MLB Draft 2017: Colorado Rockies Preview

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With the 2017 MLB draft less than a month away, I thought it was about time to talk about the players who could potentially be the next crop of Rockies talent.The Rockies own 3 of the top 100 picks in this year’s draft: Round 2, pick 12 (48th overall); Competitive Balance Round B, pick 3 (70th overall); and Round 3, pick 11 (86th overall). The Rockies forfeited their first round pick when they signed Ian Desmond (looks like a good decision), so they start things off at #48.

This year’s draft has been particularly hard to nail down in terms of who will actually be selected in the first round. This is thin class of college bats and a year in which, almost to a man, the top preseason college arms have been disappointing and/or inconsistent. This sets up well for the Rockies because there may very well be some first round talent available to them at 48.

I will throw out 2 or 3 names as possible picks for each of the Rockies first 3 selections and talk about what I’ve seen from and heard about them. (DISCLAIMER: I am far from an expert but I have been scouting prospects for enough years to feel confident in my analyses. These are simply my best guesses and meant to inform you about exciting possibilities, not to prognosticate).

Round 2, Pick 48 Overall

Steven Jennings, RHP, Dekalb County HS (TN)

Who is he?

Jennings has improved his draft stock with a great showing this spring. A two-sport standout, he missed much of the showcase circuit due to his commitments on the football field. He tore his ACL in the fall playing quarterback for Dekalb County but was able to pitch in the spring and has come on to wow scouts and push himself up draft boards.

Jennings throws a good fastball that sits in the low 90s right now with the chance to add more velocity as he fills out his projectable frame. He also throws a hard slider that generates plenty of swings and misses, has shown a curveball this season that has potential, and although he hasn’t thrown it very often, owns a change up and has good feel for the pitch. Jennings has a repeatable delivery and can throw all of his pitches for strikes.

Why is he a fit for the Rockies?

Jennings is a young pitcher with a lot of room to grow and already touches the mid-90s on his fastball. He has a secondary offering in his slider that flashes plus and should continue to improve as he works his way through the minors. He works in with what is seemingly the Rockies draft strategy these days: pitchers with plus fastballs and good secondary out pitches. The Rockies are fighting back against the Coors Field stigma by trying to build a pitching staff that will generate more strikeouts and fewer balls in play. Jennings would be a good fit and a good value at 48.

James Marinan, RHP, Park Vista Community HS (FL)

Who is he?

Like Steven Jennings, Marinan has benefited from a tremendous Spring to get himself into the day 1 conversation. Marinan was throwing in the upper 80s in the fall and was not seen as much of a prospect but throughout the spring he has taken off.

He is a big kid at 6’4", 200 pounds, and has tapped into the potential that comes with that kind of frame, consistently throwing in the mid-90s now. He has a good change up that could become a plus offering in the future, and he owns a breaking ball that has potential, although it will need to be refined. He struggles a bit with his delivery, falling off the mound when he tries to overthrow, and he loses velocity occasionally out of the stretch but with improved mechanics and instruction he should be able to correct those issues.

Why is he a fit for the Rockies?

Marinan is another high school pitcher with a big fastball and a good set of off speed pitches. He will need a little more work than Jennings, who is pretty polished for his age, but Marinan may fit the Rockies draft strategy a little better as he already has consistent mid-90s velocity as well as a solid change up. At 48 Marinan might be seen as a bit of a reach but he certainly has potential to be one of the steals of the draft.

Ryan Vilade, 3B, Stillwater HS (OK)

Who is he?

Vilade is primarily known as a power hitter but has the tools to become a solid all-around player. Vilade has excellent bat speed and generates power through his quick hands and strong lower half. A good hitter, he has a strong pull tendency but has made some adjustments and has shown the ability to spray the ball to all fields. He is a decent runner but likely won’t steal a lot of bases and although he is a shortstop for his high school team, will likely be moved to third base in pro ball. He has the arm strength and athleticism along with the offensive profile to play third full time.

Why is he a fit for the Rockies?

Vilade is my dark horse here; it’s hard to know where he might go. I have heard his name in the first round discussion but mostly he’s seen as a second rounder. High-school prospects with this kind of present hitting ability and power potential don’t often fall to the mid-second round but there is a chance Vilade falls into the Rockies lap. I would love to see him as the pick here as I think he has a chance to be one of the better high school bats taken in this draft. It would be outside of the Rockies recent trend, but Vilade would be hard to pass up at 48.

Other potential picks at 48: Jake Eder, LHP (HS), Tristan Beck, RHP (Stanford), Matt Tabor, RHP (HS)

Competitive Balance Round B, Pick 70 Overall

Jake Thompson, RHP, Oregon State University

Who is he?

Thompson is the Sunday night starter for Oregon State. He has been lights out for the Beavers this year with a 3-pitch mix that has scouts excited. Thompson has always been known for his arm strength, but struggled mightily through his first 3 college seasons.

This year he looks like a different guy, increasing his strikeout rate and lowering his walk rate dramatically. It is easy to see what has made the difference for him when you watch video of him from 2016 compared to now. He has simplified his delivery significantly and is now able to command his pitches with much more regularity. He throws a mid-90s fastball, a potential plus slider, and a very good changeup that could become a plus pitch as well.

Why is he a fit for the Rockies?

Yet another hard thrower who has solid secondary stuff, Thompson fits with what the Rockies want to build in their rotation. Thompson may very well be gone when the Rockies pick but teams might shy away because of his track record. Prior to this season his stat line is pretty ugly and if he had pitched that way this season he likely wouldn’t have sniffed the first 15 rounds, but he has been incredible and surely would be a higher pick had he shown this before. I think this season is for real and if he falls the Rockies at 70 it could be a bargain.

Shane Drohan, LHP, Cardinal Newman HS (FL)

Who is he?

Drohan is another riser up draft boards this spring. After adding some muscle to his frame, he is now sitting in the low 90s with his fastball and showing good command of the pitch. His curveball has long been his best pitch but he has struggled to throw it consistently for strikes; that has changed this year. His curveball grades as a future plus pitch and his control of it is now reliable. He still has plenty of projection remaining in his 6’2", 170 pound frame and it is easy to project an uptick in velocity as he fills out. He also throws a good changeup now that has a chance to become an above average offering.

Why is he a fit for the Rockies?

Drohan is another projectable arm, although unlike the recent trend, his best pitch is an off speed offering rather than the fastball. He is a hard worker and has plenty of room left to grow so I could see him getting that fastball up to the mid-90s consistently. It has been said that guys with plus curveballs will struggle to throw the pitch at Coors but I believe there is enough evidence to suggest that if you are able to make a slight adjustment, you can throw the pitch with plenty of success. Drohan would be a solid pick at 70 as a high upside, projectable arm.

Other potential picks at 70: Chris McMahon, RHP (HS), Daniel Tillo, LHP (Iowa Western), Matt Whatley, C (Oral Roberts)

Round 3, Pick 86 Overall

Matt Whatley, C, Oral Roberts University

Who is he?

Whatley is listed in my potential picks at 70 but I have him here because I think he has a chance to fall to the third round. Whatley is a tremendous athlete who does everything well. He is a strong defender behind the plate with a very strong arm. He has above average speed and will steal his fair share of bases as well as above average power upside. He has always had a good feel to hit and has shown his hitting ability throughout his college career.

Why is he a fit for the Rockies?

A college catcher with the defensive ability to stay behind the plate while providing above average power and hitting ability fits for any team, which is why I don’t understand how he is not ranked higher on draft boards. In my opinion, Whatley is the best college catching prospect available and getting him here would be great value. If the Rockies felt strongly enough, I would have no problem with them taking him at 70 or even at 48; I think he is that talented. He feels like a guy who will rocket up boards as we get closer to the draft but he might be around at 86.

Greg Deichmann, OF/1B, Louisiana State University

Who is he?

Deichmann is a great all-around hitter from LSU. He has really come on strong this year and is one of the better power hitters in the draft class. He is not only a power guy but will hit for average as he has an ability to barrel the ball and spray it to all fields. The concern with him in the past has been his tendency to swing at everything but this year he has shown a much better understanding of the strike zone taking twice as many walks as he did in 2016. Deichmann has played mostly right field and has a chance to stick there, although a move to first is not out of the question.

Why is he a fit for the Rockies?

Deichmann reminds me a little of the Rockies 10th round pick last year, Vince Fernandez. Fernandez was an accomplished college hitter who hit for power and struck out a lot. Deichmann is a better version at this point (although Fernandez is absolutely on fire right now for Asheville), already showing the ability to take a walk, with fewer strikeouts and a better feel to hit. His draft stock is hurt only because of his lack of a sure defensive position. He would be a good pick for the Rockies at 86 as a polished college hitter who may be up within 2-3 years to help bolster an already dangerous Rockies lineup.

Other potential picks at 86: Jordan Anderson, OF (HS), Zac Lowther, RHP (Xavier), Spencer Strider, RHP (HS)

There you have it! There are always a lot of moving parts as draft day gets closer but those are my favorites to go to the Rockies right now. I’m looking forward to draft day and getting to know the next group of young Rockies!

Eat. Drink. Be Merry. But the above FanPost does not necessarily reflect the attitudes, opinions, or views of Purple Row's staff (unless, of course, it's written by the staff [and even then, it still might not]).

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