Update [2006-12-7 9:23:20 by Rox Girl]:
And the winner of the Strop derby is... the Rockies! No team took Pedro in the Major League phase of the draft, the Rockies get to keep him for another season, at least. Let's hope he continues his dominance and progression into 2007.
According to Baseball America, Rockies farmhand Pedro Strop could be one of the first players selected in today's Rule 5 draft.
Strop was a graduate of the Rockies' Dominican academy and made his U.S. debut in Casper in 2003. At the time, he was a promising young shortstop who's greatest strengths were his defensive skills, but who had enough offensive tools to be considered a potential quality prospect in the infield. Of course, one of those defensive skills was his cannon arm and quick release, which foreshadowed his subsequent move to the mound. 2003 didn't show much promise as he struggled at the plate in one of the Minors' best hitting environments at Casper. Still, some of that was attributable to culture shock and Strop was graduated to the short season club at Tri-City in 2004.
That season started off with a bang for Strop, as he hit two homeruns in his first game with the Dust-Devils (Tri-City is a pitcher friendly environment, making it more impressive) and hopes were high that things would be clicking with him. This was about as high as expectations would get though, as he once again fell into a hitting funk and was soon to be overshadowed by Chris Nelson who was tearing up the Pioneer League circuit in Casper. Strop's final chance as an infielder came in 2005, but when he was quickly outpaced by teammate Jason Van Kooten at the plate, it became clear that if he were to remain a position player his ceiling would only be as minor-league filler.
He was called up to Asheville late that season, but not even friendly McCormick Stadium could rescue his bat, so the Rockies came to him with the idea of switching to the mound. Apparently he took to it like a fish to water. We started hearing the buzz out of the Dominican on the movement on Strop's plus fastball by the time pitchers were reporting to Tucson. By the time camp broke and extended Spring Training rolled around we heard he was quickly taking to a change-up and we were eagerly anticipating his pitching debut in professional competition. He didn't disappoint, mowing down Pioneer League hitters with a 15.23 K/9 rate. By the end of the short season he was already back in Asheville and still going strong.
The question, though, is whether a player who's been pitching professionally for less than a year could make it a full 162 game season on a Major League roster. We're about to find out, the Rule 5 Draft starts in a few moments.