The Rockies protected outfielder Tim Wheeler (purchased from AAA), right-handed pitcher Joe Gardner (purchased from AA) and shortstop Cristhian Adames (purchased from A+). These were the three players I most expected to be protected from the draft. Wheeler will likely be repeating a season with the Sky Sox in 2013, where the organization hopes he will regain his power after a hand injury sapped it from the 2012 campaign. Gardner may see time as both a starter and a reliever with the Sky Sox and/or Drillers next season, with Adames likely manning the shortstop position full time with Tulsa.
Already protected from the draft this year were Rob Scahill and Rafael Ortega, purchased from the minors during the season. Notable players left unprotected include outfielder Kent Matthes and right-handed pitcher Coty Woods, who put up fights for spots in the Arizona Fall League this year, as well as first baseman Ben Paulsen, who may be in line to repeat his third straight year with the Drillers. Parker Frazier, Dan Houston and Nick Schmidt represented long-shot protection candidates who have already survived a year of eligibility to the draft.
In addition, the Rockies pre-emptively freed up some extra roster space by completing a second wave of outright assignments. Outfielder Andrew Brown and first baseman/outfielder Matt McBride were removed from the roster outright, and sent to the Sky Sox. McBride will be headed for MiLB Free Agency automatically, while Brown will be allowed to choose whether to depart or to remain on his MiLB contract, which has one more year remaining on it. Because both players cleared waivers for the move to be made, this action was planned for at least three days prior. Because the Rockies did not fill their spots with additional Rule 5 protectees, it is likely that the Rockies intend to use these spots for incoming players via trade or free agency at the Winter Meetings.