It's draft day, and the Rockies have the third overall pick, so let's see if we can figure out who the Rockies will take (we probably can't with any degree of certainty, but it's fun to try anyway). Here's links to five major mock drafts conducted over the last few days:
John Sickels, Minor League Ball
Christopher Crawford, Baseball Prospectus
Since we really care more about the top three picks this year than anything else that goes on in the top ten, I made this table outlining those picks from each of these mock drafts to give us an easier visual to follow.
The most popular selection for the Rockies among these mocks is is left handed pitcher Tyler Jay out of the University of Illinois, but I'm not sure I'd trust the mode in this case. Instead, let's look at other clues and see if we can deduce a few important facts about the top of this draft class.
1) The D'Backs are a complete wild card.
With no obvious top dog in this class, Arizona could go in several different directions, and depending on how they play their cards, it could drastically impact the Rockies future. The club has apparently settled on its top pick, but remains mum on his identity. The snakes also claim they've notified five players who were among the finalists, so look for any leaks here this afternoon.
2) Dansby Swanson has the highest floor in the draft, Brendan Rodgers has the highest ceiling
The big difference between these two players is their age. Swanson is already 21 while Rodgers is still just 18. Both have the potential the become highly productive shortstops at the MLB level, but the range of possibilities (both good and bad) remains wider with Rodgers. This means ...
3) Swanson is very unlikely to fall to the Rockies
I can't quite state this with 100% certainty, but based on numerous mock drafts and whispers coming out of both the Arizona and Houston camps, it's extremely probable Swanson is off the board by the time the Rockies get their chance. In drafts where there's no ultra high ceiling player like a Bryce Harper, clubs usually gravitate towards the player with the highest floor, and that's especially true when ...
4) There's no obvious elite pitcher in this draft
Whenever you're talking about pitching prospects, there's always an immense amount of risk, but this draft takes it to another level. When Tyler Jay, a guy who spent his entire college career as a reliever is rumored to go as high as No. 3 overall, it tells you all you need to know.
In addition to this, I have not seen one mock draft in the last week where either the D'Backs or the Astros go with an arm over a position player. It's just too risky with this crop.
5) If reports are true, the Astros really like Alex Bregman
This could be the key for the Rockies. Several sources have had the Astros linked to Bregman for a few weeks now. You can also see this reflected in the mock drafts above. In three of the four drafts where Swanson was off the board first, the mock has the Astros going with Bregman over Rodgers. (This is where you find out who has real information and who is just going with conventional wisdom / copying other mocks)
I'm not completely convinced this is true, but it does make sense on some levels. Remember, the Astros have the second overall pick because they failed to sign Brady Aiken last season, meaning they have to pick someone in this spot they know they can sign without issue, and Bregman seems to fit that role. If they don't get ink on the paper this time, the pick is gone forever.
In addition to this, the Astros also have the fifth overall selection for being a bottom of the barrel team last season. Knowing this, it seems somewhat reasonable that if Swanson is off the board, they would take the next highest floor shortstop and easy sign at No.2 overall and then try to shake things up a bit more at No. 5 overall.
This is not the strategy I would employ if I were in Houston's shoes, but I can at least see how it makes some sense for them.
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So adding these factors together, I think the Rockies have a decent chance to snatch Brendan Rodgers. If he's on the board after two names are called, I have a hard time seeing the Rockies let him slide any further with his ceiling.
The Rockies have to link themselves with the pitching at the top of this draft since Swanson and Rodgers could both be off the board with the first two picks, but I don't think that means they're going to pass on those players if they get their chance. I'm fairly certain at this point they're not going to get their chance with Swanson, but there's two pretty reasonable scenarios where they get a crack at Rodgers.
- The Astros really are linked to Bregman. Assuming the D'Backs go Swanson, you end up with Jim Callis' mock draft with Swanson one, Bregman two, and Rodgers three. In fact, if the Astros top two choices are Swanson and Bregman, there's probably about a 90 percent chance the Rockies get Rodgers.
- The D'Backs do something really crazy like take Tyler Stephenson as surmised by John Manuel at Baseball America. Here, the Astros are almost surely going to take Swanson with the second pick, but unlike Manuel's projection, look for the Rockies to grab Rodgers instead of Jay if he's available.
This is all speculation of course. If the D'Backs mystery man is Brendan Rodgers, the Rockies are out of luck on this front. Ditto if the Astros are not really interested in Bregman at the second overall pick.
However, there's enough smoke here that Rockies fans can be cautiously optimistic about Rodgers falling into their lap tonight. Remember, it was ten years ago yesterday that the best shortstop of the stacked 2005 draft fell into their control, and that arrangement's worked out pretty well. Perhaps history will repeat itself.