Rockies Retro: First Round Draft Pick History

With the MLB Draft taking place this Tuesday, I thought it would be appropriate to review the history of the Rockies' first round draft picks. Since the franchise first played in 1993 (and drafted in 1992), this is easily possible (so take that, Red Sox fans). Sandwich picks are included. So, without further adieu, here we go...

1992: John Burke (RHP - University of Florida - drafted 27th overall)

All of Burke's success with the organization came in the minor leagues. In 1993, he was a California League All-Star while posting a 3.20 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 119 innings. In 1995, Burke helped lead Colorado Springs to the PCL Championship, as he went 7-1 with a 4.55 ERA and was voted the league's best pitching prospect. However, it was all downhill for Burke once he reached the majors, finishing his career in 1997 with a total of 4 wins, 6 losses, and a 6.75 ERA in 28 appearances.

1993: Jamey Wright (RHP - Oklahoma City, OK - drafted 28th overall)

Wright has had a long and somewhat successful career as a big leaguer, and showed flashes of brilliance during his two stints with the Rockies, but wasn't really ever able to put it all together. He was unable to strike anybody out for the most part, and thus was extremely hittable - especially in pre-humidor Coors Field. His best year in the big leagues came last year with Texas, where he finished 8-7 with a 5.12 ERA.

1994: Doug Million (LHP - Sarasota, FL - drafted 7th overall)

Million was a highly regarded prospect, coming off a fantastic senior year in high school in which he was named the 1994 High School Player of the Year by Baseball America. He was 6-3 with a 2.20 ERA in his first professional season, and was making his way up the ladder in the Rockies organization before he tragically passed away on September 23, 1997 from a severe asthma attack.

1995: Todd Helton (1B - University of Tennessee - drafted 8th overall)

No explanation necessary...the guy's only been one of the best hitters and arguably the best defensive first baseman in baseball over the past decade-plus.

1996: Jake Westbrook (RHP - Danielsville, GA - drafted 21st overall)

Before he really had a chance to make any impact in the organization, Westbrook and two other minor leaguers were traded to the Expos for Mike Lansing in 1997. Soon after finding his way to the Indians organization, Westbrook had some success in the big leagues, as he won 44 games between 2004 and 2006. He's still with the Indians, but has been battling injuries for the past few seasons and is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery.

1997: Mark Mangum (RHP - Kingwood, TX - drafted 18th overall)

Mangum went 4-6 with a 4.80 ERA in Rookie league ball in '97. The next year, he was pitching in the Expos organization after being the PBTNL in a trade that brought Dave Veres to the Rockies. He never made it to the big leagues.

1998: Matt Roney (RHP - Edmond, OK - drafted 28th overall); Choo Freeman (OF - Rowlett, TX - drafted 36th overall); Jeff Winchester (C - Metairie, LA - drafted 40th overall)

Roney (with the Tigers and A's) and Freeman (with the Rockies) eventually made it to the big leagues, while Winchester (who is most famous for sharing a rookie card with Matt Holliday), did not. Roney and Freeman did not enjoy much success in the major leagues, and all three guys are now out of professional baseball.

1999: Jason Jennings (RHP - Baylor University - drafted 16th overall)

Jennings was the first Rockies pitching prospect to ever pan out at the major league level. He had a very successful cup of coffee in 2001, and was the 2002 National League Rookie of the Year. Following several more seasons that were deemed successful (the numbers weren't great, but he pitched at Coors Field for half of his games), Jennings was traded to the Houston Astros after the 2006 season for Taylor Buchholz, Jason Hirsh, and Willy Taveras. After battling injuries for a couple of seasons, Jennings has revived his career pitching out of the bullpen for the Rangers. He is currently 2-1 with a 3.12 ERA in 17 relief appearances.

2000: Matt Harrington (RHP - Palmdale, CA - drafted 7th overall)

Harrington's story has been well documented as of late. He failed to sign with the Rockies, and despite being drafted four more times, he never made it to the big leagues.

2001: Jayson Nix (SS - Midland, TX - drafted 44th overall)

The Rockies only had a compensation pick in 2001 (granted to them for their failure to sign Harrington a year earlier), and they used it to draft Nix, a prototypical "AAAA player" who spent 8 years in the organization (but only a portion of 2008 with the Rockies) before being picked up by the White Sox prior to this season. Although he's shown a little bit of pop (4 HRs in 56 ABs), Nix's OBP is just .297.

2002: Jeff Francis (LHP - University of Lethbridge - drafted 9th overall)

Francis cruised through the Rockies organization, posting a 29-12 career minor league record before breaking in for good with the big league club in 2004. Francis is the franchise's all-time leader in victories for a left-handed pitcher. He also led the Rockies staff with 17 wins in 2007. He struggled while trying to pitch through an injury last year, though, and is sidelined for all of 2009 with said injury. It's safe to say that overall, though, he's been a success.

2003: Ian Stewart (3B - La Quinta, CA - drafted 10th overall)

From this point on, the jury's still out on everybody and that's certainly the case with Stewart, who has the potential to be a star at the major league level. He currently leads the team with 9 home runs this season, and his bat is beginning to heat up as of late.

2004: Chris Nelson (SS - Stone Mountain, GA - 9th overall)

Nelson has shown the potential to be an impact player in the big leagues, but he has battled with injuries and inconsistency so far in his minor league career, and has yet to advance past AA.  However, he performed well and received rave reviews in the Arizona Fall League in 2008, so the hype is definitely still there. He's currently hitting .280/.355/.477 in a repeat year with Tulsa.

2005: Troy Tulowitzki (SS - Long Beach State University - drafted 7th overall); Chaz Roe (RHP - Lexington, KY - drafted 32nd overall)

Tulowitzki has basically been the big league version of Chris Nelson (a fast start followed by struggles with injuries and inconsistency), but there's no denying that he's a terrific ballplayer and that he still has a bright future. However, the time to make adjustments is NOW, and some time spent in AAA may not be a bad thing for Tulo at this point. Roe is 27-22 with a 4.25 ERA in 5 minor league seasons, and is currently pitching out of the bullpen for Tulsa. At some point in the future, he should break in with the Rockies in some capacity.

2006: Greg Reynolds (LHP - Stanford University - drafted 2nd overall)

Much has been made of the fact the Reynolds was taken ahead of guys like Evan Longoria and Tim Lincecum, among others, but it's way too early to label Reynolds as a bust. Sure, he has not been good (albeit, in a small sample size) at the big league level. Right now, however, the key to any success he wants to have is how quickly he can bounce back from injury. He's made only one start this year, and he was roughed up.

2007: Casey Weathers (RHP - Vanderbilt University - drafted 8th overall)

Weathers is sitting out the 2009 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He was very strong before the injury, so let's hope he's able to return to form. If so, there's no reason to think he won't be in a Rockies uniform at some point in 2010.

2008: Christian Friedrich (LHP - Eastern Kentucky University - drafted 25th overall)

Friedrich was thought of as being a steal at the time he was drafted, and so far he's shown no reason to think otherwise. After dominating in low-A to begin the season, he's now pitching well in Modesto (high-A). He could be a candidate to join the Rockies rotation at some point in 2010, provided he's handled correctly at the minor league level.

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