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Colorado Rockies prospect rankings, mid-season 2023: numbers 63-53

In our first iteration of the PuRPs list, you’ll find players who received a single vote from the community

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After the mid-season Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) balloting period from the Purple Row community, the votes are in for 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 single-ballot player to get votes from number 63 to 53. In a separate post tomorrow, I will reveal the multi-ballot players from 52-36. Finally, on Wednesday I’ll reveal the five honorable mention PuRPs and move to the top 30 after that, five at a time.

There were 22 ballots this time around (down from 24 last time). 30 points were granted for a first place vote, 29 for second, etc. Until a player was named on seven 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 seven 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 3, 2023 were eligible for selection on this list.

Since the pre-season 2023 balloting, three PuRPs lost eligibility (No. 1 PuRP Ezequiel Tovar, No. 13 PuRP Michael Toglia, and No. 17 PuRP Brenton Doyle) but the Rockies added some prospects via their 2023 draft class and via deadline trades. Additionally, several players have recorded strong seasons and bolstered the system’s depth considerably since our last look at it.

In the 22 ballots there was room for 63 players listed in the top 30 of at least one PuRPs ballot, up from 51 in the pre-season 2023 list. There were 52 players named on multiple ballots (up from 44), while 33 were listed on at least seven ballots (steady from pre-season) and therefore had unmodified point totals. Despite the higher player count totals, there were only 16 different prospects receiving a top 10 placement on at least one list (down from 20). The top 21 made it on over 80% 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 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 single-ballot players who ranked 63 to 53 in 2023 mid-season PuRPs voting:

Single Ballot Players

T-59. Skyler Messinger (0.1 points, 1 ballot) — the 24-year-old corner infielder was Colorado’s 19th round pick in 2022. Hitting against pitchers who are on average 2.8 years younger than him in Low-A Fresno, Messinger has a .276/.390/.500 line (138 wRC+) with 14 HR in 345 PA.

T-59. Jamari Baylor (0.1 points, 1 ballot) — the 22-year-old infielder, primarily at second base this season, was in Philadelphia’s system to begin the year, until the Rockies traded cash for the 2019 3rd rounder in early May. In action that spans High-A, Low-A, and the complex over two months, Baylor is hitting .270/.419/.460 with eight homers in 234 PA. That’s highlighted by a red hot stretch in Low-A where Baylor hit .333/.475/.611 in 139 PA (188 wRC+) at 0.8 years older than league average. He’ll be eligible for the Rule 5 draft after the season.

T-59. Angel Chivilli (0.1 points, 1 ballot) — the just turned 21-year-old righty reliever has been highlighted by prospect watchers as a potential late inning arm for the Rockies. This year, against batters who are on average 3.1 years older in High-A, Chivilli has thrown 50 innings across 43 appearances. Chivilli has a 5.94 ERA (4.40 xFIP), 1.44 WHIP, and a 9.9 K/9 rate against a 3.4 BB/9 rate with 16 saves for Spokane.

Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs ranks Chivilli 40th in the system as a 35+ Future Value (FV) relief prospect:

Chivilli is a long-levered relief prospect with mid-90s arm strength and a plus-flashing changeup. His feel for release is extremely inconsistent, which is why he is essentially a relief-only prospect at this point. Chivilli is a talented dev project.

Keith Law of the Athletic had this to say about Chivilli in his pre-season system look:

Right-hander Angel Chivilli worked in relief in the ACL and Cal League, but he has enough stuff to start, needing to fill out more physically on his 6-foot-2 frame. He’s still 20 and could easily move to the rotation this year given his repertoire and above-average control.

Chivilli was eligible for the Rule 5 draft last off-season but was not selected. Now that he’s higher on the minor league ladder this year, he’ll be a potential 40 man roster spot earner for the Rockies after the season.

T-59. Hunter Stovall (0.1 points, 1 ballot) — the 26-year-old utility player has been in the system since 2018, when he was drafted in the 21st round (a round that no longer exists). This year in his first exposure to Triple-A, Stovall has played at 2B, 3B, SS, and LF while hitting .267/.342/.399 with eight homers in 326 PA. In the offense-friendly PCL, that’s worth only 79 wRC+. Still, Stovall looms as a next man up candidate for Colorado’s brittle MLB roster. He’ll be eligible for Rule 5 again this off-season.

Longenhagen listed Stovall as up-the-middle depth in his mid-season system rank:

Stovall has a long track record of bat-to-ball performance, but a 2B/1B/LF fit on defense needs a bit more pop than he has.

T-59. Andy Perez (0.1 points, 1 ballot) — the 19-year-old Cuban, a 2021 signing for $300k, has split his time defensively between shortstop and third, with a little second base sprinkled in. After two seasons in the DSL, Perez skipped the complex league this year and was assigned directly to Low-A Fresno. In 425 PA with Fresno against pitchers who are on average 2.2 years older, Perez has hit .249/.283/.318 (63 wRC+). The numbers aren’t impressive, but Perez’s ability to hang in Low-A as a teenager at a middle infield slot certainly is.

Longenhagen also listed Perez as up-the-middle depth in his mid-season system rank:

Perez, 19, is a super projectable lefty-hitting shortstop from Cuba who skipped the complex and was sent to Fresno after two years in the DSL. His underlying bat-to-ball performance is better than his surface stats, but his swing is just so long and geared for low-ball contact that I’m not sure it will work long-term.

58. Zach Kokoska (0.4 points, 1 ballot) — the 24-year-old 1B/OF is a thumper offensively. The 2021 10th round pick has lit up the High-A Northwest League with a .303/.399/.562 line (156 wRC+) that includes 16 homers, 38 extra base hits, and 18 steals in 322 PA against pitchers that were on average 1.5 years younger.

Longenhagen sums up Kokoska as a “power bat”:

Kokoska is 24 and currently crushing High-A. He has a super quick top hand that snatches high fastballs to his pull side with power. I’m skeptical of the performance because of his age and the hitting environment in Spokane.

57. Blake Adams (0.6 points, 1 ballot) — the 22-year-old righty pitcher was Colorado’s 13th rounder in 2022. Adams started the year in Low-A Fresno and was dominant, posting a 2.60 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 10.6 K/9 rate, and 1.0 BB/9 rate in 45 innings across eight starts before an early June promotion to High-A.

The going hasn’t been as smooth for Adams in Spokane, where against hitters who are on average about 1.1 years older, he has a 6.61 ERA (4.95 xFIP), 1.72 WHIP, 8.6 K/9 rate, and 4.6 BB/9 rate in 31 13 innings and six starts so far before going on the seven day IL. The tough go in Spokane doesn’t erase the strong start in Fresno, but it does provide a good level set for where Adams is so far in his minor league career.

56. Dugan Darnell (0.7 points, 1 ballot) — the 26-year-old righty reliever came to the Rockies system via independent ball in 2021 after going undrafted from the D3 Adrian College in Michigan. In three professional seasons, Darnell has climbed the ladder all the way to Triple-A. This year, Darnell began with Double-A Hartford in a repeat engagement. He threw 29 innings of 1.55 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 12.7 K/9 ball with Hartford before getting the call up to Triple-A in early July. With Albuquerque, Darnell has been hit hard (8.80 ERA, 1.89 WHIP in 15 13 innings) but he’s just a step away from the Show.

Longenhagen gives Darnell’s splitter a plus grade and ranks him 39th in the system as a 35+ FV player:

[Darnell] has struck out more than a batter per inning since debuting in affiliated ball and has reached Double-A Hartford, where he’s continuing to strike out plenty of upper-level hitters in 2023. Darnell will touch 97 mph and the uphill angle of his fastball helps it miss bats. His splitter’s movement varies from pitch to pitch, at times looking like a slider, at others like a true splitter, and sometimes it just sort of floats toward the plate and still garners an uncomfortable swing. This guy has carved a unique path to the upper levels of the minors and is going to pitch in the big leagues.

T-54. Brayan Castillo (0.9 points, 1 ballot) — the 22-year-old right-handed starter was signed back in 2017 out of the DR for $150k. Pitching in High-A Spokane this year at 1.1 years younger than league average, Castillo has a 6.20 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, 8.1 K/9 rate, and 6.7 BB/9 rate in 53 23 innings across 18 appearances (eight starts). The numbers don’t look great, but Castillo’s arm talent is noteworthy for scouts. He’s running out of time with Colorado though, as he’s already been eligible for and not selected multiple times in the Rule 5 draft.

Longenhagen ranks Castillo 27th in the system as a 40 FV prospect:

Things still haven’t clicked for Castillo from a control/command standpoint for more than a few starts at a time. He has the stuff of a hard-throwing, sinkerballing starter with a mid-90s two-seamer and a curt slider/cutter typically in the 84-88 mph range. He threw his slider for strikes over 70% of the time in 2022 but his two-seamer just 58% of the time. An obvious bullpen candidate (how hard might he throw an inning or two at a time?), Castillo might be able to fold in his slider more often early in counts if hitters are only going to see him once. His two different fastballs (four- and two-seam variants) plus the slider essentially give him three pitches, as Castillo’s changeup seems to have been de-emphasized this year. He missed some time with a wrist sprain in early May and had a two-week absence just prior to list publication, which ended with his first-career relief appearance. While shorter than the typical pitcher, Castillo is a powerfully-built athlete with plus arm speed, the kind of prospect you want to bet on figuring things out over the long-term. In this case, “figuring it out” probably looks like a solid sinker/slider middle reliever.

T-54. Juan Guerrero (0.9 points, 1 ballot) — the 21-year-old righty slugger from the Dominican Republic was a notable prospect who was exposed to Rule 5 this past off-season but went unselected. 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.

This year, Guerrero is 1.5 years younger than average in High-A, where in 398 PA he has a .249/.314/.367 line with five homers and 26 extra base hits (85 wRC+). It’s not an impressive line, per se, but scouts are higher on Guerrero than the results would indicate so far. ranks Guerrero 30th in the system as a 40 FV player:

Guerrero has displayed a knack for finding the barrel. It’s kind of a controlled aggression at the plate as he’s not one to see a ton of pitches, but he rarely strikes out, with a 15.6 percent K rate heading into the 2023 season. He’s slight and wiry, but he started tapping into some raw power more consistently in 2022, though it still remains to be seen how much strength he can add to maintain that extra-base authority.

Though he’s just an average runner, Guerrero is an aggressive baserunner and can steal a base. He’s played all three outfield positions since moving from the infield in 2021, but is mostly likely a corner guy long term and his defense has improved markedly. That puts more pressure on his bat, but the Rockies like his confidence and his response to things like late-game pressure to make them a bit more bullish about his offensive upside.

Keith Law of the Athletic ranked Guerrero 18th in his pre-season system ranking:

Guerrero just hits, and while he doesn’t have another above-average tool, the hit tool alone might be enough to get him to the big leagues as an extra outfielder. He struck out just 16.7 percent of the time last year in the Cal League, where the league average was 24.7 percent, with roughly league-average power. His hands are loose but the swing is a little flat for future power, and he might be a tweener who doesn’t have the home run totals for the corner but isn’t fast enough for center. It’s unlikely, but I can see a way he gets a little stronger and gets a little swing help to get to the doubles power he’ll need to play every day.

Guerrero mostly stands out for the potential of his hit tool, which hasn’t truly manifested itself in full season results yet. He’s a 40 FV talent for me who fell just off my list this time around, but he’s exactly the type of prospect who could make a big leap during the off-season (if he goes unselected in Rule 5 again).

53. Angel Jimenez (1.3 points, 1 ballot) — the 20-year-old righty starter was signed back in 2019 out of Venezuela for a $325k bonus, but didn’t see any professional action until 2022 in the DSL. After a successful debut there, Jimenez came stateside this season to the complex league, where he has a 3.00 ERA with a 1.00 WHIP and 12.3 K/9 rate against a 1.4 BB/9 rate in 33 innings across nine games (eight starts). It’s an impressive stat line for a pitcher who is over two years younger than league average, but Jimenez has yet to pitch in full season ball and is Rule 5 eligible this off-season.

★ ★ ★

Thanks to all who voted this time around! Next time I’ll reveal the multi-ballot players who rank 52 to 36, and then we’ll get on to the five Honorable Mentions and the players that will make up the mid-season top 30.