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Colorado Rockies prospect rankings, mid-season 2023: numbers 25-21

Three pitchers and two infielders make up the next five!

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Let’s keep the mid-season 2023 Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) list reveal rolling! Today are prospects 25-21. As a reminder, in this edition of the PuRPs poll, 22 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 2023 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.

25. Aaron Schunk (97 points, 12 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: HM — High Ballot 13, Mode Ballot 25, 26

How did he enter the organization?

2019 2nd Round, University of Georgia

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

The 26-year-old infielder, who has mostly played at third base this year with some time at second mixed in, is a former two-way player who is now a step away from the Show in Triple-A. The 6’1” right hitter had been well thought of by the Rockies and scouts in his first two professional seasons (including 2020), but the former second rounder dropped off the prospect map a bit with a rough 2021 in High-A. Schunk was a league-average hitter in 2022 with Double-A, but he wasn’t protected or selected in the Rule 5 draft this past off-season.

This season, Schunk has the benefit of hitting in Albuquerque, one of the hitter-friendliest parks in one of the hitter-friendliest leagues in affiliated ball. As such, Schunk’s .298/.351/.493 batting line with 13 HR and 36 XBH in 373 PA only translates to a 97 wRC+. Nonetheless, the power surge is an encouraging step forward for a player who has struggled to tap into his raw power in games. Notably, Schunk hits lefties well (.932 OPS against them vs. .814 for righties). Defensively, Schunk has 12 errors in 63 games at third and one error in 17 games at second.

Here’s Schunk hitting a homer in June, courtesy of MLB Prospect Watch

What do the scouts say? ranks Schunk 27th in the system as a 40 FV player:

The right-handed-hitting infielder made some minor tweaks to his mechanical setup at the plate, and the Rockies are hopeful that change to his approach and gameplan continue to lead to more consistent production at the plate. He does have the ability to hit the ball hard with good bat speed and can drive the ball to all fields, though most of his power has been showing up to his pull side. There’s still a good amount of swing-and-miss to his game, but his overall approach has been much better.

While he’s not a burner, Schunk is a good baserunner who maximizes his fringy speed. He’s continued to show defensive flexibility, playing an excellent third base — his position from his amateur days — as well as a solid second base. If his adjustments at the plate are for real, his ability to play multiple spots could help him reach Coors Field.

FanGraphs ranks Schunk in their “Power Bats” section below the main list:

[Schunk] fell off the prospect lists here after the 2021 season because of strikeouts, but he’s performed at or above the league average each of the last two years as an old-for-the-level player.

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

Schunk brings positional versatility at third and second as well as right-handed power potential to the table for the Rockies. He’s been a steady performer the last couple years, though not eye-catching. Schunk is an option down the stretch this year for the Rockies to bring up if they want to continue their utility infielder merry-go-round, or he could be a 40-man roster add if he finishes the season strong. Schunk is a 35+ FV player in my eyes and is a cut below serious top 30 consideration for me, but players with this profile are useful to have a call away from the Show.

★ ★ ★

24. Mason Albright (99 points, 13 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: NR — High Ballot 19, Mode Ballot 25

How did he enter the organization?

2023 Trade (LA Angels)

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Albright was one half of Colorado’s trade return from the Angels for Randal Grichuk and CJ Cron — the other is PuRP No. 21. The 20-year-old lefty starter was the lone high schooler in LA’s famed all-pitcher draft in 2021, an over-slot signing in the 12th round for $1.25 million. No individual pitch stands out in Albright’s mix (maybe the curveball), rather it’s the overall polish and feel for pitching he displays that sets him apart.

After pitching most of the 2022 season in Low-A and getting absolutely shelled (8.67 ERA, 1.96 WHIP), Albright made some slight delivery adjustments and has seen much better results this year. In 79 23 innings in 15 games with the Angels’ Low-A affiliate at 1.9 years younger than league average, Albright posted a 3.62 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and a 9.7 K/9 rate against a 2.3 BB/9 rate.

In the Rockies organization, Albright made one dominant Low-A start (five scoreless innings, two hits, two walks, nine strikeouts) and then got assigned to High-A Spokane, where he’s 3.1 years younger than league average. In his one start with Spokane, Albright again allowed no earned runs in five innings with nine strikeouts, this time with four hits and one walk allowed.

Here’s some video of Albright from 2021 fall instructs, courtesy of FanGraphs:

What do the scouts say?

FanGraphs ranked Albright 18th in the Angels system before the trade as a 40 FV prospect and now slots him 24th in Colorado’s org:

[Albright] gives the Angels interesting raw stuff with which to work, but he is not all that projectable for a 20-year-old and will have to find velocity via means other than physical maturation. He sits 91-92 mph, but his fastball does have diverse utility, as Albright can create sink and tail from his low slot, but can also run his heater up the ladder because his slot creates such a shallow approach angle. He also has a dandy curveball, a shapely mid-70s pitch with an above-average combination of depth and bite. Guys with this slot and arm-side fastball shape are fairly well-suited to develop a changeup with shape that mimics the two-seamer, but Albright’s arm action and athleticism aren’t round-up traits when it comes to projecting on that offering. He’s a fine long-term starting prospect whose middle-of-the-road outcome is probably that of a second lefty reliever in the ‘pen. ranks Albright 22nd in the system as a 45 FV player, one notch above fellow former Angels prospect Jake Madden:

Albright is not your prototypical high school projection case, as the six-footer is more about his feel for pitching than raw stuff. His fastball typically has been sitting in the 90-92 mph range, though it can get as high as 94. It also plays up because he can command it and misses bats thanks to deception in his delivery. His curve has the chance to be a solid pitch, though it can get slurvy at times, and he has feel for his changeup and is developing a cutter.

While the southpaw can throw all four pitches for strikes, there was concern about his long arm action in the back and his consistency out front with his delivery that hampered his stuff and his command. The Angels shortened Albright’s arm action this year to great results — his walks went down and his strikeouts went up — proving he was young enough to correct some of those mechanical issues. He could land in the back end of a big league rotation if he continues to develop.

Law wrote about Albright when evaluating the trade package for Grichuk and Cron:

[Albright] has a very long arm action but throws strikes, with a fringy fastball but some promise to the slider and change along with an old-fashioned slow curveball.

He posted a 9 ERA in limited time in low A last year as a 19-year-old, but he’s returned to the level this year and has a 3.62 ERA with improvements across the board.

I have a hard time envisioning him as a starter with this delivery, but if his fastball trends upward, the Rockies have to let him stay in the job given his two secondaries and the solid-average or better control. One odd note — he has been killed by left-handed batters this year in a limited sample, especially on his fastball, which tells me they’re just seeing the ball too well because of that delivery.

To Law’s point, lefties have a .827 OPS against Albright while the OPS for righties is .673.

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

There are some differing opinions on the quality and projectability of Albright’s stuff among scouts, but he seems likely to remain a starter as he jumps up the minor league ladder at a young age. Like the next prospect in the ranking below, Albright shows polish and feel but doesn’t have a ceiling that jumps out at you. I ranked Albright 19th on my list as a 40 FV prospect due to the polish and improved results this year. He’ll likely begin 2024 in High-A again as one of the younger players in the league, where we can get a better idea of if his improved strike-throwing will stick.

★ ★ ★

23. Victor Juarez (131 points, 12 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 22 — High Ballot 14, Mode Ballot 21

How did he enter the organization?

2019 International Free Agent, Mexico

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

It’s important to remember that Juarez has already played almost two years of full-season ball and only just turned 20 in June. The right-handed starter didn’t have too much fanfare entering 2022 despite a $500k signing bonus in January 2021 out of Mexico, but he turned some heads as one of the youngest pitchers in Low-A last year.

This year, Juarez is again one of the youngest pitchers in his league, this time the Northwest League for High-A Spokane — he is 3.1 years younger than league average. It’s been a bumpy ride at times for Juarez, who has mixed gems with stinkers all year. In all, Juarez has a 6.91 ERA, but also a 4.78 xFIP that indicates poor fortune, in 69 innings across 16 starts. Juarez has a 9.3 K/9 rate and 3.8 BB/9 rate, but the WHIP is elevated at 1.75 largely because hitters have a .326 batting average against him this season.

Big Country’s Wheelhouse has a colorful look at some of Juarez’s work in 2022 below:

What do the scouts say?

Juarez is currently ranked 16th in the system as a 40 FV pitcher with a plus (60) future grade on his command and change-up:

[Juarez is] now barely 20 years old and dealing with the unforgiving offensive environment at High-A Spokane. Juarez can really pitch. He has a well-balanced and consistent delivery, and commands all three of his pitches, but he’s a short strider, which creates downhill angle on his fastball and causes it to play down. He had a velo spike early in 2022 but that has not held. He ended up sitting 91-93 mph across all of last year and has been in that range again in 2023. His upper-70s curveball and mid-80s changeup are both promising offerings that should at least mature to average, and Juarez’s ability to kill spin and create action on his changeup might make that pitch even better over time. Now that it appears as though his 2022 velo uptick was short-lived, the not-very-projectable Juarez’s ceiling is likely capped at the back of a rotation due to his fastball’s vulnerability.

Juarez was 14th on Law’s pre-season Rockies list:

Juarez has excellent feel to pitch and works with an above-average to plus changeup and fringy breaking ball, projecting as a fourth starter with a little more growth in his velocity and further development to his command. He’s worked on a slider, although his arm slot and delivery might be more conducive to a harder curveball. He was solid as a 19-year-old in the hitter-friendly Cal League last year, becoming more homer-prone as the season went on. He should get a little stronger for more fastball and more power to whatever breaking ball he settles on.

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

The question here is if Juarez’s polish and advanced arsenal/command will allow him to overcome low-end raw stuff and velocity? Or will that take a step forward as well (so far, no)? Those are relevant queries when valuing a player with Juarez’s skillset, but we should also enjoy what he is now: a precocious pitching talent who somewhat held his own as a teenager in High-A.

Juarez is probably still a couple years away, but he’s likely to begin 2024 with Double-A Hartford as a 20-year-old. With Juarez, the path to the big leagues and a spot in the starting rotation once he gets there are easier to envision for me than a player with better stuff but worse command. I ranked Juarez as a 40 FV player, 20th on my list and right behind a similar prospect in Albright (left-handedness was the tiebreaker. I’m still a sucker for ceiling and Juarez just doesn’t have that but I’m also excited at the plus command of a four-pitch arsenal.

★ ★ ★

22. Julio Carreras (134 points, 16 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 24 — High Ballot 15, Mode Ballot 22

How did he enter the organization?

2017 International Free Agent (Dominican Republic)

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

The 23-year-old righty-hitting utility infielder was originally signed in 2017 as an 18-year-old with a $15,000 bonus, indicating he wasn’t highly thought of as a prospect back then. Carreras soon turned heads with his athleticism and results early on, though a rough 2021 marred by a shoulder injury nearly wiped that momentum away. Carreras rebounded with a big 2022 that saw him jump up to an end of season assignment to Double-A as well as a coveted 40 man roster spot this past off-season.

Carreras was assigned back to Double-A for 2023, where he is 0.8 years younger than league average. In 295 PA with Hartford, Carreras is hitting .260/.335/.372 (97 wRC+) with five homers and 12 doubles as well as 10 steals in 11 attempts. He has struck out 23% of the time and walked in 9.5% of PA while showing big-time reverse platoon splits (.450 OPS against lefties, .779 against righties). Defensively, Carreras (who has one of the best infield arms in the system) has been a fixture at shortstop, committing 14 errors in 72 games. He’s missed about five weeks this year with injuries, but has been healthy since mid-June.

Here’s Carreras going oppo for a homer this June, courtesy of MLB Prospect Watch:

What do the scouts say?

Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs ranks Carreras 20th in the system as a 40 FV player with plus grades on his arm and speed:

Carreras’ carrying tool is his defense. He has fantastic defensive footwork, his hands, actions, and transfer are all lightning quick, he has a flair for making acrobatic plays around the second base bag, and his arm is fine (if a little inaccurate at times) for shortstop. For a bit while Carreras was in the low minors, it appeared as though he might grow into meaningful power, but that hasn’t happened and he’s still a relatively skinny, light-hitting offensive player whose propensity to chase is also a bit of a problem. There probably won’t be sufficient offensive impact for Carreras to be a regularly or even oft-used complementary player, but his defense will very likely make him a bench infielder who provides a late-game defensive upgrade.

Baseball Prospectus ranked him 16th in their November system write-up:

Carreras projects as a useful bench infielder who can spot you at second, third, or short, and shows the range, actions, and arm to be at least average at the six. He started to grow into a bit more power this past season, and while the game pop will probably only bump average, that’s a nice bonus in your fifth infielder. The main thing keeping Carreras from being a starter at this point is his pitch recognition and swing decisions, but other than that, Mrs. Lincoln…

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

Though he might not have star upside, Carreras profiles as a potentially dangerous offensive player with the athleticism and skill to handle shortstop as well as third and short. Given his 40-man roster status, Carreras looms as a potential utility option for the Rockies as soon as later this year, though it’s more likely he moves up the ladder next year as Albuquerque’s regular shortstop. The defensive utility, athleticism, and offensive ceiling, balanced against his plate discipline issues, led me to rank Carreras 25th on my ballot as a 40 FV player.

★ ★ ★

21. Jake Madden (214 points, 19 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: NR — High Ballot 13, Mode Ballot 20

How did he enter the organization?

2023 Trade (LA Angels)

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

With Madden, it’s all about the ceiling his arm strength and athleticism gives the 6’6” right-handed starter. While the 21-year-old’s fastball sits in the mid-90s, the frame and arm strength will support and likely develop gains in that category. The 2022 fourth-round pick, who got an over-slot $1 million bonus, also shows advanced feel for a change-up and also has a potential plus slider as well. However, he hasn’t shown the same kind of polish and strike-throwing aptitude that Albright has, so his floor is lower and the reliever risk is higher.

It’s Madden’s first professional season and it’s clear he’s still figuring things out in Low-A, where he’s 0.9 years younger than league average. In the Angels org, Madden had a 5.46 ERA in 64 13 innings across 14 starts with a 1.59 WHIP, 9.2 K/9 rate, and 5.5 BB/9 rate. That last number is the one that stands out for a prospective starter especially. Since the trade, Madden has made two starts but has totaled just five innings for Fresno, allowing four runs on seven hits and three walks with three strikeouts.

Here’s some video of Madden from a start earlier on this year courtesy of Baseball, including some slow motion looks at the motion near the end:

What do the scouts say?

FanGraphs ranked Madden 7th among Angels prospects as a 40+ FV player and slotted him in at 13 in Colorado’s system with the same grade:

Madden had some of the most electrifying arm strength among the junior college prospects in the 2022 draft, sitting 93-95 mph and touching 97 early in the calendar year, while also flashing a plus changeup. He presented a rare combination of arm strength, athleticism, and body projection for a junior college pitcher, and the Angels gave him a mid-second round bonus in the fourth round.


Madden has begun his first full season at Low-A Inland Empire, where the strike-throwing issues that gave him pre-draft relief risk are still present. He sure looks the part, though, at a high-waisted 6-foot-6 with limbs for days. His delivery isn’t the same, but Tyler Glasnow is a good body comp for Madden. He is so projectable and athletic that it’s likely Madden will continue to improve control of his body and also throw harder than his current 92-95 mph range deep into his mid-20s. And it’s important that he does, because Madden’s natural fastball shape tends to find wood. He’s either going to need to augment the shape of his heater or mature into 96-plus mph heat for it to play. He also has a great distance to travel as a strike-thrower and overall craftsman. Madden’s slider length and finish are inconsistent, and his changeup has taken a back seat to his fastball and slider so far in 2023. Both secondaries flash plus, and I’m inclined to project heavily on them based on Madden’s frame, delivery, and general athleticism. “This is what they look like,” and over time, pitchers with frames and deliveries like this tend to be big league starters. If you line Madden up with the 2023 draft’s college pitchers, he’d be among the top 10 arms.

Law ranked Madden 12th in the Angels system:

[Madden is] 92-97 mph with a slider and change that both project to plus, which gives him a fairly high ceiling, but he’s got a long arm swing that he has a hard time repeating. He also needs to get stronger, coming in at 6-6 and a listed 185 pounds, although that’s already on the Angels’ agenda for him.

Law had this to say after the trade:

Right-hander Madden needs to go to the bullpen, stat, but he has three pitches that project to 55 or 60, with a mid-90s fastball, slider, and change. It’s a very long arm action (yes, again), and he doesn’t throw anything for strikes consistently enough to start, which is also why he has a 5+ ERA in low A as a 21-year-old.

It’s a great arm, though, and stuff that should play at any altitude; maybe the Rockies can do something with the delivery, although I would just move him to a relief role and see if he hits 100. For an extra outfielder and a DH who might not have much left in the tank, this is a great return for Colorado. is lower on Madden, ranking him 23rd in the system as a 45 FV pitcher:

There isn’t much track record with Madden, but there is a lot to work with. The 6-foot-6 right-hander has a loose arm and a starting pitcher’s repertoire. He was up to 98 mph with his fastball last spring and it can be heavy, getting ground-ball outs when he keeps it down in the zone, breaking bats when he isn’t missing them. His mid-80s slider has improved and could be a true out pitch if he stays on top of it, and he misses bats with his upper-80s changeup as well.

The two main areas of developmental focus for Madden are his command — he walked more than 4.5 per nine innings in his junior college season and was at 5.5 BB/9 at the time of the trade — and his physicality. Added strength will help him repeat his delivery and could lead to better strikes moving forward. More than anything, he needs to get on the mound and beef up his pitching resume with a high ceiling to try to reach.

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

Madden is a volatile prospect with a wide range of outcomes, though the most likely appears to be a conversion to the bullpen if he can’t refine the command. If he did go to the ‘pen, he’s a late-inning arm, but the potential of a mid-rotation starter is even more appealing if the Rockies can find the right balance with Madden’s delivery. It’s early days with Madden and the potential pay-off is worth some patience for him to figure it out. The arm talent was enough for me to rank Madden 15th on my ballot as a 40+ FV prospect.

★ ★ ★

Next, we’ll crack the top 20 of the mid-season 2023 PuRPs list!