Rockies draft history: Matt Harrington, Casey Weathers lead list of busts

Chris Trotman

Taking a look at some of the biggest draft busts in Rockies franchise history.

In the first round of the MLB draft, sometimes you take a Troy Tulowitzki or a Todd Helton, and sometimes you don't. In fact, throughout the Rockies' history, they have only taken seven players in the first round that to date have posted five WAR or better, that could obviously change with the likes of Jon Gray and David Dahl on the way, but there have certainly been a number of busts in the Rockies' draft history. Here's a list of the top 10.

10. LHP Christian Friedrich (2008, 25th overall, 16 MLB games, 0.1 WAR)

After going to the World Series in 2007, the Rockies tried to follow the Jeff Francis model in the 2008 draft, taking Friedrich, a college lefty with solid off-speed stuff out of Eastern Kentucky. However, thanks to injuries and ineffectiveness, Friedrich's Rockies career never took off. To date he has started 16 games with the Rockies, all in 2012, with a 6.17 ERA in 84 2/3 innings pitched. He missed most of 2013 with a back injury and  to date has a 6.91 ERA through 10 starts in Colorado Springs in 2014.

9. RHP Chaz Roe (2005, 32nd overall, 21 MLB games, 0.0 WAR)

After taking Tulowitzki with their first pick in 2005, the Rockies followed up in the sandwich round by taking Roe, a hard-throwing right-hander from Lafayette High School in Lexington, Ky. However, Roe struggled throughout his minor league career, posting an ERA below  four just once in six seasons in the Rockies farm system, a 3.15 mark in 2009 in Tulsa. He was traded by the Rockies to the Mariners in December 2010 for Jose Lopez. Roe finally made his MLB debut in 2013 with Arizona, posting a 4.03 ERA in 21 relief appearances. He is currently in the Marlins system, with a 3.71 ERA as a reliever at AAA New Orleans.

8. RHP Matt Roney (1998, 28th overall, 48 MLB games, 0.0 WAR)

Roney was another Rockies top pick as a pitcher that battled injuries in his minor league career. The righty out of Edmond, Okla. missed all of 1999 with an injury and never made it above AA in the Rockies system before being taken by the Pirates in the Rule 5 draft in 2002. Roney made his MLB debut with the woeful 2003 Tigers, making 45 appearances and 11 starts, going 1-9 with a 5.45 ERA. He also made three appearances with the Blue Jays in 2006 before a drug suspension in 2007 effectively ended his professional baseball career.

7. C Jeff Winchester (1998, 40th overall, 0 MLB games)

The 1998 draft was not a good one for the Rockies, despite having three of the top 40 selections. After taking Roney with their first pick, they went for Winchester a catcher from Archbishop Rummel High School in Louisiana with the second of their two sandwich picks (you'll see the first one later.) Winchester just never succeeded at the professional level, hitting .227/.298/.363 in nine minor league seasons, seven of which came in the Rockies system. He never made it past AA. Winchester is currently back home in Louisiana running a youth baseball program.

6. SS Chris Nelson (2004, ninth overall, 255 MLB games, -2.3 WAR)

You can't help but feel a little bit bad for Nelson, whose "shortstop of the future" mantle was usurped when the Rockies drafted Tulowitzki in 2005. Nelson had some decent seasons in the minors, notably posting an .861 OPS in Modesto in 2007. He finally made the big leagues in 2010, spending parts of four seasons with the Rockies, hitting .279/.322/.416 in 616 at bats before being released by the Rockies in April 2013. He is currently with the Reds at AAA Louisville.

5. RHP John Burke (1992, 27th overall, 28 MLB games, -0.5 WAR)

With their first ever draft pick, the Rockies were perhaps a bit sentimental in taking Burke, a right-hander from Cherry Creek High School in Denver and the University of Florida. Burke was actually pretty good in his first two years in the minors, posting ERAs of 2.41 and 3.17, but the wheels fell off for Burke in 1994 and never really came back on. He made his Rockies debut in 1996, with a 7.47 ERA in 15 2/3 innings of relief. He followed that up with a 6.56 ERA in 1997, the last  time he would be in the big leagues. Burke currently resides in Littleton, Colo.

4. OF Choo Freeman (1998, 36th overall, 151 MLB games, -1.7 WAR)

When the Rockies took Freeman with a sandwich pick in 1998, they probably thought he's put together a career similar to his cousin, Torii Hunter, and they were wrong. Freeman turned out to be one of those guys that was more athlete than ball player, with just a .746 OPS in the minor leagues. He made his Rockies debut in 2004, spending parts of three seasons with the big club, hitting .225 with three home runs in 285 career at bats in the majors.

3. RHP Greg Reynolds (2006, second overall, 33 MLB games, -1.6 WAR)

Probably the most-discussed Rockies bust to date, thanks to the gaggle of all-stars taken behind him in the 2006 draft, Reynolds' selection was actually quite defensible at the time. The 6'8" righty out of Stanford with the mid-90s fastball posted a 2.05 ERA in 114 innings at Modesto and Tulsa in his first two pro seasons before the shoulder injury that derailed his career.

The injury sapped a good deal of Reynolds' velocity and with it most of his effectiveness. He pitched in 27 games in the Rockies in 2008 and 2011, making 16 starts and posting a 7.47 ERA in 94 innings. He is currently pitching in Japan for the Satima Seibu Lions, with a 5.52 ERA in 29 1/3 innings this season.

2. RHP Casey Weathers (2007, eighth overall, 0 MLB games)

Despite the uproar over Reynolds, the Rockies actually made a much worse pick a year later when they took Weathers. While the selection of Reynolds was somewhat defensible, the selection of Weathers was not. It is just a bad idea to take a relief pitcher with the eighth overall pick in the draft. Weathers never made it above AA with the Rockies, posting a 4.20 ERA in 135 innings and 132 appearances. Weathers recently signed a minor league deal with Tampa Bay.

1. RHP Matt Harrington (2000, seventh overall, 0 MLB games)

Harrington has become a cautionary tale for both players and teams alike when it comes to the MLB draft. After turning down a $4.9 million signing bonus from the Rockies as the seventh overall pick out of Palmdale (Calif.) High School in 2000, not only did Harrington never play in the majors, he never played in the minors. The meager professional career he had consisted of seven seasons pitching in independent ball. According to this fantastic piece on Harrington by ESPN's Amy K. Nelson, he is currently working in the tire department at the Costco in Palmdale.

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