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Ryan Vilade is a Rockies prospect on the rise

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Vilade ranks No. 7 on the pre-season PuRPs list

7. Ryan Vilade (810 points, 34 ballots)

Ryan Vilade was Colorado’s top pick in the 2017 draft, selected in the second round and 48th overall. He signed for a slot bonus of $1.425 million. The 6’2” Vilade was assumed to be a third baseman when he was drafted, but he played the entire year at shortstop (his high school position) for Rookie ball Grand Junction (he committed six errors in 30 games at the position). The 18-year-old righty didn’t have the buzz that typically surrounds Colorado’s top draft pick, but his first professional season lifted his prospect stock considerably.

In 146 plate appearances in a Pioneer League where players are on average 2.7 years older, Vilade posted a scorching .308/.438/.496 line with 10 extra base hits and almost as many walks (27) as strikeouts (31). The combination of a nice batting average and decent patience was good for a 132 wRC+ at the level, earning Vilade a selection to the Pioneer League All-Star game. That’s a strong first season that has raised expectations for his full season debut in 2018, presumably with Low A Asheville.

Here’s some video of Vilade in Grand Junction from July 2017 courtesy of Baseball Census:

Vilade was recently ranked 10th in the system by Baseball Prospectus with a 50 OFP and 40 Likely role. Here’s Jeffrey Paternostro on Vilade:

The Good: The Rockies might have a bit of a type near the top of the draft in power-over-hit corner bats. Vilade has an unorthodox swing, but there’s potential plus power in here. It’s a projectable frame, and he gets good marks for makeup.

The Bad: Vilade was a high school third baseman that the Rockies are trying at shortstop in the pros. That’s probably not an option long term, but he should be fine at third base. It’s a bit of an unorthodox swing, and there are swing-and-miss concerns against better arms.

The Risks: High. Very limited pro experience, hit tool questions, and likely to slide over to third base.

Ranked as the 43rd best draft prospect by MLB.com before the draft, Vilade is currently ranked 7th in Colorado’s system by the outlet:

Vilade has a quick right-handed bat, impressive power to his pull side and more projectable pop once he gets stronger. His swing got long at times during the early portion of the high school showcase circuit last summer, but he showed the ability to make adjustments and carried them into this spring. He has the upside of a .270 hitter with 20 homers per season.

Though most scouts believe Vilade lacks the quick-twitch athleticism to stay at shortstop, Colorado let him break into pro ball at that position. He has a strong arm, soft hands and advanced instincts, which should allow him to become at least an average defender at second or third base. He also draws praise for his makeup.

Before the draft, John Sickels of Minor League Ball profiled Vilade:

STRENGTHS

A shortstop in high school, Vilade projects as a third baseman in pro ball. His 60-grade arm will work there, while his range and hands are a better fit at the hot corner than at shortstop. He has some experience at second base also but his arm would be something of a waste there.

The main draw here is the bat: Vilade is quite strong, with 55 or 60 raw power depending on the source. Although he’s tinkered with his swing mechanics, his bat is considered more polished than most high school hitters, reflecting the fact that he is the son of a hitting coach. His makeup is considered very strong.

WEAKNESSES

Speed is his weakest tool but that’s OK if the power blossoms as expected. He’s had his share of inconsistency at the plate but that’s normal for his age and he’s shown the ability to make necessary changes and shorten his swing.

Vilade made about as impressive a minor league debut as Rockies fans could have hoped for. That written, realistically Vilade is probably four years away from the Show, but he’s given Rockies fans another name to dream on in the lower levels.

If Vilade can stick at shortstop, the offensive profile makes him a much more interesting prospect than I expected when he was drafted. I placed him 8th on my list with the expectation he moves over to third base eventually, giving him a 45+ FV as a potential MLB starter who is far away, but I expect Vilade to eventually be a top 5 PuRP, perhaps as soon as the mid-season list.