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Grading the 2007 Draft: Part One; Filling System Needs

Alright, I'm not fond of grading drafts immediately after they take place, viewing them more like a vintage that takes time to develop it's unique characteristics, but there are some ways that we can approach a qualitative review. First of all, as David OhNo pointed out on draft day, there are certain areas of the system that we know are weaker than others, and we can look to the draft to see how those areas are being met.

In his article he brought up four needs, and I'm going to see how we fared. However, since I don't like jumping to conclusions too early, I'm going to measure the picks like my early grade school teachers would measure me. No letter grades, just a check on if we've made satisfactory progress:

1. Toolsy Outfielders:

There are primarily two selections that fit this category best, with multiple plus tools displayed rather than just a single one. Those selections are second round pick Brian Rike and fourteenth round selection Kentrail Davis. Rike should be an easy and quick sign, while Davis figures to be more difficult and won't come in until the deadline if he does at all (I would say there are at least 20/80 odds against it). Nineteenth round selection Evan Chambers also fits, and like Davis, will be a fairly difficult sign. Thirty-first round selection Israel Troupe is another, but his signing is far more unlikely than both Chambers and Davis.

That said, the Rockies also signed 2006 draft and follow selection Scott Robinson for $105,000 prior to this year's draft, which adds another toolsy outfielder into this entering class. Baseball America says that Robinson is "a plus runner with plus raw power." He played at the same high school as Jason Heyward.

So we've got two potential MLB starting caliber OF's for sure, and two more possibilities we'll be watching through the summer. Rike and Robinson are likely corners if they reach the majors, although both have enough speed that center field isn't out of the question. Both have power, and project to be able to hit at least 20-30 HR/season all across the outfield. Rike projects to hit for average, as well. It's still an iffy call without Davis or Chambers to give this a full endorsement, but there is at least some bona fide talent entering the system in this category. Satisfactory, could be exceptional if we sign one of the high schoolers.

2. Offensive Catchers:

The very next selection after Rike was used on Illinois' Lars Davis, who is very much an offensive catcher, and an athletic one at that. At 6'3", there's a big question of whether or not he can stick behind the plate, but despite Bryan Smith's dismissal of him at Baseball Prospectus (a college catcher most notable for his willingness to sign quickly) Davis has as much offensive potential as Jonathan Lucroy, the catcher selected by the Brewers one pick before. Because they were drafted back to back, their comparative developments through the minors could be watched closely. Both the Brewers and Rockies are noted for the job their scouting departments do, this will be an interesting test of who got the better man. Neither will be Matt Wieters, unfortunately, but either could fit the Michael Barret prototype that David was looking for.

A couple of the high school catchers drafted very late, Richie Rowland and Zach Jones, both also have considerable offensive potential but neither is expected to sign. Given the scarcity of catchers in the draft and on the strength of Davis, I'm going to say that the Rockies made a satisfactory, but not exceptional effort to fill this category, although admittedly I don't know if much more could have been done.

3. Pitchability/Power blend pitchers

In David's piece, he was clearly referring more to starters rather than an ace reliever like first round pick Casey Weathers, so we will stick true to the criteria and take Casey out of the mix. Given that fourth round selection Isaiah Fronenberger is also almost certainly going to be a reliever in the system, the onus of meeting this category falls to the pitchers we selected from the fifth round on. How did we do?

Connor Graham - He has the power, but not really pitchability, yet. He's a project in that regard, but still could develop into this kind of guy. Right now, though, I've got to say that he doesn't fit.

Cory Riordan - Definitely pitchability, but not quite enough power to blow past hitters. His fastball has downward movement, however, and his secondary stuff is good enough that there should be more consistency in his performance, and the K rate could be more impressive under professional tutelage. This is one of my favorite picks, I think he's closer than Graham to filling both requirements, but might not have the same ceiling. I've got to say no as well.

Parker Frazier - Yes on both counts, but he's still raw enough that it will take time to see what exactly he'll become. Another solid selection and perhaps the only pitcher taken with a true top of the rotation ceiling, although don't get too excited about that yet given everything that needs to go right and the years it will take for him to reach it.

The only other pitcher that seems to fit, or have a chance to fit both criteria rather, and have a semi-legitimate chance of signing, is 21st round pick Chris Sale, a high school arm and teammate of Chambers' who has a projectable frame that could develop more power as he grows into it, but at the moment, he's only got the pitchability part of the equation and likely figures to be a finesse lefty down the road.

Overall, this category gets a resounding incomplete right now, leaning toward unsatisfactory. I think it's pretty clear from reactions to the draft that Rockies fans were looking for a clear cut top of the rotation talent, and the absence of this has them frustrated again. I think international signs Jhoulys Chacin and Ricardo Ferrer can pick up a lot of the load as we wait and see on how these drafted pitchers develop, though.

4. College First Basemen

Only one selection fits here, but that's typical for a Bill Schmidt draft. Seventh round pick Jeff Cunningham definitely fits the profile of past picks Brad Hawpe, Ryan Shealy and Joe Koshansky. A powerful left handed bat with a few questions about how his swing will translate that kept him from being drafted in earlier rounds, Cunningham could be athletic enough to switch to an outfield corner further along if need be.

Given that we don't normally expend more than one pick in this category and usually turn up good players, I'm going to give this a satisfactory mark for right now.

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My next part of grading the draft will look more toward sustainability. Are these picks going to keep feeding the team with solutions to potential position problems at the right times? Are they enough to build the foundation of another wave of talent and how will they mesh with other waves in the system? I'm hoping I can start to figure that out.