The Rockies have the 25th pick in the June draft this year, the farthest back they've chosen since 2001 when the team did not have a pick in the first round (they chose Jayson Nix with the 44th pick that year). I'm always up for a history lesson, so let's take a look at who's been selected with the 25th pick over the last five drafts. I've also included players taken around the 25th pick to highlight what other talent was available before and after the pick. Now, we shouldn't use this as a way to determine how our choice will pan out, but it may be able to help us identify players (or player types) that the Rockies will look at come June. We'll look at several of those potential players in Part II some time soon.
Brad Sullivan, Houston, RHP, Oakland Athletics - Sullivan signed with the Athletics after slipping out of the early picks in the first round, which was due to a less-than-desired performance for the Cougars as the season closed (he also played the infield during the playoffs). As a result of his fatigue, he pitched 11 innings, all out of the bullpen, that summer. His pitch selection of a fastball, slider, and curveball advanced him to Modesto for the '04 season. It wasn't a great season for him as gave up 180 hits in 147 IP, struck out 99 and walked 48, and had a 4.65 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP. In `05, the troubles began. He had a hard time staying on the field, making 16 appearances and five starts between Hi-A Stockton and Rookie-level Arizona. The next year was better in terms of appearances as he made 29 between the same two levels he was at the previous year. The bad news was that he couldn't strike out batters as he usually did. For Houston, he struck out 157 in '02 and 154 in '03, but that ability never translated to pro ball. He made five appearances for Stockton in '07 as a result of another injury. The clock is still ticking for Sullivan, but the battery in the clock is almost dead.
Players taken around 25th pick: Brandon Wood (23), Chad Billingsley (24), Daric Barton (28), Carlos Quentin (29)
Kyle Waldrop, High School, RHP, Minnesota Twins - Waldrop may have gone earlier during the '04 draft, but he had a commitment to Vanderbilt that scared some teams away. The Twins did their homework, and knew they could sign him. Waldrop was a star two-way player in high school, but at 6'4", 190 lbs, pitching was in his future. He made 11 starts between the two rookie leagues and walked only seven batters in 63 IP that summer. It was off to the Midwest League in 2005. He walked only 23 batters all season and struck out 108, but allowed 182 hits and 17 homers in 151 2/3 IP. He also had a 4.98 ERA. He started 2006 back in the Midwest League and continued to not issue free passes (17 in 110 IP). He received a promotion to the Florida State League and ran into a bit of trouble. He walked 17 batters here in 45 1/3 IP and struck out only 25 during that time. He began 2007 in the Florida State League and pitched well enough (3.40 ERA in 92 2/3 IP. 24 BB, 57 K) to earn a promotion to Double-A New Britain. He made 11 starts, posted a 5.34 ERA over 59 IP, walked 19, and struck out 33. We should expect to see him start 2008 back in Double-A and likely be promoted mid-season to Triple-A.
Players taken around 25th pick: Glen Perkins (22), Philip Hughes (23), Taylor Tankersley (27), Blake DeWitt (28)
Matt Garza, Fresno State, RHP, Minnesota Twins - The Twins make another appearance on this list with their selection of Matt Garza. His first two years at Fresno State were rather undistinguished, but 2005 would turn into his year. He struck out 120 in 108 1/3 IP, which was 43 more in 18 1/3 compared to 2004. He made a brief appearance in the Appalachian League before making 10 starts in the Midwest League. He more than held his own there (3.54 ERA, 15 BB, 64 K). Garza made a rapid rise to the majors in 2006 after starting the season in the High-A Florida State League. He made 10 appearances (nine starts) for the Twins, compiling 50 IP. He allowed 62 hits, walked 23, and struck out 38. He split 2007 between Triple-A and the majors. He had little trouble in the minors and did improve slightly upon his return to the majors. Limiting baserunners was still a problem (both hits and walks). 2008 will have change of scenery for Garza as he and several others were traded to the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays for Delmon Young and two other guys.
Players taken around 25th pick: Jacoby Ellsbury (23), Craig Hansen (26), Joey Devine (27)
Hank Conger, High School, C, LAA - I'll let FutureAngels.com tell you all about Conger. He's #5 on the linked-to list.
Players taken around 25th pick: Ian Kennedy (21)
Aaron Poreda, University of San Francisco, LHP, Chicago White Sox - Poreda dominated the Pioneer League (4-0, 1.17 ERA, 48 K in 46 1/3 IP). He's a 6'6", 240 lbs. lefty who can get his fastball in the mid-90s. Poreda threw a fastball at 100 MPH last season. He's the White Sox's top prospect who will need to use more than his fastball to get more advanced hitters out as he advances up the ladder. Baseball America can see him making the majors this season if he makes a switch to the bullpen (which could happen if his secondary pitches don't develop as well as the organization wants).
Players taken around 25th pick: James Simmons (26)
Pitcher has been the popular choice in the 25th slot. Matt Cain was the choice there in 2002, and if you go all the way back to 1990 (I haven't looked beyond that), you'll see that pitcher was the popular choice through course of the decade. The Rockies aren't beholden to a pitcher with the selection, but if you want to make something out of draft trends . . .