May 13, 2008 2:24 PM
Rockies draft review 2003-07
If a team can get two productive MLB players from a draft, including one in a major role, it's usually considered a success. I'm setting the bar a little higher than that, though, as a team with a build-from-within philosophy like the Rockies will need a sturdier pipeline:
A - Four or more picks likely to see significant time in the majors, at least two above-average starters.
B - Three picks with significant time, one above-average starter.
C - Two or more picks with significant time, one above-average starters.
D - One or two picks with significant time, no above-average starters.
F - No picks playing significant time in the majors.
Top pick: 3B Ian Stewart
Other notable picks still in the system: C Rick Guarno (4), UT Christian Colonel (5), OF Cole Garner (26), 2B Eric Young Jr. (30), IF Jason Van Kooten (46).
Best pick: Stewart -- Ian's had nine hits go for extra bases in his current eight-game hit streak.
Missed chances: With the 47th overall pick in the second round, the Rockies selected Texas A&M pitcher Scott Beerer, who made it as far as Modesto in 2006 before deciding to hang up the cleats. Nine other players selected in the second round after Beerer have gone on to play in the majors, including the Dodgers' Andre Ethier and the Astros' Jason Hirsh.
Draft in a nutshell: Without Stewart, the 2003 draft would have to be considered a bust. While the remaining five players have varying chances of making it to the MLB level, none -- with the possible exception of Young -- project as potential starters. If the speed of Young and the power of Stewart pan out, though, the Rockies will certainly be happy with the results of this one.
Current grade: C
Top pick: SS Chris Nelson.
Others: OF Seth Smith (2), RHP Steven Register (3), C Chris Iannetta (4), 1B Joe Koshansky (6), RHP Jarrett Grube (10), RHP David Patton (12), OF Matt Miller (13), OF Dexter Fowler (14), OF Justin Nelson (15), IF Jeff Dragicevich (18), LHP Josh Newman (19), LHP Xavier Cedeno (31).
Best pick: Nelson? Iannetta? Fowler? It's hard to decide among those three.
Missed chances: I guess that if you are nitpicky, Hunter Pence was drafted in the second round after Smith, but it's hard to find any fault at all with this draft. Todd Frazier, a 37th-round pick, had a strong commitment to Rutgers and wound up being the 34th overall selection by the Reds in the 2007 draft.
Draft in a nutshell: This should be considered the best draft in Rockies history, and one of the best drafts by any MLB club this decade. Already four players have seen time with the major league team, with Josh Newman joining that club a couple weeks ago. Register nearly made the Mets out of spring training as a Rule 5 pick before being returned to the Rockies. Of course, the two picks with the most potential impact, Nelson and Fowler, have yet to arrive. Additionally, two other picks, pitcher Jim Miller (8) and third baseman Matt Macri (5), were used in trades that were instrumental in the Rockies' 2007 NL pennant-winning season. Miller was part of the trade that brought in Rodrigo Lopez, and Macri was traded to the Twins for Game 163 winner, Ramon Ortiz.
Current grade: A+.
Top Pick: SS Troy Tulowitzki.
Others: RHP Chaz Roe (1S), OF Daniel Carte (2) LHP Brandon Durden (4), RHP Joshua Sullivan (5), UT Corey Wimberly (6), IF Geoff Strickland (7), RHP James Burok (8), RHP Andrew Johnston (9), OF Chris Frey (11), 1B Michael Paulk (13), OF Travis Becktel (15), OF Bret Berglund (16)
Best pick: Tulowitzki -- He alone could have made this draft a winner for the Rockies.
Missed chances: Third-round pick Kyle Hancock signed a contract with the Rockies but had second thoughts and backed out before making a single professional pitch. Several highly regarded prospects were taken after the Hancock pick, including Texas catcher Taylor Teagarden and Indians pitcher Jensen Lewis.
Draft in a mutshell: While outside of Tulo, this draft lacks star power, it makes up for that with quality depth. Roe will likely fit well into the back end of an MLB rotation, and there are also a few quality relief prospects like Johnston and Burok. Frey's a plus defender in center with a strong arm and could be Fowler's backup in a couple of seasons. He's currently hitting .315 with the Sky Sox and is a big reason why the Rockies feel comfortable shopping Cory Sullivan for trades.
Current Grade: B.
Top pick: RHP Greg Reynolds.
Others: OF David Christensen (2), LHP Keith Weiser (3), RHP Craig Baker (4), SS Helder Velazquez (5), C Michael McKenry (7), RHP Brandon Hynick (8), RHP William Harris (9), 1B Jeff Kindel (14), SS Zack Murry (19), SS Shane Lowe (29), OF Scott Robinson (30).
Best pick: Reynolds -- With his MLB debut Sunday, Reynolds rose through the Rockies system faster than any other pitcher the club has drafted, including fellow first-rounders Jeff Francis and Jason Jennings.
Missed chances: There's frequent criticism of both of the Rockies' first two picks in this draft, notable players taken after Reynolds include the Rays' Evan Longoria, the Giants' Tim Lincecum and the D-backs' Max Scherzer. Meanwhile, a trio of second-round high school pitchers -- Chris Tillman of the Mariners, and two currently with the Athletics, Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson, are putting up impressive numbers a level ahead of Christensen.
Draft in a nutshell: This was an interesting draft, with a mix of polished collegiate and very raw high school position talent taken by the Rockies added to a bunch of strike-throwing, mostly collegiate, hurlers. The complaints about this draft center around a lack of star power, but a close inspection shows a solid development pattern occurring and little attrition. There were a couple of later-round finds like Hynick and McKenry, and the high school picks are emerging as quality sleepers, who should see their stock rise in the next couple of seasons as their bodies and skills develop.
Current grade: B . This is probably the least clear of the five drafts mentioned here. I'm figuring on some more attrition to occur, but if some of the players who've had slow starts this season turn it around in the second half, we could see the grade rise to the A level.
Top pick: Casey Weathers.
Others: OF Brian Rike (2), C Lars Davis (3), RHP Connor Graham (5), RHP Cory Riordan (6), 1B Jeff Cunningham (7), 3B Darin Holcomb (11).
Best pick: I've got to go with Weathers right now, but there's competition on this year's Asheville team.
Missed chances: This solid draft would have looked even better had the Rockies been able to pry 14th-round pick Kentrail Davis from his University of Tennessee commitment. After rebuffing a considerable offer from the Rockies, Davis now leads the Volunteers in batting average, home runs and RBI as a true freshman.
Draft in a nutshell: There was immediate second guessing of the Casey Weathers pick after it was made, albeit, of all the players taken in the first round, only Ross Detwiler of the Nationals -- taken two spots before Weathers -- has advanced further through his team's system. Weathers is on pace to break the club mark Greg Reynolds set for fastest ascent to the majors by the end of the season, Graham and Riordan are looking like legitimate major league-quality pitchers, and Rike, Cunningham, Holcomb and Mitchell are producing solidly at the heart of the order for the first-place Asheville Tourists. In other words, so far, so good with the more polished picks. As the short-season teams get under way, we'll be able to see how the less refined and younger players have been progressing, but already this draft's looking like a winner.
Current grade: A
Colorado Springs: Ian Stewart was named the PCL's player of the week for his dominating performance. Stewart currently leads the Rockies system in home runs (9, tied with Brian Rike), triples (5), extra-base hits (21), and RBI (31). It's probably easy to miss with his 9.29 ERA overall, but Victor Zambrano hasn't allowed a run in five innings of relief work, including a pair of two-inning appearances last week that saw him allow just two hits and strike out six. ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick wrote a very moving update on Sky Sox vice president of marketing Rai Henniger, who has been recovering from an on-field fireworks display accident he suffered a year ago.
Tulsa: Right-handed pitcher Ching-Lung Lo had his best start of the season, a seven-inning, two-hit outing, and was named the Texas League's pitcher of the week. Left-handed pitcher Xavier Cedeno had some inflammation in his shoulder and missed his last two turns in the rotation. He has been pitching bullpens and should be back soon.
Modesto: On Sunday -- the same day Franklin Morales and three relievers were combining on the first no-hitter ever at Security Service Field -- Aneury Rodriguez pitched the California League's first nine-inning complete game of 2008, a one-hit shutout of Lake Elsinore. The lone hit Rodriguez allowed was a bloop double in the sixth, and he walked just two. Rodriguez's performance missed the cut-off to get him Cal League pitcher of the week honors, a distinction that went to teammate Shane Lindsay for a May 9 start that saw him throw seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing just three hits and one walk.
Asheville: David Christensen batted .500 (13-for-26) in the six games he played in on the Tourists' recent eight-game homestand. His 13 hits included three doubles and two home runs, both blasted in Saturday night's contest. He promptly went 0-for-4 with three K's when returning to the road Monday night, but he credits an altered batting stance for the improvement to his performance, according to the Asheville Citizen Times. Starters Cory Riordan and Jhoulys Chacin are both averaging more than 6 1/3 innings per start, which, given the strict pitch counts for the Rockies' minor league pitchers and their offense-friendly home park is a very impressive feat. Right-hander Sheng An Kuo seems eager to join them with three straight starts of seven innings or more. With strong starting pitching and a potent offense, Asheville took over first place this past weekend by taking three of four from the talented Charleston affiliate in the Yankees organization, outscoring the RiverDogs 32-13 over the four games.