clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Colorado Rockies prospect rankings, mid-season 2018: The carrying tool cohort

New, 6 comments

2018 mid-season PuRPs list, 20-16

We’re moving forward with the mid-season 2018 Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) list. Friday we revealed prospects 30-26, yesterday 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, 31 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 2018 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.

20. Breling Eusebio (298 points, 27 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 18 — High Ballot 14, Mode Ballot 20, 21

How did he enter the organization?

2013 Amateur Free Agent (Dominican Republic)

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Eusebio made this list on the back of strong scouting reports on his stuff profile. Unfortunately, the 21-year-old lefty starter didn’t get much of a chance in 2018 to augment his PuRPs case, requiring Tommy John surgery after just 913 innings with Low A Asheville. He struck out 11, walked three, and allowed five runs on 11 hits in case you were wondering.

Eusebio flew under the radar in a heralded 2013 Latin America signing class, but the $100,000 November signee is the only one of those players who made this list. After two professional years in the DSL, he played in Boise in 2016 and 2017 as a 20-year-old. In 2017 in three starts with the Hawks he struck out 22 in 17 innings, allowing 10 hits and three earned runs. That was enough for the Rockies to bump Eusebio up to full season ball. Eusebio made eight starts with Asheville, throwing 401⁄3 frames with a 4.46 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, and 6.9 K/9 rate against competition that was 1.9 years older on average. Again, the numbers aren’t remarkable but the context is quite positive, as are the scouting reports.

What do the scouts say?

Emphasis on the below is mine

MLB.com currently places Eusebio 11th in the system:

Among the system’s left-handed starting pitching prospects, he clearly has the best stuff.

Eusebio shows signs of developing a plus fastball and curveball, though both offerings need more consistency. He works at 92-94 mph and tops out at 96 mph with good sink on his heater and his curveball features power and depth. His changeup has its moments too, though it’s not as effective as his top two pitches.

Eusebio has a very compact delivery and is learning to repeat it efficiently. He should have at least average control but his command isn’t yet as advanced, so he’s more hittable than a lefty who can provide three solid pitches should be. If he can make the necessary refinements, he could be a No. 3 starter.

Before the season, Steve Givarz of Baseball Prospectus placed Eusebio among their top 20 Rockies prospects:

Eusebio has progressed without much fanfare or notoriety until this past season. This season his heater spiked into the mid 90s, sitting in the low 90s as a starter. With new velocity came new bite and action for his curveball, a hard offering in the high 70s that fooled both lefties and righties alike. The change is somewhere between nascent and usable, but he is still 21 and shouldn’t be a big sticking point right now. There is still projection in his 6-foot-1, 175-pound frame, giving more hope that he can take the ball in the rotation every 5th day. This profile is a ways out, with lots of potential hiccups between now and big-league stardom, but we have said that about a lot of guys and I will take my chances with Eusebio over others.

Here’s some video of Eusebio in Spring Training in 2017 courtesy of FanGraphs:

There’s some disagreement between scouts among which of Eusebio’s secondary pitches is more advanced, but the overall consensus is that Eusebio is an electric arm worth keeping an eye on.

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

A big problem with Eusebio, even beyond his TJ surgery, is the fact that he’s Rule 5 eligible after this season. Will the Rockies really put a pitcher with little experience in full season ball who is recovering from Tommy John surgery on its 40 man roster? My gut says that they risk letting him leave, as Colorado did when Danny Winkler was in a similar situation — except Winkler was much more advanced up the minor league ladder.

In any case, if Eusebio does stay in the organization into 2019 and beyond, he’ll be on the verge of being out of minor league options before he is ready for the Show — 2021 or 2022 in an optimistic scenario. Still, there aren’t a lot of arms with Eusebio’s potential in the system, so he was worth ranking 20th on my personal ballot with a 40 FV grade.

★ ★ ★

19. Yonathan Daza (369 points, 30 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 19 — High Ballot 12, Mode Ballot 14, 19, 20

How did he enter the organization?

2010 Amateur Free Agent (Venezuela)

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

It’s been a long road for Daza, who has been in the Rockies organization almost three years more than anyone else who even received a vote for this list, and only Jairo Díaz has been a professional for longer. Finally in 2017 his fine collection of tools met with good production (even for the hitter-friendly California League) and got the 24-year-old righty outfielder a 40 man roster spot and a place on the pre-season PuRPs list.

In 2018, Daza faced a tough Eastern League at an age-appropriate level. In 212 plate appearances, Daza is hitting .309/.335/.464 for the Yard Goats (120 wRC+). That’s a very characteristic line for him in three respects: high batting average, low walks (3.2%), and low strikeouts (10.6%) — but now he’s producing more power than he showed at previous minor league stops. Of note is that after swiping 31 bags last year for Lancaster, Daza is a miserable four for 9 this year with Hartford.

What do the scouts say?

The most full-throated stumping for Daza came pre-season from Wilson Karaman of Baseball Prospectus:

The centerfield defense can be downright electric to watch, with decisive reads, an outstanding burst into the gaps, and tremendous instincts to finish plays on the run. He’s a no-doubter at an up-the-middle position, far as I’m concerned, and with a plus arm he’s more than capable of moving around as situations dictate.

...

His aggressive approach at the dish shouldn’t be discounted as a potential detriment, as he swings early and often at balls around the zone. But we’re coming up on 1,200 at-bats over the past two years of A ball and off-season leagues in which he’s hit a combined .324, and it’s not a fluke. He puts his barrel on the ball an awful lot, with a natural proclivity for shooting low, hard contact the other way. And he made progress situationally turning on balls on the inner third this season, as well. Neither the approach nor the swing plane are geared to drive balls in the air with much carry at present, but he’s strong enough, and the bat speed good enough, to envision some nascent over-the-fence pop hiding under the surface. Even if it doesn’t materialize, it’s not hard to picture him creating hella value shooting gaps at Coors on the regular.

Daza is currently ranked 18th by MLB.com:

Daza is a gifted hitter with a knack for serving line drives to the opposite field. His approach yields very little home run power, however, and the ease with which he makes contact cuts into his walk totals. He has gotten faster as he has firmed up his body and now has plus speed and some basestealing acumen.

While there’s some question whether Daza can make enough offensive impact to warrant playing every day at the big league level, his speed and defensive ability give him value as a fourth outfielder. He’s the best center-field defender in the system, with his quick first step and fine instincts allowing him to cover plenty of ground. He also has the strongest outfield arm among Rockies farmhands, enabling him to play all three spots.

Notably, Daza gets a 70 Arm, 60 Field, and 60 Speed tool grade from MLB.com, as well as a 50 Hit tool.

Old friend Bobby DeMuro of Baseball Census had a lengthy profile on Daza last July as well that is well worth reading in its entirety. Here’s some video from that report:

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

I see Daza’s profile and think of Raimel Tapia with a lower offensive ceiling at a higher age but with more defensive utility. Scouts agree that Daza’s arm and speed are assets and that his hit tool could hold its own as he goes up the ladder. Given those tools, he’s got a nice floor as a reserve outfielder — and a right-handed one at that! Even if Daza just becomes a better version of Noel Cuevas, that’s a big win for a prospect who a year or two ago was on his way out of pro ball altogether.

Add it all up and I ranked Daza 14th in the system on my personal list with a 40+ FV as a player who could become a low-end regular, which was on the high end of the electorate. As for his debut, Daza’s minor league option clock is now ticking thanks to his 40 man roster slot and he is at the bottom of the current outfield depth chart. A player with spped and defensive utility is just the sort of player that tends to get a call-up in September if their team is in the playoff hunt, so watch for that with Daza. In addition, given the two outfield contracts the Rockies have expiring after this year, Daza could be in the mix for a more permanent roster spot in 2019.

★ ★ ★

18. Brian Mundell (389 points, 29 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 13 — High Ballot 11, 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 has had the kind of minor league career to date that gets you on the PuRPs list for a while. After all, the now 24-year-old righty first baseman set a Minor League record with 59 doubles back in 2016 en route to a South Atlantic League MVP award. The 6’3” slugger followed that up with a similarly impressive year in 2017 that saw him post a 130 or better wRC+ at both High A and Double A.

The Rockies started the converted catcher in Double A again in 2018, where in 361 plate appearances with Hartford, Mundell has struggled to replicate the success he saw at the level in 2017. His .266/.353/.392 line is still above league average (111 wRC+), while his walk (11.2 BB%) and strikeout (15.1 K%) marks are also good. It’s just that the power that would make him a traditionally effective Major League first baseman just hasn’t manifested itself (he has just six homers so far).

What do the scouts say?

MLB.com currently rates Mundell 16th in the system:

Mundell focuses on managing the strike zone and making consistent contact. A right-handed hitter, he excels at driving balls to the opposite field and hit 13 of his 15 homers last year to the left side. He has the bat speed, strength and discipline to provide more power if he began turning on more pitches.

Originally recruited as a catcher in college, Mundell has limited quickness and range but has worked hard to become an adequate defender at first base. He does have soft hands and is improving his instincts with experience. Club officials praise his leadership skills.

The good news is that Mundell’s 55 Hit tool is the most impactful one to possess. The bad news is that his other below average tools across the board put a lot of pressure on that above average one.

Mundell was scouted by Wilson Karaman of Baseball Prospectus in June of 2017:

Mundell isn’t a typical masher first-base prospect, but he is an all-bat one. He possesses better-than-average contact skills, especially impressive for a man of his size and profile, and advanced pitch recognition and zone command skills help the barrel skills play up all the more. His power is generated almost entirely by his strong upper-half, and he’s able to hit up through balls with occasional loft despite not getting very deep at all into his back leg. He’s slow and totes a fringy glove, and the road of a bat-first right-handed first baseman with average game power is about as narrow as they come. The hit tool and just passable-enough pop offers potential for a run in the big leagues down the line, however, and there’s room for development of his power utility.

That report put Mundell’s realistic role at 40, with a 50 OFP.

Here’s some tape on Mundell from May of last year, courtesy of Baseball Census:

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

With a defensive profile that offers no utility beyond first base, Mundell really has to hit to make it to the Show. Maybe he can do it as a non-traditional first baseman with high average and a lot of line drives, but my guess is that Mundell will have to start hitting for more power if he wants to make it into the organization’s big league plans. In any case, he’s Rule 5 eligible after this year, so we’ll see how if the Rockies reward his skill set with a 40 man roster slot. Mundell is arguably ready to contribute as a bench bat now, but his big league debut is more likely a 2019 proposition.

I was among the lower voters on Mundell (I ranked him 28th on my list with a 35+ FV) simply because I value defensive utility pretty highly, and his power game hasn’t popped at an advanced level yet. 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 Quad-A players.

★ ★ ★

17. Jordan Patterson (414 points, 27 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 14 — High Ballot 5, Mode Ballot 11, 17

How did he enter the organization?

2013 4th Round, University of South Alabama

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Another year, another season where Patterson mashes fruitlessly in Triple-A. The 26-year-old outfielder/first baseman’s lack of big league opportunity despite a 40 man roster spot and questionable production at the Major League level is tragicomic at this point. Patterson has consistently hit well in six years as a professional, never posting an offensive line that wasn’t clearly better than league average (his lowest wRC+ is 121), including three years now in Triple-A. Despite this, he’s also never been the best outfield prospect on his own team (until this year, if you don’t count Raimel Tapia or David Dahl) and hasn’t gotten a ton of notice because until recently he’d always been old for his minor league level.

The good news for Patterson is that, with eight hits and a walk in 19 plate appearances in a MLB cup of coffee in September 2016, Patterson has produced 0.1 more rWAR than the vast majority of prospects will ever contribute. The bad news is that the lefty has long been overshadowed as a prospect in Colorado’s system by more heralded names. Still, he’s an intriguing player in his own right.

During his second minor league option year in 2018, Patterson is hitting .264/.371/.525 in 350 plate appearances with Albuquerque, including 19 homers and 38 extra base hits in all — that’s a 131 wRC+. Patterson notably does have a massive home/road split, mashing at a .297/.387/.640 clip in Albuquerque and hitting just .234/.356/.407 away from there. He’s OPSing about 100 points better against right-handers, but his .279/.392/.426 line against southpaws is quite respectable too.

What do the scouts say?

Patterson is pretty much a finished product at this point and scouts have a decent handle on who he is as a player.

Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs ranked Patterson 17th in the system in May:

Patterson has plus power and good bat control but lever length and a poor approach have diluted his offensive output. He’s limited to first base and the corner outfield spots and projects as a bench bat or platoon option.

Patterson is 19th right now for MLB.com:

At 6-foot-4, Patterson has a naturally long left-handed swing but he worked to shorten it when he entered pro ball. He developed a line-drive stroke that didn’t take full advantage of his strength and bat speed, then added more loft to his swing and put more balls in the air last season. The added power enhances his profile as a potential regular in the big leagues.

Patterson primarily played right field while seeing sporadic time at first base during his first four pro seasons before spending most of his time at first in 2017. He’s a capable defender at either spot and his strong arm fits well in right. He got caught up in the Rockies’ first base/corner outfield logjam last year but has a greater chance of contributing in the big leagues in 2018.

Here’s some video of Patterson from this past April courtesy of Baseball Census:

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

Despite all this minor league success, Patterson has not appeared in a major league game this year (he had a two day stay in the Show but didn’t make a boxscore), even as seven other players have made outfield appearances. Patterson has to be a better option than Noel Cuevas, right?

All Patterson can do is continue to hit well at Triple-A and force his way into the consciousness of the major league decision-makers. Patterson is an athletic corner outfielder with a plus arm who has dabbled at first base to increase his positional flexibility. His left-handedness and platoon tendencies don’t help his cause given the glut of potential contributors hitting from that side of the plate, but he’s a potential impact bench bat for the Rockies. I ranked him 15th in the system with a 40 FV grade on my personal list.

★ ★ ★

16. Chad Spanberger (426 points, 29 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 29 — High Ballot 11, Mode Ballot 13, 16, 17, 18

How did he enter the organization?

2017 6th Round, University of Arkansas

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Spanberger is another first base prospect who is crushing the ball in the minors this year. The 22-year-old lefty is doing said crushing at Low A Asheville, giving the Rockies a prospect like that at Asheville, Lancaster (Roberto Ramos, since promoted), and Hartford (Brian Mundell). Given his background as a college first baseman, Spanberger pretty much had to be hitting at this level to garner attention and he hasn’t disappointed thus far.

This year with Asheville, Spanberger is posting a massive .316/.364/.580 line with 22 homers, 20 doubles, and 16 steals in 379 plate appearances. That’s an outsanding 161 wRC+ to date. Of course, the context here is that Spanberger is old relative to other true prospects in Low A, and he’s benefiting from Asheville’s lefty-friendly home stadium. At McCormick Field, which has a 36 foot tall right field fence just 297 feet away from home plate, Spanberger is hitting .361/.415/.687 with 28 extra base hits compared to .275/.316/.484 with 17 extra base hits on the road.

Furthermore, Spanberger is displaying a big platoon split, mashing right-handers at a .332/.384/.672 clip but hitting lefties at a more pedestrian .283/.322/.389 rate. He also is walking just 5.3% of the time compared to striking out in 21.6% of his plate appearances. Given the friendly context and platoon splits, it’s hard to know how much of Spanberger’s production will translate to a higher level, and we won’t really know until he gets to Hartford.

What do the scouts say?

Spanberger is similar to Mundell in that he’s an all-bat first base prospect. But instead of a hit tool like Mundell’s, Spanberger’s carrying tool is his power potential.

For Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs, Spanberger has 70 raw power and was ranked 20th in the system back in May:

Spanberger went nuts during the SEC tournament with lots of scouts watching and his stock skyrocketed shortly before the draft. He has big raw power and hit 40% of his balls in play over 100 mph last year. He’s a stiff, first-base-only athlete, so he’ll have to hit all the way up the minor-league ladder. He’s off to a slow start in part because he has walked, as of publication time, in less than 2% of his 2018 plate appearances.

Spanberger is ranked 24th in the org by MLB.com:

Spanberger garners some comparisons to Chris Davis because he’s a first baseman with big-time left-handed power and swing-and-miss concerns. His bat speed, strength and leverage give him massive raw power to all fields, and he doesn’t get cheated with an aggressive approach. While he probably won’t hit for a high average, he did make strides with using the entire field and made more consistent contact in 2017.

A high school catcher who played some right field early in his college career, Spanberger has well below-average speed that limits him to first base as a pro. He can develop into an adequate defender but has a lot of work to do after committing 10 errors in 54 games during his debut.

Here’s some video of Spanberger courtesy of Baseball Census from September of 2017:

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

The power is clearly the carrying tool for Spanberger and he’s done mostly what we as prospect-watchers could ask him to in dominating the level he’s been placed at. The question is if that ability will translate against upper level pitching, but as stated above, Lancaster’s friendly environment shouldn’t pose much of a test for a prospect of Spanberger’s ilk either. Given the presence of Ramos and Mundell above him, I can’t see Spanberger starting the year higher than High A next season, though he could get an in-season promotion there now that Ramos has vacated that position.

The plus raw power manifesting itself into game power were enough for me to place him 19th on my personal list with a 40 FV grade. With that said, it’s a tenuous position for me given the lack of defensive utility, high K%, big splits, and friendly hitting context. First base prospects have a high bar to clear to provide value, but if Spanberger hits like this up the minor league ladder at his current rate I could see a late 2020 or 2021 debut from him.

★ ★ ★

Tomorrow, we’ll begin our look at the top half of the mid-season 2018 PuRPs list!