opened, were eligible for selection on this list. From the preseason 2017 list, Jeff Hoffman (2), German Marquez (5), Kyle Freeland (8), Antonio Senzatela (10) and Pat Valaika (HM) exhausted their rookie eligibility and were not eligible for this list, while Matt Carasiti (HM) was traded out of the organization.
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 the 2017 season to date. 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-Ref 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 2017 midseason PuRPs List:
66. Pearson McMahan (0.1 points, 1 ballot) — a 20-year-old righty in Boise; was Colorado’s 4th round pick this year.
T-64. Enrique Saldana (0.3, 1) — 18-year-old righty 2B in the DSL who has a 104 wRC+ there in a repeat campaign; he was a big bonus Latin America signee in the 2015 class.
T-64. Omar Carrizales (0.3, 1) — 22-year-old lefty OF, the former PuRP has a 82 wRC+ in Hartford.
In his third pro season, he's operating at 94-98 mph with quality sink that yields a lot of groundouts.
Hitters have trouble squaring up Lawrence's sinker when he keeps it down in the zone. He backs it up with a hard, sweeping slider that is quite effective against right-handers.
T-62. Yeikel Blandin (0.4, 1) — 17-year-old OF was the top position player signing for the 2016 Latin America class and has a 88 wRC+ in his first professional season.
T-59. Zach Jemiola (0.5, 1) — 23-year-old RHP, the former PuRP was added to the 40-man roster in the off-season but has struggled in Albuquerque’s rotation this year.
T-59. Shane Broyles (0.5, 1) — 25-year-old righty reliever, has a 1.40 ERA and 12.8 K/9 rate this year for Hartford.
T-59. Jorge Oviedo (0.5, 1) — 20-year-old LHP, made his stateside debut with Grand Junction and has a 9.6 K/9 rate.
T-57: Alfredo Jose Garcia (0.6, 2) — 17-year-old lefty, was a high-bonus Latin America signee in the 2016 class and has a 2.08 ERA so far in 342⁄3 DSL innings.
T-57. Noel Cuevas (0.6, 2) — 25-year-old righty OF has a 125 wRC+ in a repeat season for Albuquerque; despite his stats, he’s seemingly boxed out from a MLB role by others appearing higher on this list.
56. Yonathan Daza (1.3, 2) — 23-year-old righty OF is knocking the cover off the ball in Lancaster’s friendly confines (132 wRC+, .860 OPS).
55. David Hill (1.4, 2) — 23-year-old RHP has seen a steep drop from the last list (he was the top HM PuRP) due to a year lost to injury.
54. Jerry Vasto (1.9, 3) — the 25-year-old LHP rose out of obscurity all the way to Triple-A this year; has a 11.8 K/9 rate but in the tough PCL also has a 6.17 ERA; MLB.com provided this scouting report on Vasto:
A left-handed specialist, Vasto has shut down lefty hitters since entering pro ball. He carves them up with a mid-80s slider/cutter and throws them off with his deceptive delivery. He sets up his slider with a fastball that sits around 91-93 mph and tops out at 95 with late sink.
Vasto hasn't dominated right-handed hitters but has been effective against them. He'll mix in a changeup against them but it's usually fringy at best. His control and command lack consistency at times, and his stuff flattens out and gets hit hard when he leaves the ball up in the strike zone.
53. Wander Cabrera (2.0, 2) — PuRP on the preseason edition on this list, the 19-year-old LHP is now in his third season in the DSL and hasn’t recorded any stats this season.
52. Hamlet Marte (2.3, 2) — 23-year-old righty catcher is another former PuRP; has thrived this season for Lancaster to the tune of a 140 wRC+ and an All-Star berth.
51. Breiling Eusebio (2.7, 2) — 2013 Latin America signee, the 20-year-old LHP starter was dominant (1.59 ERA, 11.6 K/9) in a return engagement with Boise but has thus far struggled after a promotion to Asheville (5.51 ERA in 16 1⁄3 frames).
50. Austin House (3.1, 2) — 26-year-old righty reliever has been successful this year in Albuquerque’s bullpen, posting a 2.38 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in a tough environment.
49. Yolki Pena (3.2, 5) — 17-year-old shortstop was an unheralded signing last year but has absolutely stood out offensively in a tough DSL environment (.309 BA, 137 wRC+) at an age where other top signings have struggled.
48. Jack Wynkoop (4.5, 3) — a preseason HM PuRP, the 23-year-old LHP has produced mediocre numbers (4.62 ERA) and a tiny strikeout rate (4.9 K/9) with Hartford after a very successful 2016 across Low A and High A.
47. Craig Schlitter (4.9, 3) — 25-year-old RHP was a reliever up until this year, during which he’s already earned a promotion to Hartford, where he’s been hit hard in his first three appearances.
46. Rayan Gonzalez (5.4, 4) — 26-year-old righty reliever and the lowest ranked PuRP who appeared on my personal ballot (at #29) in what I consider to be a weakened system, mostly on the strength of his live relief arm and 40 man roster slot; rehabbing from TJ surgery this year, but perhaps he’ll be a part of the 2018 bullpen discussion when he returns. MLB.com described Gonzalez’s arsenal as follows:
Gonzalez's 93-98 mph fastball has a combination of natural cutting action and some sink, helping him post an outstanding 2.5 groundout/airout ratio through his first five pro seasons. He found more success last year when he improved his ability to control how much his heater cuts. He gets good depth on his curveball and also employs a decent changeup to keep left-handers honest.
The life on Gonzalez's fastball can make it difficult to command, though it moves so much that it can be tough to hit even when he leaves it over the plate.
45. Shael Mendoza (7.0, 7) — where the heck did this guy come from? The lefty-hitting 20-year-old 2B was an unheralded Latin signing last year but has set the Pioneer League afire this year with Grand Junction. His batting line is .393/.445/.598 so far, good for a 154 wRC+.
44. Anderson Amarista (7.4, 4) — the 18-year-old RHP was a big bonus Latin American signing in 2015 who made his stateside debut this year. In 31 innings for Grand Junction, Amarista has been hit hard (6.39 ERA, 1.48 WHIP).
43. Rosell Herrera (7.5, 5) — at this point the 24-year-old OF is a PuRPs institution. He’s received votes in every PuRPs poll since I took over the job in Spring 2010 (that’s 15 lists) — the last remaining person to do so, topping out at no. 4 in Winter 2013. Until this year’s preseason list, he’d appeared on every one of the personal ballots I’d cast in that time too. The former top 100 prospect in MLB is no longer on Colorado's 40-man roster, but the tools are there and he’s posting a 103 wRC+ in his first crack at Albuquerque. Despite the fact that he’s such a veteran of these lists, he’s still over two years younger than the average Triple A player.
42. Sean Bouchard (8.6, 8) — this year’s 9th round pick has made a positive first impression. The 21-year-old lefty first baseman has crushed the ball in a very tough Northwest League hitting environment for Boise to the tune of .371/.429/.586 (178 wRC+). It’s a small sample (78 PA) but Bouchard has put himself on the prospect radar.
41. James Farris (10.7, 6) — the return from the Cubs in the Eddie Butler deal was this 25-year-old righty reliever. He pitched very well in Hartford to earn a Triple-A berth, where for Albuquerque he’s produced middling results (5.66 ERA, 1.45 WHIP). Here’s the dirt on Farris from MLB.com:
Now that he's pitching in shorter stints, he's operating at 92-94 mph and peaking at 96 without losing any of the cutting action that keeps his heater off barrels.
One thing that hasn't changed from college to pro ball is his ability to throw strikes and keep the ball down in the zone. He has a ceiling as a seventh-inning reliever and could surface in Colorado in the near future.
40. Antonio Santos (12.3, 4) — the fact that a 20-year-old RHP has been in Asheville’s starting rotation all year is by itself an achievement worth noting. Santos doesn’t have great numbers this year, but MLB.com had this to say about him:
Santos' fastball topped out at 92 mph when he turned pro and now operates at 92-95 with a peak of 97. He also has good feel for his curveball and changeup. Both of his secondary pitches could be solid once he improves their consistency.
Though he throws a lot of strikes and does a good job of keeping the ball down, Santos can get hittable because he's around the zone too much at times. He's advanced for a 20-year-old pitcher and could develop into a No. 3 or 4 starter.
39. Harrison Musgrave (31.4, 8) — the 25-year-old LHP was a preseason PuRP but has not pitched well in his second tour in Albuquerque (6.79 ERA, 1.66 WHIP). Nonetheless, he provides insurance should disaster strike for the major league rotation. MLB.com had this to say about Musgrave before the season:
Musgrave's best offering unquestionably is his changeup, a plus offering at times that tumbles at the plate. His fastball sits around 90 mph but he makes it work thanks to command and deception. He never has had much of a breaking ball and his slider remains fringy.
He may have just one pitch that qualifies as even average, but that doesn't stop Musgrave from challenging hitters and pounding the strike zone.
38. Jesus Tinoco (35.4, 8) — the Third Guy in the Tulo trade is repeating the High A level at Lancaster. The 22-year-old righty has acceptable ERA numbers for the California League (4.95), but the peripherals are not good (1.58 WHIP, 5.6 K/9 rate). His arm could be intriguing as a middle reliever, but the upside just isn’t there right now.
37. Willie Abreu (45, 9) — the 22-year-old lefty OF is known for his power potential, but he’s also posted 27 stolen bases this year for Asheville while posting a 110 wRC+ so far. If his game power catches up to his potential and he starts taking more walks, Abreu becomes a very interesting prospect.
36. Mike Tauchman (62.1, 10) — the 26-year-old lefty OF already has something that many on this list will never achieve — a major league cup of coffee (including two hits). He also retains a 40 man roster slot and has hit .331/.388/.570 (139 wRC+) this year in Albuquerque — all reasons why Tauchman received the 30th spot on my personal ballot. Producing players like Tauchman is the role of a minor league system and hopefully he’s got more major league value to provide.
Finally, here are the five players who came closest, the Honorable Mention PuRPs:
35. Sam Moll (62.1 points, 11 ballots), 2013 3rd round, LHP at Triple A (25)
34. Wes Rogers (68, 16), 2014 4th round, OF at High A (23)
33. Chad Spanberger (79, 19), 2017 6th round, 1B at Rookie ball (21)
32. Parker French (80.8, 13), 2015 5th round, RHP at Double A (24)
31. JD Hammer (104, 21), 2016 24th round, RHP at High A (23)
Here are some notes on the five honorable mention PuRPs:
Moll was the no. 28 PuRP on the preseason list but drops out of this edition in his second tour of Triple-A Albuquerque. The lefty reliever so far has an adequate 4.43 ERA and less than adequate 6.6 K/9 rate and 1.57 WHIP for the Isotopes over 402⁄3 innings. In addition, though he has a 40-man roster slot, Moll’s ascent to the big league bullpen this year has seemingly been blocked by the acquisition of fellow lefty Zach Rosscup.
Moll may lack size but his quick arm and athleticism generate lively 93-96 mph fastballs that elicit strikeouts and groundouts. He also gets swings and misses with his slider, which combines mid-80s velocity with good depth. He doesn't use his changeup much out of the bullpen, though it has shown flashes of becoming a plus pitch.
Moll throws enough strikes but still needs to improve his command and his ability to get right-handers out on a consistent basis. If he can do that, he could be a high-leverage reliever.
I think Moll can be a decent reliever at the big league level, which is why I placed Moll 24th on my personal ballot and graded him as a 40 FV prospect.
Rogers has flown mostly under the prospect radar since getting drafted in the 4th round three years ago, but his speed has consistently stood out as a carrying tool. The righty OF had 55 steals in 2015, 43 in 2016, and so far this year has swiped 55 bags (getting caught only 8 times) for High A Lancaster. Moreover, in his second chance at the hitter friendly California League Rogers has been an offensive weapon, putting up a .312/.372/.488 slash line (131 wRC+) over 385 plate appearances.
Before the season, Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs listed Rogers as a “Prospect of Note”:
Rogers possesses excellent secondary skills, is a plus runner with a projectable frame and a chance to play center field, but his hitting actions are very raw. He has substantial upside but the feel to hit is raw, especially for a 22-year-old. He projects as a fourth outfielder, but if the swing comes together he has a chance for more.
Rogers is a candidate for a promotion to Double-A before the year is out, and it’s at that level where we will see if he can consolidate his gains as a hitter. Rogers just missed out on my personal ballot due to the concerns about the hit tool at an advanced level, but he’ll have the chance to allay those concerns soon.
Spanberger had high offensive expectations upon being assigned to Grand Junction. After all, he’s a college first baseman being loosed upon the Pioneer League. Thus far Colorado’s sixth rounder in this year’s draft has met or exceeded those lofty expectations. In 102 plate appearances for Grand Junction, Spanberger has a .322/.373/.622 line with 14 extra base hits, good for a 129 wRC+.
At this point, we’re talking about a small professional sample size, but Spanberger has certainly helped his cause so far. The elevated K% (23.5) and the lack of defensive utility were both factors in me leaving Spanberger off my personal ballot this time around, but I’m interested in watching him in full season ball next year to see if he can keep up this pace.
French is another preseason PuRP (#26) that fell off the list this time around. The lefty starter got excellent results in 2016 (2.63 ERA) across two levels despite a somewhat low 6.2 K/9 rate. Not bad for a 5th rounder who commanded just a $100k bonus as a college senior. MLB.com gave the following scouting report on French entering the year:
He relies mostly on his two-seam fastball, which he can spot on either side of the plate with late, heavy sink. It usually arrives at 89-92 mph, though French has picked up some velocity in pro ball and is touching 94 more frequently than he did with the Longhorns. He doesn't miss a lot of bats but resolves a lot of at-bats with early-count groundouts.
French maintains his arm speed while throwing his changeup, which also features sink and shows flashes of becoming a solid pitch. He also works in an average slider that he throws for strikes. He doesn't have a huge ceiling, but his efficiency gives him a high floor as a back-of-the-rotation starter.
Given a chance to move up to Hartford, French has found the competition in Double-A to be much more difficult. In 981⁄3 innings over 19 starts with the Yard Goats, French has a 6.32 ERA (5.52 FIP) with a low 4.7 K/9 rate, elevated 3.8 BB/9 rate, and 1.66 WHIP. I barely left French off my ballot preseason because I wanted to see if he could get similar results at higher levels — but since he hasn’t, he fell off my consideration list for my personal list this time around too.
Hammer is neck and neck in my book with Hamlet Marte for the best prospect name in the Rockies organization. The 23-year-old reliever put up decent numbers as a 24th round debutante in Grand Junction last year, but he really emerged this season with Asheville. In 30 innings with the Tourists, Hammer posted a minuscule 1.20 ERA (1.13 FIP) with an impressive 14.5 K/9 rate and 1.50 BB/9 rate (that’s 47 K/5 BB) — earning a quick promotion to High A.
With Lancaster, Hammer has hit a bit of a rough patch, but it’s only been 11 innings so far — during which Hammer has allowed 7 runs on 9 hits and 9 walks while striking out 17. In other words, the strikeout stuff is still working in High A, but the command did not quite make the plane trip. At this point for me, Hammer is an interesting name and an interesting potential relief arm for the Rockies, but he is too far away from the Rockies with too little scouting fanfare to seriously consider for my ballot.
That’s the thing though — in my opinion, the Rockies have about 40 players that have arguments for the bottom 3-4 slots on the PuRPs list and many of them have been mentioned over the course of this article. Beyond the four preseason PuRPs who were ineligible for this list due to MLB graduation, there were four more who fell off (all pitchers) because of that level of competition the system has generated this year.
To see some players that did make the cut, check back soon as we unveil the midseason 2017 PuRPs list!