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Friday Morning Rockpile:

Jayson Nix's black-eye from yesterday's Cuba-USA game will be nothing compared to the one the US team will take for coming home empty-handed, which looks like a very real possibility after they went down to their second defeat. Nix homered in the loss.

Todd Helton got some been there, done that advice from Randy Johnson in regards to his back pain and a referral to Johnson's spinal specialist. At this stage of Helton's career, there really can't be much middle ground. You're either going to be optimistic that some recovery can be made and Helton can regain some portion of his former ability through medical procedures, or you see the tell-tale signs of a sinking ship and flee to the lifeboats. The Rockies really only have the first option, unfortunately, as they're sort of handcuffed to steering wheel.

While most of the observers have been maintaining that only one of this year's first round hold-outs, Padres pick Allen Dykstra, is expected not to sign by today's deadline, I've been thinking for awhile now that reality's going to be different, and because of recent rule changes, it could dramatically impact the Rockies draft position for 2009.

As of right now, the unsigned first rounders include six of this year's top ten picks. Despite the Rockies currently holding the fifth worst record in the majors, our draft slot has the potential to slide three more spots to eighth overall if Pedro Avarez, Eric Hosmer and Brian Matusz fail to come to terms. The situation becomes more troubling when you consider that there are another six teams within two games that could in a worst possible scenario (all six pass us, no more first round picks sign) drop us to the eighteenth overall selection despite having a pretty wretched record. While this doomsday scenario is highly unlikely, I don't think Dykstra will be alone when it comes to 2008 first round selections re-entering next year's draft. Needless to say, I'm watching today's deadline situation with some rooting interest.

The Giants are the only other NL West team other than San Diego to fail to sign thier first round selection thus far, and if Buster Posey fails to enter the system, their 2008 draft takes a huge hit. It's already slipping in my mind just because of the delays in development they've accepted with their highest profile picks who have  signed. I was never as high as many on Roger Kieschnick to begin with, and while Brandon Crawford's a solid athlete, he's far from being a solid ballplayer. The same won't be true of Posey, who has the polish and bat to step in and perform against top minor league pitching right away assuming they can actually reel him in.

Right now, the Rockies have had the most success with their first round pick, the Dodgers Ethan Martin has missed all of the rookie league season after getting minor knee surgery, and while Daniel Schlereth has pitched well, he's also just thrown four innings in relief, so there's hardly a real sense of how good a reliever he'll be just yet. Christian Friedrich, meanwhile, pitches again tonight for Tri-City and has been sensational this month.