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Colorado Rockies prospect rankings, pre-season 2024: numbers 57-43

Here are all the players who received just one vote in this edition of PuRP voting

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Now that the pre-season Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) balloting period has concluded, it’s time to reveal the community’s top 30 prospects in the Colorado system. These prospects will be revealed over the next several weeks to give fans an overview of players who could make an impact on the Rockies soon.

First up: an introduction to the list and then a rundown of every single-ballot player to get votes from number 57 to 43. In a separate post tomorrow, I will reveal the multi-ballot players from 42-36. Next I’ll reveal the five honorable mention PuRPs and move to the top 30 after that, one at a time. I’ll conclude the series with a voting summary and a state of the system post.

There were 23 ballots this time around (up from 22 last time). 30 points were granted for a first place vote, 29 for second, etc. Until a player was named on eight 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 12 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) were eligible for selection on this list.

Since the mid-season 2023 balloting, no PuRPs lost eligibility but the Rockies added some players and additionally several players had both hot and cold finishes to their 2023 system that shook up the ranks.

In the 23 ballots there was room for 57 players listed in the top 30 of at least one PuRPs ballot, down from 63 in the mid-season 2023 list. There were 42 players named on multiple ballots (down from 52), while 33 were listed on at least eight ballots (even with last time) and therefore had unmodified point totals. There were 19 different prospects receiving a top 10 placement on at least one list (up from 16). The top 19 made it on over 91% 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 personal 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.

Without further ado, here are the players who ranked 57 to 36 in 2024 pre-season PuRPs voting:

Single Ballot Players

T-54. Riley Pint (0.1 points, 1 ballot) — the 26-year-old former fourth-overall pick was added to the 40-man roster last offseason to ensure he stayed with the team. 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.

In 2023, Pint threw all but 13 of his live game innings at Triple-A Albuquerque in the hitters haven that is the Pacific Coast League. He was knocked around at the level, allowing a 6.12 ERA (but a lower 5.21 xFIP indicating some poor fortune), 1.74 WHIP, and a 13.3 K/9 rate against a 8.9 BB/9 rate in 57 1⁄3 frames across 47 games. That mix of numbers should not be unfamiliar to those who have been watching Pint move up the minor league ladder.

Pint made his big league debut for the Rockies in mid-May, when he was brought into the game to protect a six run lead in the 9th inning. After getting a quick out, Pint sandwiched a double around three walks and then departed.

Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs ranks Pint 38th in the system as a 35+ FV player:

The former top draft pick still has issues with walks and fastball playability, but sheer arm strength and the quality of Pint’s slider enabled him to wear a Rockies uniform. He sits 94-97 mph and his best cutters/sliders are late-biting benders in the 86-89 mph range. He’s only throwing strikes at a 55% clip as of list publication, which puts Pint in an up/down bucket almost by default.

Pint remains an intriguing late inning relief talent, though I fear we are no closer to seeing that for the Rockies than we were at the beginning of 2023.

T-54. Bryant Betancourt (0.1 points, 1 ballot) — the 20-year-old is a lefty hitting, bat-first catcher/first base prospect from Venezuela who laid waste to the Dominican Summer League with a 190 wRC+ in 2022, his second season at the level. In 2023 he played for Low-A Fresno, where he was 2.1 years younger than league average. In 450 PA, Betancourt has a .244/.325/.327 line with just four homers (83 wRC+).

Defensively, Betancourt spent more time at first base than catcher with some DH as well. Playing in full season ball as a teenager is a good sign, but Betancourt will have to hit far more than he has, especially if he doesn’t stay behind the plate as he moves up the ladder.

Longenhagen ranks Betancourt 31st in the system as a 35+ FV player:

Betancourt isn’t a lock to catch, with his ball-blocking currently the most undercooked aspect of his defense. He’s close to physically maxed-out and likely won’t have the raw power to profile at first base if it turns out he can’t stay behind the plate. Betancourt can hit, though. He has a compact lefty stroke with a simple toe tap that keeps him on time. His front foot is down super early and he just shifts his momentum forward without a lot of moving parts. He could be a contact-oriented part-time C/1B but is unlikely to be an impact player.

T-54. Alberto Pacheco (0.1 points, 1 ballot) — the 21-year-old Dominican lefty starter (who signed for $400k in 2019) made his full season debut in June 2023 for Low-A Fresno. In 72 2⁄3 IP across 14 starts against hitters on average about two years older than him, Pacheco had a 5.45 ERA (4.38 xFIP), 1.56 WHIP, and 8.5 K/9 rate (2.8 BB/9 rate).

Pacheco was thrown into the “Potential depth/spot starter” group by Longenhagen in his system evaluation:

Pacheco is a 20-year-old lefty with plus command of below-average stuff. His slider command might enable him to outpace this projection.

Pacheco was Rule 5 eligible this off-season (he wasn’t selected, obviously) and he’s yet to pitch above Low-A, but the results are encouraging given his age relative to level.

T-54. Kelvin Hidalgo (0.1 points, 1 ballot) — the 18-year-old Dominican righty infielder, who split time defensively between SS and 3B in 2023, was an offensive stalwart in a repeat campaign in the DSL. Hidalgo, who signed for a $500k bonus in 2022, hit .310/.406/.574 with a league leading 12 homers and 14 steals in 239 PA, good for a 149 wRC+. Hidalgo will look to display that power stateside in 2024, and if he does he’ll get on more prospect radars.

T-52. Erick Bautista (0.3 points, 1 ballot) — the 18-year-old Dominican outfielder (playing all three positions) is another 2022 signee who had a strong offensive campaign in the DSL as a level repeater. In 178 PA, Bautista hit .277/.410/.540 with 9 homers for a 145 wRC+ that basically matches the 144 wRC+ he had in his debut 2022 season. The translation of those numbers to stateside ball needs to be tested, because Bautista has handled the DSL well.

T-52. Jarrod Cande (0.3 points, 1 ballot) — the 24-year-old righthander was Colorado’s 17th rounder in 2021, receiving a $125k bonus. The 6’2” hurler has stuck as a starter so far in his professional career, including a strong 2023 season for High-A Spokane. Pitching at a league average age, Cande threw 105 13 innings across 19 starts with a 3.25 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 9.3 K/9 rate, and 2.2 BB/9 rate. In other words, Cande did exactly what he needed to do to move up and stay in the starting rotation. If he can repeat that performance in Double-A, I’m sure he’ll get more PuRPs attention at mid-season.

T-50. Tanner Gordon (0.4 points, 1 ballot) — the 26-year-old 6’5” righthander was the second prospect acquired from Atlanta (along with Victor Vodnik) in the Pierce Johnson trade near the 2023 trade deadline. Longenhagen ranked Gordon 44th out of 55 players traded at the deadline as a 35 FV player, saying about Gordon: “Plus command of 40-grade three-pitch mix. Spot starter.”

With the Rockies, Gordon made 10 starts (and threw 54 of his 140 innings on the season), four with Double-A Hartford (5.96 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 8.3 K/9 rate) and six with Triple-A Albuquerque (4.31 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 9.8 K/9 rate). Gordon was Atlanta’s sixth rounder in 2019 and so was Rule 5 eligible but unselected this off-season. He’ll serve as rotation depth in 2024 and should be able to soak up innings if needed.

T-50. McCade Brown (0.4 points, 1 ballot) — in what is no doubt becoming a familiar refrain with Rockies pitching prospects, the 23-year-old right-hander shows potential big league rotation stuff on the mound but hasn’t been on the mound enough. In the case of Brown (a former PuRP), it was Tommy John surgery in April 2023 that ruled him out until sometime in the upcoming season. That came on the heels of a decent full season debut in Fresno that saw the 6’6” hurler post an 11.8 K/9 rate in 89 2⁄3 innings.

Longenhagen ranks Brown 29th in the system as a 40 FV prospect:

Brown’s ticket to the big leagues is his curveball, an upper-70s jawn with a power pitcher’s shape. His delivery isn’t overtly violent, but Brown has never had great touch-and-feel fastball command. There are a couple potential avenues for Brown if you want to use some of the lack of innings/geographic components he shares with Rock as a reason to round up on his strike-throwing projection. More likely, Brown eventually moves to the bullpen, where he’ll again sit in the mid-90s and become a nasty reliever.

Kiley McDaniel of ESPN.com ranked Brown 14th in the system before 2023 as a 40+ FV pitcher:

Brown is an athletic righty who flashes three-above average pitches and the components for command, but he still needs to be tested at higher levels.

T-48. Brendan Hardy (0.5 points, 1 ballot) — the 24-year-old righthander was acquired by the Rockies from the Mets system in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft. The reliever, a 31st rounder in the 2018 draft, had somewhat of a breakout year in 2023, pitching across three levels and reaching Double-A for the first time. Across 35 innings and three levels, Hardy had a sterling 1.80 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 13.9 K/9 rate, and 3.3 BB/9 rate. He even threw 5 23 innings in the Arizona Fall League (allowing four runs on five hits).

Hardy was ranked 37th on Longenhagen’s Mets list in mid-season 2023 as a 35+ FV pitcher:

Hardy’s inclusion here is all about long-term projection and athleticism. He isn’t especially young and doesn’t throw all that hard, nor does Hardy have even average command right now. What he does have is plus-plus athleticism, a perfect pitcher’s body, a delivery that exhibits huge hip/shoulder separation and crossfire action similar to Freddy Peralta or Adam Ottavino, and plus-flashing sweep on his slider. Athletes with frames like Hardy’s tend to dial things in enough over time to play some kind of big league role. At this age, it’s unlikely Hardy will have a velo boost that propels him into higher-leverage work, but his current stuff puts an eventual middle-inning role within reach if his command improves.

Baseball America highlighted Hardy as an intriguing minor league Rule 5 pick with this scouting report:

Hardy sits 92-93 mph in his four-seam fastball and the pitch really performed in 2023 with a 26% in-zone whiff rate, a 33% called+swinging strike rate and an xWOBA against of . 223. His primary secondary is a low-80s sweeper that generates lots of chase swings out of the zone.

T-48. Juan Guerrero (0.9 points, 1 ballot) — the 22-year-old righty slugger from the Dominican Republic was a notable prospect who has now been exposed to Rule 5 twice but went unselected both times. 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.

In 2023, Guerrero was 1.4 years younger than average in High-A, where in 488 PA he posted a .256/.314/.374 line with six homers and 34 extra base hits (87 wRC+). It’s not an impressive line, per se, but scouts are higher on Guerrero than the results would indicate so far.

MLB.com ranked Guerrero 24th in the system as a 45 FV player after the 2022 season, though he’s off the top 30 now:

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 exhbited 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.

Keith Law of the Athletic ranked Guerrero 18th in his pre-season 2023 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 35+ FV talent for me who wasn’t too far off my list this time around, but he’s exactly the type of prospect who could make a big leap during the off-season.

T-45. Sam Weatherly (0.6 points, 1 ballot) — the 24-year-old is a lefty pitcher with high octane stuff who hasn’t been healthy much in the last two years (11 2⁄3 innings in 2022 and none in 2023 thanks to a shoulder injury). The 2020 third rounder flashed his potential in 2021 (getting ranked in the mid-teens in PuRP rankings), but he hasn’t shown it above Low-A and he’s already Rule 5 eligible. It all adds up to a shrug of an evaluation until we see him on a mound again.

T-45. Ryan Rolison (0.6 points, 1 ballot) — the 26-year-old lefty starter was the number one PuRP as recently as three years ago, but it just hasn’t worked out for Rolison. Injuries are a big contributor as to why Rolison slid off the PuRPs list entirely instead of exhausting his rookie eligibility two years ago, but so too are reports that Rolison’s stuff had taken a step back after said injuries (per Longenhagen).

Rolison has accrued two full years of service time on the IL and was limited to just 11 innings across four appearances in 2023. He has now been outrighted off the 40-man roster as his health struggles continued, as the Rockies seem to have decided they can’t wait for Rolison to get back to the pitcher he was when he seemed on the fast track to the big leagues in 2021. It remains to be seen if Rolison can recapture his first-round form and stuff in 2024 and force his way onto the big league roster.

T-45. Juan Mejia (0.6 points, 1 ballot) — the 23-year-old righty reliever was one of the players the Rockies added to the 40-man roster this off-season. The 6’3” pitcher signed way back in 2017 and it took him six years to make it Double-A, but he now stands out as a potential MLB player in 2024. Mejia threw 58 23 innings across High-A and Double-A in 2023, posting a 5.06 ERA (with a xFIP near 4), 1.43 WHIP, 13.2 K/9 rate, and 4.9 BB/9 rate.

Mejia finished the year with a stint in the AFL, throwing 8 13 innings across eight games, allowing two earned runs on six hits and nine walks while striking out 16 of the 39 batters he faced. From those lines, you can tell Mejia had electric stuff and a bit of a problem commanding it. He’ll look to continue harnessing the stuff in the upper minors in 2024.

Commenting on Mejia after the 40 man roster placement, Longenhagen said:

I was criminally light on Mejia in my last Rockies write-up. His slider consistency is middling, but some of them are really nasty and his body and mechanical fluidity portend even more velocity as he ages into his mid-to-late 20; I think he could eventually sit 100.

44. Angel Chivilli (0.9 points, 1 ballot) — the 21-year-old righty reliever has been highlighted by prospect watchers as a potential late inning arm for the Rockies. The Dominican, who signed for $200k in 2018, was added to the 40 man roster this off-season despite only a cameo appearance in Double-A.

In 2023, against batters who were on average 3.1 years older in High-A, Chivilli threw 57 innings across 50 appearances. Chivilli had a 5.84 ERA (4.25 xFIP), 1.44 WHIP, and a 10.3 K/9 rate against a 3.2 BB/9 rate with 17 saves for Spokane. He received a late season promotion to Double-A Hartford, where he made three appearances and threw four innings, allowing one run on four hits and a walk while striking out three.

Longenhagen ranks Chivilli 40th in the system as a 35+ Future Value (FV) relief prospect with some high leverage utility:

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.

Law of the Athletic had this to say about Chivilli in his pre-season 2023 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 will likely spend all of 2024 in the minors, but something could click and he might find himself up with the Rockies sooner or later.

43. Connor Staine (1.0 points, 1 ballot) — the 23-year-old right-handed starter was the 146th overall pick in the fifth round in 2022 by the Rockies, but many draft outlets had him ranked much higher. Staine was 88th overall in MLB.com’s draft rankings (only two spots behind Rockies third rounder Carson Palmquist) as a 45 FV prospect:

Staine is a 6-foot-5 athletic right-hander with a loose arm and some upside. His fastball was up to 96-97 mph and averaged just over 93 mph this past year at Central Florida, a bit of a velocity spike from earlier in his college career. His 80-81 mph slider also improved, and while it’s probably fringy now, it has an up arrow next to it and it’s easy to see it being an average breaking ball that misses bats. He can fold in a slower get-me-over curve, and while he doesn’t throw it much, he shows feel for at least an average changeup.

While he’s largely been around the strike zone, Staine’s command has come and gone at times this season. A minor back issue slowed him a bit, as did a blister, but his size and pure stuff provide some projection and a college arm to dream on, with the upside of filling a big league rotation spot if it all clicks.

McDaniel of ESPN.com ranked Staine 96th pre-draft as a 40 FV prospect, saying before the 2023 season:

[Staine is] a 6-5, athletic righty with a mid-90s heater, though his three off-speed pitches and command are inconsistent. He had a recent velo spike and the traits to become a back-end starter are here.

Longenhagen put Staine at the head of the “Potential depth/spot starters” group:

Staine got off to a great start in his draft year at UCF before his stuff and command waned as the 2022 draft approached. At his best, he was sitting 94-97 mph with a good slider, but more often he’s 92-94 with fringe command.

Law of the Athletic ranked Staine 15th in the system pre-season 2023:

Staine struggled with injuries and blister problems at Central Florida, and arrived at the Rockies with forearm fatigue, but he has an above-average fastball with good riding life, enough to see a path for him to the majors in relief as long as he stays healthy. He’s a full windup guy with good rhythm to the delivery and shows a three-pitch mix, but nothing beyond the fastball is average yet. The first goal is to keep him healthy, after which the Rockies can try to develop his offspeed stuff.

In 2023 Staine pitched in Low-A Fresno at a league average age. In 21 games, he threw 94 13 innings with a 5.25 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 8.9 K/9 rate, and 2.7 BB/9 rate. I think Staine is a 35+ FV talent who on the edge of consideration for my ballot.

★ ★ ★

Thanks to all who voted this time around! Next time I’ll reveal the multi-ballot players who rank 42 to 36, then we’ll get on to the five Honorable Mentions and the players that will make up the pre-season top 30.