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Sunday Rockpile: Previewing the Rockies draft, plus some links

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The Rockies won't get to pick until the 26th selection of tomorrow's draft. The selection is right in the middle of what's historically been a relative first round dead zone that starts right around pick #23 and goes through pick #28 (look at the cumulative WAR of the picks at Baseball Reference). There are a variety of reasons for this, one is that the talent pool tapers off quickly to the point that players getting picked in this region are often either known mediocrities as teams, particularly prior to the last CBA, gave compensation for unsigned picks, tended to avoid the significant signability risks that carry higher potential.

The change that allows teams to take greater risks on signability in the first round seems to have had some impact in spreading the talent deeper as the past two drafts have a handful of prospects that seem like legitimate big league talents taken in that #23 to #28 range, including Christian Friedrich outfielder Mike Trout (Angels), and shortstop Nick Franklin (Mariners).

While the Rockies lucked out with an elite college arm with Friedrich dropping to their laps with the 25th pick in 2008, that seems to be the exception rather than the rule, even in these past couple of seasons. You'll note from the names above that the best use teams have made of these picks over the last two or three years has perhaps been with high school position players such as Trout and Franklin, but there have been notable busts in that category as well. The Phillies selected athletic, but relatively poor skilled Anthony Hewitt at #24 in 2008 just prior to the Rockies picking Friedrich, and Hewitt has struggled to a .219/.264/.366 line in his minor league career thus far, striking out more than a third of the time.

The Rockies second top 50 pick at #47 actually has a higher historical WAR than their first does thanks to one likely Hall of Famer (Tom Glavine) and one guy who wasn't too far off (Albert Belle) being selected there in the 1980's and early 1990's. The Rockies own history with the pick isn't so great, having selected Jason Young (2000) and Scott Beerer (2003) when they've picked 47th in the past. MLB teams have definitely favored college players in this region of picks, the only non-four year university pick taken within five picks either direction of #47 last season was Tanner Scheppers, who was already out of college.

It's sort of interesting that over the last two seasons, MLB teams have favored four year college players over high school players 15 to 4  (with Scheppers being the outlier) in picks #41#-50, but prefer high schoolers 13 (including the Rockies Nolan Arenado) to 6 in the #51-#60 range.

So what direction should the Rockies take with their picks? More pertinently, what direction will they take? While they're maintaining a generic "best player available" stance publicly, indications are that the team is thinking another quality college arm may slip to them like Friedrich did in 2008. While LSU's Anthony Ranaudo is unlikely fall to them but would be desirable, one name that the Rockies have been linked to and have scouted fairly extensively this Spring is Virginia Tech's Jesse Hahn. Hahn's reason for slipping in the draft is a midseason injury to his forearm, which many scouts believe could be a precursor to elbow issues and Tommy John surgery, but he fits the profile of a type of pitcher the Rockies like, a tall, live armed RHP with a strong lower body. Andy Seiler of SBN's draft blog,MLB Bonus Baby has them taking Hahn in his latest mock, I think it's a good possibility.

I'm thinking Asher Wojciechowski, Seth Blair and while very unlikely to drop as he's lately rumored to be going as high as #6 to the D-backs, Matt Harvey, may also be possibilities if they're available at that pick. While Zach Lee might be an interesting high school gambit similar to the Tyler Matzek selection of last season, my own guess is that the Rockies may pass on the big McKinney Texas RHP if a similarly hard throwing college arm is available, as money will become a factor with other things being equal.

Often there will be key trigger picks by teams before the Rockies selection, picks that will shape our draft because the team selecting is looking at the same players the Rockies are. For 2010, the Red Sox pick at #20 seems to be this kind of situation as both teams seem to be heavily scouting college RHP's.

On to some links after the bump:

Five Numbers: Ubaldo Jimenez's Effectiveness, Baltimore's Complete And Thorough Tailspin, And More - - Jeff Sullivan is an unbeliever and a heretic and must be burned at the stake.


Twitter / Tracy Ringolsby: helton will like y hit 6th ...- Tracy Ringolsby tweets that Helton will finally be dropped in the batting order when he returns tomorrow.

Offseason work gets results as Tulowitzki adds two steals - The Denver Post - Great, my fantasy team really thanks you Tulo, but it would thank you more if you could have like a dozen RBI and five or six runs scored today.


De La Rosa throws, makes progress | All Things Rockies - In the category of very good news.


Rockies lose second straight game to last-place Arizona - The Denver Post - In the category of very bad news.


NL West features stellar pitching from start to finish - The Denver Post - In the category of not really news.