After the mid-season Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) balloting period from the Purple Row community, the votes are in on Colorado’s top 30 prospects. The top 30 prospects will be revealed over the next two weeks to give fans an overview of the players who could make an impact on the next few Rockies squads.
First up: an introduction to the list and then a rundown of every player to get votes from number 56 to 36. In a separate post tomorrow I’ll reveal the five honorable mention PuRPs and move to the top 30 after that, five at a time.
There were 28 ballots this time around (up from 20 last time). 30 points were granted for a first place vote, 29 for second, etc. Until a player was named on nine ballots, his vote totals were modified on a sliding scale to avoid an individual ballot having too much say over the community forecast — though none of the top 30 players on this edition of the list were listed on fewer than ten ballots.
If necessary, the first tiebreaker went to the player who was ranked on the most ballots, then to the one who ranked highest on an individual PuRPs ballot, the third tiebreaker was the mode ballot. All prospects in the system who retained their Rookie of the Year eligibility (fewer than 130 ABs, 50 IP, and 45 days on the active roster — IL time is not included) as of August 4, 2022 were eligible for selection on this list.
Since the pre-season 2022 balloting, two PuRPs lost eligibility (No. 11 PuRP Colton Welker and No. 15 PuRP Ryan Feltner) but the Rockies added some prospects via their 2022 draft class. Additionally, several players have recorded strong seasons and bolstered the system’s depth considerably since our last look at it.
In the 20 ballots there was room for 56 players listed in the top 30 of at least one PuRPs ballot, down from 58 in the pre-season 2022 list. There were 48 players named on multiple ballots (down from 49), while 35 were listed on at least nine ballots (up from 32) and therefore had unmodified point totals. There were 27 different prospects receiving a top 10 placement on at least one list (up from 20). The top 21 made it on over 85% of ballots, indicating a strong consensus for that group. Here is a link to this list’s polling thread.
For each player on the PuRPs list, I’ll include a link to individual stats and contract status (via Baseball-Reference) and notes on their scouting reports, if applicable. For the sake of full disclosure, I’ll also include where I put each player on my personal ballot. With players receiving votes, I’ll provide the B-Ref link and voting stats, plus a short blurb. All ages will be as of the day the article was posted.
Remember, statistics are not the end-all, be-all when evaluating these players. Context is hugely important (notably, the player’s age relative to the league’s average, the league’s average offensive numbers, or the player’s 40-man roster calendar), as is the fact that injuries to prospects can affect both their tools and their stats. I’ll try to make mention of instances where this is the case as we go on.
More discussion on the voting will be included in the final installment of this series, but to begin, here are the players who ranked 56 to 36 in 2022 mid-season PuRPs voting:
Single Ballot Players
T-54. Chad Smith (0.1 points, 1 ballot) — the righty reliever is a 27-year-old who was traded to the Rockies for former PuRP Jesus Tinoco during the 2020 season. He spent all of 2021 and much of 2022 in Triple-A, performing well enough to get a 40-man roster slot and a major league debut this year. Smith has appeared in four games to date with the Rockies, allowing seven runs on six hits and five walks in 5 1⁄3 innings. He remains on the 40-man roster, but his spot is a tenuous one as the off-season approaches.
T-54. Tommy Doyle (0.1 points, 1 ballot) — the former PuRP and 2017 second rounder made his major league debut with the Rockies in 2020 — a cup of coffee of 2 1⁄3 innings over three games — then has largely disappeared from prospect radars due to injuries. The 6’6” righty reliever has thrown just 9 1⁄3 innings over the last two years combined.
T-54. Stephen Jones (0.1 points, 1 ballot) — another right-handed reliever, the 25-year-old was a late round pick in 2019 (signing for just $3k) who has pitched well in 45 2⁄3 innings at Double-A Hartford this year with a 2.36 ERA. MLB.com currently lists Jones 30th in the system as a 40 FV prospect on the strength of a plus fastball:
A 6-foot-4 right-hander, Jones actually has three pitches at his disposal. He throws his fastball in the 94-98 mph range with good downward plane and can work it to both sides of the plate. His slider might be a solid swing-and-miss pitch when all is said and done, with good bite and depth to it, and he even has a usable changeup with deception and sink that can help neutralize left-handed hitters.
Jones doesn’t have pinpoint command, but he does tend to be around the plate, with enough control to be effective as a reliever.
53. Ronaiker Palma (0.4 points, 1 ballot) — a 2017 international signee out of Venezuela, the 22-year-old is an athletic catcher noted for his high-contact ways at the plate. He’s hitting well in High-A Spokane, with a .287/.337/.407 line (111 wRC+) in 165 PA as the back-up to top 100 prospect Drew Romo. FanGraphs likes Palma (who will be Rule 5 eligible after this season) enough to rank him 35th in the system as a 35+ FV prospect:
Palma is built like a Volkswagen Beetle and is extremely difficult to make swing and miss in the strike zone. He’s been in pro ball since 2018 and has only struck out 36 times during affiliated games. He’s also barely played, in part due to injury, and has only averaged about 40 annual games as a pro. Healthy Palma is a plus athlete with great catch-and-throw skills thanks to the quickness of his release. His offensive skill set is similar to Yohel Pozo and Willians Astudillo, and Palma has a seemingly pathological need to put balls in play, though he doesn’t yet have the same kind of power on contact as either Pozo or Astudillo. For now, he’s an interesting sleeper at a very shallow big league position.
51. Eddy Diaz (0.6 points, 1 ballot) — Fast Eddy, the pre-season PuRP 30 only got one vote this time around. As the nickname would suggest, the 22-year-old has crowd-pleasing speed, with 20 or more steals every year as a professional. The Cuban second baseman is hitting .250/.329/.343 (95 wRC+) with 29 steals in 42 attempts in 324 PA for High-A Spokane and is Rule 5 eligible this year. FanGraphs called him a “Bench Type” this past off-season, describing him thusly:
Diaz is built like one of the Bob-ombs in Super Mario, a 70 runner who has swiped about 50 bags in each of the two complete minor league seasons he’s played in. He deserves a look in center field just to see if he can do it; otherwise, he doesn’t really have the versatility to play a consistent bench role.
T-49. Blair Calvo (0.7 points, 1 ballot) — Calvo is another 2019 late-round pick who has emerged as an interesting right-handed reliever in Double-A Hartford who will be Rule 5 eligible after the season. The 26-year-old has shown nasty stuff this year, striking out 24 in 19 innings and walking eight with a 3.79 ERA before suffering an injury in late May and only recently rehabbing at the complex level. FanGraphs places Calvo 39th in the system as a 35+ FV arm:
[Calvo] has some of the best stuff in the system, sitting 95-97 mph with a plus-plus flashing slider in the 83-86 mph range. His arm is very whippy and Calvo’s stride home opens up his hips in a way that’s atypical of most pitchers, possibly creating some deception. He’s a fast-moving relief prospect.
T-49. Willie MacIver (0.7 points, 1 ballot) — MacIver was PuRP 28 in the pre-season list, but only received one vote in this round. The 25-year-old backstop had a breakout first half of 2021, including a berth in the Futures Game, but scuffled offensively after getting promoted to Double-A around that time. This year, the Rule 5 eligible MacIver is holding his own, hitting .233/.306/.449 with 15 HR (102 wRC+) in 319 PA as an older player in Hartford.
MacIver was described by FanGraphs before the season as “Catching Depth”. They noted he “does have unusual athleticism for a catcher but is more of a ready-made third or fourth catcher in an org rather than a true backup, mostly due to swing-and-miss issues.”
47. Julian Fernández (0.8 points, 1 ballot) — Fernández debuted in the big leagues last year (it was a long time coming) and began the year on the 40-man roster but didn’t make it into any major league action in 2022 before getting designated for assignment. The 26-year-old righty reliever passed through waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A in June, where the 6’6” fireballer who can touch triple digits has a 5.72 ERA in 39 1⁄3 frames. Fernández has struck out 45 in that time, but has also walked 22.
FanGraphs ranks Fernández 46th in the system as a 35+ FV prospect with 70 fastball and 20 command grades:
Fernández sits 97-101 mph and has a relatively new changeup. He is likely to continue to be very wild, limiting him to an up/down projection.
52. Bryant Betancourt (0.4 points, 2 ballots) — the 18-year-old is a bat-first catcher/first base prospect from Venezuela who has laid waste to the Dominican Summer League this year, his second at the level. In 163 PA at a league average age, Betancourt is hitting .351/.447/.664 (184 wRC+) with 10 HR and 11 2B. Unless Betancourt will stick behind the plate defensively, there will be a lot of pressure on the bat as he comes stateside.
48. Evan Shawver (0.7 points, 2 ballots) — the 22-year-old right-handed starter was Colorado’s seventh rounder in 2021. At draft time, MLB.com mentioned that “Shawver has a low 90s fastball, though he’s run it up as fast as 96 mph, to go along with a plus slider and a changeup that has been effective in retiring right-handed hitters.”
This year, Shawver began at Low-A Fresno but was quickly promoted to High-A after three starts and 16 IP of 1.13 ERA ball. He’s found tougher going in Spokane, posting a 5.01 ERA in 50 1⁄3 innings, though he’s struck out 9.8 batters per nine innings and has a lower 4.20 xFIP.
46. Connor Staine (1.6 points, 2 ballots) — Staine was the 146th overall pick in the fifth round this year by the Rockies, but draft outlets had him ranked much higher. The 22-year-old right-hander out of UCF was 88th overall in MLB.com’s draft rankings as a 45 FV prospect:
Staine is a 6-foot-5 athletic right-hander with a loose arm and some upside. His fastball has been up to 96-97 mph and has averaged just over 93 mph this year at Central Florida, a bit of a velocity spike from earlier in his college career. His 80-81 mph slider has also improved, and while it’s probably fringy now, it has an up arrow next to it and it’s easy to see it being an average breaking ball that misses bats. He can fold in a slower get-me-over curve, and while he doesn’t throw it much, he shows feel for at least an average changeup.
While he’s largely been around the strike zone, Staine’s command has come and gone at times this season. A minor back issue slowed him a bit, as did a blister, but his size and pure stuff provide some projection and a college arm to dream on in the top few rounds.
Kiley McDaniel of ESPN.com ranked Staine 96th pre-draft as a 40 FV prospect, saying that “Staine will get into the mid-90s with a solid-average slider and starter traits.” Staine hasn’t made his professional debut yet, but his upside makes him an intriguing arm to follow next year.
45. Jack Blomgren (1.6 points, 2 ballots) — the 23-year-old middle infielder was Colorado’s fifth rounder in 2020 out of the University of Michigan where Blomgren played shortstop and was a fiery glove-first leader on a team that was the runner-up in the College World Series in 2019. Based on that description, it’s no surprise that Blomgren was described thusly by Keith Law of the Athletic in February:
Shortstop Jack Blomgren has a shot to be a good utility player, with strong contact skills, some speed and a high baseball IQ. The Rockies could try him in center to help boost his value as a jack-of-all-trades bench piece
Unfortunately, Blomgren has been limited by injuries to just 20 PA this year in Hartford, though it must be said he raked (.353/.421/.647) in that small sample. Though his athleticism might not measure up to the top prospects on this list, Blomgren seems more likely than most to maximize his ability and potentially eke out a big league career.
44. Tony Locey (2.7 points, 3 ballots) — the 24-year-old righty was acquired in the Nolan Arenado trade last year. The 6’3” hurler was well thought of for his power stuff in the Cardinals organization (he was their third rounder in 2019) but was seen as a likely reliever. In 2021 Locey indeed started out as a reliever but transitioned into the rotation in late July, where he performed well enough to stay there in 2022.
At an age-appropriate level in High-A Spokane this season, Locey threw 67 innings across 12 starts with a 3.09 ERA. He was probably fortunate to get those results (he walked 5.2/9 against striking out 8.6/9 and his xFIP was 5.23), but it was good enough to earn a promotion to Double-A Hartford in July. There, Locey has been knocked around in 20 2⁄3 innings across six appearances (five starts) to the tune of a 13.06 ERA and 2.57 WHIP.
Before the season, FanGraphs dropped Locey out of the 40 FV tier into the prospects of note section:
[Locey] was not throwing as hard as he was when he broke out at Georgia, and instead sat about 93 mph with a fringe slider/curveball combo.
We’ll see if Locey can right the ship at Hartford down the stretch and if he stays in the starting rotation. He’ll be Rule 5 eligible after 2022, so this is an important few weeks for him.
43. Nick Bush (3.6 points, 2 ballots) — the lefty starter is a 25-year-old who is repeating at Double-A Hartford this season. In 19 starts, the 2018 8th rounder has thrown 100 1⁄3 frames with a 3.68 ERA (3.61 xFIP), 1.4 BB/9, and 8.8 K/9 at a league average age. Bush represents back-end starter depth for 2023 but he is Rule 5 eligible this year.
Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs described Bush in mid-season 2021 as, “a vertical arm slot lefty whose fringe fastball velocity plays up due to deception, and his curveball has terrific depth. He has a passable change that could help make him a spot starter.”
42. Wynton Bernard (4.0 points, 3 ballots) — the 31-year-old righty outfielder is certainly not a traditional prospect, having spent ten years in minor league baseball (including multiple stints in foreign baseball leagues). Nonetheless, San Diego’s 2012 35th rounder made himself impossible to ignore in his second season with Triple-A Albuquerque.
In 377 PA, Bernard hit an excellent .325/.374/.588 with 17 HR and a total of 49 extra-base hits (133 wRC+) while playing mostly center field. That was enough for Bernard to finally get the call to the Show a few days ago. He singled, stole a base, and scored an insurance run in a Rockies victory for his debut. In a system (and 40-man roster) chock full of outfield prospects, it’s hard to see too much of a window of major league playing time for Bernard going forward, but he beat those odds already this year, so I’m not counting him out.
41. PJ Poulin (8.7 points, 3 ballots) — the 26-year-old lefty reliever was picked in the 11th round of the 2018 draft. Since then, he’s made steady progress up the minor league ladder, including a mid-year promotion to Double-A last year. In 2022, Poulin started in Double-A, throwing 40 2⁄3 innings across 34 appearances with six saves and a 2.21 ERA, 12.2 K/9, and 2.7 BB/9. He was promoted to Triple-A a few weeks ago, where in 6 2⁄3 IP he’s allowed six runs (four earned) on nine hits and four walks but struck out 10.
FanGraphs currently has Poulin (who is Rule 5 eligible) 41st on its system ranking as a 35+ FV player:
Athletic drop-and-rive lefty PJ Poulin has been a consistent statistical performer since entering pro ball, with a career ERA under 3.00. He has a sneaky, upshot fastball in the low-90s a long, slow, sweeping slider in the upper-70s, and a changeup he could stand to use more because Poulin has consistent arm-side feel for it. It’s a bit of a smoke and mirrors operation that should be fine in lower-leverage relief.
40. Ryan Ritter (11.7 points, 5 ballots) — the 21-year-old shortstop was Colorado’s fourth round pick (116th overall) in this year’s draft out of Kentucky. Ritter is notable as one of the best defensive shortstops in the draft class, but he also hit a respectable .283/.369/.469 in his draft year in the SEC. Kiley McDaniel of ESPN.com ranked Ritter 168th in the draft as a 35+ FV prospect, saying that “Ritter’s pitch selection worries me a bit, but he has contact skills, is an above-average runner and can play shortstop.”
Capable of playing anywhere on the diamond, Ritter is a smooth defender with nice actions at shortstop. His quickness gives him plenty of range and he has soft hands and a good internal clock. He features plus arm strength and makes consistently accurate throws from a variety of angles. ... Scouts don’t love his right-handed swing and he doesn’t make consistent contact against non-fastballs, though he did make adjustments and rallied at the end of his stint on the Cape. Built along the lines of Marcus Semien, he has some strength that could produce at least 15-homer power if he figures things out at the plate, and he’s also a solid runner out of the batter’s box and plus underway.
39. Gavin Hollowell (25.0 points, 5 ballots) — the 6’7” 24-year-old righty reliever has pitched well this year for Double-A Hartford after skipping High-A entirely. In 40 2⁄3 innings across 35 appearances, Hollowell has served as the primary closer with a 3.32 ERA, 11.1 K/9 rate, and 2.4 BB/9 rate with 14 saves.
Hollowell is ranked 40th by FanGraphs as a 35+ FV prospect:
A sixth rounder from 2019, Hollowell was throwing very hard during instructs, 94-96 mph in Eric’s looks. He has a pure relief look to his delivery (and his resume), coming from a low, funky slot. It’s creates very strange angle on Hollowell’s slider, which flashes plus. He threw strikes at a good rate in 2021 and looks like a fast-moving middle relief prospect.
Keith Law of the Athletic described Hollowell pre-season as “a sinker/slider reliever who throws a ton of strikes and so far hasn’t had trouble with left-handed batters” in listing him in the “Others of Note” section.
The 6-foot-7 Hollowell is a two-pitch reliever, but they are two very good pitches. His fastball reaches the mid-90s with ease and after working with the Rockies to stand up taller on the mound, he delivers the pitch with better plane and angle. He couples the heater with a nasty slider that tops out in in the mid-80s, a pitch he adds and subtracts from to give it hard, tight, cutter-like traits and a bigger, sweeping breaker.
Hollowell does a good job of throwing both pitches from the same slot, a lower angle that is hard for hitters to pick up. He goes right after hitters with his stuff, filling up the strike zone and missing a ton of bats (12.4 K/9 in 2021).
Hollowell is a strong contender for a 40-man roster spot this off-season, as he will be Rule 5 eligible.
38. Sean Bouchard (33.8 points, 8 ballots) — like Bernard, the 26-year-old righty Bouchard wasn’t too on the radar for a 2022 big league debut entering the year. That’s not to say the outfielder and first baseman, a 2017 ninth round pick, hasn’t hit well at every level as he moved up the minor league ladder — it’s just that he was never highlighted by prospect watchers in the process of doing so.
Bouchard has hit well at Triple-A Albuquerque this year, posting a .317/.409/.647 line with 16 HR as a part of his 35 extra-base hits in 257 PA (152 wRC+). It was enough for Bouchard to be the player called up in June when the Rockies needed an outfielder, but unfortunately he suffered an oblique injury after three hit-less games (though he did manage two walks and a run). He was put on the IL and sent down in mid-July when he returned to health. We’ll see if he gets another shot as a big bat on the 40-man roster down the stretch. Bouchard’s 40-man spot seems vulnerable this off-season, so he’ll be motivated to keep his foot on the gas offensively to force the issue.
37. Noah Davis (40.0 points, 6 ballots) — the pre-season No. 19 PuRP lands here, falling victim to an increasingly deep system and a poor 2022 on the mound. The 25-year-old righty starter was added to the 40-man roster this past off-season and has been healthy all season, but hasn’t been able to take advantage of a spate of injuries to higher-ranked prospects to stand out in a good way with the electorate.
Instead, Davis has a 5.99 ERA in 106 2⁄3 innings across 21 starts at a league average age for Double-A Hartford. It should be said that Davis has a 4.88 xFIP and 9.8 K/9 rate, indicating he’s been a bit unfortunate to receive those results, but his 1.46 WHIP indicates he’s been too hittable to move up the ladder to Triple-A or the big leagues.
Davis has a four-pitch repertoire that gives him the chance to start long-term. His fastball sits in the low-90s and can touch 94-95 mph, with good sink and tail to it. The Rockies would like him to increase his fastball usage up to around 50 percent after he threw his heater only around 27 percent of the time with the Reds at the time of the trade. He knows how to spin a breaking ball and loves to throw his 83-85 mph slider and can also throw a mid-70s curve. He throws his fading changeup with good deception.
The right-hander has an up-tempo delivery that adds deception, and he threw more strikes post-trade than he did earlier in the year. The Rockies saw enough upside to add him to the roster, thinking there’s a future big leaguer here, either as a back-end starter or an interesting bullpen piece.
FanGraphs currently lists him 22nd as a 40 FV player:
[Davis] sits about 93, mixes in two distinct breaking balls (the slider averages about 93, the curveball about 77, and both are deployed about 25% of the time) and an occasional changeup. He has a short-armed, low-slot delivery similar to Edwin Uceta of the Diamondbacks, and the way his delivery’s pace changes halfway through seems to make hitters uncomfortable. He’s tracking like a fifth starter and is now on Colorado’s 40-man.
So far, Davis has managed to stay on the 40-man roster and does offer utility as starter depth in the upper minors, but we’ll see what the Rockies do as they look to protect high value players from the Rule 5 draft this off-season. He’s still a 40 FV player in my estimation, but the depth of the system was such that he didn’t crack my ballot.
36. Julio Carreras (50 points, 11 ballots) — after a tough 2021, the 22-year-old infielder has bounced back big-time in 2022 as he looks to secure a 40-man roster spot this off-season. Originally signed as an 18-year-old with a $15,000 bonus, Carreras was an unknown who got some excellent scouting reviews before 2019 that put him on the PuRPs radar. He followed those reports up with a strong stateside debut that season and it seemed he was a PuRP to stay.
Unfortunately, though, Carreras struggled in 2021 after the lost 2020 season, hitting for just an 82 wRC+ in Low-A Fresno. Even worse, scouting reports backed up on him a bit after the season, with FanGraphs moving him down into the prospects of note category pre-season:
Carreras, 22, was once in the 40+ FV tier as a bat speed/athleticism prospect exciting scouts on the backfields. Unidentified plate discipline issues were his undoing in 2021, and some of the bat speed has backed up (or was initially misevaluated).
This year has proven to be a better story for Carreras, who has spent it in High-A Spokane at a league average age. In 425 PA, he is hitting .291/.357/.484 (134 wRC+) with 11 homers among his 49 extra-base hits. He’s striking out 24% of the time while walking just 7%, but the bat speed that had been missing in 2021 appears to have returned. Defensively, Carreras (who has one of the best infield arms in the system) has played mostly shortstop (after splitting time between there and third base last year), committing 15 errors in 100 games so far.
Tall, lean and athletic, Carreras has shown excellent bat speed from the right side of the plate with an ability to make hard contact out front when he’s healthy. There’s leverage in his swing and as he fills out his 6-foot-2 frame, there should be a good amount of power to come. He was a bit tentative with his swings after coming back, but the pop showed up at times and the next step for him tapping into that power is to make more adjustments and eliminate his tendency to chase.
Carreras has played mostly on the left side of the infield, with more than enough arm to stay there, and opinions are split over whether he can play shortstop or third regularly. The latter puts more pressure on the bat to develop, but his makeup and intangibles point to him maximizing the tools he has.
With his success this season, Carreras has placed himself back in the 40-man discussion this off-season. I see him as a 40 FV prospect whose home at higher levels is probably at third base rather than short with some questions about his plate discipline. Because of that, he just missed my personal list.
★ ★ ★
Thanks to all who voted this time around! Next time I’ll reveal the five Honorable Mention mid-season 2022 PuRPs, and then we’ll get into the players that will make up the top 30.