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Colorado Rockies prospect rankings, mid-season 2019: numbers 30-26

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Here’s our first look at the top 30 Rockies prospects

Now that we’ve taken a look at the players who received votes and the Honorable Mention PuRPs for mid-season 2019, it’s time to examine the players that did make the cut. As a reminder, in this edition of the PuRPs poll, 29 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 2019 season to date, and a scouting report from a national prospect writer where possible. 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 is 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. And so we go ...

30. Brenton Doyle (104 points, 16 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: NR — High Ballot 17, Mode Ballot 26

How did he enter the organization?

2019 4th Round, Shepherd College (WV)

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Playing against low level competition with Division II Shepherd College, Brenton Doyle needed a strong performance in the wood bat Coastal Plain League to get him on draft radars. The 21-year-old outfielder was picked by the Rockies in the 4th round (with a below slot $438k signing bonus) and assigned to Grand Junction. In his professional debut, Doyle has fared well in a small 68 PA sample, posting a .305/.388/.525 line (136 wRC+). That’s a promising start for a pro who had questions about level of competition, though the Pioneer League probably isn’t a sufficient test for a 4th round college draftee to fully answer those questions.

What do the scouts say?

There isn’t a lot out there on Doyle from the national prospect watchers on Doyle, which isn’t surprising given his Division II origins. FanGraphs ranks him 31st in the system right now as a FV 35+ prospect, and their one sentence summation of Doyle reads:

A Division-II pop-up guy, Doyle is a physical outfielder with power and speed, but we have no idea how he’ll deal with pro pitching because he faced such low-level competition as an amateur.

This is what Rockies VP of scouting Bill Schmidt had to say about Doyle after the draft:

“He’s a big, physical, athletic corner outfielder,” Schmidt said. “He can run and throw, and he’s got raw power. There’s work to be done, but I think he has tremendous upside.”

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

It’s too early to make sweeping conclusions, but I’ll say that with the path Doyle seems to be on, he’s at least three more minor league campaigns away.

I wrote back in February about the Rockies not investing enough draft capital in the outfield, so I was pleased they took a shot at a toolsy player like Doyle with the ability to play all three outfield positions. Is he a regular or a reserve outfielder? I can’t say at this point. It’s early in his career and I’d like to see Doyle have success in full season ball before I put him on my personal PuRPs list, but he’s a player I’ll be watching closely to see if his game holds up against pro competition.

★ ★ ★

29. Ryan Feltner (114 points, 16 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 19 — High Ballot 15, Mode Ballot 20, 23, 24, 29

How did he enter the organization?

2018 4th Round, Ohio State

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Feltner dazzled in an electric 30 2⁄3 inning professional debut last year in Grand Junction, during which time he had a 0.88 ERA and 11.4 K/9 rate. That came on the backs of an excellent Cape Cod League performance (as a reliever) that vaulted him up draft lists. Entering 2019, fans and prospect writers alike wondered if the 22-year-old righty could approximate that level of dominance in Low A Asheville.

In short, no. A step up in competition has resulted in a 5.36 ERA in 90 23 innings over 19 starts, though Feltner’s 8.8 K/9 rate is encouraging. A hitter-friendly home park in Asheville, where Feltner has made 23 of his starts with a 6.10 ERA that is over 2 runs higher than his road starts, hasn’t helped either. On the positive side, Feltner’s 3.96 xFIP and .362 BABIP would indicate that he’s been somewhat unfortunate to get those results. Feltner just went on the IL this week, so we’ll see if those are his final numbers for 2019.

What do the scouts say?

Feltner ranks 23rd in the system according to MLB.com:

Feltner’s composure and maturity have already made a strong impression on the Rockies, and he’s shown, at least early, more feel to pitch than anticipated. He challenges hitters with a fastball that sits at 94 mph and touches 97 regularly. His changeup is his best secondary offering, thrown with fade and excellent arm speed deception. His slider currently isn’t a true weapon, and he focused on improving his breaking ball over the offseason so it becomes more viable.

Feltner showed better command than he had at Ohio State, with an ability to work to all four quadrants of the strike zone. If that continues, he has the chance to start. If not, he showed that his stuff plays very well when he closed during that stint on the Cape.

He’s 20th on THE BOARD! for FanGraphs as a FV 40 prospect:

Feltner spent a chunk of his college career in the bullpen, and he projects in a big league relief role for most pro teams. His arm action is quite long, and while he can bully hitters with his fastball in the zone, he lacks precise command of his stuff. Feltner throws hard, though, and his changeup has big time arm side movement. It’s going to miss big league bats, but an average, slurvy breaking ball likely won’t be able to unless he can start to put it where he wants to more exactly. Unlike most of the other pitching prospects in this system, Feltner hasn’t had a myriad of injury issues and is still being developed as a starter.

2080 Baseball’s Adam McInturff saw him this April and also tagged Feltner as a FV 40 prospect. Here was his summary (there’s a lot of good granular info in the report as well):

Hard-throwing SP lacking pitchability or control/command to remain in rotation long-term. Projects better in relief, where velo can play up. Middle relief ceiling, FB can get him there but don’t see swing/miss secondary for leverage innings.

Here’s the video accompanying that 2080 scouting report:

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

The scouting consensus is that if Feltner makes it to the Show, it will be as a middle reliever. If that’s the case, a strong fastball and decent changeup could carry him there within 2-3 years, making him a candidate to be the first Major Leaguer among the 2018 draft class. Frankly though, I don’t think Feltner makes this list if not for his potential to stick in the rotation, and the uneven performance this year in Asheville puts that possibility into question. That’s why he dropped down on my personal ballot to 29th (FV 35+).

★ ★ ★

28. Josh Fuentes (149 points, 12 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 16 — High Ballot 10, Mode Ballot 17, 18

How did he enter the organization?

2014 UDFA, Missouri Baptist

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Fuentes had gotten the attention of PuRPs voters with his consistently strong offensive output, his Arizona Fall League selection, and his Triple-A MVP award in 2018. What really put the 26-year-old corner infielder over the top as a serious prospect was his placement on the 40-man roster after last year, which represented quite the rise for the 2014 undrafted free agent. That 2018 was fantastic and was the third straight year in which Fuentes dominated offensively as he kept getting moved up the minor league ladder.

40-man roster slot in hand, Fuentes was pressed into Major League action in early April. Despite quickly notching his first big league hit, Fuentes went 2-18 (both singles) in 9 games before getting sent back down to Albuquerque. Back at the location of his MVP success, Fuentes surprisingly struggled to get going, hitting just .250/.303/.445 in 200 ABs before an injury kept him out most of June. Upon returning from the IL though, Fuentes has an excellent .327/.367/.673 with 5 HR in 55 second half ABs.

Put together, Fuentes has a .267/.317/.494 line with 12 HR in 280 PAs, good for a 88 wRC+ in the hitter-friendly PCL. He’s feasted in Albuquerque, hitting .313/.378/.656 with 11 of his 12 long balls in 131 home ABs, while he has an anemic .218/.246/.323 road line. Alarmingly, Fuentes is striking out nearly 28% of the time, an eight point jump from the same level last year. He has been righting the ship of late, so we’ll see if that performance carries over to the rest of the season.

What do the scouts say?

Fuentes is all the way up at 9th in the system according to MLB.com:

[Fuentes] made some adjustments [in 2016] and hasn’t stopped doing so since, showing an innate ability to make hard contact. He’s mixed in a leg kick that helps him stay back, allowing him to add more leverage and power. While he doesn’t walk much, he also keeps his strikeouts low.

A very natural and easy defender, Fuentes is like his cousin with his terrific instincts at the hot corner. After playing a lot of first base early in his career, he started mixing it back in during the 2018 season, with the versatility giving his bat a better chance to break into the big leagues.

Here’s a 2080 Baseball report on Fuentes from the Arizona Fall League by Adam McInturff:

Fuentes looks the part of a pro corner player, a physical 6-foot-2 and 215-pound frame strong enough to hit for power but able to stay at 3B. He hits from a deep crouch with a big leg-kick trigger to start the swing, getting all his lower-half into a quick stroke that has power to the pullside. He yanks most of his contact, and while it isn’t a pretty swing, Fuentes has solid bat control and finds a way to make it work. For a player that looks strong enough to hit for power, his peripherals (low walk/low strikeout guy) don’t fit the standard mold. His game approach is oriented more towards making contact than driving the ball, looking to put it in play and rely on feel for the barrel. He could live to be more patient, but I saw plenty of awareness at the plate and an understanding how to get to his pitch.

Defensively, Fuentes moved between the infield corners in my week-long look watching Salt River. He looked fine at the hot corner, showing soft hands and the footwork to make routine plays. There’s a chance he’s a 55-grade defender at first base, though the overall versatility should help a R/R profile without tons of game power get into the lineup.

...

He has worked himself into the player he is today, showing significant improvement each of the last two years I’ve seen him. He’s ready to hit in the big leagues, safely profiling as a useful role player who can move between corner positions. If he winds up hitting enough to be an everyday third baseman someday, don’t be surprised: Fuentes is the type of guy that has been proving people wrong for a long time.

Here’s the video that accompanies the above report:

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

Fuentes is a potential big league piece who is ready to step into that role now if needed, though I don’t know if his role would be anything more than a big bat off the bench who can play both corner infield positions. The 2019 step back in production caused me to take a step back as well in my evaluation of Fuentes (he’s still a FV 35+ for me), as I dropped him just off my PuRPs ballot this year in order to highlight some farther away, high ceiling prospects like the next PuRP.

★ ★ ★

27. Bladimir Restituyo (156 points, 14 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: NR — High Ballot 10, Mode Ballot 10, 27

How did he enter the organization?

2016 IFA, Venezuela

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Restituyo is a player who has great tools at the lower levels of the minor league pyramid and has enjoyed a strong stateside debut this year in Boise. He signed with the Rockies on July 2, 2017 (which also happened to be his 16th birthday) for $200k and immediately made a positive impression with his tools and feel for the game. Playing at age 16 and 17 in the DSL against pitchers who were on average 1.8 years older, Restituyo quickly showed he belonged with a .300/.337/.456 line in 258 PAs (125 wRC+).

That was enough for the Rockies to move Restituyo all the way up to Short Season A Boise as a 17-year-old. He’s since turned 18, but that’s an incredible show of faith in a prospect’s readiness to face college draftees in the tough hitting environment of the Northwest League. There in 157 PAs against pitchers who are on average 3.7 years older than him, Restituyo has held his own with a .285/.290/.404 line including 3 HR, good for a 95 wRC+. Sure, there are some warts — for instance, Restituyo has one walk all year and he’s hit just .171 on the road — but to even approach that kind of line as a teenager (and new adult) against this competition is a fantastic achievement.

Defensively, Restituyo has played mostly center field but also some second base in deference to the defense of still 17-year-old Ezequiel Tovar at shortstop — another name to watch to be sure.

What do the scouts say?

Ben Badler of Baseball America had this to say about Restituyo in April 2018:

Restituyo is a wiry 6 feet, 160 pounds with quick-twitch in everything he does, from his plus-plus speed to his fast hands that help him generate terrific bat speed. Restituyo has the physical projection to add a lot of strength but already generates impressive power and already shows it in games. He has a compact, handsy swing from the right side and performs well against live pitching, staying under control and squaring up premium velocity. While some scouts think Restituyo might ultimately end up at second base, he has a chance to stick at shortstop, where he has an average arm.

Here’s some footage of Restituyo uploaded last month by Prospects Live that looks like it came from Extended Spring Training:

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

Restituyo is still a long ways away from the Show, but he’s moving much faster than a typical international free agent does. Still, it’ll be at least 3 years before he’s a potential factor for the big league team.

Restituyo represents a potential impact player who, though he is far away, has played very well in a challenging situation. I was intrigued enough by the package of tools combined with the role and age/level combo to rank him 27th on my list as a FV 35+ player. If he gets assigned to full season ball next year (a repeat in Short Season A is also possible) and succeeds there as an 18-year-old, Restituyo will be deserving of top 10 PuRP consideration.

★ ★ ★

26. Vince Fernandez (156 points, 16 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 21 — High Ballot 3, Mode Ballot 21, 28

How did he enter the organization?

2016 10th Round, UC Riverside

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Fernandez just keeps hitting with authority as he moves up the minor league ladder and was one of the few early bright spots on the farm in 2019. Unfortunately for everyone though, the 24-year-old lefty-hitting, righty-throwing outfielder is currently serving a 50 game suspension for amphetamines. This is hugely disappointing of course, especially for a prospect without a huge draft pedigree who had crushed the ball at every level to move himself onto prospect rankings. Setting the suspension aside for a minute, let’s look at the baseball player.

It’s been difficult to disentangle Fernandez’s strong offensive performances (his lowest wRC+ as a pro is 121) from the context in which he’s put up those numbers. Entering 2019, he’d been only slightly younger than league average at each stop and had played his games in strong offensive parks/leagues. Furthermore, Fernandez is a Three True Outcomes prospect, with over half of his plate appearances in 2018 ending in either a walk (13%), strikeout (34%), or homer (5%).

In Double-A Hartford there was a chance to evaluate Fernandez against not only more advanced, older (1.1 years on average) competition, but also in a neutral hitting environment. Against that backdrop, Fernandez’s .263/.362/.581 line with 13 HR among 28 extra base hits in 207 PAs is pretty remarkable, good for an excellent 170 wRC+. He’d even posted a .916 OPS against lefties, a struggle for him in the past. He still showed an extreme Home/Road OPS split of 1.267/.635, but it appeared some of those other questions had been answered...and then the amphetamine suspension throws on new questions. Sad for everyone involved.

What do the scouts say?

Fernandez has increasingly been recognized as a player to follow in the system. FanGraphs currently has him 14th on THE BOARD! as a FV 40 prospect:

He’s performed up through Double-A, albeit as a slightly old-for-the-level prospect and in hitter-friendly environs. Fernandez strikes out a lot and he only fits in left field, but he is the youngest and most impressive statistical performer of a large group of lefty outfield power hitters in this system. They all realistically project as the larger half of a corner platoon.

MLB.com ranks Fernandez 24th:

There’s no question Fernandez has some raw power from the left side of the plate, and he hit a career high 24 homers in 2018, albeit with some fairly dramatic home-road splits and most of his pop coming in Lancaster’s bandbox of a ballpark. His strikeout rate has also crept up in each year of pro ball, though so has his walk rate, and he must cut down on his 34.5 percent strikeout rate from a year ago to have a chance as he advances.

Fernandez runs well enough to steal an occasional base and cover ground in the outfield. He’s seen almost all of his time defensively in the outfield corners, with enough arm for right. If he can learn to make enough contact, he could be a fourth outfielder type who provides left-handed pop off the bench.

Finally, Wilson Karaman of Baseball Prospectus had this report last June from Lancaster:

Large frame, physically mature, pretty well maxed; intense metronome setting up, toe tap trigger, aggressive waggle; gets a little loose at launch, not consistent with bat angle when he loads hands; wants to extend, vulnerable to inner-third velo unless he’s sitting on it, solid-average bat speed, 55 raw may push plus, hit balls will carry, game utility limited by below-average hit tool projection; patient hitter works the zone, deep counts with lots of swing-miss, struggles to get back into counts when down early; fringe-average run and glove, arm’d be stretched in right, LF/1B swing potential with a path to a bench role if the hit tool gets there.

Baseball Census has some video of Fernandez from last April in Lancaster:

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

Well, this is a pickle. Fernandez was on his way to earning a Arizona Fall League selection and a 40 man roster slot this off-season with that strong Double-A performance and then likely a MLB debut as soon as 2020, but now that’s all up in the air with the suspension. Fernandez is obviously talented and provides some needed depth at a position of need, but will ownership be able to overlook his transgressions?

In a baseball sense, Fernandez is a corner outfielder with an all-or-nothing approach who seems most suited to a heavy share of a platoon. I ranked Fernandez 23rd on my list with a FV 40 tag, but he would have been at least five spots higher without that cloud hanging over his candidacy.

★ ★ ★

Stay tuned for the next installment of the mid-season 2019 PuRPs list!