With this year's picks minutes away, I thought a review of last season's draft could help get into the mind of Bill Schmidt and Rockies' brass as they make their selections. Unlike last season, 2007 appears to have more talent that should run fairly deep, so a direct comparison won't always be of benefit, but it will at least give us a guidemark from which to see how 2007 is unfolding:
First Round: Greg Reynolds
It's a good thing that the baseball draft doesn't take place in Denver, at a public venue like the NFL in New York, as I suspect that all five in attendance would have booed as harshly as any Jets fans at the Rockies selection. Most draft experts would have selected any of the next five college pitchers taken after Reynolds, as well as the next two high school arms, before they would have turned their eyes on Greg. What's more, the one position player among the top seven picks, Evan Longoria, would have been preferable as well, and was apparently the last player eliminated before the Rockies called the name of the Stanford right-hander.
What followed last summer seemed to confirm the pundits' view of the matter as Longoria quickly exceeded even the most optimistic projections, and Lincecum dominated in similar fashion in brief stints in two leagues. Andrew Miller appeared in the big leagues and wasn't overwhelmed in relief, and Brandon Morrow started his ascent. The Rockies' only solace, seemingly, was relatively slow starts by number one pick Luke Hochevar of the Royals and number four pick Brad Lincoln of the Pirates, who Colorado also considered. There was also good news in Reynolds' performance, as he pitched well in an advanced league for first year entry. This season, he's taken another step forward in AA, and while Lincecum and Longoria are still clearly ahead at the moment, the selection of Reynolds at number two grows less far fetched with every start.
The lesson? Reynolds was selected not only because he was a quick sign, but also because his scouting profile showed a durable, starter that still had room for growth. Even in round one with the second selection in the draft, Bill Schmidt was looking for a player with both talent and value, a trait which will raise our hackles early, but we'll love later. We should expect no less today.
Second Round: David Christensen
Rockies scouts liked the raw package that Christensen offered, with plus power and a lot of potential, even if they knew he'd be a work in progress for some time before we started to see the results. They figured out that his signing demands fit at this slot, even though the rawness of his talent would probably have suggested a later choice, and because of this many thought that Christensen was college bound.
This was definitely a long term role of the dice pick, and we won't know for sure if it was a good choice for another couple of seasons at least yet, but it does tell us something about how risk fits in the Rockies' draft strategy. The size of a potential reward in talent will probably pull a couple of players up from where traditional measures and media would have them otherwise drafted, and the Rockies will look to go against the grain if it means the possibility of unearthing hidden talent.
Third through Fifth Round:
I group these three together as they seem to represent other ways that Schmidt tries to get a leg up on the competition. Weiser and Baker were both solid college arms that dropped out of early round consideration due to dead-arm hidden injury concerns. With Baker thus far, those concerns seem founded, while Weiser has been proving the skeptics wrong at Asheville. In the third through seventh round, look for at least one flyer on a damaged goods college player.
Velazquez and 2005 pick Xavier Cedeno represent how the strength of Rolando Fernandez and the Rockies' Latin scouting corps contribute on draft day as well as during the foreign free agency period. This is why I have Angel Morales as my fifth round pick in the diary to the right, we scout Puerto Rico very well.
Sixth through tenth round:
Right around the sixth round, the Rockies will start taking from a list of college players with at least a couple of MLB worthy tools, but enough question marks to make them slide on most other teams' draft boards. Most of these guys came from smaller programs out of the national spotlight, and the relatively weak competition they played against counted against them with most teams. That's not always the case, as Harris, Brad Hawpe, Joe Koshansky and other past Rockies' draft picks in these rounds came from big college programs, but there are always at least a couple of questions surrounding our picks in this range.
Clark wasn't supposed to have quite enough power with wood bats to be an MLB corner, and he's not defensively sound enough to play anywhere else. McKenry likewise slipped as scouts wondered if his hitting would work with more polished pitchers, even though he was a defensively sound catcher and showed some power. Hynick has been the real deal and the steal of the draft so far, as our scouts were able to see potential beyond a mechanical flaw in his delivery that was corrected at Casper. Like Hynick, Harris was a player with split focus between pitching and another position, and with both the Rockies thought that by focusing solely on the mound they could show more than they did at college.
This is probably as far as we'll get in the draft today, so tomorrow I'll continue with an eye on what to look for in later selections.