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Thursday Rockpile: More draft dish as intents of picks start to materialize.

Todd Helton points the way to Casper.
Todd Helton points the way to Casper.

If you want to take a pessimistic approach to the Rockies first two selections of the 2011 draft, you will focus on Tyler Anderson's limited upside rather than his very high likelihood of reaching it, while looking at Trevor Story's most likely MLB outcome (a defensive minded shortstop/utility player) and ignoring his upside. An optimist will point out that a Jeff Francis return (13.7 f-WAR over seven seasons with the Rockies) would amount to excellent value for the #25 pick historically, and that Story's swing might be an uppercut, but it's a lightning quick uppercut, and the upside potential is of a five tool shortstop.

Going deeper, a pessimist will see "grinder" attached to Carl Thomore and wince for all the lack of talent, not to mention recklessness with his body, that the word implies, but the optimist would be quick to point out that Jim Edmonds was a similar grinder, drafted out of high school in the seventh round by the Angels in 1988. Power to all fields and a contact rate that saw him strike out just twice this past season with speed and a legit OF arm should be convincing. The pessimist will see Peter O'Brien's defensive limitations pushing him to first base and wonder if he'll hit for enough average to be a benefit there, despite his power or if he's just another big swinging Rockies catching bust. The optimist will say that the Rockies minor league staff has made defensive catching development a bit of a specialty. If there's any club that can keep O'Brien behind the plate, this is it.

Dillon Thomas - smooth swinging lefty bat with corner OF potential or high risk project likely to go the David Christensen route and fan out of the system?

Chris Jensen - Limited flame throwing relief prospect in a system already stocked with such, or another Chad Bettis, the guy everybody thinks will be reliever, but turns out solid enough to dream on of rotation potential?

We could go on with each of the names the Rockies selected and point out reasons to be either excited or skeptical, as you could with all the other clubs. A few years from now we'll be able to point to players we "should have picked" instead of a couple that we did, as we could with every other club, and I'm confident that we'll also be able to point out to at least a couple we got relative steals with, which is something that not every club will be able to similarly claim.

For me, I tend to the optimist approach, particularly in the 4th through 12th rounds for Rockies picks, where our drafts seem to have a better than MLB typical success rate. In the past, I've been most dubious about Rockies selections in the 2nd and 3rd round (relatively speaking, of course, nobody should expect much from the 15th round on,) but the success of Nolan Arenado and Bettis have me more sanguine that the Rockies got it right in snagging Thomore. He's probably the most intriguing of all the Rockies selections to me, but Story's not far behind. I think between the two of them and perhaps Thomas, the Rockies have added to a high potential stock of 18 to 20 year olds in the system. 

As for Anderson, his polish will make the Rockies look very smart very early in drafting him, as I expect him to dominate the minors, but what will really make or break the pick is his change-up command. He's got enough stuff to be a successful 3rd or 4th starter, to be an elite crafty lefty, he'll need to up the mental aspects of his game. I'm not at all disappointed in the pick, as he's a sound investment at that range.

As for the division, it shouldn't be at all surprising that the two teams that failed to sign their 1st rounders in 2010 and looked particularly bad in those drafts made up for it with multiple high picks this time around. The Diamondbacks in particular have the chance to add some very high end talent. The Giants and Dodgers drafts, meanwhile, are the most dubious looking at this point, but those two teams have money to burn and develop their players well, so I never count them out until a few years later. 

The saga of last season's fourth rounder Russell Wilson continues, with the QB/second base prospect deciding to play the 2011 college season for the University of Wisconsin.

While one Rockies North Carolina QB/prospect gets enticed away by the gridiron, Colorado may be able to draw another of the state's two sport players back the other direction. 43rd round pick Garrett Brown seems to be giving serious consideration to dropping football to focus on his baseball talents. Whether that's with the Rockies or at Tennessee Tech (where he has a scholarship offer) is left unclear by the article. Brown's the second late round pick the Rockies have used for an Asheville area prep player in the last two years, following 2010 39th round selection and current Vanderbilt player Joel McKeithan. 

One theme of Rockies pitching selections this year after Anderson is the limited wear on their arms. A few, in fact, are recent mound converts after developing at other positions. Yale graduate Brook Hart spent his first two collegiate seasons playing football instead of baseball. 13th round draft pick Kyle Roliard is another such blank slate on the mound, having pitched only 70 collegiate innings. The same is true of 39th round selection Chase Williams out of Broken Arrow High School, but while Roliard and Hart are likely to sign with the Rockies, Williams seems intent on developing his pitching in the Juco ranks

Nicholas "Boo" Vasquez also seems likely to spurn the Rockies to pitch for the University of Pittsburgh.