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Colorado Rockies prospect rankings, mid-season 2022: numbers 15 to 11

Three pitchers and two position players crack into the top half of the PuRPs list

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Detroit Tigers v Colorado Rockies Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty Images

Now we enter the top half of the mid-season 2022 Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) list. Previously we had PuRPs 30-26, 25-21, and 20-16. As a reminder, in this edition of the PuRPs poll, 28 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 and contract status (via Baseball-Reference), PuRPs voting stats, a note on the 2022 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 date the article is posted.

15. Jordy Vargas (399 points, 28 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 21 — High Ballot 5, Mode Ballot 9

How did he enter the organization?

2021 International Free Agent, Dominican Republic

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Our first unanimous PuRP is the 18-year-old right-handed starter. Vargas was one of Colorado’s headline prospects from their January 2021 amateur free agent class, signing for $500k out of the Dominican Republic. The 6’3” pitcher has MLB bloodlines, as he is the son of pitcher Yorkis Perez, who played in parts of nine big league seasons for five different teams. Vargas dominated in the Dominican Summer League in his debut season and his pitch stats were so undeniable that FanGraphs rocketed him up the system’s top prospect list (and in so doing influencing the PuRPs electorate to recognize Vargas as well).

This year, Vargas made his official stateside debut in June for the Arizona Complex League team. In 26 23 innings across seven appearances (five starts) against players who were 3.2 years older on average, Vargas showed he had mastered the level. He had a 2.36 ERA (2.79 xFIP) with an excellent 0.64 WHIP, 13.5 K/9 rate (40 Ks), and 1.4 BB/9 rate. The Rockies responded in early August with a promotion to full season ball in Low-A Fresno, where Vargas is 3.8 years younger than average. In two starts so far at the level, Vargas has thrown nine innings, allowing three runs on five hits and four walks with 12 strikeouts. It’s a small sample of course, but those numbers don’t look like Vargas (who is younger than this year’s second round pick, Jackson Cox) is out of his depth in Low-A.

Here’s some video of Vargas in his first ACL appearance this year, courtesy of FanGraphs:

What do the scouts say?

FanGraphs ranks Vargas 4th overall with a 45 FV grade:

Among the most exciting pitching prospects in the entire Dominican Summer League was Vargas, an ultra-projectable, loose, strike-throwing starter prospect with a curvaceous breaking ball. At age 18, Vargas is already sitting 93-95 mph with disruptive tailing action, and his curveball is a knee-buckling parabola of death. His fastball’s shape doesn’t really complement his curveball right now but Vargas is too young to really worry about that. The ease of his delivery and his ability to throw strikes both facilitate starter projection, and his extremely lanky, broad-shouldered build not only generates hope that he can maintain mid-90s heat under a starter’s workload, but also that he may continue to throw harder as he matures. Were Vargas a stateside high schooler, we’d be talking about him as a mid-first round type of prospect.

That evaluation includes a 60 Future grade on both the hammer and the heater. Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs (who hadn’t seen Vargas in person when he wrote the below) further commented on Vargas when discussing how heuristics get used to help rank prospects:

It can be challenging to drop Vargas right into the Rockies list for initial consideration, since he and someone like Ryan Vilade are apples-and-oranges in the extreme. It’s much cleaner to step back and compare Vargas, apples-to-apples, with same-aged pitching prospects across the global baseball landscape to get a sense of where he fits among that sub-group, assign him a FV grade in that context, and then move him onto the Rockies list. In Vargas’ case, his skill set is very similar to that of high school pitchers taken in the mid-to-late first round of a given draft (projectable 6-foot-3, gorgeous delivery, already throwing in the mid-90s, an excellent curveball), so we can use our heuristic FV for that type of player (in this case a 45) to get an initial sense of where he should be on the Rockies list even though I haven’t seen him, and then try to polish his grade from there.

Kiley McDaniel of ranked Vargas 12th pre-season as a 45 FV player:

Vargas has only pitched in the DSL, but he was sitting 93-95 mph with some life. He’s also got some projection and enough feel to spin an above-average curveball. It’s early, but there are encouraging signs here.

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

Vargas has been impressive at every level so far, and at a precocious age. He possesses tremendous upside as a prospect and appears likely to remain in the starting rotation in the future. Vargas also won’t be Rule 5 eligible for another three seasons after this one, meaning the Rockies will have time to see what kind of pitcher he can be against more advanced hitting. With that written, Vargas is still a long ways away and much can happen in between Low-A and MLB. I ranked Vargas ninth on my ballot as a 45 FV talent, but if he’s putting up these kind of numbers in High-A this time next year (he’ll probably start in Low-A but is a candidate for a mid-season promotion), Vargas will deservedly be a top five player in the system in my estimation.

★ ★ ★

14. Chris McMahon (404 points, 28 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 9 — High Ballot 5, Mode Ballot 15, 16

How did he enter the organization?

2020 2nd Round, University of Miami (FL)

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

McMahon is another Rockies pitching prospect for whom the 2022 season hasn’t gone as planned. After a strong professional debut season last year in High-A, the 23-year-old righty starter suffered a lat strain late in spring training that kept him on the shelf until late July. McMahon had a four game, two start rehab appearance in the ACL, then had his first full start of the season last week back with High-A, where he will likely stay for the rest of the season. In 15 23 innings across those five appearances, McMahon has a 4.02 ERA with a 1.66 WHIP, 13 strikeouts, and three walks.

Hopefully this is just a one year detour for a player whose arsenal fits what the Rockies want their pitchers to do to a T. The 6’2” hurler throws a steady diet of low fastballs, which are complicated by a good slider and change-up and which play up due to McMahon’s athleticism. That three pitch mix (four if you consider the two-seam FB as well) and athleticism led the Rockies to pick him 46th overall in 2020 and sign him for an over-slot $1.637 million bonus. Though the health hasn’t cooperated this year, McMahon will probably be at the Double-A level in 2023.

Here’s some video of McMahon courtesy of Perfect Game Baseball from February 2020 with front and side views of his delivery:

What do the scouts say?, who had McMahon 29th on their overall 2020 draft list, ranks McMahon 24th in the system as a 45 FV player:

The right-hander has a solid three-pitch mix with a very good idea of how to use his entire repertoire. He pitches to both sides of the plate very well, starting with a fastball that sits low-90s and touches a bit higher, thrown with good late action down in the zone. His changeup is an above-average pitch that he throws with good deception and arm speed, missing bats and getting ground-ball contact with it. His breaking ball can be a bit of a hybrid/slurve type of a pitch, but it’s trending in the right direction towards more of a tight slider.

While McMahon can throw strikes and can keep hitters off-balance by mixing his pitches and tunneling his secondary stuff off his fastball well, he still needs to work on his command within the zone. His fastball can flatten out at times, causing him to get hit, but he has the pitching IQ to reach his ceiling as a No. 4-type starter.

Highlighting the evaluation is a 55 grade on the fastball, changeup, and control.

Fangraphs ranked McMahon 49th overall in their 2020 draft list and currently slot him 19th in the system as a 40 FV player:

McMahon was a notable prospect in high school following his pre-draft summer, when he was sitting in the low-90s with a good slider. His stuff didn’t spike during his senior year, so he ended up at Miami, where it did. He was consistently touching 96 or 97 mph during his 2019 and ’20 outings with the Hurricanes, and averaged 92.5 mph both years. He sat about a tick below that on average during his 2021 pro debut, while throwing many more innings than ever before across about 20 starts. McMahon’s fastball has tail and sink, and its movement mimics a still-improving changeup, while his slider remains his go-to finishing pitch. For how violent his delivery is, McMahon fills the zone with his fastball and is pretty good at locating his slider consistently to his glove side, although not always in a precise, enticing location. He often appears to be “underneath” his changeup and creates lateral action on it but inconsistent dive, though sometimes he actually gets impact dive on the change when he releases it late and it ends up glove-side. He’s had some injury issues (knee tendinitis in 2018, shoulder soreness in ’19) but McMahon has No. 4/5 starter stuff with a chance for more if the changeup keeps coming.

Keith Law of the Athletic ranked McMahon 14th in his February system rankings:

McMahon is a four-pitch guy with an above-average changeup and maybe an above-average slider, throwing strikes with a delivery that should get him to average command. He hasn’t found a putaway pitch yet, which would give him more than a fourth starter ceiling.

Kiley McDaniel of ranked McMahon 13th in the system as a 40+ FV prospect in March:

McMahon has been a bit up-and-down since his high school underclass days. He throws a tailing sinker 91-93 mph but was more 93-95 mph when at his best in college at Miami (Fla.). His slider, changeup and feel all flash above average at times, but it’s trending more like No. 4 or No. 5 starter now than it was at draft time.

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

McMahon seems likely to remain in the starting rotation with mid- or back-end rotation upside who could be on a big league mound within two years (his 40-man evaluation time is after next season). However, the above scouting reports are casting that upside into doubt based on a slight down-tick in McMahon’s stuff compared with his draft year — a worry some had when he was drafted given the limited track record McMahon had of showing that stuff. Unfortunately, McMahon hasn’t been on the mound enough this year to get an updated report on the stuff, but he has a high floor and performed pretty well in his first professional season. McMahon’s upside he showed in college, combined with the starting role and floor he presents, placed him as a 40+ FV profile for me, ranking 16th on my system list.

★ ★ ★

13. Ryan Rolison (410 points, 27 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 4 — High Ballot 4, Mode Ballot 8

How did he enter the organization?

2018 1st Round, University of Mississippi

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

If healthy, Rolison is the prospect best-positioned to help the Rockies rotation next season. Then again, we’ve said that the last two years for the 25-year-old lefty, who has been beset by injuries that limited him to 71 23 innings last year and zero innings this year. The 2021 injuries were more of the fluke variety (appendicitis, breaking a hand shagging flies in batting practice), but the strained left shoulder Rolison suffered this season is far more worrisome. Rolison has missed the entire season and had surgery on his shoulder in June after it didn’t show much signs of improving, throwing his 2023 availability into doubt as well.

The 6’2” starter was Colorado’s first round pick in 2018 (22nd overall), signing for a slot bonus of $2.9 million. He was tabbed as a polished pitcher and likely fast riser with a plus curveball. When he’s been healthy, that’s mostly been true, as Rolison was at the threshold of a big-league call-up before his 2021 injuries (and indeed was at least considered for a 2020 debut). He was added to the 40-man roster last year and is using his first minor league option year this season.

Here’s some video of Rolison’s appearance at the 2019 Cal League All-Star game, including some good slow motion looks at his repertoire at the end of the video:

What do the scouts say?

Keith Law of the Athletic ranked Rolison 4th in his February system evaluation:

Rolison just couldn’t get out of harm’s way last year, missing a month when he had to have his appendix out, then breaking a bone in his throwing hand while fielding a ball, which probably cost him a shot to debut in September. He did go to the Dominican this winter and threw well for Licey in five starts. His stuff isn’t overwhelming, but he’s low-90s with two breaking balls and some deception from the slight cross in his delivery, enough of everything that he should be a depth starter for the Rockies this year. has Rolison ranked 20th in in the system as a 45 FV prospect:

When at his best, Rolison is indeed the epitome of a pitchability lefty, now with four pitches he can use to fill up the strike zone. He didn’t throw quite as hard last year as he had in the past, typically sitting around 90-91, occasionally hitting a tick or two higher, but he did a nice job in the Dominican commanding it to both sides of the plate. He’s always had a big plus curve and while he’s shown an ability to manipulate it into a tighter slider, he focused on throwing the distinct slider more over the winter, with some good results. He also worked on his changeup, giving him a very viable option especially against right-handed hitters.

Rolison has always been a strike-thrower and will have to continue to pitch to both sides of the plate and come inside more consistently. Added to the 40-man roster this offseason, he’s just about ready to reach his ceiling as a No. 4 type starter.

A 60 curveball is the headliner, accompanied by a 55 grade on the control with 50s on the fastball, change, and slider — clear markers of a pitcher with the arsenal to make it in a big-league rotation.

Fangraphs has Rolison 16th in their Rockies org list, grading him as a 40 FV player because it isn’t as sold on his fastball (40 grade):

Sourced pitch data has Rolison sitting 90-91 mph during the regular season, and Synergy Sports has his LIDOM velocities in that range, as well. That’s a tick below his 2019 velo. Rolison was drafted as high as he was out of Ole Miss because he was humming along at 93-94 and had a great lefty breaking ball. He has starter-grade control of three fair pitches now, and he seemed to be working on a firmer, mid-80s slider/cutter pitch during LIDOM play. His upper-70s curveball still has lovely depth, and Rolison’s fastball has some swing-and-miss utility above the strike zone, but is vulnerable within it because he seems to have ended up with 40 arm strength.

Kiley McDaniel of had Rolison as a 40 FV player in March, ranking him outside the system’s top 15:

Rolison’s velocity is down a few ticks from Ole Miss, but he’s still got moxie, starter command and a plus curveball, so he’ll be a useful big leaguer of some sort.

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

The injuries and the decreasing levels of enthusiasm on Rolison’s low-90s fastball are discouraging, but he does show good command of a deep arsenal, boasts a plus curveball, and is quite likely to remain a starter. Not only that, he’s left-handed and a step away from the big leagues (whenever he’s healthy), which makes him a prospect with strong value. It’s a useful if not necessarily exciting profile, and I ranked Rolison 14th on my PuRPs list with a 40+ FV grade as a prospect who should be a competent back-end starter for at least the next few years.

★ ★ ★

12. Jordan Beck (444 points, 26 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: NR — High Ballot 7, Mode Ballot 14, 15, 16

How did he enter the organization?

2022 Competitive Balance Round A, University of Tennessee

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

The 21-year-old outfielder was Colorado’s third pick in the 2022 (38th overall in Competitive Balance Round A) but was ranked very closely to the first two picks (No. 17 PuRP Sterlin Thompson and TBA PuRP Gabriel Hughes) by most national scouts as a potential impact player. The 6’3” righty, who played all three outfield positions at Tennessee with good athleticism and raw power, signed for an above slot $2.2 million bonus ($2.05 million slot).

Beck is coming off a draft-year season in which he hit .298/.391/.595 with 18 home runs among his 36 extra-base hits in 297 plate appearances in the toughest collegiate conference. Like fellow early-pick outfielder Thompson, Beck has been assigned to the ACL team for a 2022 cameo. In 50 PA so far, Beck has a .349/.440/.535 line (166 wRC+) including a homer and five doubles. It’s a strong and encouraging offensive line (Thompson’s wRC+ is just 111 in comparison), but of course a high collegiate draft pick has a high expectation at the complex level.

What do the scouts say?

Keith Law of the Athletic was highest on Beck in the draft, ranking him 14th overall:

Beck has risen up draft boards this spring with a solid, but hardly spectacular, performance, but one that is also supported by tools and athleticism that give scouts reason to believe he can continue to improve in pro ball. Beck has a great build for a hitter, 6-3, 225, with quick wrists and huge raw power that has yet to show up consistently in games, even though he plays in a homer-friendly stadium in Knoxville. He’s very rotational at the plate and has the strength to drive the ball out to all fields, but his approach and pitch recognition have held him back. He’s shown weakness on the outer half, especially on sliders, and expands the zone away too easily. He’s struck out nearly twice as often as he’s walked and hit .252 in regular season SEC play, ranking fourth on the team in homers (16). He’s an above-average runner who plays right field for the Vols because they have a superior defender in center in Drew Gilbert; if he can play center in pro ball, it would substantially add to his value. He’s benefiting from a weak draft class that has left teams looking for upside in unexpected places. ranked Beck 23rd overall among 2022 draft prospects (ahead of Hughes and Thompson) and slotted him in ninth in the system (curiously, behind Hughes and Thompson) as a 50 FV prospect, drawing comparisons to Hunter Renfroe:

Beck uses his bat speed, strength and the leverage in his 6-foot-3 frame to create well-above-average raw power to all fields. He gets too aggressive at the plate, however, and he struggled to make contact and drive the ball with wood bats in the Cape Cod League last summer. Developing more discipline and making adjustments against breaking balls and changeups helped him make the leap Renfroe did.

Beck runs very well for his size, displaying solid speed and the ability to steal an occasional base. His plus arm strength adds to his profile in right field, where he’s a better-than-average defender. Although he didn’t play center field for the Volunteers because they had fellow Draft prospect Drew Gilbert, he did see some action in center on the Cape and may merit a look there in pro ball.

The profile is highlighted by a 60 arm grade as well as 55 grades on his power, speed, and fielding.

Kiley McDaniel of ranked Beck 25th among draft prospects (also just ahead of Hughes and Thompson) with a 45 FV grade:

Beck has some Jayson Werth/Hunter Renfroe to his game with potential 30-homer power and above-average defense in a corner spot along with a pretty swing, but serious issues with pitch selection and contact.

On the other end of the spectrum was FanGraphs, who ranked Beck just 70th on its draft rankings and places him 18th in the system as a 40 FV player:

Beck is a standard right field prospect, with a hulking frame, above-average power, and a hit tool that is likely to mature a little below average because of his tendency to pull off of sliders away from him, even ones that finish in the zone.

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

Scouts like Beck’s raw power, defensive utility, and athleticism but have concerns with his approach at the plate and the swing and miss in his game. The former traits give Beck a high ceiling but the latter traits make it less likely he attains that ceiling. The Rockies now have quite a bit of system depth in the outfield (eight of them are on this PuRPs list), including several with star ceilings. We’ll see where Beck fits in as he encounters full-season pitching next year, possibly at High-A if the Rockies make room for him. I ranked Beck right in between Hughes and Thompson on my list — 11th overall as a 45 FV prospect.

★ ★ ★

11. Michael Toglia (460 points, 28 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 7 — High Ballot 6, Mode Ballot 6, 7, 12

How did he enter the organization?

2019 1st Round, UCLA

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Toglia is a switch-hitter (lefty thrower) with great raw power who should provide plus defense at first base and could maybe be a corner outfielder if needed, though the Rockies have only played him in the outfield eight times so far. The 24-year-old, 6’5”, 226-pound slugger was picked 23rd overall and signed for an under-slot $2.7 million bonus — three years after Colorado had picked but not signed him as a high schooler. Toglia entered 2022 coming off a year in which he had 46% of his plate appearances end in one of the Three True Outcomes (28% K, 13% BB, 4% HR). It’s good to see 22 homers between High-A and Hartford, but the 142 strikeouts were a large concern.

This year, Toglia repeated in Hartford, where he was 0.9 years younger than average. In 420 plate appearances in Double-A, Toglia showed the same high TTO profile as before (30% K, 12% BB, 5% HR). He hit .234/.329/.466 (114 wRC+) with 23 home runs (18 from the left side of the plate) among his 37 extra-base hits, plus seven steals in eight attempts. The Rockies promoted Toglia to Triple-A Albuquerque earlier this month, where he’s off to a hot start, hitting .333/.375/.644 with three homers and five doubles in his first 48 PA (145 wRC+) against pitching that is on average 3.6 years older. Between the two levels, he’s nearly at his 2021 strikeout total at 141 but has four more homers and has done it against better competition.

Here’s a video of Toglia from last year in Hartford courtesy of Tyler Coyne:

What do the scouts say? ranks Toglia 14th in Colorado’s system as a 45 FV player:

Toglia’s offensive profile is all about his power. He’s a threat to leave the yard in every at-bat and can do so from both sides of the plate, hitting 22 homers in 2021. He might always be a higher walk, higher strikeout kind of hitter, as he walked in 13 percent of his plate appearances a year ago and struck out in 28.5 of them. At times he can be too patient and find himself quickly behind in the count, especially when he faced more advanced pitching in Double-A, and the key will be continuing to eliminate swings and misses in the strike zone.

Toglia is athletic enough and has solid instincts to be a good corner outfielder, but he has the chance to be a Gold Glove caliber first baseman. He does everything with ease in and around the bag with excellent hands and a strong arm to boot. He could be Colorado’s first baseman of the future if he can make enough adjustments to hit the ball out of the park consistently.

Kiley McDaniel of ranked Toglia 11th with a 40+ FV grade in March:

[Toglia is] a 6-foot-5 switch-hitting power-and-patience first baseman who doesn’t have a true plus on the card (maybe his left-handed raw power), but he’s solid at everything, which means he’s also in the platoon/bench or low-end starter spectrum.

Keith Law of the Athletic slotted Toglia 19th in his February system ranking:

Toglia has 70 raw power and is a plus defender around the bag at first, but there’s way too much swing and miss here right now, and I don’t think it’s just a matter of improving his pitch recognition.

FanGraphs is clearly the low group on Toglia, dropping him all the way down to 38th in their system rank as a 35+ FV player (after previously putting him in the 45 FV tier):

Over the course of the six-week Arizona Fall League season, opposing pitchers identified and exploited Toglia’s vulnerability to breaking stuff. He very often swings over top of any breaking ball executed within the zip code of the bottom of the strike zone, as his swing just doesn’t enable him to get the bat on plane with the baseball down there. While Toglia has secondary skills we like — he has feel for the zone and is a switch-hitter with power — we expect that his ability to make contact will be so limited that he won’t come close to the lofty offensive bar at first base (he’s coming off hitting .234 at High-A and .217 at Double-A). Instead we like him as a switch-hitting weapon off the bench, a threat to change the makeup of a game by running into the occasional bomb.

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

The athleticism to play the outfield and switch-hitting prowess separate Toglia from the other similar first base prospects in the system, though the Rockies haven’t tested out the outfield flexibility too much in games yet. Toglia’s high walk, high strikeout, high power, low average approach has worked for him so far in the minor leagues, but there’s real risk that approach won’t be tenable in the big leagues. Scouts are increasingly worried about if he will ever make consistent enough contact to become a MLB regular hitter, especially if he’s limited to a first base role.

I don’t like the stronger concerns on the hit tool and Toglia’s lack of positional versatility so far, so I dropped him down to 25th on my ballot with a 40 FV grade. I do like that he has translated his raw power to games and that he’s started off so well in Albuquerque after his promotion, but I’m concerned there’s too much swing-and-miss for the profiled to be viable against big league pitching. Toglia will probably receive a 40-man roster spot this off-season based on how the Rockies have treated him so far, and if so, he could be a factor next year with his game altering power in what looks like a crowded first base playing time battle.

★ ★ ★

Tomorrow, we get into the top ten of the mid-season 2022 PuRPs list!