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Colorado Rockies prospect rankings, mid-season 2019: numbers 25-21

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The first basemen and future relievers section of the list

Let’s keep the mid-season 2019 Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) list reveal rolling! Yesterday we revealed prospects 30-26 and today we go with prospects 25-21. 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 RockiesRoster.com), a note on the 2019 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.

25. Brian Mundell (165 points, 17 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 29 — High Ballot 10, Mode Ballot 23

How did he enter the organization?

2015 7th Round, Cal Poly

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Mundell has just kept hitting at every level he has played at in his professional career, never posting a wRC+ lower than 103 across five levels. Coming off the aforementioned 103 wRC+ season in a repeat of Double-A, the 25-year-old righty got the call to Triple-A and saw his offensive numbers improve while playing mostly left field in deference to fellow PuRP Roberto Ramos after spending most of his minor league career at first base and his college years at catcher.

In 313 PAs with Albuquerque, Mundell has an impressive .335/.403/.534 line with 37 extra base hits, though only 8 of them were homers — a knock that has been following Mundell all the way up the minor league ladder. Still though, it’s worth an excellent 129 wRC+ in an admittedly offense-crazy Pacific Coast League. The context is that Mundell has hit much better at home (1.080 OPS) than on the road (.765 OPS) and is carrying a sky high BABIP of .394, indicating that he’s been a little fortunate to get the results he’s attained. Nonetheless, Mundell has consistently hit well and provides a good contact profile in the context of baseball these days (10% BB, 18% K).

What do the scouts say?

Mundell is currently ranked 29th in the system by MLB.com, highlighted by a 50 Hit grade:

Mundell’s swing got out of whack in 2018 and it took him most of the year to get back on track. Even when he wasn’t driving the ball like he had in the past, he was still managing the strike zone, limiting strikeouts and drawing walks and he still has a career .369 on-base percentage entering the 2019 season. When he’s on time with his swing, he can hit to all fields, driving the gaps well, though most of his home run power has come to the pull side. There could be more over-the-fence pop as he gets more reps and gets back in a groove.

A DH for most of his college career, Mundell has worked extremely hard at his defense. There’s still work to do, but he should be an adequate defender at first base, where the hope is he’ll prove once again he has the bat to profile at the infield corner.

The good news is that Mundell’s 50 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 average hit tool.

Baseball Census has this video of Mundell from the Arizona Fall League in 2017:

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

Mundell’s minor league results would suggest that he’s conquered the Double-A level. The question is whether he’ll get the opportunity (and succeed) at the big league level. Mundell really has to hit with authority to make it to the Show, and despite his left field transition this year, he’s still pretty limited to offering value with his bat alone. He’s already gone unprotected and un-selected in the Rule 5 draft last year, an indication that the Rockies nor the rest of MLB were believers in the profile.

At the moment, I’m not really a believer either, which is why Mundell missed my personal ballot. His hit tool and plate discipline have convinced me that Mundell could be a legitimate first base prospect, but right now I’m leaning toward the Quad-A label. I value defensive utility pretty highly and Mundell’s power game hasn’t popped to differentiate him from other bats in the system. Nonetheless, he’s a potential filler of the Mark Reynolds memorial bench bat spot for the 2020 Rockies. We’ll see if he earns the chance with the Rockies or someone else next year.

★ ★ ★

24. Justin Lawrence (215 points, 21 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 15 — High Ballot 13, Mode Ballot 21

How did he enter the organization?

2015 12th Round, Jacksonville University

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Put simply, he can throw in the upper 90s from an awkward, almost sidearm angle with a strong slider. When polling most scouts about who would be the Rockies closer among the relievers in the system, the most common answer seems to be the 24-year-old righty, who was added to the 40 man roster this past off-season. That’s why it’s been so difficult to watch Lawrence struggle so much in 2019.

One reason he might have struggled, of course, is that the Rockies jumped Lawrence over Double-A entirely into the viper’s nest that is the Pacific Coast League. In 10 13 innings with Albuquerque, Lawrence allowed 10 runs on 12 hits and 9 walks, striking out 6. After going on the IL in late April, Lawrence was assigned to Double-A in early June, where his results in 16 frames there haven’t been much better — he’s allowed 16 runs (14 earned) on 20 hits and 10 walks against 16 strikeouts.

For whatever reason (injury, fatigue, aggressive placement?), it just hasn’t worked out for Lawrence this year. Maybe that should teach us to be cautious when we see the kind of rise Lawrence enjoyed with a strong 2018 when that was really his only professional season with strong results to pair with the filthy stuff.

What do the scouts say?

Jeffrey Paternostro of Baseball Prospectus wrote up Lawrence last month after getting a look at him in Hartford:

[Lawrence] ramped up in this outing from the low-90s to 96, but didn’t have the high-90s velocity he showed last year in the Cal League. It’s still an incredibly tough angle for right-handed batters, and he generated some ugly swings. Not as ugly as the ones on his slider, mind you. That flashed plus, coming in around 80 with more depth than you’d expect, given the low slot. A 95-and-a-slider guy with that slot is a credible major league reliever, assuming he finds his consistent command again—it was perfectly acceptable for a late-inning reliever in my look—but he won’t project as a late-inning arm without a bit of a velo bump. Hopefully better health brings triple digits to my radar gun in the second half of the year.

Lawrence currently ranks 11th in the system per MLB.com:

Lawrence continues to throw harder as he progresses through the Rockies system, thanks to his throwing program and tweaks he’s made to his delivery. He’s now 97-100 mph with his fastball, routinely hitting triple digits during his AFL stint, coming from a very low three-quarters to sidearm slot. At times, there’s some serious sink that elicits a ton of groundball outs. He’s already a very uncomfortable at-bat for any right-handed hitter and he’s working on tightening up his slider to be a better all-around reliever.

With his delivery and arm slot, it’s tough for Lawrence to remain consistent in his mechanics, leading to some issues with command. He focused on that during his AFL stint and the Rockies think it will continue to improve with more reps, with the chance for Lawrence to be a back-end bullpen guy in the big leagues.

The profile of Lawrence above, as is the case with most relief prospects, is headlined by a plus fastball. In Lawrence’s evaluation, the fastball receives a 70 grade but the slider (50), changeup (45) and control (45) grades leave the 24-year old looking a bit one dimensional. Then again, the BP blurb was quite bullish on the slider’s development.

Lawrence is ranked 34th in the system on THE BOARD by FanGraphs as a FV 35+ prospect:

Lawrence is a side-armer with a tailing, upper-90s fastball and sweeping slider. It’s late-inning stuff, but too often Lawrence struggles with control and pitch execution. It needs to improve if he’s to lock down a big league bullpen role at all, but there’s ceiling here due to the stuff.

Adam McInturff of 2080 Baseball had a profile of Lawrence based on his looks at him during the AFL (granular info in the full profile)

Can ride his power sinker to a setup role in short order if his control improves. 7th/8th inning type who racks up strikeouts and ground balls.

In the below video of Lawrence from the 2018 AFL, you can see why it might be very difficult to hit against him:

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

The stuff is too good for the Rockies to give up on Lawrence during what has been a trying year for the right-hander, but it just doesn’t look like he’s ready for the Show at this point. Maybe in spring camp something will just fall into place — with an arm like his, one small correction might be all it takes to unlock the bullpen beast within.

Lawrence has plenty of competition for a MLB bullpen slot with a number of other high octane arms in Colorado’s system and those who have already eclipsed their prospect status. Even with the congestion though, Lawrence is too nasty not to consider a future building block for Colorado’s bullpen, which is why I ranked him 30th on my personal PuRPs ballot with a FV 35+ grade despite his struggles this year.

★ ★ ★

23. Roberto Ramos (216 points, 23 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 26 — High Ballot 12, Mode Ballot 25, 28

How did he enter the organization?

2014 16th Round, College of the Canyons

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Like Mundell, Ramos has laid waste to upper minors pitching over the last few years, though unlike Mundell the 24-year-old from Mexico hasn’t done any outfield experimenting and he hits for a lot of power. The lefty hitting 6’5”, 220 pound Beeflord crushed his way through High and Double-A in 2018 and didn’t stop hitting in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.

In 345 PAs for Albuquerque, Ramos has posted a .316/.403/.589 line with 41 extra base hits, including 20 homers, good for a 138 wRC+ against pitchers who are on average about 2.3 years older. Some more context around these numbers reveals a couple of prominent splits: a home/road OPS split of 1.132/.860 (still a good number!) and a lefty/righty split of (.791/1.076). Furthermore, he’s benefiting from a sky-high .407 BABIP while striking out 28% of the time. Ramos in all has a Three True Outcome % over 50% (28% K, 12% BB, 12% HR), making him a true baseball prospect in the mold of today’s famous sluggers. You can see why Ramos has succeeded so far, but the question is, will this approach work for him in MLB?

What do the scouts say?

Ramos is rated 26th by MLB.com:

He has the classic left-handed uppercut swing and easily has raw plus power. He’s made some solid adjustments at the plate that allowed him to get to that power much more consistently in 2018, though he is still prone to the strikeout and gets pull-happy at times. He does draw some walks and has shown some aptitude to improving as an all-around hitter.

His has the ability to hit and hit for power as he is a well-below average runner, and he’s worked hard to become an acceptable defender at first. When he’s hot, he’s the type of hitter who can change the game with one swing.

Wilson Karaman of Baseball Prospectus filed a report on Ramos in June 2018. He considered Ramos organizational depth, but praised his raw power:

Ramos boasts light-tower power from the left side and at least some idea of how to get to it. There’s a good deal of swing-and-miss to his game, the product of a swing that’ll stiffen up and an aggressive approach that has shown little sign of tamping down. He shows quality arm strength, but as a first base-only prospect the power is his notable asset. His is the kind of one-dimensional profile that doesn’t play particularly well in the modern game. He’ll need to continue showing he can get to his power in full at every level, and even that leave him with a modest second-division profile, with an org trajectory still his most likely.

Finally, John Sickels of the dearly departed Minor League Ball chimed in on Ramos in July 2018:

He has legitimate 60-grade power and has refined his swing enough to get the power frequently in games. He has a reputation as a fastball hitter with some contact problems against breaking stuff. The concern pre-season was that this issue was masked by his friendly hitting environments at the lower levels of the Rockies system but so far he’s held his own after moving up to the more balanced environs of the Eastern League. Defensively, he’s made progress cutting down errors at first base but lacks the speed and mobility to handle another position. He has to hit.

Baseball Census has some video of Ramos from April 2018 in Lancaster:

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

Like Mundell, Ramos is a slugger who has firmly established himself at the Triple-A level and is awaiting a major league opportunity. Unlike Mundell, Ramos has shown some power but is firmly rooted to first base defensively. The scouting consensus leans toward Ramos likely staying an organizational player unless he can cut down on the swing and miss, given the bat-only profile. The Rockies seemed to subscribe to this idea when they didn’t protect Ramos from the Rule 5 draft after his monster season, while the rest of MLB reinforced it when they didn’t select him.

At this point, I agree with the prospect watchers in declaring Ramos to be organizational depth, albeit highly interesting depth who I’d like to see get a shot at the Show to see just what it is the Rockies have in him. For that shot as well he’s competing with Mundell. As such, Ramos missed out on my personal list and has a 35+ Future Value tag from me.

★ ★ ★

22. Tommy Doyle (226 points, 22 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 27 — High Ballot 7, Mode Ballot 27

How did he enter the organization?

2017 2nd Round, University of Virginia

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Doyle pairs a strong draft pedigree with equally strong results thus far in his minor league career. The 23-year-old righty reliever also has the frame (6’6”, 235) and mid-to-upper 90s velocity to pair with a strong slider that safely raises his floor to a strong contender for major league contribution.

Posted to High A Lancaster this year, Doyle has thrown 27 13 innings so far against competition that is roughly his age. Other than a month-long IL stint that has limited his volume so far, Doyle hasn’t faced too much trouble, even in the notoriously hitter-crazy California League. So far, Doyle has 17 saves to pair with his 2.30 ERA, 11.2 K/9 rate, and 2.6 BB/9 rate — allowing a batting average against of just .143. In 12 13 road innings, Doyle hasn’t allowed a run, scattering 3 hits and 2 walks across those frames while striking out 18.

Those are good numbers to be sure, but really I would like to see Doyle challenged at a level where he is a little younger than league average, like in Double-A Hartford.

What do the scouts say?

Doyle is 17th in the system according to MLB.com:

Doyle has a steadily improving power fastball-breaking ball combination, with decent arm action, a strong frame and a solid delivery. He’s been clocked up to 97 mph at times and backs it up with an 82-83 mph slider that flashes plus, missing bats with both. He flips in a below-average curveball and he does use a changeup, but he doesn’t throw it often and it’s a below-average, “show me” kind of pitch rather than a viable weapon.

The combination of an improved slider and better consistency in landing his stuff in the strike zone has raised Doyle’s profile. If he can continue along this trajectory, seeing the big right-hander continue to close games isn’t out of the question.

Doyle’s top grade is reserved for his fastball (60) but his slider (55) is also an asset.

He’s 22nd on THE BOARD for FanGraphs as a FV 40 prospect:

The Rockies made Doyle their second consecutive second round college reliever in 2017 and after his velocity was way down just after his draft, he has since been as advertised. Mid-90s fastball, plus slider, a typical middle relief fit. He’s on pace to help the Rockies bullpen next year.

Adam McInturff of 2080 Baseball had a report on Doyle from May 2018, the conclusion of which was:

Dominating A-Ball and could be facing tougher competition. Potential fast-track ‘pen arm w/ advanced FB and SL. Ceiling of setup reliever that can contribute quickly.

McInturff also provided video of Doyle from June 2018:

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

The 23-year old has the frame, power fastball with movement, and good enough secondary pitch to be an intimidating relief option for Colorado as soon as next year. Doyle has a crowded field of arms ahead of him to best before a big league role awaits, but I still expect him to be one of the 2017 draft’s first prospects to make the Show.

I gave Doyle strong consideration in my personal ballot, but ultimately I chose some non-relievers instead, though he shares the 35+ future value designation of several prospects on the bottom of my list as a potential MLB reliever.

★ ★ ★

21. Breiling Eusebio (235 points, 16 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 25 — High Ballot 3, Mode Ballot 9, 16

How did he enter the organization?

2013 IFA, Dominican Republic

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

It’s largely due to the potential mentioned in the scouting reports below, which have labeled his stuff as some of the best among left-handed starters in the system. The 22-year-old hurler has flashed plenty of potential as a pro, but due in part to injuries (most notably Tommy John surgery early last year) and a long stint in the DSL he’s yet to pitch above Low A ball.

2019 has all been about getting back into form after the April 2018 surgery. Assigned to the familiar confines of Short Season A Boise, where Eusebio has spent parts of three seasons, he has made eight rehab starts totaling 22 13 innings. His results aren’t great — 7.25 ERA, 6.4 K/9 rate — but he’s clearly building up to a starter’s workload, only recently eclipsing 70 pitches for the first time. I wouldn’t read too much into those numbers, but of course I’d like to see what he can do when he’s back to full strength against more advanced competition.

What do the scouts say?

Eusebio is 20th in the org per MLB.com:

When healthy, Eusebio stands out for his feel for pitching and was much more advanced than most young pitchers just coming to the U.S. His above-average fastball and curve combination have promise, with his heater topping out at 95-96 mph with good sink and his breaking ball showing power and depth at times. His changeup should be at least average in the future. He has a very good feel for changing speeds and eye levels for hitters and isn’t afraid to come inside.

The grades show a mix with three pitches with 50 or better projection along with 50 control, a strong base for a starter. If only he could show it above A ball...

Eusebio ranks 16th on THE BOARD for FanGraphs as a FV 40 prospect:

The flashes of brilliance he showed during 2017 Extended indicated a potential No. 4 starter future, as Eusebio’s fastball would creep into the mid-90s and he’d show you a good change and breaking ball. He casts a lot of his pitches to his arm side and mechanical consistency and command are the biggest parts of his development, as he’ll need to improve in that area to remain a starter. Of course, that’s assuming his pre-surgery stuff returns.

FanGraphs has some video of Eusebio from 2017 when he was receiving those excellent reports:

For a perspective written on Eusebio before his injury, Kyle Glaser of Baseball America told the story of Eusebio’s breakout in Late July 2017, including some video of him in Asheville:

The issue for Eusebio wasn’t stuff, or his control in the purest sense. The problem was his lively fastball had so much movement he had trouble ensuring it ended up over the plate, even if his delivery and release point were clean.

This year, after extensive work in extended spring training, he’s figured it out.

Eusebio ranged from 90-95 mph with his fastball in his latest outing and sat 93-94. At times his fastball went straight, at others it cut, and at others it ran. But in all cases, it was in the strike zone and miserable for hitters to try and get a read on.

...

The other weapon Eusebio has developed is a dastardly changeup. Thrown consistently at 81-83 mph with identical arm speed as his fastball, the pitch drew foolish swings throughout from baffled Grasshoppers batters. Most importantly, it was consistent, another developmental step Eusebio has taken.

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

We’re six professional seasons in with Eusebio and he’s yet to make it above Low A, so at this point it’s hard to see the finish line. He’s yet to get all the way back to being the effective pitcher he was before he got hurt, and the Rockies will need to figure out his 40 man roster status. Teams might be intrigued by an arm of Eusebio’s caliber, but they’d have to take the risk on a player who seems at least a couple years away. If Eusebio isn’t added to the 40 man by the end of 2020, he’ll be a minor league free agent and the Rockies could lose him regardless. If he is added, Colorado runs the risk of Eusebio not even having any minor league options when he is ready for action on the big league club in a few years.

While the above decision is vexing for the Rockies, if I’m evaluating Eusebio on his current prospect status, Eusebio clearly belongs as one of the organization’s top 30 as a player with mid-rotation (at least) starter potential. I placed him 22nd on my list with a FV 40 grade, marking him down for health and proximity concerns as a risk but realizing that Eusebio has the ceiling to be in the top 15 if he regains his form.

★ ★ ★

Next, we’ll crack the top 20 of the mid-season 2019 PuRPs list!