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Colorado Rockies prospect rankings, mid-season 2022: Nos. 35 to 31

The honorable mentions who didn’t quite make the cut

It’s time to reveal the five players who made it the closest to the mid-season 2022 top 30 Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) list as voted on by the Purple Row community recently. For each player, I’ll include a link to individual stats and contract status (via Baseball-Reference), as well as notes on their 2022 season if applicable. For the sake of full disclosure, I’ll also include where I put each player on my personal ballot. All ages are as of the day the article is posted.

35. Riley Pint (52.9 points, 7 ballots), 2016 1st Round, RHP at Triple-A (24)

The 24-year-old former fourth overall pick returned to the fold after a brief retirement in early March, which was a pleasant surprise for those hoping to see Pint’s tremendous arm talent at the big league level. The 6’5” right-hander lives in the upper 90s with multiple potential plus secondary pitches, but has been plagued by command issues throughout his professional career. He’s now a bullpen arm with late inning potential if he can harness the stuff.

Back in the system this year, Pint began the season with Double-A Hartford. In 42 23 innings over 38 appearances, Pint had a 4.64 ERA (4.27 xFIP), 11.6 K/9 rate, and 6.1 BB/9 rate (his lowest since 2017). That was sufficient for the Rockies to promote Pint to Triple-A Albuquerque last week, where he’s thrown two scoreless innings with two strikeouts, two walks, and a hit.

FanGraphs currently has Pint 36th in the system as a 35+ FV player:

Injuries (oblique, forearm, shoulder) and wildness have made it difficult for former top 5 pick, Pint, to develop at all, and he briefly retired before returning to the field for 2022 minor league spring training. He still has tantalizing stuff, sitting 95-98 with a bevy of plus-flashing secondaries, including a slider in the 88-91mph range, and an upper-80s changeup. There’s too much talent here to totally ignore, and especially explosive upside if Pint can get a change of scenery.

Pint is again Rule 5 eligible this off-season and will become a minor league free agent if the Rockies don’t add him to the 40-man roster, so it’s not surprising the club is testing his mettle in the tough Pacific Coast League as the season draws to a close. Pint’s reemergence and stuff is tempered by the impending free agency — he was a 40 FV player for me, but one who just missed my personal list. If the Rockies put him on the 40-man in a few months, he’ll be in my top 30 (and likely others’ as well).

34. Carson Palmquist (54 points, 10 ballots), 2022 3rd Round, LHP at unassigned (21)

The 21-year-old lefty pitcher was Colorado’s third round pick this year (88th overall) out of Miami (FL) and signed for a slightly above slot $775k. The 6’3” hurler has yet to make his professional debut, but the Rockies are hopeful Palmquist will be able to use his funky arm angle and three pitch mix to carve out a role either in the starting rotation or in the bullpen (he spent time in both roles at Miami). ranked Palmquist 86th overall among 2022 draft prospects as a 45 FV player, including a plus grade on his slider:

With a loose arm and a funky, lower-slot delivery, Palmquist has a sneaky fastball that tops out at 96 mph, but sits in the low 90s, in shorter relief stints. As a starter, he’s topped out at 93 mph and averaged just over 90 mph, but it plays up because of the deception from his delivery and his excellent command of it. His upper-70s slider features some quick break, is extremely tough on lefties and misses bats consistently. He had mostly used those two pitches coming out of the pen, but has gone to his fading changeup a lot more frequently as a starter.

While Palmquist’s willingness to use that third pitch perhaps gives him the chance to start, scouts are unsure if he has the overall command, especially of his secondary stuff, to do so long-term, particularly with his funky delivery. Teams considering taking him in the first few rounds can always send him out as a starter knowing they can put the southpaw in the bullpen and get him to the big leagues in a hurry.

FanGraphs lists Palmquist 42nd in the system (and 116th among draft prospects) as a 35+ FV player:

A low-slot lefty starter with three pitches, Palmquist struggles to command his fastball to his glove side, which makes it tough to set up his slider. He is capable of missing bats with all three pitches, though his in-zone ability to do so is limited, especially with his fastball. Still, his level of funk, his mechanical looseness and athleticism and repertoire depth still look like they could work through a lineup once in a multi-inning relief role, one that leans more on his secondaries than Palmquist did in college.

I assume the Rockies will start Palmquist in the rotation, where he’s more interesting as a prospect, but his reliever utility helps the floor. Palmquist was a 40 FV player for me who was just off my ballot.

33. Juan Guerrero (60 points, 11 ballots), 2018 IFA (DR) OF at Low-A (20)

The 20-year-old righty slugger from the Dominican Republic is the first player on my personal ballot to appear (I ranked him 28th). After signing for $650k in 2018 as an infielder who primarily spent his debut season at third base, Guerrero was moved to full-time corner outfield duty in 2021 in the Arizona Complex League. Against competition that was on average 0.8 years older in 2021, Guerrero mashed to the tune of .318/.394/.500 with 18 XBH in 171 PA, good for a 133 wRC+.

Facing Rule 5 eligibility after the season, the Rockies advanced Guerrero to Low-A Fresno this year, where he is about 1.1 years younger than league average. In Fresno, Guerrero has played all three outfield positions along with some time as the DH, with five errors in his 75 games out there. Offensively, Guerrero is hitting .284/.331/.453 with 12 homers among his 36 extra-base hits in 421 PA (103 wRC+).

The scouts are higher on Guerrero than the results would indicate so far, with ranking Guerrero 22nd in the system as a 40 FV player:

Guerrero has already shown a very good feel at the plate and even though it’s more of a “see the ball, hit the ball” approach, he’s limited his strikeouts and even drawn some walks. How much he can add muscle to his ultra-lean frame will help determine how much impact he has at the plate, with the Rockies expressing confidence he’s going to grow into more extra-base thump.

Signed as a shortstop, Guerrero mostly played third during his DSL debut and shifted to the outfield in 2021 where he used his athleticism more than he exhibited any idea of how to actually play the position. He’s an aggressive baserunner who plays with super-high energy but has average speed, so a corner spot makes the most sense. He might just be scratching the surface, with the ceiling to eventually grow into a big league regular with an exceptional bat.

FanGraphs lists Guerrero 33rd in the system as a 35+ FV prospect:

The spindly Guerrero has very precocious feel for contact and a swing that is much more elegant and precise than it is explosive. He can hit and has done nothing but since entering pro ball, slashing .319 with an OBP just south of .400 in both of his first two pro seasons. Narrowly built, it’s not obvious that Guerrero will develop typical big league strength and power, especially not for a left field, which is where he’s trending on the defensive spectrum. He’s another very young 2022 40-man eval in this org, so he might move quickly if the Rockies want to stress test his bat to better inform their decision about whether to 40 him or not. He’s a very interesting sleeper who could blow up if he comes to camp with more physicality.

Guerrero mostly stands out for the potential of his hit tool, which has yet to be tested above Low-A ball as the 40 man roster deadline. While it’s hard to imagine such a raw player getting selected, it’s a possibility the Rockies are no doubt considering.

32. Aaron Schunk (84 points, 13 ballots), 2019 2nd Round, 3B at Double-A (25)

After making five straight PuRP lists since getting drafted in the second round in 2019, Schunk fell off the list as the system’s depth caught up to him. The 25-year-old was a two-way player in college but has appeared mostly at third base this year with a sprinkle of time at second in Double-A Hartford, where he is about at league average age.

Schunk hit well in his debut season, but struggled after the lost 2020 season to regain his form in 2021 with High-A. In Hartford this year, Schunk has a near-league average (98 wRC+) line in 393 PA, slashing .256/.305/.435 with 11 homers among his 41 extra-base hits. The right-hander has hit much better against lefties (.937 OPS) than right-handers (.688 OPS). Defensively, he’s committed 12 errors in 95 games (86 at third).

After ranking Schunk 10th in March 2021 as a 40+ FV player, FanGraphs dropped him down all the way to a prospect of note status in their January review, saying only that he (and Grant Lavigne) “are corner-only types who have needed to perform consistently to stay afloat, which hasn’t happened”. is more of a fan, ranking Schunk 19th in the system as a 45 FV player:

Not everything went poorly for Schunk when he was in Spokane last year, as he still did show glimpses of his ability to make hard contact with good bat speed. But he struggled too often catching up to velocity, swinging through fastballs and thinking too much as his struggles mounted. He’s worked to tweak a few things with his swing and the Rockies hope he can get back to simply reacting, not worrying about his mechanics while rediscovering what had been a solid approach.

Schunk is a solid athlete who gets the most out of his fringy speed. He’s also shown the ability to play third and second, which was introduced to him in 2020, with more than enough arm at the hot corner. He has the makeup and worth ethic to hit the reset button and show more conviction in what he’s doing at the plate.

Schunk has come closer to where he needs to be in 2022, dropping seven points off his K% and increasing his wRC+ by 27 while moving up in league difficulty. Still, he’s not standing out among the infield prospect crowd as he approaches Rule 5 eligibility this off-season for the first time. The Rockies might protect a player of his draft pedigree, but I’m not sure Schunk should be a top priority right now. He’s a 35+ FV player in my eyes and was outside of serious PuRP list consideration for me.

31. Juan Brito (89 points, 9 ballots), 2018 IFA (DR), 2B at Low-A (20)

Brito fell short of the list by a single point in voting. Like Guerrero, Brito is a 2018 Latin American signing who stood out to scouts after a strong 2021 stateside debut. The switch-hitting infielder had a 143 wRC+ in his 2019 DSL debut season, then was assigned to the ACL team in 2021. Against pitching that was on average 0.8 years older, Brito hit .296/.406/.432 in 109 PA (126 wRC+) on a very impressive Rockies ACL team.

Brito made his full-season debut with Low-A Fresno in 2022, where he was about 1.1 years younger than league average. Once again, Brito has shown his offensive prowess as one of the younger players in the league. In 398 PA, Brito has a .284/.410/.474 line (132 wRC+) that includes eight homers among his 39 extra-base hits, plus 16 steals on 23 attempts. Brito’s plate discipline is notable, as he’s actually walking more (16%) than he is striking out (15%). In 86 games (mostly at second base), Brito has committed 11 errors.

The advanced offensive approach at Brito’s age/level combination has caught the eye of FanGraphs, who ranks him 15th in the system as a 40+ FV player (the write-up is from January):

The compact, switch-hitting Brito is a bat-driven prospect with terrific feel for contact from both sides of the plate. He’s only a 30-grade runner but is an average overall athlete with enough control to contort his body and make timely, accurate throws to first base even though he lacks defensive range. Brito’s ability to get on top of fastballs and put the barrel on inner-third strikes is, at least in part, enabled by his super short levers, which make him tough to beat in the strike zone. He’s a compact 20-year-old without overt physical projection, and the hit tool will almost certainly have to carry his entire offensive profile. It can be precarious projecting second base-only types without much power since they lack the defensive versatility to play utility roles if they don’t make enough offensive impact to justify playing second base every day. Brito is in this danger zone, but has the most important skill in baseball. He’s also 20 and has no experience above the complex level with his 40-man roster evaluation year looming. He should be a high-priority Rule 5 evaluation for other orgs and has a shot to be a second division regular at second base.

The grades attached to the report are highlighted by a 60 future hit tool, with everything else grading below average. This means that Brito needs to keep hitting well above league average to distinguish himself as a prospect, which to his credit he has done thus far. I ranked Brito 19th on my personal ballot as a 40+ FV prospect because the hit tool is the most important one and Brito has shown great promise in that category. Brito is yet another Rule 5 eligible player this off-season, one who in my opinion the Rockies are in more danger of losing than others due to the potential playability of Brito’s hit tool even against big league pitching.

★ ★ ★

In my opinion, the Rockies have about 38 players that have arguments for 30 PuRP slots (including two on my personal ballot that didn’t make it), meaning there are several players who might in a normal year have been PuRP-worthy that weren’t in the top 30 this time around. To see the players that did make the cut, check back over the next couple weeks as I unveil the mid-season 2022 PuRPs list five at a time!