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MLB Draft 2015: Dillon Tate, Dansby Swanson among 1st round possibilities for Rockies

Though the 2015 draft isn't as strong as recent classes, several high-ceiling possibilities will be in play for the Rockies at No. 3.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

As a franchise, the Colorado Rockies have not been good.

They have never won a division title and have just three playoff appearances in their 22-year history. But part of the problem is that, though they mostly haven't been good, the Rockies haven't been awful, either. In the last 2015 MLB Draft article, we discussed the distribution of talent in the draft -- about how even the occasional Tim Hudson, Matt Holliday or Albert Pujols does not change the fact that the vast majority of top-tier talent is found at the top of the draft.

The Rockies have had only two top-five draft picks in franchise history entering 2015. By comparison, the Tampa Bay Rays have had eight selections in that range in five fewer years of existence.

In true Rockies fashion, the first year they possess as many high picks as they do in the 2015 draft happens to fall on a class that is generally viewed as a weak one -- one without a surplus of can't-miss prospects at the top. One nice thing about the Rockies' position, though, is that there are three players who are in the consensus top tier of this draft, meaning that just like in 2013 when they took Jon Gray, there are not a lot of scenarios where they should walk away unhappy with their first pick.


The draft is something that is getting easier to access for fans. Sites like the always-reliable Baseball America to the high school goldmine Perfect Game make it easier for fans to get expert opinions about the upcoming draft.

As mentioned above there are three names that have consistently been seen in the top five of draft lists since the end of last year: consensus top talent Brendan Rodgers, a high school shortstop; Dillon Tate, the top pitcher in the draft; and Dansby Swanson. the top college hitter. Let's get to know them all.

Brendan Rodgers, SS, Lake Mary High School (Lake Mary, Fla.)

The top prep player in this draft, Rogers has been consistently placed in a tier by himself as far as ceiling is concerned. Rodgers has a smooth right-handed swing that generates power without losing contact ability or becoming pull happy.

He would be the riskiest pick here, not because of anything he has done, but rather the level of competition he has faced is several tiers below what college hitters deal with, making it harder to predict what he will do as he climbs the ladder. Rodgers has no glaring holes in his game, with all five traditional tools rating average or above. Since the MLB adopted the draft, the first high school shortstop select has produced some inner circle Hall of Fame-types like Alex Rodriguez and Chipper Jones, and some spetacular busts like Matt Bush and Lou Montanez.

If the Rockies take Rodgers, you should: Be very excited. Adding a player with the ceiling of  Rodgers to the existing young position prospect talents of David Dahl, Ryan McMahon, Raimel Tapia, and Forrest Wall would be very nice indeed, giving the Rockies five top 100-level players aged 21 and younger.

Dillon Tate, RHP, University of California-Santa Barbara

Tate is a riser, a player who ranked No. 28 for Fangraphs' Kiley McDaniel last year after he posted a 1.45 ERA in 28 relief appearances and touched 99 mph with Team USA over the summer. Injury forced Tate into the starting rotation this year for UCSB and he was just as good if not better, posting a 1.73 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, and 3.54 K/BB ratio. Tate features a four-pitch mix with the following grades:

Fastball -- 70  
Slider -- 65  
Curveball -- 45  
Changeup -- 55

Tate's fastball has the late life the Rockies crave, and with a slider and changeup as his second- and third-best pitches, he is in position to slot into the future rotation with Jon Gray, Eddie Butler and Kyle Freeland as middle to top of the rotation starters.

If the Rockies take Tate, you should: Hold your breath the way you do with all pitching prospects, but be very happy to nab the best pitcher in the draft.

Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt University

Taking the best college hitter in the draft isn't usually a bad idea, and Swanson has been considered that exact thing for quite a while. The thought on Swanson, who is coming off a .348/.440/.617 junior season at Vandy, is that he is a safe pick -- a guy with doubles power who will play in MLB but will not be a star. I would like point to a couple quotes from 2005 and 2006 about a couple of other college shortstops:

"Regarded by most teams as a safe pick"

"The best position player available, but more of a solid guy than a superstar"

The first quote is about Troy Tulowitzki, and the second is about Evan Longoria. Not that Swanson is a future 40+ WAR player in MLB, but he would hardly be the first "safe" pick to make people who passed on him look silly.

If the Rockies take Swanson, you should: Expect a Tulo trade at some point. Swanson has played a lot of second base at Vanderbilt but is considered likely to stay at shortstop in MLB. While nothing can replace the losing the best infielder in baseball, having a patient, advanced hitter with power at the position on the way would ease the sting.

Others receiving consideration

Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, University of Louisville

This right-hander has the best name in the draft, and works in the low- to mid-90s, touching 97 mph in one start earlier this year. Funkhouser has three-pitch mix. His fastball, slider and curveball grade out below those of Tate, but he does get some heavy sink on his fastball. However, he's a bit like Eddie Butler in his inability to control it. I would love to snag Funkhouser in the back half of the first round, but the Rockies can do better at No. 3.

If the Rockies take Funkhouser, you should: Be sad for whoever it was who got injured, causing the Rockies to pick health over ceiling.

Tyler Jay, LHP, University of Illinois

Last year the Rockies took a left-handed college pitcher who works in the mid 90s, touching 98, so at least one source -- Fangraphs' Kiley McDaniels -- thinks they may do it again. Drafting a reliever you hope to convert to a starter with the No. 3 pick seems like a bad idea, even if he has a 14.35 K/BB ratio and at least four average pitches.

If the Rockies take Jay, you should: Really hope they see something that makes them think he can be a MLB starting pitcher; that they are seeing something his college coaches didn't.

Alex Bregman, SS, Lousiana State University

Bregman has some conflicting reports on his defense, and his bat is seemingly not as good of a bet as Swanson's. Plus, his ceiling is not that of Rodgers. Bregman is a fine pick who could easily end up with a solid MLB career, but again seems like a lesser version of players likely available at No. 3

If the Rockies take Bregman, you should: Be kind of surprised; I have yet to see anything linking the Rockies to him.

Interesting, but unlikely

Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt University

Daz Cameron, CF, Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (McDonough, Ga.)

Kyle Tucker, RF, Plant High School (Tampa, Fla.)

Trenton Clark, LF, Richland High School (North Richland Hills, Texas)

Tyler Stephenson, C, Kennesaw Mountain High School (Kennesaw, Ga.)

Garrett Whitley, CF, Niskayuna High School (Niskayuna, N.Y.)