Prospect Debate: Brody Colvin, Cameron Rupp, Gabriel Lino

Since there is a lot of debate about the placement of guys towards the back of the rankings with huge swings in their value.  Brad and I are going to take on some of them that we have very different opinions on and debate where we think they should rank and what their upside is going forward.

Brody Colvin (RHP):

Ranking: Brad – 19, Matt – 30-35

Brad: Listen, I’m of the mindset that relievers, even those that are headed for the back of the bullpen, don’t belong high on prospect lists until they are knocking on the MLB door, (Aumont and DeFratus are in my top 15, Kenny Giles barely makes my top 30, for example).

So, if I thought there were zero chance Colvin was going to make it as a starter, or if I didn’t think his back-up plan was a back-end bullpen guy, I would probably have him way down the list - maybe in the early 30s. But there is still a chance he pulls his control together and sticks as a starter, at which point his ceiling would probably go back to a mid-rotation starter at least. He has the stuff to do it, but his control is obviously the issue.

Last season, for the period of time he was in the bullpen at Clearwater and after, he was pretty good.  In a very small bullpen sample, he threw 9IP and have up 9H 3BB and struck out 9. This really did seem to calm him down a little when he came back to the rotation, where he had basically 2 bad starts out of his next 9 before going to AA and imploding. Is imploding the right term? Seems right.

So what will happen at AA in 2013? Hard to say. I get the feeling from interviews that he’s in his head a little too much, pretty much all the time. That’s something that can be managed if he can regain his confidence.  So, assuming he’s somehow in a good mental state, and that leads him to maintain his control as he did for a couple months in the middle of 2012, I remain mildly hopeful that he can become a starter.

Matt: I have been a huge Colvin supporter up until this offseason.  There is a point where you need more than stuff to succeed.  The problem with Colvin is the stuff isn’t always there and even when it is the results aren’t always there.

Much of Colvin’s status was built on his 2010 campaign.  It was a good year but it wasn’t dominating.  Colvin has never had a year with a K/9 over 8, he just doesn’t miss bats for a guy with his raw stuff.  It would be much different if Colvin was having a mediocre year (2011) and a really bad year (2012) if he was coming off of sustained success.  Colvin however really only has a season of good but not great performance.  He will have to not only return to previous levels to reach his potential, but he will have to set a new level of performance

I see a zero chance Colvin is a starter and even as a bullpen piece I only ranked him this high on the stuff.  There are some serious problems here with control and make up and it just has gone on too long to give him a pass for it.

Brad’s Rebuttal: Zero chance? ZERO? (Well thought-out rebuttal by me, I know)

Cameron Rupp (C):

Ranking: Brad – 23, Matt 35-40

Brad: CAMERON RUPP IS THE FINEST PROSPECT IN THE WORLD – A FUTURE MVP!!!!! I only have him at 23 because I’m pretty sure I’m at least a little bit wrong about that.

Truly obvious to anyone who reads my blurbs on the Box Score Recap during the season, I like Cameron Rupp. When he was on a tear last summer, I was giddy looking at his “Last 10 Games” stats on MiLB.com every day. There was a time there when he was OPSing something like 1.200 in that rolling 10 game window for three weeks in a row. AMAZING! Yes, I admit freely that he was old for his league. He played 2012 as an old 23 year old (turned 24 in September), in a league where the average was 22.7 (per BRef).

So, why do I like him as much as I do? I have made essentially the same argument before, but here it is: in my opinion, he’s good enough and tracking in the right direction to see him having a 3-5 year window of being a just below average/average big league regular at the plate and probably about the same behind it, with back-up roles in the years beyond that. And that kind of player is valuable. He’s no Buster Posey. He’s not going to be anyone’s franchise player, but he’s a good backstop with a good arm, and he’s got at least a fair amount of power, without sacrificing plate discipline.

At the dish, he had a real good 2012.  Walks were up over 10%, Ks were down below 20%. He hit 10HR in Clearwater in 390 PAs, hardly a number to sneeze at for a catcher in that environment, and his power was way up from 2011, with an ISO of .157.  His wOBA came in at .355, with a wRC+ of 120. Good. Not spectacular, but good and trending better than 2011.

Rupp is a bit of a victim of circumstance at this point. Instead of being blocked by Sebastian Valle, as he was when he started to get hot in June and July of 2012, he’s now blocked by both Valle and Tommy Joseph. Sick burn, Rube.

No matter how things shake out, I think the man has a future in the big leagues. And compared with some of the question marks I have in the mid-20s on my list, he’s practically a lock to add value to the big league club, whether on the field or as part of a trade.

Matt: The first thing that jumps out with Rupp is his age, the problem with it is, you really cannot predict a ton more growth in skills.  So what you have is a solid catcher with no great skills but no real weaknesses.  To me especially for a player that hasn’t yet reached AA this is a back up profile.  I have no doubt that Rupp will have a major league career, I just look at the profile and there is nothing that says starter, he is good defensively but not enough to carry him, and the bat is good but not good enough, and there is a real lack of carrying tool (Valle has power and recieving, and Joseph has power and a arm).

So the value of a career back up just isn’t high enough to value Rupp higher than the high upside players towards the back of the list.  If you were betting on who would make the majors of the players this low on the list Rupp is the favorite, but I am not sure there is enough ceiling there to rank based on the safety.

Brad’s Rebuttal: Yeah, fine, whatever. I love this guy!

Gabriel Lino (C):

Ranking: Matt – 30, Brad – 46

Matt:  I am going to start out by saying I acknowledge that Lino has some huge flaws to his game.  He might have the largest gap between tools and results of any player in the system.  But while his season looks bad on the surface lets put it into perspective.  Here is a set of stat lines both in Lakewood only (both played partial years in other parks), both batters were the same age

Player A: .223/.313/.331, 8.9 BB%, 20.7 K%, .306 wOBA, 89 wRC+

Player B: .220/.304/.356, 9.5 BB%, 22.3 K%, .309 wOBA, 85 wRC+

Player A is Sebastian Valle’s 2009 Lakewood campaign (he also played in Williamsport where he mashed, he would repeat LKW in 2010), Player B is Gabriel Lino after the trade this year.  After the offseason Valle was ranked by Baseball America as the #7 prospect in the system.  The only difference is that Valle was sent back to Williamsport midseason and Lino was left to handle the South Atlantic League.

Now to the tools, Lino has huge raw power but he hasn’t been able to fully put it into game action, some of the reason is the hit tool.  The scouting reports say that Lino has a great approach at the plate (something Valle showed for the last time in this small Lakewood sample), the problem is his swing is very noisy and while he has great pitch recognition and even good two strike approach he struggles to put the bat on the ball.  In the field Lino is once again really toolsy, his arm is his greatest strength, but there is a hitch in his motion that slows his pop times, he has good instincts on receiving but his footwork and fundamentals could use some work.  The good news is Lino is only 19 so there is plenty of time for him to make a return trip to Lakewood to work on things without taking a step back in the developmental process, if he can put it together he is a monster prospect.

Brad:

Here’s where we agree, Matt. Lino has some huge flaws to his game. The disagreement comes from how we look at his upside versus the red flags, I think. I see a guy who’s absolutely young for his league, and that’s fine. He had a good month of August, fueled in part by some good batted ball luck, though he did show some power there as well. His throw out rate for the year was ok – 29%, per BRef. For a guy with his supposed arm strength, he’s not scaring people off with a throw-out rate around 30.

I kinda think he should have been in short season again in 2012 to start, but he wasn’t. Was that due to the O’s being extra aggressive, knowing he’s 2 years away from needing a 40-man spot to avoid being exposed to the Rule 5 draft? Could be. Did it help his development or hinder it? Hard to say.  But in the end, for the year, he showed an ok BB rate of 8% and a borderline dangerous K rate of 25.9%. That’s a red flag, to me. Too many Ks.

We know Joe Jordan knew of this guy, and likely it was his valuation that got Lino to the Phils in the first place, so maybe there’s really something there to get excited about. He’s got tools to dream on, but so far, it’s a lot of dreaming and not great results and a couple of red flags.

Matt, you did win me over a little bit though. After reading your logic and re-evaluating, I moved him from #49 to #46 on my list. Sorry, previous #46-48 Chris Serritella, Brian Pointer & Justin Friend. I’m sure they’re devastated.

Matt: I guess I am banking on him improving his swing to close up some of the holes (best case scenario is he is a .240 hitter in the majors if he makes it), allowing his good pitch recognition to come through.  On defense I just don’t think it will be impossible for a 19 year old to work out some footwork and mechanics issues.  Glad to see you move him up some.

I think this was favorite piece to have written for this site, it forced me to go in depth on my opinions, I might have been a bit too low on Rupp and his safety.  I hope everyone enjoyed this, feel free to debate our points and if there are any guys you want to see us debate give us suggestions and we will see what we can do.

About Matt Winkelman

Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has previously appeared on Phuture Phillies and The Good Phight. You can read his work at Phillies Minor Thoughts

23 thoughts on “Prospect Debate: Brody Colvin, Cameron Rupp, Gabriel Lino

  1. Brad is a little higher on Colvin than I am. Matt is too low. Adv Brad
    Brad is higher on CRupp than I am. Matt is similar to my ranking. Adv Matt
    Brad is much lower on Lino than I am. Matt is similar to my rank. Adv Matt

    1. I have been down on Colvin, for two seasons due to no performance, but I think he is still top 25. He is basically Ethan Martin at the beginning of 2012.

      I really don’t see the enthusiasm for Cameron Rupp. A college catcher drafted in 2010, that hasn’t graduated to AA? He was good in High A. Not spectacular. A good catching prospect from a major program should be able to handle high A in his draft year. Rupp hasn’t done anything.

      Gab Lino killed GCL. Skipped NYP, then played full-season at an age younger than Quinn and LGj. Lino had a better year in the GCL at age 18, than Dylan Cozens. He is a catcher. He should even be higher on Matt’s list. I don’t know what 45 players Brad could possibly have ahead of Lino.

      1. Once you start ranking the back of the list it gets tough on the high upside guys. For example I can’t find room right now (my list is still a little in flux) for Vargas, Velis, Mecias, Manny Martinez, and Grullon. Then there is the whole slog of higher level guys that aren’t on the list either like Cloyd, Pointer, Perkins, Colvin, Rupp, and Diekman that I wanted to put in that 25-30 range. At the end of the day I had 45 guys I wanted to find spots for and I couldn’t fit them all and brad was likely similar

        1. I can honestly say that I had about 35-37 guys that I gave serious consideration to the top 30. I squeezed Vargas Lino, Grullon and Pujols on to the end of my list, because the guys I left off don’t have any serious upside. Guys like Rupp, who is a college guy, who hasn’t made it to AA, or Altherr and Dugan, who are 4 year pros (who have only moved 3 levels) aren’t anything to get excited about.

          1. I’m glad that I am not the only Rupp believer. He has the best current tools as a defensive catcher to play at the ML Level. great right up!

  2. Out of all these guys I like Rupp the best. I love what he did at CLW and with catchers I’m not very concerned about age. Ruiz became a regular at 28. Rupp is at least a solid backup with a possibility of more. A lot will depend on his defense.

  3. I have all these guys in the 20s on my list, within 5 spots of each other. I have Rupp the highest, then Colvin, then Lino. I may move Colvin ahead of Rupp though.

  4. I wish the best for all three. The two catchers will receive more patience because of the responsibility of heir position. I think the “not advancing to AA” argument is not valid given the personnel changes last year. Colvin is the enigma. The problem has always been his head. Where is Steve Carlton’s psychologst? Colvin should be a major leaguer, but shouldn’t they all.

  5. Rupp as a given major leaguer (as agreed by both in the debate) for me puts him quite his on a prospect list. How many of these other guys will even make it that far?
    Look at the absolutely horrendous backup catchers in the Majors. I really think Rupp could have a 10+ year career, maybe only briefly as a starter. I guess from a WAR or Salary perspective he will not be that valuable. Catchers are valuable prospects, and even as a backup he likely starts about 40 games a year.

    Having said all that about catchers, I have Lino off the Top30. I actually forgot about him as a prospect. I guess if I believe the scouting report that does not even come close to matching the output on the field then I could see him in the 25 to 30 range. For me he needs to at least have some useful production of the field. If he becomes Valle-like how could of prospect is that?

    And just to show that I am wildly inconsistent, I have Colvin ranked pretty high. In his case I believe the talent is really there and he will just take extra time to figure it out. I agree with Matt’s points that he has so infrequently shown talent that it seems unreasonable to expect him to put it all together. I really like the multiple pitch arsenal and ability to throw innings so I hope he can at least get to the majors as a starter.

    1. Lino compares to Valle at Lakewood, but maybe in a few years he’ll be a better prospect than Valle is now. Valle lost (just about) all his ability to draw a walk. Maybe Lino doesn’t as he moves up the ladder. I think Lino’s ISO and walk rates were pretty solid at Lakewood, since he was better with the Phils than he was before the trade. He just needs to lower the K rate.

      1. Lino hit better than Cozens in the GCL at same age the previous season. Then then performed the same as Valle after being jumped to Lakewood at similar age. Valle is the #15, and Cozens will probably be top 20. But Lino isn’t top 30?

    2. I was just looking at Walding’s numbers from last year and something interesting struck me: His LD% rose and GB% fell as his average plummeted during the course of the year. In June, he hit .383 with a 14%LD and a 67%GB. By August, when he hit .185, it was 19%/47%.

      I can’t imagine how this would work, except to say that he had extremely good fortune during the first part of the year and extremely bad fortune the second part. I’m interested to see what he can do with a full season if that good/bad luck can stabilize.

  6. On topic of other debatable prospects….
    Walding – great scouting report but poor resutls. Since I am reminded of him, how about Tyler Greene, anyone willing to list him at 30 just to say I told you so if he turns it around?

    Dugan was tough ranking for me. I do not think he will have any above average major league skill, which makes him a good average OF at best. He seems too far behind but I expect guys to move at least a level a year.

    I just grouped Altherr and Pointer together right around 30. I really expected Pointer to be a breakout candidate last year and he was terrible. Altherr was a Top10 guy in a short season league but I suppose his upside is an average CF (with some speed). That is pretty valuable so maybe he should be higher that I have him.

    There are plenty of young pitchers I know little to nothing about who’d be good debate topics, but Percy Garner is a guy I am interested in this year. I expected him to take extra development time so he is way too old for his league. The high draft status may contribute to my inflated opinion of him.

    Jiwan James is one more guy I find interesting. I am still surprised nobody has taken him in the last two Rule5 drafts. He has a major league skill in CF defense. He has a major league tool in his speed. That alone makes him a defensive replacement / pinch runner in the majors. If he could actually learn to steal bases and either strikeout less or hit for more power, he’d be a quality prospect. He is the type of player added to post season rosters.

  7. I kinda like Rupp better than Valle at this point. Most of it’s due to Valle lack of plate discipline, but I agree with Brad that Rupp seems like he could be a viable second division starter or good backup.

  8. Prospect question generally: with recent college hitters, at what point do they go from too old for the low levels to intriguing? So like Cameron Perkins and Chris Serritella. Both were born in 1990, so they were probably 1-2 years too old for NYPL but both hit well, so they certainly didn’t fail. Do they get skipped to Clearwater where they’d be more age appropriate and if they hang there then we take notice or do we assume unless their numbers are ungodly they aren’t prospects?

    1. You need a combination of scouting reports and results. So much of where they go initially has to do with where there is space, so it is inevitable they will be old for where they go. Both of those guys should get jumped to Clearwater and Joe Jordan has said as such. They don’t need to dominate but they definitely need to hold their own and show something that is carrying tool to the majors.

  9. I remain a big fan of Colvin’s potential. Having seen him throw next to guys like Biddle and May and JRod and Pettibone, I feel very strongly his raw stuff is the best of that group. I felt like had the Phils left him at A ball to end the year he would have gained momentum into the offseason. I’m writing down some predictions I have for this upcoming season, and one of them on my list is that Colvin will have a big year and leap into the top 5 next year this time. I could be completely wrong on that as its just a hunch, but I really think he’s close.

    1. From your lips to God’s ears or at least Colvin’s ears. I’ve been saying that same thing for 2 years. “This will be the year.” At some point, I have to give up and move on. I may reserve #30 for Colvin, as I did for Hewitt a few years back.

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