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Colorado Rockies prospect rankings, midseason 2017: The raw and under the radar

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Midseason 2017 PuRPs list, 26-30

Now that we've taken a look at the honorable mention players who received votes but ultimately fell short of midseason 2017 edition of the Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) list, it's time to examine the players that did make the cut. As a reminder, in this edition of the PuRPs poll, 40 ballots were cast, with 30 points granted for a first place vote, 29 for second, etc.

For each player on the PuRPs list, I'll include a link to individual stats (via Baseball-Reference), PuRPs voting stats, contract status (via Rockies Roster) a note on the 2017 season to date, and a scouting report from a national prospect writer. For what it's worth, I'll also include where I put each player on my personal ballot. 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. And so we go ...

30. Tommy Doyle (128 points, 19 ballots) -- Preseason Ranking: NR — High Ballot 17, Mode Ballot 27

How did he enter the organization?

2017 Competitive Balance Round B, University of Virginia

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Doyle’s status as Colorado’s second draft pick of 2017 was no doubt a heavy consideration since he doesn’t have much professional experience to this point. The 6’6” hurler, who signed for the 70th overall pick’s slot value of $837,300, spent his last college season as a reliever and appears to be staying that way in professional ball.

In his brief exposure to minor league baseball, the 21-year-old righty has only appeared in eight games as a professional for Rookie ball Grand Junction, all in relief. In those games he’s thrown 613 innings, allowing six runs (5 earned) on 15 hits while walking five and striking out five. In other words, it hasn’t been an auspicious debut for Mr. Doyle.

What do the scouts say?

Doyle was deemed to be a bit of an overdraft by the Rockies at the 70th pick, as Baseball America ranked him 136th pre-draft and MLB.com had him 168th. Here’s Doyle’s scouting report from MLB.com:

Doyle has the chance to have an excellent power fastball-breaking ball combination, with decent arm action, a strong frame and a solid delivery. He's been clocked up to 97 mph at times this spring and can back it up with an 82-83 mph slider. He flips in a below-average curveball and might be better suited focusing on just the slider at the next level. He does have a changeup, but he doesn't throw it often and it's a below-average "show me" kind of pitch rather than a viable weapon.

Command has been an issue in the past, though his walk rate has improved this spring. He's not the type of college reliever who will run up Draft boards, but he's impressed enough in front of a lot of evaluators to be a solid Day 2 consideration.

The Rockies obviously saw more in Doyle’s arsenal than did the national scouts given their pick of him late on Day 1 of the draft. Here’s a taste of Doyle in action for UVA:

When's he going to get to the Rockies and how good will he be once he's there?

Doyle has the frame, power fastball with movement, and good enough secondary pitch to be an intimidating relief option for Colorado. The early exit polls haven’t been great with him, but I’m unwilling to let a small sample size undo the prospect capital gained by the stuff and draft spot.

I expect Doyle to find his feet professionally and move quickly up the minor league ladder — he’ll likely be the first 2017 draftee from the Rockies to reach the Show — perhaps as early as 2019. I ranked Doyle 23rd on my personal list with a 40 FV as a potential impact set-up man.

★ ★ ★

29. Jeffri Ocando (142 points, 18 ballots) Preseason Ranking: NR — High Ballot 16, Mode Ballot 20, 25, 30

How did he enter the organization?

2016 Amateur Free Agent (Venezuela)

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Ocando represents the promise of precocious youth. The 18-year-old Venezuelan righthander was an afterthought until recently, signing just before the 2016 DSL season began last May as a 17-year-old for just $10,000. Ocando’s first professional season was limited to just 23 innings—what a 23 innings! The 6’1” starter posted a 0.39 ERA and 0.65 WHIP while striking out 29 and walking just one hitter against older players in the DSL.

After a 13 inning repeat in the DSL to start this year, Ocando moved stateside straight into the Grand Junction starting rotation. Anytime an 18-year-old makes his stateside debut it’s a bit of a big deal, but for a prospect as ignored as Ocando was it was quite rare to see. Over six starts and 31 innings pitched for Grand Junction, Ocando has a 4.85 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, and a pedestrian 4.9 K/9 rate. .

What do the scouts say?

There’s not a lot out there yet about Ocando, which is common for unheralded Latin American prospects. With that said, Purple Row contributor Nick Stephens was able to file a report for Baseball Census on Ocando complete with some video earlier this month:

According to Stephens (worth reading the whole thing), Ocando sat in the low 90s throughout but the lack of consistency in his delivery limited his command profile.

When's he going to get to the Rockies and how good will he be once he's there?

It’s impressive that Ocando has gotten this far this soon considering his humble prospect beginnings. At some point where you started as a prospect begins to fade in importance compared to what you’ve done and Ocando is approaching that point. With that said, Ocando for me was too far away, too raw (I think he ends up as a reliever), and the pedigree was too low for me to rank him in my top 30, though he came close.

We’ll see if the Rockies jump Ocando up to full season ball next year or if he makes a repeat Grand Junction or maybe Boise appearance. Either way, I can’t see Ocando contributing to the big league club before at least 2021—and that would be booking it.

★ ★ ★

28. Sam Hilliard (155 points, 22 ballots) Preseason Ranking: NR — High Ballot 11, Mode Ballot 29

How did he enter the organization?

2015 15th Round, Wichita State University

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Hilliard has an interesting story as a former two-way player who was drafted by the Rockies as a hitter. A natural athlete, Hilliard has potential five-tool impact, rare for a player with his draft position. Though the 6’5” 23-year-old lefty outfielder has been a little old for his level, he has consistently put up strong offensive numbers.

In fact, Hilliard’s three minor league campaigns have produced 134, 128, and 119 wRC+ in order — his line this year with High A Lancaster is .294/.353/.467 with 35 extra base hits and 24 steals over 418 plate appearances. That’s good, though an elevated 25.8 K percent and a steadily lowering walk percentage over the last three years (14 to 11 to 8) give reason for pause.

What do the scouts say?

Hilliard first came to my attention when Jon Sickels of Minor League Ball gave him some SLEEPER ALERT! love in his preseason 2016 Rockies prospect list. My favorite part was the Corey Dickerson comp Jon put on his bat potential.

In terms of more recent scouting information, Hilliard was profiled by MLB.com preseason, grading out at 50 or better on every tool except a 45 for Hit:

Hilliard's left-handed raw power, speed and arm strength all grade as plus tools. His 6-foot-5 frame creates impressive leverage that he could utilize better by adding more loft to his swing. His extra-large frame comes with a naturally long swing, and he needs a more consistent approach after striking out in 30 percent of his plate appearances during his first two pro seasons.

Hilliard is surprisingly fast for a big man and has 20-20 potential. He runs well enough to cover ground in center field but fits better on the corners. His arm, which provided 88-92 mph fastballs in college, works anywhere in the outfield.

Wilson Karaman of Baseball Prospectus saw Hilliard several times over the season’s first half — here’s a selection of what he had to say in his detailed scouting report:

Hilliard boasts a solid collection of baseball skills, offering workable corner outfield defense, some pop, and some speed. The swing is a bit unorthodox, and he tries to make up for mediocre bat speed with timing and adjustability. He'll take pitches and work walks to prop up his on-base profile, but he's not going to win any batting titles. He often struggles to stride online against same-handed pitching, bailing out and exposing wide swaths of real estate around the zone. The lack of a carrying defensive tool, couple with platoon issues, tickets him on a strong-side corner platoon track. There's enough talent here that he's a decent bet to pull it off.

Overall Karaman gave Hilliard a realistic role of a 40 FV platoon OF with a 45 OFP.

Here’s some video courtesy of Baseball Census:

When's he going to get to the Rockies and how good will he be once he's there?

Hilliard certainly has his adherents among the scouting community and some decent offensive numbers to back up the high tool evaluations. That’s a big reason why I ranked Hilliard 28th on my personal ballot as an intriguing major league reserve player (FV 35+), one that could see the Show by the end of 2019.

As stated above, Hilliard’s got some red flags in his offensive profile and has yet to face a tough offensive environment while being old for the level each time. He seems to be on track to get that opportunity next year with Double A Hartford, which should be illuminating for fans and prospect writers alike.

★ ★ ★

27. Alejandro Requena (157 points, 16 ballots) Preseason Ranking: NR — High Ballot 11, Mode Ballot 20, 22, 27, 28

How did he enter the organization?

2013 Amateur Free Agent (Venezuela)

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Requena is another Latin American pitching prospect to emerge from relative anonymity this season. The 20-year-old righthanded starter was signed in 2013 out of Venezuela for an undisclosed bonus, then didn’t make his professional debut in the DSL until a year later. Requena repeated in the DSL in 2015, then made his stateside debut last year. In 13 starts and 67 innings for Grand Junction last year, Requena posted unremarkable numbers (4.97 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 7.9 K/9 rate), which explains why he was off the radar of prospect watchers entering the season.

However, Requena was assigned to Asheville and has pitched quite well against players who on average are 1.9 years older than him. In 111 innings over 18 starts, Requena has posted an impressive 2.84 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. While his 7.4 K/9 rate is nothing special, the quality of the results thus far and the 1.9 BB/9 rate is. As a reward, Requena was a South Atlantic League All-Star.

What do the scouts say?

The internet scouting community has very little to say about Requena at this point, with the most prominent non-Purple Row mention coming from this game report that also happened to feature Tim Tebow back in April in which Requena went 8 scoreless innings. Here’s some video of him from that game:

When's he going to get to the Rockies and how good will he be once he's there?

The fact that Requena has put up the numbers he has at age 20 in a hitter friendly home park in the South Atlantic League is a major plus for his prospect status. He’s shown himself to be durable and able to get hitters out while limiting walks, both of which are conducive to staying as a starter as he moves up a level.

Requena narrowly missed my top 30 in part because of his lower pedigree (both with his origins and the current lack of scouting info) and also the distance he still needs to go to be a major league contributor — likely not until at least 2020.

★ ★ ★

26. Vince Fernandez (163 points, 25 ballots) Preseason Ranking: NR — High Ballot 18, Mode Ballot 25

How did he enter the organization?

2016 10th Round, University of California, Riverside

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Quite simply, Fernandez has made the electorate pay attention to him by virtue of his stellar offensive performances since his professional debut last year. The 22-year-old (as of today) lefty hitting OF posted a .310/.370/.527 line (121 wRC+) last year with Grand Junction and has bettered that line this year with Asheville.

In 264 plate appearances with the Tourists this year, the 6’3” Fernandez is hitting .314/.380/.547 (164 wRC+) with 30 extra base hits and 11 steals on the season. He’s only slightly younger than league average, he strikes out a bit much (28%), and he plays in a very lefty-friendly home park, but Fernandez’s numbers are still quite impressive and worthy of the South Atlantic League All-Star bid he received.

What do the scouts (and Purple Row) say?

There’s not a lot of digital scouting ink spilled thus far on Fernandez, but Christopher Crawford of Baseball Prospectus thought Fernandez was the best pick of the 2016 draft’s 10th round:

Fernandez looks the part at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, and he’s shown flashes of brilliance during his time at UC Riverside. He’ll never be a high-average hitter, but there’s above-average power potential in his right-handed bat, and his 55-grade speed and arm will serve him well in the corner outfield.

In a May chat this year, Kyle Glaser of Baseball America had this to say about Fernandez:

The power is legit and anytime you have that kind of lefthanded power you’re a legit prospect. At the same time, the swing-and-miss does prevent him from profiling as an everyday guy

Here’s some pre-draft video of Fernandez courtesy of Prospect Pipeline:

When's he going to get to the Rockies and how good will he be once he's there?

There’s no denying that Fernandez has done nothing but hit well since being drafted next year, but the lack of scouting plaudits and lower draft position, combined with the wariness I have about left-handed hitter batting lines in Asheville led me to leave Fernandez off my top 30 among a teeming mass of similarly rated prospects. If Fernandez can show this offensive prowess at higher levels I shall be forced (and pleased) to reconsider.

Given his production, Fernandez should get a chance to do just that later this year (if he can recover from his oblique injury) or next year in the California League. If it all clicks, Fernandez would be on pace for a late 2020 debut in the big leagues.

See you soon for the next installment of the midseason 2017 PuRPs list!