The Colorado Rockies have the eighth overall pick in the upcoming Rule 4 MLB draft. Today we look at the position player candidates that the Rockies should be looking at taking with said pick.
Alex Jackson, C
Alex Jackson, out of Rancho Bernardo High School in California, is widely considered to be the best offensive player in the draft. Listed at 6'2, 210, Alex Jackson packs a punch with the bat, especially to the pull side but has shown the ability to hit the ball to all parts of the field.
The issue with Jackson currently is whether or not he will stick at the catcher position. If he can stay behind the plate without it hindering his offense, he could dramatically increase his value. He has the arm and athleticism, though, that if a team either wanted to accelerate his arrival to the big leagues and/or save his legs in an attempt to extend his career, he could still be an above average right fielder.
Jim Callis at MLB.com:
He has natural loft in his swing, plenty of strength in his 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame and the capability to hit monster blasts to any part of the ballpark. Jackson's swing can get a bit long at times, but he generally does a fine job of covering the plate and barreling balls, boding well for his ability to hit for average.
Jackson has an exciting tool kit at a position of need for a lot of teams including the Rockies. It is unlikely he falls to the eighth pick unless the first seven go crazy pitcher happy.And while reports suggest he still has plenty of work to do on his receiving skills (and what high school catcher doesn't?) the Rockies should absolutely take Alex Jackson if by some miracle he is still on the board when they make their first pick.
Nick Gordon, SS
Brother of Dee and son of Tom "Flash", Nick Gordon has emerged as an intriguing prospect with a solid pedigree and some say the potential to be the best in his family. Gordon stands at a solid 6'2, 170 and reports suggest he is filling out and has much more potential for power than his brother.
At this point though, Nick is a slap-hitter with good on base skills who plays exceptional defense at shortstop and projects to stay there. Jonathan Mayo at MLB.com writes:
Gordon, without a doubt, will play shortstop at the highest level. He has the arm (he throws in the 90s from the mound), the hands and the range to be an outstanding defender at short.
Like Jackson, Gordon may well go before the Rockies have a chance to take him and at middle infielder he doesn't fit a need as much for the Rockies. But if he is the best available position player and the Rockies are not sold on the available pitchers, they should not hesitate to grab this guy.
Michael Conforto, OF
If neither of the above position players are available and the Rockies don't want to take a pitcher, they could look into outfielder Michael Conforto. Conforto profiles as a decent bat but a bad defender. Above average power from the left side is intriguing and it's easier to learn defense than offense at these stages but taking a player with such a hole in his game in the top ten may not be wise.
His defensive liabilities make him likely to end up at first base according to some reports, which means his bat would have to play exceptionally well for him to maintain value.
Bradley Zimmer, OF
Some mock drafts I've seen have Zimmer going as late as 16th but he is a player the Rockies should keep their eyes on. He is the anti-Conforto. At this point there appear to be some holes in his swing, leading to lots of misses. He still has shown an ability to work counts and get on base but the most promising thing about Zimmer is his 6'5 frame with plus speed and arm strength.
He doesn't have much power now, but a 6'5 frame should be able to hold some extra weight.
Max Pentecost, C
If the Rockies really want to reach for a need (generally not a good idea) they could dip into Max Pentecost territory. Pentecost is an above average fielder and athlete for the catcher position where the Rockies could use some depth. He was drafted by the Rangers in the 7th round three years ago and has been working heavily on his receiving ever since.
He has a good line-drive swing but not much power for a catcher (maybe a 12-18 HR guy) but if the Rockies drafted him it would be mostly on behalf of the pitchers in the system and out of hopes that he could develop into a Russell Martin type of defense first catcher who can give occasional offense.
Alex Jackson and Nick Gordon are unlikely to be available by the time the Rockies select but if either is, the Rockies should snatch them up. Beyond that I vote for Zimmer as the best position player available. We will be looking at pitchers later today.