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Colorado Rockies prospect rankings, mid-season 2023: numbers 20 to 16

These five prospects round out the bottom half of the 2023 mid-season PuRPs list!

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We’re entering the mid-point of the mid-season 2023 Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) list. Previously we had PuRPs 30-26 and 25-21; today we head into the top 20. 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.

20. Robert Calaz (222 points, 20 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: NR — High Ballot 12, Mode Ballot 12, 23

How did he enter the organization?

2023 International Free Agent (Dominican Republic)

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

The 17-year-old outfielder received Colorado’s top international signing bonus this January at $1.7 million, which is similar to what fellow PuRP Sean Sullivan received as a second round pick in this year’s draft. The 6’2” right-handed slugger, 24th on’s international amateur free agent prospect rankings this year, has above-average power and speed, though plenty of development remains.

Calaz was assigned to the Dominican Summer League’s DSL Rockies squad, where he’s 0.7 years younger than league average. Calaz is hitting .320/.415/.543 with seven homers and 19 extra-base hits in 183 PA (149 wRC+) in his first professional action. That includes an eye-popping 1.260 OPS against left-handed pitching, but Calaz’s 23% strikeout percentage is elevated for the DSL. Defensively, Calaz has mostly played center field with a little of right field mixed in, committing six errors in 37 games.

Calaz has been known by a few different names as a prospect, so while I’m not 100% sure I think this is him (as Robert Gala) in a 2021 showcase:

What do the scouts say? ranks Calaz 15th in the system as a 45 Future Value player, highlighted by 55 grades on his power and speed:

Strong and physical already, the 6-foot-2 right-handed hitter has the chance to be a truly impactful bat. There’s plus raw power for him to continue to grow and tap into, though he was showing some ability to use it in the DSL out of the gate. While there was some question about his hit tool and overall approach as he was being evaluated, he’s done a nice job of drawing walks and limiting strikeouts, albeit in a small sample size.

A solid runner now, Calaz could have a chance to stick in center field if he can maintain his speed as he physically matures. If he slows down, as some expect, he could profile nicely in an outfield corner, with the power and run-producing abilities to fit there.

FanGraphs ranks Calaz 32nd in the system as a 35+ FV player and espoused concerns about his ability to play in the field by calling him a future DH:

The top Rockies prospect signed in January, Calaz is a huge, power-hitting prospect with plus pull-side pop. He’s a bit lumbering, which, combined with his size at this age, caused him to fall toward the very bottom of the 2023 signing class’ long-term defensive projections. He’ll be developed as a corner outfielder; the DH designation here is more to indicate that I think that’s in play for him rather than to denote his immediate position. He has big power potential and basically no hit tool margin for error since he’s very likely to end up at the bottom of the defensive spectrum, DH or not.

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

Calaz is the farthest away of any prospect on this list, so it’s tricky to rank him alongside a player nearly a decade older than he is (like Noah Davis). There are significant defensive concerns with Calaz, but plus right-handed power is tough to come by and the big signing bonus is proof positive of its market value. Calaz has played well in the DSL and will probably come state-side next year for either the complex league team or even Low-A. I ranked Calaz 21st on my list as a 40 FV player because of the bonus, performance, and the fact that he’s still playing center field defensively.

★ ★ ★

19. Jackson Cox (228 points, 18 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 25 — High Ballot 10, Mode Ballot 18

How did he enter the organization?

2022 2nd Round (Toutle Lake HS, WA)

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Cox was Colorado’s second-round pick in 2022, 50th overall, out of a rural high school in Washington state — the only high school player the Rockies drafted in that class. The 6’2” righty starter signed for a $1.85 million bonus — well over the pick’s $1.54 million slot value — to get him out of his commitment to Oregon. Cox’s calling card as a prospect is his 3,000+ RPM curveball, described as a slurve with “deep and late bite” which the 19-year-old pairs with a low- to mid-90s fastball and a developing change-up in a repeatable delivery.

Cox was assigned to Low-A Fresno this year for his professional debut, where he is 2.9 years younger than league average. The Rockies handled Cox carefully, never allowing him to go past four innings in a start or 65 pitches an outing in his ten games (nine starts). Nonetheless, Cox suffered an injury that required Tommy John surgery in July, which ended his 2023 season and might cause him to lose most or all of 2024 as well. It’s a bummer for Cox and the Rockies, who had three PuRPs in Cox, Jordy Vargas, and Gabriel Hughes all require the surgery in the same month.

When he was on the mound, Cox had some growing pains with a 10.32 ERA in four May starts and an 8.53 ERA in four June starts. On a positive note, Cox’s final two starts in July were both scoreless, as he struck out 14 hitters in seven innings while allowing five hits and two walks. In all, Cox threw 31 innings with a 7.26 ERA (5.37 xFIP), 1.90 WHIP, 9.3 K/9 rate, and 5.8 BB/9 rate.

Here’s some video of Cox from a prospect showcase earlier this year courtesy of the Prospect Pipeline:

What do the scouts say?

Cox was ranked 58th in his draft class by and now slots in at 19th in the system as a 45 FV player thanks to a 60 grade curveball, 55 fastball, with 50 grades on the changeup and control:

One of the early things that stood out with Cox is his competitiveness on the mound, with a no-nonsense approach and a desire to attack hitters with what could be a very good three-pitch mix. He can get his fastball up to 95 mph with good running life, but it’s his curveball that has everyone buzzing. It’s a 1-to-7 breaking ball that registers elite-level spin rates and can be a real hammer out pitch with sharp bite to it. He has good feel for his changeup as well.

Cox has already added strength to his athletic frame since signing, which could lead to more consistent velocity once he’s back to full strength. He’s already shown an ability to command the ball to both sides of the plate and manipulate the spin and break on his curve, with some thinking he might eventually develop a distinct slider. His combination of pitchability and potential power stuff points to a future as a mid-rotation starter.

FanGraphs sees Cox as a 35+ FV player, placing him 35th on Colorado’s list with a 60 grade on the curve:

If you’re looking for elite spin rates as part of a prospect’s foundation, this is your guy. Cox’s breaking ball routinely spins in the 2900-3100 rpm range and has huge two-plane wipe. His fastball, which will reach 96 mph but sits more 92-93, is relatively true due to Cox’s generic three-quarters arm slot and might get hit a ton in pro ball without mechanical alteration. A short-strider with a bit of cross-body action to his delivery, it may be as simple as tweaking Cox’s stride length or direction to alter the shape of his fastball, or parlaying his talent for spinning the ball into a breaking pitch that plays better with a sinker, but to this point neither happened. The track record of guys with curveball/sinker combos isn’t great, as those two pitches are typically easy for advanced hitters to parse out of hand. Cox is of medium build, not maxed out but not in possession of round-up physical projection that might make me think his fastball will play anyway. Cox is a fair prospect, just not the sort of teenage pitcher most teams (or this author) would give nearly $2 million of draft pool space to sign.

Kiley McDaniel of ranked Cox pre-season as a 40 FV player:

[Cox is] a good athlete with 3000+ rpm spin rates on his breaker and a fastball that gets into the mid-90s at times, giving him starter traits.

Keith Law of the Athletic ranked Cox 12th in the system pre-season:

[Cox has] now stuff, with a plus curveball that shows very high spin, along with a clean delivery that keeps him online towards the plate, offering less projection than the typical 18-year-old but also not needing to gain stuff to potentially be a mid-rotation starter.

Baseball Prospectus ranked Cox 14th in Colorado’s system in November 2022:

Cox is a shorter, cold-weather second-round prep righty. There’s a lot of compounding risk in each subsequent adjective there, but his breaking ball was one of the better ones in the class, a high-spin hellion of a curve. He also sits mid-90s from a traditional three-quarters slot, but struggles to consistently throw strikes out of an uptempo, upright delivery. So yes there’s a lot of variance here—and Cox has yet to throw a pro pitch—but the breaker gives you something to dream on.

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

With Cox, there are positives in the scouting comments, draft spot, and over-slot bonus that certainly make him worth ranking in this exercise. He’s got a foundational breaking ball to build around and mid-round starter potential. Then again, he’s a high school pitcher who is a long ways away from actualizing that potential into big league success, and he’ll lose a year of development time after the surgery to boot. I ranked Cox 22nd on my list as a 40 FV player, which is probably where he’ll slot until he’s able to return from his injury.

★ ★ ★

18. Cole Carrigg (234 points, 22 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: NR — High Ballot 13, Mode Ballot numerous

How did he enter the organization?

2023 Competitive Balance Round B, San Diego State University

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

The term “super-utility player” is sometimes employed hyperbolically, but in the case of Carrigg, it fits like a glove. The 21-year-old has played every position except first base in a college or pro game over the last three years — and he’s even a switch-hitter so he provides versatility there too.

Colorado drafted the 6’3” Carrigg 65th overall as a catcher, where his plus-plus arm (he threw 102 MPH from the outfield at the Draft Combine) could make him a defensive weapon in a MLB where robots are calling balls and strikes. In three college seasons, with SDSU, Carrigg hit .333/.399/.477 with seven homers, 48 extra-base hits, and 29 steals in 547 PA. That as well as a strong performance in the wood bat Cape Cod summer league led to a $1.3 million over-slot bonus (by $116k) from the Rockies.

Carrigg has continued hitting well as a professional, tearing through the complex league over the last few weeks with a .396/.464/.688 line including two homers, nine extra-base hits, and seven steals in 57 PA (203 wRC+). That was enough for the Rockies to send him up to Low-A Fresno, where he is of league average age. In five games there, all Carrigg has done is go 12-23 with a homer, three triples, and two steals (258 wRC+). Defensively, Carrigg has split his time between catcher, shortstop, and center field — he’s literally an up-the-middle defender!

Here’s a compilation of Carrigg’s highlights from user “GainMoMoney”:

What do the scouts say?

Carrigg was 47th overall in’s draft rankings and is slotted 11th in the system as a 45 FV player with a 60 run and 70 arm grade:

Carrigg is a particularly intriguing prospect due to his athleticism and defensive flexibility to go along with his feel for hitting. The switch-hitter tends to be a bit more in sync from the right side, but he shows an innate ability to make contact from both sides of the plate. He’s aggressive and has a solid two-strike approach, but more selectivity gives him the chance to be a better-than-average hitter. He showed some flashes of a little power this fall but hasn’t tapped into it in games as of yet.

A plus runner who can steal a base, Carrigg has shown ability at three up-the-middle positions. He’s natural in center field and has shown he can play a solid shortstop as well. But many scouts agree his best value might come behind the plate as a switch-hitting backstop with athleticism and a plus-plus arm, which was on display with throws 100 mph and harder from shortstop and the outfield at the Draft Combine. He played the outfield exclusively for San Diego State in 2023 but saw time at all three positions during his pro debut with the Rockies.

FanGraphs ranks Carrigg 21st in the system as a 40 FV player:

Carrigg is a superlative athlete with some monster tools, but none on offense. He lit up the Combine athletics testing, especially the throwing drills; he has a legit 80 arm with unbelievable connectivity during max-effort rips. Carrigg is a wiry, sinewy athlete with a multi-positional background, getting catcher, shortstop, and third base reps as an underclassman, while playing center field as a junior. A switch-hitter with a long lefty swing, his swing is grooved from both sides of the plate. He likely won’t hit enough to be a true everyday player, but he should be a fun role player with premium versatility assuming he branches out on defense again in pro ball.

Carrigg was 74th in Law’s draft rankings:

Carrigg is an overly aggressive hitter who doesn’t swing and miss too often but goes after a lot of bad pitches, rarely walking or making hard contact. He’s a switch-hitter with excellent bat-to-ball skills from both sides, opening his hips early and then almost guiding the bat to the ball, which produces high contact rates but no power, with just nine total homers between three springs for the Aztecs and two summer seasons in 843 total plate appearances. He did hit for average on the Cape last summer and has played almost every position between the springs and summers since he started college, potentially going out as a center fielder, middle infielder or even catcher, although this spring he played center for San Diego State and it’s probably his best position right now. If he swung more at strikes and less at balls, or made better quality contact, I could see a regular here, but neither of those things is true just yet. ranked Carrigg 57th overall in their draft rankings:

Carrigg is a legitimate pro prospect as a catcher, shortstop and center fielder. He’s a plus runner with a plus-plus arm and an above-average hit tool, but well below average power.

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

At the rate he’s going, Carrigg could well be the first player from the 2023 draft class to reach the big leagues. If and when that happens, he could be a valuable player all over the diamond if his plate discipline improves and he displays more power. Carrigg was ranked ahead of Rockies second rounder (and the next PuRP) Sean Sullivan by multiple scouts, so that and Carrigg’s torrid start to his professional career led me to rank him one spot ahead of Sullivan on my list, 17th in the system at the top of the 40 FV tier.

★ ★ ★

17. Sean Sullivan (292 points, 21 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: NR — High Ballot 11, Mode Ballot 19

How did he enter the organization?

2023 2nd Round, Wake Forest University

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Sullivan’s position as Colorado’s second-round pick, 46th overall, this year clearly identified him as a prospect to watch. The 6’4” lefty 21-year-old pitcher pitched at Northwestern as a freshman before transferring to Wake Forest before his draft season as a sophomore. At Wake Forest, Sullivan was the number two starter behind first round pick Rhett Lowder as the Demon Deacons made it all the way to the College World Series semi-finals. Sullivan threw 69 23 innings in 17 games (10 starts) with a 2.45 ERA, 0.92 WHIP (4th best in Division 1), a 14.3 K/9 rate (2nd best), and a 2.7 BB/9 rate.

Sullivan rode those numbers to a $1.7 million bonus from the Rockies that was about $187k below slot. He relies mostly on his fastball, which despite velocity that is usually only in the 88-92 MPH range is a plus pitch due to a low, wide release angle that gives it great carry up in the zone. He pairs that offering with a slider and change-up, but the fastball is the main separator.

Rockies brass were impressed in a post-draft article:

“[Sullivan] struck out guys,” general manager Bill Schmidt said. “Hitters had problems picking up his stuff. He’s left-handed with a very quality slider and angle to his fastball.” Sullivan, whose motion resembles that of Kyle Freeland, came highly recommended from the Rockies’ analytics department.

Sullivan has only made two professional appearances so far, throwing two scoreless innings with the complex league team, allowing only one walk and striking out four.

Here’s some video of Sullivan in action earlier this year courtesy of Prospects Live:

If you want to watch Sullivan strike out a bunch of guys in a row with high fastballs, this highlight video from the ACC network might also be fun.

What do the scouts say?

Sullivan was ranked 123rd overall in the draft by, well below where the Rockies took him, and is slotted 13th in the system as a 45 FV player thanks to a 60 fastball grade:

Sullivan’s fastball usually ranges from 88-92 mph and peaks at 95, and hitters know it’s coming because he throws it nearly three-quarters of the time. But they still can’t touch it because he uses his 6-foot-4 frame to deliver it from a low release height and wide angle that produce tremendous carry up in the strike zone. It has below-average velocity yet plays as a plus pitch and is the reason he ranked among the NCAA Division I leaders in strikeout rate (14.3 per nine innings, second), WHIP (0.92, fourth) and opponent average (.175, fifth).

The rest of Sullivan’s repertoire consists of a fringy upper-70s slider and an average low-80s changeup with a bit of fade. He doesn’t have textbook mechanics but pounds the strike zone and is difficult to steal against. He reminded some scouts in the area of J.P. Sears, who pitched at The Citadel in 2017, and has gone from 11th-rounder to big league starter.

FanGraphs places Sullivan 25th in the system as a 40 FV player:

Sullivan is an ultra-deceptive cross-bodied lefty with a rise/run heater. His stride direction takes him toward the first base line at an extreme angle, and this, in concert with his low three-quarters slot, makes him very deceptive; it takes hitters a few looks at him to get comfortable. He does most of his swing-and-miss damage with a low-90s fastball that averaged 90 mph across all of 2023 but was sitting more 90-94 during his postseason starts. His repertoire is fastball-heavy in the extreme at about 75% usage, which isn’t sustainable in pro ball. His slider’s length helps the 77-81 mph pitch play left-on-left; his changeup (80-84 mph) often has slider look due to its angle. There aren’t any big league starters who look like this, and it’s more likely that Sullivan is a low-leverage long man or second lefty coming out of the bullpen.

Law ranked Sullivan 85th in his draft rankings:

Sullivan comes at hitters from a very low 3/4 slot, giving a real tough look to hitters because of his low approach angle, which in turn leads to a lot of bad swings on his 90-93 mph fastball. His changeup is above-average, which is huge given how long a look righties get at his arm, while his slider is fringy and sweepy at 77-79 mph. He lives by that fastball, though, working middle-up with the pitch and letting that low release height do its thing for him. His mechanics are quite clean for someone with this kind of delivery, as he lands online and doesn’t come back across his body.

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

We’ll see if Sullivan’s college dominance with his fastball carries over to the minor leagues, especially at Double-A and above. If it does, Sullivan could well beat first rounder Chase Dollander to the Show since there are fewer development questions with him. My guess is the Rockies will assign Sullivan to High-A to start next year, with a move to Double-A by season’s end possible if he performs well. I ranked Sullivan 18th on my list as a 40 FV player, but a strong minor league debut will send him near the system’s top 10 quickly.

★ ★ ★

16. Carson Palmquist (296 points, 22 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: 28 — High Ballot 11, Mode Ballot 17

How did he enter the organization?

2022 3rd Round, University of Miami

Why did he make the PuRPs list?

Palmquist is a 22-year-old lefty with a low, funky arm slot who has utility as both a starter and reliever. The 6’3” pitcher wasn’t highly scouted out of high school, going undrafted (despite not allowing a single earned run during his junior and senior seasons) and pitching for Miami. In his first two years at Miami, Palmquist was dominant in the bullpen, then he transitioned to the rotation in 2022 and was quite good at that too (2.89 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 12.6 K/9 rate, and 3.4 BB/9 rate). In all during his three college seasons, Palmquist struck out over 36% of the batters he faced while walking fewer than 8%.

From a stuff perspective, Palmquist added a change-up to his fastball/slider portfolio once he joined the starting rotation, all coming from that low lefty arm slot. It’s a profile reminiscent of Kyle Freeland, as many noted at the time he was picked 88th overall in 2022 by the Rockies, receiving a $775k bonus that was about $62k over slot.

Palmquist’s first full season in affiliated ball has been with High-A Spokane, where he is 1.1 years younger than league average. So far, Palmquist has adjusted well, throwing 70 innings across 15 starts with a 3.73 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 13.6 K/9 rate, and 3.6 BB/9 rate. His 106 strikeouts is 5th in the league and his K/9 rate leads the circuit for anyone with 40 or more innings pitched.

Here’s a look at Palmquist from May 2022 courtesy of Kyler Peterson:

What do the scouts say? ranks Palmquist 21st in the system as a 45 FV player, highlighted by a 55 slider:

While it remains to be seen what role Palmquist will have long-term, the Rockies are intent in letting him develop as a starter, wanting to see how his three-pitch mix plays coming from his low-slot, almost sidearm delivery. His fastball averaged around 90 mph as a starter in 2022 and topped out at 93, though he’s shown there’s a bit more velocity in shorter relief stints. It often plays better than average because of the funk and deception in his delivery. His sweeping slider is a tough look especially for left-handed hitters and he grew to rely on his low-80s changeup as a starter, showing a willingness to use it against hitters on both sides of the plate.

Palmquist impressed with his ability to command the baseball during instructs last fall, attacking both sides of the plate and even when he missed, he’d do so off the plate and not back over the middle of it. The Rockies will see if he sustains that in a starting role, knowing that they can always flip him back to the bullpen later if it doesn’t stick.

FanGraphs lists Palmquist 23rd in the system as a 40 FV player:

A sidearm lefty starter with a Clay Rapada-esque delivery, Palmquist’s repertoire depth should enable him to be more than just a lefty specialist. He is capable of missing bats with all three pitches, though his ability to do so in-zone is limited to his fastball. Palmquist struggles to command his fastball to his glove side, which makes it tough to set up his slider. Still, his level of funk, as well as his mechanical looseness, athleticism and repertoire depth look like they could work through a lineup in a multi-inning relief role, one that leans more on his secondaries than Palmquist did in college.

Law ranked Palmquist 20th in the org before the season:

Palmquist moved to the rotation last spring for the University of Miami (FL), but he’s a true reliever, with a low slot and sweepy slider that you don’t see in big-league rotations. He worked mostly with his fastball as a starter, relying on deception rather than big velocity, and the low slot means he works mostly to the arm side against righties, a formula that won’t work if he’s facing pro hitters two or three times a game.

McDaniel graded Palmquist as a 35+ player pre-season:

Palmquist is a near-sidearm lefty from Miami who has a chance to be a starter. His fastball plays well despite parking in the low-90s, his slider is tough on lefties and his changeup is usable — but overall execution is still a question.

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

The Rockies will give Palmquist a chance to start and they see him in that role as a professional, but if that doesn’t work out, the left-hander has already proven he can thrive as a reliever. So far though this year in High-A, starting has worked out for the lefty, to a degree where he clearly belongs on this list as a 40 FV player (I ranked him 23rd). If he can maintain this level of success (and the elevated K/9 rate) in a Double-A rotation next year, he could enter the system’s top ten.

★ ★ ★

Tomorrow we’ll enter the top half of the mid-season 2023 PuRPs list!