As Tracy Ringolsby reported recently, Baseball America rated the Rockies' 2009 draft the best in baseball. With Tyler Matzek, Tim Wheeler, Rex Brothers, Chris Balcom-Miller, and Nolan Arendao, it's hard to argue otherwise. Still, we can't assess fully the impact of a draft class for at least another few years. The last time the Rockies had a draft class that could even be considered a good one was back in 2004.
That year our fellow NL West team, the San Diego Padres, controlled the first pick . . . and chose Matt Bush, a high school SS. Less than a month after being the first pick, Bush was involved in some sort of incident at a night club, which led to a temporary suspension. And then he failed as a hitter through the 2006 season. In 2007, he returned to the mound for the first time since high school. But Tommy John surgery claimed him that season. Moving to 2009, Bush allegedly took part in a drunken assault with high schoolers, leading the Padres to let him go. The Blue Jays acquired him, but then released him for violating the club's zero-tolerance policy right before the season began. At the end of June, he was hogtied and thrown into a police car after he resisted arrest on suspicion of drunken driving and vandalism (you can find the find out on there). He received community service and several fines. Dug his own hole, and the Padres received nothing after giving him over $3M as a signing bonus.
First round draft picks who are noteworthy because they have had major league success are: Justin Verlander (Tigers, 2nd), Jeff Niemann (Devil Rays, 4th), Jered Weaver (Angels, 12th), Billy Butler (Royals, 14th), Stephen Drew (D'Backs, 15th), Phil Hughes (Yankees, 23rd), J.P. Howell, (Royals, 31), and Huston Street (A's, 40th).
After the jump, we'll examine how the NL West compares internally.
NOTE: I look at each team based on draft order, which goes San Diego, Colorado, Arizona, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
San Diego Padres
Round 1: Matt Bush, SS - already discussed
Round 3: William Killian, C - Killian spent two seasons in the Padres' system before going to Texas with Adam Eaton for Adrian Gonzalez during the 05-06 offseason. Killian bounced around after 2006, spending 2007 in the minors for both Texas and Chicago (AL). He spent 2009 in the Orioles' farm system.
Round 4: Daryl Jones, OF - Not to be confused with the Daryl Jones drafted by the Cardinals in 2005, this Daryl never made it past the Midwest League, playing the level twice before heading to Indy ball in 2008.
Round 5: Sean Kazmar, SS - Kazmar reached the majors in 2008 for 19 games. He never hit higher than .267 over a full season and he peaked at 13 homers in 2006.He spent all of 2009 in Triple A.
Later Rounds: 12th round RHP Michael Ekstrom has thrown in 20 games for the Padres over the last two seasons. A starter for most of his career, Ekstrom has since taken to the pen. As a 42nd round DFE, 1B/OF Kyle Blanks is the big success of this draft class, ranking as the Padres #1 prospect (BA ranking) in 2009. He spent 54 games in the majors this season before coming down with a tear of his plantar fascia on his right foot. If the Padres trade Adrian Gonzalez, Blanks has a home there.
Round 1: Chris Nelson, SS - Nelson debuted to great success at Casper (.347/.432/.510), but didn't advance quickly. He played 79 games for Asheville in 2005 as result of a strained hamstring. He returned to Asheville in 2006 and played well enough to move up to Modesto in 2007. He had his finest season there: .289/.358/.503, 19 HR, 99 RBI, 27 SB. He struggled with Tulsa in 2008 before breaking the hamate bone in his left hand. Returning to Tulsa in 2009, hit .280/.335/.477 over 29 games before tearing a ligament in his right wrist. There's still some hope he can reach the majors, but all those injuries. . . .
Round 2: Seth Smith, OF - Smitty, Mr. Late Night, our hero. What more is there to say?
Round 4: Chris Iannetta, C - We know all about this guy and the debate he engenders.
Round 5: Matt Macri, INF: Played well in 18 games for the Twins in 2008, bu played all of 2009 in the minors with poor results. He will best be remembered by Rockies fans as the chip that acquired Ramon Ortiz in 2007.
Later Rounds: The Rockies picked up Dexter Fowler in the 14th round after teams believed he had a strong commitment to college. After the Rockies freed up some cash in the Larry Walker trade, Dex signed with the club. The Rockies drafted a number of players who say the majors with the team or elsewhere in the majors with Joe Koshansky (6th), Jim Miller (8th), David Patton (12th), and Josh Newman (19th). The Rockies also drafted Todd Frazier in the 37th round, a future supplemental first round draft pick by the Reds in 2007. Continuing their tradition of drafting QBs, the Rockies selected Louisville's starting QB over the next few years, Brian Brohm.
UPDATE: I received an e-mail earlier today informing that Matt Daley signed as an undrafted free agent in 2004, a move that escaped me when I wrote this. Though not actually drafted by the Rockies, undrafted free agents are as much a part of the draft as the the draft is to the draft. The Rockies really did know how to unearth talent.
Round 1: Stephen Drew, SS - He's no Troy Tulowitzki.
Round 2: Jon Zeringue, OF - Played in the system for three-plus years, moved to Indy ball, and then to the A's. He may have moved to the mound in 2009 for an Indy league team.
Round 4: Ross Ohlendorf, RHP - This Ivy Leaguer (Princeton) went to the Yankees in 2007 for Randy Johnson. Pitched in 25 games for the Yanks in 2008, but went to the Pirates in a trade that for Xavier Nady.
Round 5: Cesar Nicolas, 1B - Nicolas has spent the last two seasons at Double A Mobile.
Later Rounds: The D'Backs drafted some guy by the name of Mark Reynolds in the 16th round. 10th round RHP Steven Jackson went to NY along with Ohlendorf as part of the Johnson deal.
Round 1: Scott Elbert, LHP - Elbert battled back from 2007 shoulder surgery to make the majors in 2008 and 2009. He bounced back and forth between the minors and the Dodgers this season and capped the season with an appearance in the NLCS.
Round 1: Blake DeWitt, 2B - De Witt performed admirably in 2008 for the Dodgers, hitting .264/.344/.383 over 117 games. He struggled while in the majors for 31 games.
Round 1s: Justin Orenduff, RHP: Reached Triple A as a starter, but the Dodgers sent him to High A this season as a reliever.
Round 4: Luis Guerra, RHP - Did not make it as a starter, moved to the 'pen in 2008. Made it to Double A in 2009.
Round 5: Anthony Raglani, OF - As the last link points out, Raglani retired before the start of the 2008 season.
Later Rounds: Drafted future #1 overall pick David Price in the 17th round. Also drafted future Tiger Jeff Larish. Cory Wade went in the 10th round to the Dodgers. He pitched well for the Dodgers in 2008, but spent most of 2009 on the DL with a strained shoulder.
Round 2: Eddy Martinez-Esteve, OF - Martinez-Esteve's career has stalled at AA, spending 2006, 2008, and 2009 there. He's mastered the league the last two years but needs to move up.
Round 3: John Bowker, OF - Bowker complied most of his time in the majors in 2008, spending only 31 games with the club in 2009. Absolutely dominated Triple A this season.
Round 4: Clay Timpner, OF - Has spent a grand total of two games in the majors with the Giants.
Round 5: Garrett Broshius, RHP - Move along.
Later rounds: 12th round pick Kevin Frandsen has appeared in the majors with the Giants each of the last four seasons, but 2007 was the only time he received an extensive look. The Giants found real success in the 27th round by selecting Jonathan Sanchez who threw a no-hitter this past season. Despite a poor W-L record, Sanchez has a bright future.
Summary: The Padres and Giants blew it early in the draft, but found late-round successes in Blanks and Sanchez. The Dodgers had a so-so draft. Elbert and DeWitt have reached the majors, but it's a question of whether they'll be able to stay there. Cory Wade was overused in 2008 and disappeared for the most part this season. The D'Backs saw three of their top five picks make the majors, but only Drew made it with the team. The other two wade in the dank pools that are Pittsburgh and Washington. The Rockies saw four of their top five draft choices make the majors, three with them. Add in Dexter Fowler, that draft gets all the better. And with four other later-round selections making the majors (two with the Rockies), the club sure knew how to find eventual major league talent in 2004.