The first day of the MLB draft is always full of surprises. Royce Lewis went first overall after everyone was projecting Brendan McKay or Kyle Wright, Clarke Schmidt got selected at 15 despite the injury concerns that were supposed to push him to the late first round, and the A's selected a high school hitter with their first pick!
But my favorite surprise came in round 2 at pick 48 when the Rockies selected Ryan Vilade, a high school third baseman out of Stillwater, Oklahoma. I talked a lot about Vilade in my initial draft preview. Here's a snippet:
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.
I'll admit I had given up hope that they would draft a prep hitter, but I love this pick for the Rockies. Vilade's power/contact upside is among the best in the draft and will play up at Coors Field. Defensively I've heard a move to second base or first may be possible if he remains blocked at third at the big league level (let's hope that's the case). I also love the fact that he has shown the ability to make adjustments when he has struggled. He started the year very slowly but made a few adjustments and really came on late. It's a valuable skill to have as a teenager and it will allow him to adjust more quickly to the higher level of pitching he will soon be facing.
The big question is whether he will sign with the club. I would guess he will as he was projected to go in the second round, but the Rockies may have to go a little over slot to get him. This leads me to the Rockies pick in the Competitive Balance Round B, Tommy Doyle, a righty from the University of Virginia.
Doyle is a name I was only vaguely familiar with so I was a bit critical of the pick when I first saw it. A little digging has left me feeling quite a bit better about it. Doyle is a college reliever and I would assume the Rockies like him in that role as a fast moving, high-leverage guy. I talked about Daniel Tillo in my latest preview as a similar sort the Rockies may go after.
Doyle has a good fastball and two solid off speed pitches. The fastball has good life on it and is tough for hitters to pick up. His slider and changeup are both above-average and he does own a curveball as well that is behind the other two. It's possible the Rockies will try him as a starter; the fact that he owns a four-pitch arsenal makes me think they might. However, I think he likely settles as a late inning reliever for the club. My feeling is that the Rockies reached a little for a guy they like in order to sign him to an under slot deal and free up a little extra cash to sign Vilade. I may be wrong (it happens occasionally) but that's my guess.
On the whole, I like what the Rockies did on day one. They nabbed a high-upside high school bat and a polished, fast moving college arm that may give them more financial flexibility as the draft continues. I'm looking forward to rounds 3-40 as well. There are still some great players available from my round 2 mock draft, including Garrett Mitchell, whom I predicted the Rockies would take at 48th overall. We’ll wait to see how it pans out.