clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Colorado Rockies prospect rankings, midseason 2017: The hazy future

New, comments

Midseason 2017 PuRPs list: 16-20

It's time to reveal the next installment of the midseason 2017 Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) list. Tuesday we revealed prospects 30-26, Wednesday we had prospects 25-21, and today we'll show you 20-16. This is the first portion of the reveal in which we'll see some players who made the vast majority of PuRPs ballots. 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.

Important Note: Since Jose Gomez, who was voted as PuRP 18 and is profiled below, and Alejandro Requena (PuRP 27) were both traded along with HM PuRP J.D. Hammer to the Phillies for Pat Neshek, they will be removed from the final midseason 2017 PuRPs list but will remain in place as written for posterity. Parker French and Chad Spanberger become PuRPs as a result, while Mike Tauchman and Willie Abreu take their places as HM PuRPs.

20. Daniel Montano (400 points, 32 ballots) Preseason Ranking: 21 — High Ballot 12, Mode Ballot 18

How did he enter the organization?

2015 Amateur Free Agent (Venezuela)

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Montano is probably best known for receiving a $2 million bonus as a free agent out of Venezuela in 2015, the largest the Rockies have given out. The now 18-year-old lefty OF is still in the Dominican Summer League (this season is his second tour there), which was a little surprising to me given his 121 wRC+ in his 2016 season. As such, he’s remained somewhat off the prospect radar, but there was obviously enough buzz to get him on this list.

This year for the DSL Rockies, Montano has hit a robust .286/.370/.464 with 14 extra base hits in 130 plate appearances. In a tough hitting environment, that’s good for a 137 wRC+. Rockies prospects who have posted those kinds of lines in the DSL, especially at that age, have tended to do very well when they do come stateside. We’ll see if those numbers are good enough for a cameo for the 6’1” outfielder this year in Grand Junction, though in any case he’s likely to finally play there by next year.

What do the scouts say?

In their February organizational review, 2080 Baseball had this to say about Montano:

Montano earned a $2 million signing bonus from Colorado off of his offensive upside and physical projection. The Venezuelan native has yet to make it stateside, but in Dominican Summer League action has shown good balance at the plate and quick wrists, with the early signs of developing power bubbling to the surface. There’s a fair amount of swing and miss built into the profile, placing a lot of pressure on the power coming through. To his credit, he has shown a fairly patient approach that could translate into walks and some on-base value to help provide some cushion on the offensive side of things. He’s likely to settle in left field at maturity, though it’s the bat that will ultimately determine whether he carves out a big league future for himself.

MLB.com’s midseason list placed Montano 23rd in the system:

Montano is one of the more projectable hitters in the system. He has a relatively advanced approach for a teenager, recognizing pitches, managing the strike zone and using the entire field. He has the potential to hit for a solid average while providing some gap power from the left side of the plate.

Where Montano winds up defensively is still in question. A solid runner with decent instincts, he spent almost all of his pro debut in center field but has played mostly right field in 2017. He could lose a step as he matures physically and presently has fringy arm strength, so he may be destined for left field.

Here’s video of Montano in his 2015 showcase:

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

Montano is a player who is so far away from the major leagues that providing a concrete timeline would be foolhardy, but a major league debut is at least four more seasons away for him. Montano’s a very projectable outfield prospect whose carrying tool may be his power once he grows into his frame.

That's a profile I can and did dream on, ranking Montano 12th on my personal list — making me the high voter on him in the electorate. Montano is the first prospect of the PuRPs revealed so far that I think could deliver league average or better production to the Rockies at the big league level. Though he is very far away, the high signing bonus and initial reports led me to put a 45 Future Value on Montano, a rating that could move significantly either way depending on his development once he gets stateside.

★ ★ ★

19. Ben Bowden (443 points, 35 ballots) Preseason Ranking: 17 — High Ballot 10, Mode Ballot 16

How did he enter the organization?

2016 2nd Round, Vanderbilt University?

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Bowden seemed destined to be the first player from the 2016 draft to hit the big leagues. Supporting that assumption was the fact he was assigned directly to Low A Asheville after the draft and he threw out of the bullpen exclusively—two markers of a fast mover through the system. Unfortunately, what has recently been revealed as a bulging disc in his back that may require surgery has kept the 22-year-old lefty from throwing a professional pitch this year.

After being drafted early in the second round of the 2016 draft, Bowden signed for a slightly above-slot $1.6 million bonus after moving between Vanderbilt's rotation and bullpen during his collegiate career. He ended up in the bullpen in college and began there as a professional, but it’s not written in stone that he remains there, which is why he’s such an intriguing prospect.

In his professional action last year with Asheville, Bowden threw 23 2⁄3 innings over 26 appearances for the Tourists with a 3.04 ERA. His 29 strikeouts in that time translate to a great 11.0 K/9, though his 5.7 BB/9 and 1.61 WHIP are worrisome—a .373 BABIP boosted the WHIP. Bowden held lefties to a .212 average as well, which is always relevant for a lefty reliever prospect.

What do the scouts say?

A second-round pick out of college typically has at least one major league-caliber tool, and for Bowden it's his low- to mid-90s fastball from the left-hand side. Importantly, Bowden is not a one-trick pony, boasting two secondary pitches and command that grades out as average as well.

2080 Baseball noted the following on Bowden:

The former Vandy Commodore relies primarily on a low- to mid-90s fastball that he works well down in the zone and comes with solid downhill plane. His changeup has solid deception off the heater and comes with straight, late dive, while the breaking ball is a slurvy offering that should eventually tighten into an average slider. While Bowden has the build to shoulder a starter’s workload, batters have an easier time getting the ball in the air than one would expect given the solid plane off of which he works. That, combined with erratic control, could pose significant issues to turning over lineups at the upper levels, particularly without a dependable breaking ball to utilize against same-side bats.

The Rockies ran Bowden out as a reliever in 2016 but are expected to give him time in the rotation to start 2017. As a starter he profiles as a back-end arm, though his fastball and changeup could play well out of the pen – a role he thrived in as Vandy’s closer.

Despite his injury, MLB.com still had Bowden 17th in the system in their midseason list:

Pitching in shorter stints, Bowden operates at 92-95 mph with his fastball, which tops out at 97 and features late life and steep downhill plane. Though he only pitched 96 1/3 innings in three years of college, he has impressive feel for a tumbling changeup that can be a plus offering at times. He has some power to a slurvy breaking ball that fluctuates between a curveball and slider and shows more promise as the latter.

While some scouts believe Bowden could make it as a starter with three pitches and a durable frame, Colorado will keep him in the bullpen and expedite him to the big leagues. He could be one of the first players from the 2016 Draft to reach the Majors, though his back issues have slowed his timetable. More than just a lefty specialist, he's equipped to become a set-up man and could turn into a closer if he improves his slider and command.

Both of those two reports opine that Bowden may be best suited to a relief role, though they differ on the organization’s plans for him.

Here’s some video of Bowden pitching for Vanderbilt:

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

Obviously this year’s injury situation derails the fast train to the Show for Bowden and it makes the starter or reliever question even more interesting. The way Colorado answers that question will help determine the ultimate impact of Bowden as a prospect. If he's a reliever, Bowden is an intriguing high-leverage option who would probably settle into a set-up role. As a starter, he's a potential mid-rotation guy. I hope Colorado tries him as a starter in Lancaster next year to see if he can handle the workload, but given the injury I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take the relief route.

Because of the uncertainty around him as to his role and the injury that’s kept him out of action this year, Bowden was a tough guy for me to rank. Ultimately the combination of stuff and pedigree ultimately led me to place him 18th on my personal ballot. Currently I'd give him a 40+ Future Value as a potential mid-rotation starter or late-inning reliever with a 2019 (as a reliever) or 2020 (as a starter) MLB ETA.

★ ★ ★

18. Jose Gomez (446 points, 36 ballots) Preseason Ranking: 30 — High Ballot 10, Mode Ballot 14, 17, 19, 21

How did he enter the organization?

2013 Amateur Free Agent, Venezuela

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Colorado’s 2013 Latin American signing class had two big names with big bonuses, Carlos Herrera (a shortstop) and Erick Julio (a RHP). Neither of those players are PuRPs in this list, but a third member of that signing class, Jose Gomez, has made his second consecutive list. The 20-year-old infielder, who was the headline prospect in last night’s Pat Neshek deal, has emerged as the best player of that signing class to date with strong performances in his first two years stateside.

After two seasons in the DSL, Gomez came to Grand Junction last year at the age of 19 and tore up the Pioneer League to the tune of a .367/.426/.468 line (132 wRC+) with 19 extra base hits in 304 plate appearances. This season, Gomez has converted many who might have doubted a Pioneer League stat line with an impressive .324/.374/.437 batting line for Asheville in 351 plate appearances — including 26 extra base hits and 18 steals. That performance, against pitchers who were on average 1.5 years older than Gomez, was good for a 136 wRC+. Add in the fact that Gomez played most of the time at shortstop and that’s an impressive season indeed.

What do the scouts say?

Gomez was profiled by 2080 Baseball before the season:

[Gomez has] displayed good bat-to-ball skills and high contact rates. There isn’t much in the way of power in the profile, and his actions lack the fluidity typically expected out of a big league shortstop. He could be a bit of a tweener, lacking the glove for short or the power to properly profile at a corner infield spot. ... His ideal fit would be as a solid utility option, as he runs well enough to log time at an outfield corner as well.

Meanwhile, his pop-up year in Asheville was enough for MLB.com to rank Gomez 21st in the system midseason:

Gomez has a very disciplined approach at the plate, using a controlled right-handed stroke and rarely deviating from his plan to hit line drives from gap to gap. He's not very big, so while he can add some strength he still may top out at 10 homers per season. An average runner, he stole 55 bases in 199 games during his first three pro seasons but succeeded in just 63 percent of his attempts.

Gomez played all four infield positions in the DSL, spending most of his time at third base before shifting to shortstop in 2016. His internal clock helps him make plays, though his merely average quickness and arm strength make it unlikely he'll stay at short in the long run. He profiles best as a sweet-swinging utilityman and could be a regular at second base if his bat is as good as it looked last year.

Besides a 35 Power tool, Gomez was given an average 50 on all his other tools.

Here’s some video of Gomez from FanGraphs, taken last year:

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

This section has changed since I first wrote this — the answer now is that Gomez will likely not make the big leagues as a member of the Rockies, as he is now in the Phillies system. With that said, Gomez is doing all the right things if he wants to make it to the Show, and in Philadelphia’s system he’ll have an opportunity to keep rising up the ladder — I’d guess a late 2020 debut for him.

Due to the results he’s shown thus far, the strong arm, and notable hand-eye coordination from a middle infielder, Gomez has risen up prospect lists this year. Mine was no different, as Gomez slotted 20th on my personal ballot after not appearing preseason. I gave Gomez a 40+ FV as a potential big-leaguer who would probably slot as a utility infielder.

★ ★ ★

17. Brian Mundell (499 points, 39 ballots) Preseason Ranking: HM — High Ballot 9, Mode Ballot 16

How did he enter the organization?

2015 7th Round, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Mundell started hitting well immediately upon becoming a professional and hasn’t really stopped since. At each of his four minor league stops over the last two years, Mundell’s lowest wRC+ is the 119 he posted in the tough hitting environment of the short season Northwest League. The 6’3”, 23-year-old righty first baseman really burst onto the scene last year when his .313/.383/.505 line (152 wRC+) with 74 extra base hits — including a MiLB-modern era record 59 doubles — helped him earn the South Atlantic League MVP.

And yet there were doubters, myself included, entering this year. After all, Mundell was a college first baseman (he actually played catcher in college) who was older than league average in the SAL. It’s safe to say that Mundell’s continued rampage through the minor leagues has assuaged most of those doubts.

This year, Mundell was assigned to High A Lancaster, where in 301 plate appearances for the Jethawks his triple slash was .299/.379/.504 (135 wRC+) with 29 extra base hits. That earned him a promotion to Double A Hartford where, finally playing at younger than league average (by 1.2 years), Mundell has continued his hot streak. In 128 plate appearances so far with the Yard Goats, Mundell boasts a .324/.438/.419 line (152 wRC+) including an excellent 16.4 BB% and 11.7 K%. The power hasn’t manifested itself as much in Double A yet, but that’s an impressive transition to a very difficult level.

What do the scouts say?

Mundell got a blurb in 2080 Baseball’s preseason org review:

There’s some bat speed and leverage in the swing, but the barrel can be quick through the zone and there are some questions as to whether he’ll be able to maintain the necessary contact rate at the upper levels to tap into his plus raw power. He should enjoy another productive season in 2017 with an assignment to High A Lancaster, and he could develop into a second-division first baseman or designated hitter with an A.L. club at maturity – assuming his plate coverage isn’t exposed by advanced arms.

MLB.com is high on Mundell in their midseason list, ranking him 15th in the system:

Mundell has plus raw power that hasn't fully translated into home run production because he focuses on making contact with a compact right-handed swing. He has a knack for driving the ball to the opposite-field gap, as evidenced by his doubles total. His combination of bat speed, strength and discipline gives him the potential to hit for average and power and could lead to another monster season in 2017 when he moves up to the launching pad at high Class A Lancaster.

Originally recruited as a catcher by Cal Poly, Mundell has learned first base on the job in pro ball. He has limited speed and range, but he works hard, has soft hands and has improved his instincts. He also has made an immediate impression with his leadership skills.

Here’s some video of Mundell in action this May courtesy of Baseball Census:

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

On the pace Mundell has set so far, it’s possible that he’ll be a call-up option for the Rockies as soon as next year. As a 2015 college draftee, Mundell will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft after next year is completed, making a potential 40 man roster move next year for him not out of line. Mundell will have to continue his hot hitting and take advantage of any opportunities that come his way in order to make that happen.

I was among the lower voters on Mundell (I ranked him 27th on my list with a 35+ FV) simply because I value defensive utility pretty highly and he doesn’t offer much. His bat and plate discipline (especially at Hartford) have convinced me that Mundell could be a legitimate first base prospect; but we’ve heard this story before with other first base prospects that turned out to be AAAA players. As time goes on, my wariness has gradually subsided with Mundell.

★ ★ ★

16. Forrest Wall (532 points, 38 ballots) Preseason Ranking: 15 — High Ballot 9, Mode Ballot 11

How did he enter the organization?

2014 Competitive Balance Round A, Orangewood Christian (FL) HS

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

As has been the case with a number of prospects on this list to date, Wall’s prospect pedigree has put him in consideration for PuRPs lists from day one and kept him here this year. The 21-year-old lefty hitter was the rare second baseman taken in the top 40 picks in 2014 and his $2 million bonus was indicative of his potential. Notably, scouts were excited by Wall’s combo of hit and speed tools.

In his first two years as a professional, Wall displayed these tools as he cruised through Low A ball. With that said, during that time the elite speed he’d displayed as a high schooler kept getting worse grades from scouts each year and the hit tool didn’t lead to dominant offensive numbers. Last year, Wall struggled mightily in High A with a punchless .264/.329/.355 line (88 wRC+) and defensively posted a 32 error season at second base.

This year, Wall began to turn it around. He made a transition to the outfield this off-season and spent almost every game out there. Meanwhile, in a second tour in the California League (still 1.6 years younger than league average), Wall posted a .299/.361/.471 line in 98 plate appearances (124 wRC+). Unfortunately, Wall’s season ended at that line because he dislocated his left shoulder diving for a ball in the outfield. We’ll have to see if the better form continues into 2018.

What do the scouts say?

Wall was profiled before the season by Wilson Karaman of Baseball Prospectus and is a good example of the concerns scouts have noted about his tools:

Wall’s skills in the box have yet to really begin coalescing, despite flashes throughout his at-bats. It’s a viscerally appealing swing; he shows an ability to handle the barrel and get into the zone quickly and accurately, and the mechanics from trigger to launch are fluid and generally consistent. His timing remained an issue all season, however, and he struggled to sync the swing consistently to make quality contact against inner-third hard stuff or stay back against anything slower than fastball speed. There’s little in the way of swing plane to lift and drive pitches, which puts further pressure on the contact skills actualizing. He looks to be a borderline plus straight-line runner, but the speed plays down on the bases. He posts 50/55 run times, and his breaks on stolen base attempts are still inefficient. The glove is the biggest question mark of all, as he struggled with game speed and fielding fundamentals at times last season. Despite the makings of above-average range and sound body control he doesn’t always finish plays, and the arm strength is still on the fringier side for even second base after shoulder surgery several years ago. The club worked him out in center during instructs, and a transition may prove increasingly alluring if the inconsistency on the dirt continues.

These concerns were echoed by 2080 Baseball this winter:

Overall, the bat has looked less explosive than projected, and over the course of this past season Wall more regularly found himself abandoning his more advanced approach and pressing for hard contact.

Wall’s swing has evolved from a flatter line-drive cut as an amateur to a more lofted path as a pro. He’s succeeded in lifting the ball with more regularity, but that change has come with a much lower hard contact frequency, to the point where Wall is seeing his average and on-base profile suffer without a proportionate jump in power production. He still shows a good feel for the barrel, and the chance for an impactful hit tool remains, but in order to realize on his solid offensive potential Wall will need to find the right balance between building some pop into the swing and playing to his contact-centric strengths.

Wall has slowed some as his body has matured, clocking in as a tick-above average now, compared to plus to double-plus grades received two summers ago.

With that said, Wall is a top 15 prospect in the system for both of those entities and for MLB.com, who had him 11th in their midseason list.

Here’s some video of Wall courtesy of Purple Row’s YouTube channel from last year:

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

It can be easy to lose sight of the fact that Wall is still just 21 and was already repeating the High A level (with some success). He’s a former top 100 prospect in MLB who very well could bounce back strong from his injury. With that said, I don’t blame voters who dropped Wall on their ballots due to some combination of the injury, the position change, and the back-up on the tools.

Realistically, Wall will need to show he can adjust to upper minors pitching and a new position as he moves up the minor league ladder before he earns a big league shot — I think it will probably be 2020 at this point, after Wall will need to be added to the 40 man roster (after 2018). I'm a believer in the pedigree and tools but I’m wary of the recent reports, defensive utility, and injury. Ultimately I ranked Wall 19th in the system and gave him a Future Value of 40+ as an intriguing potential MLB regular with a lot of questions. I hope both of those numbers look silly in a good way this time next year.

Tomorrow, we’ll dive in to prospects 11-15, as we make our way toward the top 10!