18. Reid Humphreys (329 points, 26 ballots)
When the Rockies drafted Reid Humphreys out of Mississippi State in the 7th round of the 2016 draft, he had thrown just 22 2⁄3 innings for the school. Instead, Humphreys had been a power-hitting position player for the Bulldogs after undergoing Tommy John surgery in high school. The Rockies believed in Humphreys as a pitcher though, and, after an adjustment period as he got used to being back on the mound, the righty reliever has proved this to be a wise investment by Colorado.
After a brief cameo in Grand Junction in 2016 (he didn’t play until August), Humphreys was assigned to Low A Asheville in 2017. In his first full pitching season in several years, against age appropriate competition, Humphreys proved up to the task with a 2.56 ERA (2.85 FIP) and 0.83 WHIP in 45 2⁄3 innings, striking out 47 while walking just 6 and recording 13 saves.
The Rockies assigned Humphreys to Lancaster (arguably the most extreme hitter’s environment in the minors) for 2018 and again the 6’1” hurler proved he belonged. In 34 1⁄3 frames, Humphreys struck out 51 (13.4 K/9) while walking 13 (3.4 BB/9) en route to 22 saves and a 1.83 ERA (2.39 FIP) with a 1.02 WHIP and .179 batting average against.
In their write-up on Humphreys, MLB.com noted the following fun fact about him:
[Humphreys] went more than three months without surrendering an extra-base hit, an almost unfathomable accomplishment for a pitcher toiling in Lancaster and the California League.
Humphreys was dominant enough in Lancaster to convince the Rockies to promote him up to Double-A in late July, where he was used sparingly in the season’s final month. Notably, it was Humphreys and not fellow PuRP Justin Lawrence (who received a 40 man roster slot this offseason) that served as closer for Lancaster and who was promoted to Hartford. With Hartford, Humphreys allowed 2 earned runs in 5 2⁄3 innings on 3 hits with 7 walks and 7 strikeouts, posting 4 saves in the process. Though the high walk numbers are troubling, it was encouraging to see that Humphreys was still able to miss bats at the higher level (and it’s a small sample size).
There’s a dearth of video available on Humphreys, but here’s a snippet from his college days courtesy of the Prospect Pipeline:
Humphreys is currently ranked 14th in the system by MLB.com:
Humphreys has more pitches than a typical reliever. He can overpower hitters with his fastball, which has zoomed from 92-95 mph in college to 95-99 in pro ball, and his cutter, which resides in the low 90s. He also has a true slider in the low 80s and will throw an occasional changeup.
While Humphreys’ control has regressed a bit in 2018, he has limited damage by rarely missing up in the strike zone. ... If he can throw a few more strikes, he might be a closer.
Highlighting the above evaluation is a 65 grade on the fastball with an additional 60 grade on the cutter, plus acceptable 50 (slider) and 45 (changeup) grades to pair with 50 control. That’s a promising relief profile for the Rockies, a player development success story who joins the ranks of many such relief prospects who are banging down the door toward contributing to the big league pen as soon as late this year, but more likely 2020.
Humphreys is yet another player who will need Rule 5 protection at the end of 2019 (including many of the players ranking just below him on the PuRPs list) and he represents just the type of prospect most likely to be selected in that process. I suspect Colorado will start the 24-year old in Hartford with a mid-season elevation to Albuquerque likely and a late season 40-man spot and call-up to the Rockies in case of emergency possible. I like the mix of pedigree, stuff, and production from Humphreys and ranked him 18th on my personal ballot with a 40 Future Value designation as a middle relief prospect with upside to be a late innings pitcher.