It was a busy first night in the Rockies' draft room in Scottsdale, Ariz. Monday as Colorado had four of the first 44 picks in the 2015 MLB Draft.
The Rockies made use of those picks to take a quartet of high schoolers, drafting shortstop Brendan Rodgers with the third overall pick, right-handed pitcher Mike Nikorak with the 27th pick, third baseman Tyler Nevin with the 38th pick and wrapped the night by selecting Peter Lambert, another right-handed pitcher, with the 44th pick.
"We're excited about what we were able to do tonight," Rockies vice president of scouting Bill Schmidt said. "I think they're all four quality kids first and foremost with a chance for impact down the road. They're all very projectable kids and we're glad about how things worked out for us."
It was the first time since 1998 when they selected Matt Roney, Choo Freeman, Jeff Winchester and Jermaine Van Buren that the Rockies took high schoolers with each of their first four draft picks. Schmidt said the team was not concerned with the inherent risk of drafting high school products.
"They were the best kids every time we came up to pick, we stayed true to the board," Schmidt said.
Schmidt said they had very thorough scouting reports on each of their picks, all of whom were on the showcase circuit last summer, with Rodgers and Nikorak teammates in last summer's Under Armour All-American game.
"We got a lot of looks at these kids all summer against the other better high school kids in this draft," Schmidt said. "We feel good about all four of them."
Coming out of Lake Mary (Fla.) High School, Rodgers was the consensus top talent in this year's draft and was considered by both the Diamondbacks and Astros who held the top two picks in the draft. However, Arizona and Houston passed on Rodgers, taking a pair of college shortstops in Vanderbilt's Dansby Swanson and LSU's Alex Bregman.
"We really didn't know how it was going to play out," Schmidt said. "Had no idea what the teams in front of us were doing."
Even with Troy Tulowitzki currently manning the shortstop position at Coors Field, and unlikely to go anywhere soon, the Rockies said they plan to develop Rodgers at the position he was drafted.
"We'll develop him as a shortstop and he'll tell us in time if he can stay there," Schmidt said.
The Rockies took right-handed pitchers with two of their next three picks, selecting Nikorak from Stroudsburg (Pa.) High School with the 27th overall pick and Lambert from San Dimas (Ca.) High School with the 44th pick.
"There's a lot of projection on the two pitchers that we took," Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said. "They've both shown an ability to spin a breaking ball and they've got a pitch mix already."
Nikorak in particular was viewed as a coup for the Rockies, with MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo saying the MLB Network broadcast of the draft that he would not be surprised if Nikorak ended up as the best pitcher in the 2015 draft class. Nikorak pitched 29⅔ innings this spring, allowing just three earned runs on 10 hits with 50 strikeouts.
"You can probably categorize him as a pleasant surprise," Bridich said. "We certainly were not going to be surprised if he was off the board before 27."
Bridich also said the Rockies were happy with both Nikorak and Lambert, especially with where each of them were at in the development process.
"There's some things they've learned at a young age that are working in their favor and we're certainly excited about the entire package with both of those pitchers," Bridich said.
With the 38th pick, the Rockies took Tyler Nevin from Poway (Calif.) High School, the son of former big leaguer and 1992 No. 1 overall pick Phil Nevin. Colorado drafted the younger Nevin as a third baseman, but said he could play a number of positions as a professional.
"He's going to be a corner player," Schmidt said. "Athletic enough to where if we move him to the outfield he can play out there."
Like his father, who hit 208 home runs in 12 major league seasons, the Rockies said Nevin's calling card will be what he can do at the plate.
"First and foremost his potential to hit and hit with power down the road is very good," Schmidt said.
The draft continues Tuesday at 11 a.m. Mountain time with rounds 3-10, you can follow all of the action with the draft tracker at MLB.com.