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MLB Draft 2014 preview: Mock drafts point to Kyle Freeland as most likely Rockies selection

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Kyle Freeland boasted record-setting control this season for Evansville after graduating from Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver.

What if the Rockies could draft a pitcher with Cliff Lee-esque control and a Roy Halladay home-state connection?
What if the Rockies could draft a pitcher with Cliff Lee-esque control and a Roy Halladay home-state connection?
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

In 2013, Rockies fans seemed assured that their club would be coming home with either Mark Appel, Kris Bryant or Jonathan Gray.  There will be quite a bit more uncertainty this June, though we can pour through mock drafts get some ideas.

I have collected 12 mock drafts from varied sources, all published in the last three weeks in order to maintain accuracy.  The twelve:

Of those 12, six pegged North Carolina State southpaw Carlos Rodon as the top pick, while six others chose prep lefty Brady Aiken. One wouldn't expect much consensus seven slots lower, but there indeed was a clear leader among players pegged to land in Colorado:

Draftee Pos, School Times Mocked Publication
Kyle Freeland LHP, Evansville 5 BA (5/25), MLB (5/25), Draft Insider (5/19), Keith Law (5/16), MyMLBDraft (5/14)
Sean Newcomb LHP, Hartford 2 Draft Insider (5/25), BA (5/16)
Bradley Zimmer OF, U of San Francisco 2 Daily Dish (5/23), SI (5/22)
Erick Fedde RHP, UNLV 1 BA (5/9)
Nick Gordon SS, Olympia High (FL) 1 BPro (5/7)
Casey Gillaspie 1B, Wichita St 1 Garrioch (5/19)

Gillaspie is a bit of a reach at No. 8 and does not appear nearly that high on any other mock.  Nick Gordon does not even reach the Rockies in 10 of the 12 mocks, and recent momentum suggests he is unlikely to be there that late.  Erick Fedde is no longer an option, as he has joined the Tommy John Casualty Brigade.

That leaves Freeland, Newcomb and Zimmer as the most tapped names for the Rockies on mock drafts around the web, though there is a dark horse.  John Manuel wrote Sunday:

Aaron Nola, who has been outstanding all year, has late helium and isn't expected to fall past Colorado. If he is gone, the Rockies likely will choose between the two healthy top college lefties on the board, Evansville's Kyle Freeland (a Colorado native) and Newcomb.

Nola fell to Colorado seven times in the twelve mock drafts, though not one projected Nola to come off the board to Colorado.  With his recent helium, that might change.  Conversely, Freeland fell to Colorado in exactly half of the mocks, and on only one occasion was Colorado projected to pass on him.  Additionally, two of the five Freeland mocks to Colorado were published yesterday, with votes cast given the most recent information available.

Freeland certainly seems to fit several ideals for the Rockies.  The 6'4" Freeland is a polished college lefty with unparalleled control, low-to-mid 90's fastball with sink, two above average breaking pitches and a developing changeup  He tends to get groundballs, and he's a Denver native.  The ceiling isn't as high with Freeland as other prospects on the board, but in a pitching-heavy draft, he would be more than a defensible pick at that slot.  Newcomb is another small-college polished lefty.

Here is how the availability of several of the top names were by the eighth pick in the aforementioned twelve mock drafts:

Player Projected Availability at #8 Divergent Mocks
Carlos Rodon 0%
Tyler Kolek 0%
Alex Jackson 0%
Brady Aiken 0%
Nick Gordon 17% SI, BPro
Kyle Freeland 50%
Aaron Nola 58%
Grant Holmes 75% BPro, Draft Insider VI, Daily Dish
Tyler Beede 83% MyMLBDraft, SI
Jeff Hoffman 83% MyMLBDraft, BPro
Sean Newcomb 83% MLB, Draft Insider VI
Max Pentecost 83% BA 3.0, Daily Dish
Bradley Zimmer 83% Draft Insider, VI, Minor League Ball
Michael Conforto 92% Law
Brandon Finnegan 92% BA 1.0
Jacob Gatewood 92% SI
Touki Toussiant 92% BPro
Erick Fedde 100%
Casey Gillaspie 100%
Trea Turner 100%

Aside from players projected to actually land in Colorado, there are rumors of the Rockies' interest in Aaron Nola, Nick Gordon and Trea Turner.

There is also one other major factor to note:  of the seven teams ahead of the Rockies in the first round, Colorado has a higher alotted bonus pool for the draft than Minnesota, Seattle and Philadelphia. Their total pool is only $4,900 less than the Cubs, who select fourth.  Should an impact prospect fall due to signability concerns, Colorado is a great position to pick off a superior talent that falls in their lap.