The 2017 MLB Draft is a few weeks away, we want to know: how have the Colorado Rockies approached the last few drafts and what does it tell us about how they might approach this year? Yesterday we reviewed the 2016 draft class. Today: we are summarizing our findings from the series.
It’s often difficult to glean any overall themes or trends in a baseball front office; not all teams are as explicit in their preferences as Dave Stewart’s “scrapy” Diamondbacks. It gets even more difficult when you’re trying to discern trends over multiple regimes. We can, however, draw general conclusions from each draft and see how they compare.
Over the past four years we’ve seen the Rockies go from a low-risk approach under Dan O’Dowd to a more high-upside strategy in Jeff Bridich’s first year. In between, O’Dowd took some risks on high schoolers Forrest Wall and Ryan Castellani who, other than first round pick Kyle Freeland, might yet work out. You would think this would justify a further trend toward valuing high upside guys. Then, last year, Bridich got much more conservative in his picks.
This switch from Year One to Year Two in the Bridich Era prompted a little bit of confusion. In the comments of yesterday’s review of the 2016 class, we discussed what this switch could mean. It could be a response to the overall talent pool, in which case it would be hard to count on it telling us much about what the team is likely to do in 2017. It could also be an effort to maintain balance in the system between high ceiling/low floor and low ceiling/high floor guys.
There’s also the consideration of the overall talent already in the organization, specifically the international signees. User mattrob brought up an excellent point which I’ll quote here in full:
I think they do work to keep some balance throughout the system and may not draft too heavily in one area if they have some international talent on the way there. For example, I know there’s some thought they may draft a catcher this year, but with Scott Serven last year and as many as 3 or 4 catchers set to come stateside from the DSL over the next couple of years, I’m not sure there’s a lot of room for a catcher. Obviously, BPA [Best Player Available] may dictate a catcher at some point, but all things being equal, they may decide to spend this picks elsewhere.
It’s easy to forget the work the Rockies do on the international front. And, as mattrob so rightly points out here, that has an impact for how they use the draft.
One thing that has been consistent is the team’s emphasis on power arms. From Riley Pint and Jon Gray, to Ryan Castellani and Mike Nikorak, all the way to Jerry Vasto and JD Hammer: the Rockies have been intent on stacking guys who have big fastballs and at least one good secondary offering. If that secondary pitch is a slider, so much the better. Considering the success they seem to be having so far, there’s no reason to expect them to change that.
Outside of that, it’s hard to draw too many hard and fast conclusions. With the new draft slot rules there seems to be less emphasis on signability for guys, leading more teams to go best available on their board. The Rockies are no different. It’s just a matter of whether this year more of their “best player available” will lead them to more of those young prep talents you can dream on or some reliable older players that don’t take too much squinting to see major league talent.