This is the fourth installment of the Fall 2012 PuRPs list. As a reminder, 23 ballots were cast in this edition of the PuRPs poll, with 30 points being granted for a first place vote, 29 for second, etc. Until a player was named on 8 ballots, his vote totals were modified on a sliding scale to avoid an individual ballot having too much say over the community forecast -- but none of the above players had that problem, as all 30 players on the PuRPs list were named on at least 8 ballots.
For each player on the PuRPs list, I've included a link to their stats (via Baseball-Reference), their relevant "tool score indicators" compared to their league on a 1-100 scouting scale (which is explained here) per the wonderful Baseball Cube, their contract status (via Rockies Roster), their probable MLB ETA (assuming they do make the Show), and a note on their 2012 season to date. For what it's worth, I'll also include where I put them on my personal ballot.
Remember that neither the tool scores nor the statistics pages are the end-all be-all when evaluating these players. Context is hugely important (such as the player's age relative to the league's average or the league average offensive numbers), as is the fact that injuries to prospects can affect both their tools and their stats.
Here are PuRPs 15-11:
15. Tom Murphy (287 points, 20 ballots) -- Spring 2012 Ranking: NR -- High Ballot 9, Mode (most common when placed) Ballot 10
Murphy, a 21 year-old catcher who played at short season Tri City after being drafted in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft, had a very successful year in the Northwest League. In a pitching-friendly environment, Murphy produced a .288/.349/.462 line while providing good defense at a premium defensive position, which is why he rates so highly on this list (and why he rated 15th on mine).
Of course, hitting like that as a 21 year-old in the NWL is one thing -- if Murphy is to make the leap, he'll have to prove himself against better competition, and he'll have to do it quicker because of his age.
Contract Status: 2012 3rd Round, Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining
MLB ETA: 2016
At this point in the list, there is a pretty big demarcation, with every player from here on out placing on almost every ballot -- and consistently placing in the top half of ballots as well.
14. Jayson Aquino (367 points, 23 ballots) -- Spring 2012 Ranking: 27 -- High Ballot 7, Mode Ballot 15
Aquino, a 19 year-old LHP who split time between the Dominican Summer League and Grand Junction, has been dominant every season he's pitched for the Rockies organization. He had a 1.02 ERA in his age 17 season and he followed it up with a 1.30 ERA the next year. This season he slipped all the way down to a 1.66 ERA over two levels, with a WHIP of 0.90. So far, Aquino has a career line of 22-6, 1.39 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, and a 8.6 K/9 rate over 259.2 innings. In other words, his performance as a professional has been pretty ridiculous thus far.
Once you get over the crazy numbers, it's important to consider context. Aquino was pitching in the DSL for the 3rd straight year (who knows why at this point), which does suppress power particularly. It's an environment where pitchers with great control like Aquino can thrive by pitching to contact. Then again, while Aquino didn't strike out as many hitters in Grand Junction (7.5 K/9), he was still pretty darn effective in his cameo stateside (1.87 ERA, 0.99 WHIP over 43 IP).
I've been putting Aquino on my ballot for the last 4 iterations of this poll (he was 19th on mine simply because he's still very far away), but he needed to come to the US to receive up-ballot consideration. A repeat at rookie or short season ball is probable, though I'd like to see him at Asheville by the end of next year.
Contract Status: 2010 Amateur Free Agent (DR), Not Rule 5 Eligible, 3 options remaining
MLB ETA: 2017
13. Eddie Butler (420 points, 22 ballots) -- Spring 2012 Ranking: NR -- High Ballot 5, Mode Ballot 5
Butler, a 21 year-old RHP at Grand Junction, was probably the best pitcher in the rookie-level Pioneer League, putting up a 7-1 record with a 2.13 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. The bigger question was why Butler, Colorado's supplemental first round pick int 2012, was pitching in that league and not in short season Tri-City. The answer is complicated, but I'm sure that the desire to launch the new affiliate location with a winning team played into the decision somewhat.
In any case, while Butler did rank as high as 5th on 4 separate ballots, the reason he's down at 13 on this list (he was 16th on mine) are likely tied to his merely okay strikeout rate (7.5 K/9) and his advanced age for the league. Continued success at higher levels will help to assuage these concerns.
Contract Status: 2012 Supplemental 1st Round, Not Rule 5 eligible, 3 options remaining
MLB ETA: 2016
12. Tim Wheeler (428 points, 23 ballots) -- Spring 2012 Ranking: 9 -- High Ballot 3, Mode Ballot 11
Wheeler, a 24 year-old lefty outfielder in AAA Colorado Springs, seemed to be very affected by injuries in 2012. After all, in 2011 Wheeler hit 33 homers and in 2012 he hit just 2 after sustaining a hamate bone injury. Wheeler managed to hit pretty well (.303/.352/.412), but if he's ever going to be anything more than a 4th outfielder, he's going to need to hit for power at the major league level.
Wheeler has played center field throughout his minor league career (though he split time at all 3 positions in 2012), which has set him apart somewhat from prospects like Corey Dickerson and Kyle Parker, but there are doubts about whether he will stick there in MLB. Another knock on the left-handed outfielder is that he hasn't demonstrated the ability to hit left-handed pitching consistently. That combined with his lack of power in every year except 2011 makes me a little leery of Wheeler's MLB prospects.
Then again, even without a ton of power, Wheeler is still a speedy outfielder with a (supplemental) first round pedigree who is on the verge of the major league level. If his power returns and he can become more than a platoon player offensively, he could be a league average outfielder, which is why I placed him 13th on my list. If not...well forget I said anything.
Contract Status: 2009 Supplemental 1st Round, Rule 5 eligible, 3 options remaining
MLB ETA: 2013
11. Edwar Cabrera (442 points, 23 ballots) -- Spring 2012 Ranking: 11 -- High Ballot 6, Mode Ballot 12
Cabrera, a 24 year-old (he turns 25 on Saturday) pitcher who bounced between AA Tulsa, AAA Colorado Springs, and the Rockies this year, has been an enigma for a couple of years now. After all, he's dominated almost everywhere he's pitched (Coors Field excepted) and has sported a career 11.1 K/9 rate, 3.13 ERA, and 1.14 WHIP over 7 minor league levels and 501 innings.
And yet, all of that is clouded by the fact that Cabrera has been old at every level he's pitched, he's given up a LOT of homers in the upper minors (21 last year in 129 minor league innings), and that he's more of a finesse pitcher with great control whose stuff might not strike out a bunch of major league hitters. Putting him 11th on this list (12th on my ballot) seems like a good settling place for Cabrera given the fact that his flaws/age keep him from the truly elite, while his performance at the upper levels pushes him above the second tier of prospects.
Contract Status: 2008 FA (DR), 40 Man Roster, 2 options remaining
MLB ETA: 2016
Stay tuned for more installments of the 2012 Fall PuRPs List in the coming days!