2017-01-19T09:00:01-07:00Purple Row Prospect No. 16, Pedro Gonzalez 16. Pedro Gonzalez (431 points, 32 ballots) Pedro Gonzalez is a player who has an extremely wide range of outcomes. With his tools and potential, he could become an All-Star at the major league level. Or, he could flame out before Double-A ball. Gonzalez was the big international signing during the 2014 period, receiving a $1.3 million bonus from the Rockies. A 6'3" shortstop when he was signed, Gonzalez has now sprouted up to 6'5" at least and may still be growing. As a result, Colorado moved him off the position before 2016, placing him in center field. You heard me: a right-handed hitting outfield prospect! In the Dominican Summer League last year, Gonzalez started off gangbusters before settling into a .251/.318/.418 line with eight homers (rating him 4th overall in the DSL) over 282 plate appearances—good for a 108 wRC+. Unfortunately, the now 19-year-old Gonzalez struggled in 2016 in his stateside debut in Grand Junction. Against pitchers who were on average 2.5 years older, Gonzalez posted a .230/.290/.394 line (69 wRC+) with 25 extra base hits in 258 plate appearances. Thirty one percent of his plate appearances ended in strikeouts. That’s disappointing, but there is some encouraging news here. Gonzalez had a .261 BABIP, indicating he might have deserved better results. More encouraging was his post All-Star Break line of .276/.336/.500 in 104 plate appearances (though the strikeouts remained). src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/dTzyUepXdYo?wmode=transparent&rel=0&autohide=1&showinfo=0&enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="top: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;"> So what’s the big fuss about with Gonzalez? Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs ranked Gonzalez 7th in the system recently: Gonzalez has already converted from shortstop to center field, where his precocious instincts have impressed scouts. A below-average runner from home to first, Gonzalez is a plus runner underway and his gargantuan strides cover plenty of ground in center field right now. He has incredible physical projection. The on-paper measureables alone indicate this, but the breadth of Gonzalez’s shoulders and the size of his hands are particularly stunning. I’m setting the over/under on Gonzalez’s prime weight at 230. For reference, Jayson Werth is 6-foot-5, 235. There’s a chance Gonzalez can retain the speed for center field at that weight and his surprising instincts for center field give him some margin for error down the line in that regard. With that weight should come big raw power. Gonzalez isn’t making loud contact right now but he has loose wrists, some natural opposite-field ability and picturesque loft and extension through his swing. There’s a chance for plus raw power at peak. Of course, with levers this long, there are holes in the swing. Gonzalez has shown some ability to adjust his hands but is a long way from being able to punish velocity on the inner half. His breaking-ball recognition was spotty during instructs. Because the future of his hit tool is quite volatile, so is Gonzalez’s overall profile. He’s a potential star but light years from the majors. Gonzalez is currently ranked 23rd on MLB.com's list, though the note is from before the 2016 season: With bat speed and a 6-foot-5 frame that provides terrific leverage and hints at future strength, Gonzalez has tremendous power potential. Though his right-handed swing naturally gets long and he had a 29 percent strikeout rate in his debut, he shows feel for hitting with his ability to use the opposite field and make adjustments. Considered a below-average runner when he signed, he now flashes plus times but figures to lose a step as he matures physically. Gonzalez has grown two inches and added 15 pounds since signing, and he has room to put on 50 more. The Rockies figured he'd outgrow shortstop, where he made his debut, so they're moving him to center field in 2016. He figures to eventually wind up in right field, where his strong arm w[...]
Colorado Rockies news and notes for Thursday, January 19, 2017
Despite some compelling campaigning, Larry Walker was not elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame yesterday. One of his former Montreal Expos teammates, Tim Raines, was elected in his final year of eligibility, while Iván Rodríguez earned election in his first year of eligibility and former Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell made it in in his seventh year. Thomas Harding spoke with Walker by phone, who said "What it all boils down to is I'm still on the ballot. That's a good thing for me.”
The former Rockies outfielder and 1997 MVP received 21.9 percent of the vote this time around, a jump from 15.5 percent in 2016, but still only received 97 votes. That means Walker will need about 235 more people to vote for him in order to gain election via the BBWAA. We have three years left, people. Let’s crank up the campaign.
Come to think of it, maybe we should get cranking on Todd Helton’s case now, so when he’s eligible in 2019 we’ll be ready.
From the Rockies’ past to their future, MLB Pipeline is rolling out their Top 10 Prospects by position over the course of the next few weeks and yesterday a certain Rockies receiver made it onto their catcher list.
Mark your calendars! The Caravan (might be) coming to a city near you!
Larry Walker jumped 6.4 percentage points, but his Hall of Fame future is still very much in doubt.
Bagwell, in his seventh year on the ballot, was named on 86.2 percent of the 442 ballots cast. Raines, in his 10th and final season on the list, earned almost 86 percent of the vote. Rodriguez is a first-ballot inductee after being named on 76 percent of voters’ ballots.
The three former players will be officially inducted during the weekend of July 28-31.
Longtime Colorado Rockies outfielder Larry Walker fell well short of the 75 percent requirement, earning just 21.9 percent of the vote (97 ballots). However, that number is up significantly from the 15.5 percent of ballots on which Walker was named a year ago. However, with an influx of strong candidates set to hit the ballot in upcoming years, Walker will likely need a grassroots effort—one similar to what recently surrounded Raines—in order to be enshrined.
Walker has just three years remaining on the ballot, which now restricts nominees to 10 years rather than 15, as it was prior to a couple of years ago. In 2019—his ninth year on the ballot—Walker will be joined by former teammate and fellow Colorado baseball legend Todd Helton.
Find the full results at the BBWAA’s website.
2017-01-18T09:00:02-07:00Purple Row Prospect No. 17, Ben Bowden 17. Ben Bowden (395 points, 36 ballots) Ben Bowden seems destined to be the first player from the 2016 draft to hit the big leagues. After all, he was assigned directly to Low A Asheville after the draft and he threw out of the bullpen exclusively—two markers of a fast mover through the system. After being drafted early in the second round of the 2016 draft, Bowden signed for a slightly above-slot $1.6 million bonus after moving between Vanderbilt's rotation and bullpen during his collegiate career. The now 22-year-old lefty ended up in the bullpen in college and started that way in the pros, but the Rockies have not ruled out a return to the rotation for him as soon as next year. At Asheville, Bowden threw 23 2⁄3 innings over 26 appearances for the Tourists with a 3.04 ERA. His 29 strikeouts in that time translate to a great 11.0 K/9, though his 5.7 BB/9 and 1.61 WHIP are worrisome—a .373 BABIP boosted the WHIP. Bowden held lefties to a .212 average as well, which is always relevant for a lefty reliever prospect. src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/JJYWEX9Bntk?wmode=transparent&rel=0&autohide=1&showinfo=0&enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="top: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;"> A second-round pick typically has at least one major league-caliber tool, and for Bowden it's his low- to mid-90s fastball from the left-hand side. Importantly, Bowden is not a one-trick pony, boasting two secondary pitches and command that grades out as average as well. MLB.com ranked Bowden 67th overall pre-draft and had this to say about him when ranking him 16th in the system: As a lefty with three pitches and a durable frame, Bowden has the ingredients to pitch in the middle of a big league rotation. His 90-95 mph fastball plays up because it has late life and steep downhill plane. He also shows feel for a sinking changeup and has a three-quarters breaking ball that fluctuates between a low-80s slider and a high-70s curveball. Colorado is still undecided about Bowden's long-term role. Though he could move quickly as a possible high-leverage reliever, he also has mid-rotation potential and a fresh arm that logged just 96 1/3 innings in three seasons at Vanderbilt. His control and command improved steadily during his college career, but to make it as a starter he'll have to show that he can maintain a quality fastball into the late innings. Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs is high on Bowden, ranking him 12th in the system: Having spent the lion’s share of his career at Vanderbilt in relief, Bowden has a relatively fresh arm. He made five mostly mediocre starts mid-year for Vanderbilt before kicking back into the bullpen, where he finished the year. He pumps mid-90s gas with downhill plane and has a workhorse body but the quality of the repertoire suppresses enthusiasm about Bowden’s chances of starting in pro ball. His changeup flashes above average and could be plus at peak, but the slider would do well just to get to average and it may only play against lefties at the upper levels. The fastball/changeup combo should play in a relief role, but moving Bowden into a minor-league rotation to start 2017 allows Colorado to give it a chance to take and also allows Bowden’s pitches to get more reps than they would in a relief role. I ultimately expect Bowden to become a fastball/changeup reliever, and think it plays in a setup role. The question of what the Rockies decide Bowden's path is going forward—starter or reliever—will determine in large part his ceiling as a prospect. In relief, Bowden has the potential to move quickly, a la Rex Brothers, perhaps as soon as 2018. If he's a starter, I think the more likely gestation period lasts into 2019. If he's a reliever, Bowden is an intriguing high-leverage option who would probably settle into a set-up role. As a starter, he's a potential mid-rotation guy. I hope Colorado tries him as a s[...]
Colorado Rockies news, notes and links for Wednesday, Jan. 18
While seemingly old news, the Rockies officially announced yesterday that they have signed Alexi Amarista. While the agreement has been rumored since shortly after Christmas, it appears that neither side was in much of a hurry to get the physical and final agreement in place.
With everyone still waiting for the other shoe to drop, Ian Desmond is still penciled in as the Rockies opening day first baseman for 2017. While that may still change with Mark Trumbo and Chris Carter on the free-agent market, each day that goes by makes that chance seem increasingly smaller.
For what it’s worth, Desmond is excited about the chance to learn yet another new position and is already putting in the work to make the transition as smooth as possible. Though we are still weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, Desmond is already at the Rockies facility putting in the work.
One thing to remember is that even if Desmond starts 2017 as the Rockies first baseman, that doesn’t mean that he will play there for the entirety of his contract. The Rockies like the flexibility that he brings that will allow them to remain creative with lineup and roster construction.
MLB Pipeline started revealing their top prospect lists yesterday. First up was their top 10 right-handed pitchers which surprisingly included only one Rockies prospect. Jeff Hoffman was ranked, however, Riley Pint surprisingly dropped off of their list and didn’t even receive a mention in the top 12.
Time again to argue whether voting protocol needs to be changed!
For the seventh time, Colorado Rockies fans will learn that baseball writers have chosen not to elect outfielder Larry Walker to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Coooperstown, N.Y., when the results for the class of 2017 are announced on Wednesday at 4 p.m. MT.
Oh, you’ll want to tune into MLB Network or go to MLB.com for the live stream to learn the results, and you may even want to watch the pre-announcement coverage that starts at 1 p.m. But you won’t be hearing “Larry Walker, Hall of Famer” this year or in the few remaining years he has left on the ballot.
And that’s a shame. We’ve featured articles over the years on why Walker belongs in the Hall, so there’s no need to belabor that point now. Perhaps some years down the line when we’re huddled into biodomes that house the last survivors of catastrophic climate change there will still be Eras Committees debating the merits of potential Baseball Hall of Famers and carrier pigeons will fly out to announce that Walker has finally received the honor he should have had long ago. A dark timeline with a bit of light: who says no?
We already know two members of the class of 2017: John Schuerholz and Bud Selig. Both gained entry through the Eras Committee vote in Dec. 216. The BBWAA vote will likely reflect our community vote in that only two players will appear on the necessary 75 percent of ballots to get in (just not the same two). Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines, who last year received the most votes of any players not elected to the Hall, are the two most likely to get their plaques in Cooperstown this year. Bagwell, like Walker, is on his seventh ballot, but Raines is on his last try here. Closer Trevor Hoffman also remains a possibility.
Of those eligible for the first time, outfielder Vladimir Guerrero and catcher Iván Rodríguez have the best chance at coming close to getting in, but they’ll need to wait a little while longer before making the trip to James Fenimore Cooper’s hometown. Manny Ramirez, who received multiple suspensions for PED use, is also making his debut on the ballot. He should receive enough votes to remain on the ballot, but where will that percentage land?
Starting in 2018 all ballots will be public, so start getting ready to publicly question every single ballot.
When: 1-5 p.m. MT, Wednesday, Jan. 18 (announcement at 4 p.m.)
Channel: MLB Network
2017-01-17T09:00:02-07:00Purple Row Prospect No. 18, Robert Tyler 18. Robert Tyler (374 points, 34 ballots) When the midseason PuRPs list was released, Robert Tyler had yet to make a professional appearance. Colorado’s Competitive Balance Round A pick in 2016 was signed to a $1.7 million bonus and had at times leading up to his draft year been projected as high as a top 10 pick. The 21-year-old righty pitcher, who boasts an elite fastball and pitched for team USA, showed flashes at the University of Georgia. He become an elite starter, but his time in Athens was marred by injuries over the last couple of years, including a forearm strain in 2015 that limited him to just six starts. Tyler was healthy in 2016 though, when he posted a 10.73 K/9 and 4.10 ERA in 73⅔ innings for Georgia—unfortunately he struggled with control (5.54 BB/9) there, a problem that continued into the summer. In a seven inning professional cameo in Short Season A Boise, Tyler had a Nikorakian debut, walking 16 in his seven innings of work and allowing 11 runs (five earned) while striking out five. src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2JVWRXtaaMo?wmode=transparent&rel=0&autohide=1&showinfo=0&enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="top: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;"> MLB.com's 25th overall draft prospect (and 15th-best Rockies prospect currently) has, nevertheless, received a nice review from scouts: Tyler has no trouble sitting in the mid 90s and hitting triple digits with his fastball as a starter, and on a down day he'll work at 92-95 mph. In addition to its velocity, his heater is nasty because it runs and sinks and he delivers it on a steep downhill plane. He also can flash a plus changeup with fade and sink, but he hasn't shown much feel for spinning the ball and now uses a knuckle-curve as his breaking pitch. Though Colorado plans on developing Tyler as a starter, many scouts believe he's destined for the bullpen. He has difficulty repeating his mechanics and battles his control and command on a regular basis. He stayed healthy throughout 2016 but had been shut down at times during each of the three previous years, missing three months in 2015 with a forearm strain. Highlighting that report is the 75 grade slapped on Tyler's fastball (higher than Rockies first round pick Riley Pint and comparable to closer prospect Jairo Diaz). It’s a lottery pick profile, but Tyler has one of the highest ceilings in the system. Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs ranked Tyler 19th in the system: This is the type of prospect who sparks discussion about curveball projection among scouts. Tyler doesn’t have a good one, throws mid-90s fastball, and flashes a plus changeup. If Tyler were to develop even an average curveball he’d instantly become a potential mid-rotation starter based on his stuff. But most scouts think that pitchers, especially college pitchers, either have a good breaking ball or they don’t and Tyler’s feel for his is very inconsistent. Tyler’s two-pitch mix is better on pure stuff than Ben Bowden‘s but Tyler’s lack of command makes him considerably more risky in my opinion. He walked 16 in 7.0 pro innings after signing. That’s not a typo. He projects as a volatile but potentially electric reliever. Notably, Longenhagen’s grade of Tyler’s fastball is just a 60 (to go along with a 60 FV changeup) and there is the aforementioned doubt about whether the curveball will become a usable pitch. Tyler is a high-ceiling, low-floor player due to his struggle with mechanics and control in the midst of the explosiveness of the fastball/change combo. If the Rockies can smooth out his mechanics and improve the control profile, Tyler has the upside of a 2/3 starter. If he stays closer to where he is now developmentally, Tyler is an arm with closer potential but one that has a high flame-out likelihood. If he can remain healthy[...]
2017-01-17T08:00:01-07:00Two players received 75 percent of the vote in Purple Row’s community ballot The Baseball Hall of Fame will announce its 2017 inductees tomorrow. But you don’t have to wait that long to be happy/angry/validated/depressed/outraged at the results. Last week, we opened up voting to the Purple Row community for a vote. The results are in. Following BBWAA rules, each ballot was limited to 10 votes. In all, 122 community members, Purple Row staff included, cast a ballot. Using the Hall of Fame’s 75 percent threshold to reach induction, the Purple Row community only voted in two players, Jeff Bagwell and Larry Walker. Here are the results (players who did not receive at least five percent of the vote excluded): An initial high-level analysis of this ballot, taking into consideration the nature of the ballot and population most likely to take the time to make selections, can be summarized thusly: y’all stingy. I say that having voted for the maximum of 10 players while being forced to leave off others I would like to have voted for. But, I suppose, that’s where the conflicts between biggish Hall persons like myself meet small to minuscule Hall folks. Still, just two players getting in, and one of them on the strength of homerism (which I’ll get to in a moment), is pretty conservative. It’s worth noting though that part of that is a function of the ballot. Iván Rodríguez missed the 75 percent threshold here by a single vote, and there were 15 ballots that voted for the maximum of 10 players that left Rodríguez. It’s highly likely that at least one of those voters would have added Rodríguez if the rules allowed, which would have given him the requisite 75 percent. This exact thing happened in the real vote in 2014, when Craig Biggio missed induction by two votes. The Purple Row community ballot was also, on the whole more conservative that the known public ballots. Ryan Thibodaux has kept track of 214 ballots in his Hall of Fame tracker, which is about half of the entire electorate. Jeff Bagwell, the highest vote getter in the Purple Row ballot, has a higher percentage of the vote in public ballots, 89.1 percent. Two other players currently have more than 75 percent of the vote among public ballots. Tim Raines, with 91.0 percent of the vote (compared to just 71.3 percent here), and Pudge Rodríguez, who has 78.7 percent of the vote. That doesn’t mean all three will make the Hall of Fame this year. Non-public ballots tend to be more conservative than the public ones, so we need to make downward adjustments. As it is, it looks like tomorrow’s announcement will include Bagwell and Raines, but I’d be surprised if Pudge maintains his pace, and it’s unlikely that anybody under 75 percent of public ballots will increase their share when the votes are all tallied. Finally, Larry Walker has just 23.5 percent of the vote on public ballots, but he sails into Cooperstown with 82 percent of the vote on the Purple Row ballot. The reason is clear: real life voters aren’t truly objective, but neither are we. Walker has an excellent Hall of Fame case, and I maintain that he deserves induction. But we can’t ignore the discrepancy between the lack of votes he’s getting from real life voters and the abundance he just got from Rockies fans. Hold this vote at Lookout Landing and Edgár Martínez easily makes it. Hold it at Camden Chat and Mike Mussina might get more votes than anyone else. Those two, along with Walker, I view as no doubt Hall of Famers—and yet, the voters here can’t switch their purple colored glasses for teal or orange ones. There’s a perception gap between Hall of Fame careers built on a foundation of fandom and Hall of Fame careers that, for national writers, don’t leave behind the groundwork to assemble a compelling enough case. These truths often lie somewhere in the middle. In this[...]