The Colorado Rockies were without a first-round pick in the 2017 MLB draft due to their signing of Ian Desmond this past offseason. However, that didn’t stop them from grabbing a high-upside player when they finally got a chance in the second round.
The Rockies selected Ryan Vilade with the 48th overall selection, adding another high school third baseman prospect to their ranks. Vilade won the Under Armour home run derby last August and also has some experience on Team USA. The scouting reports on Vilade are full of positives. If he develops as expected, never a sure thing among baseball prospects, Vilade will be a strong third baseman with a good bat and high-end power.
Vilade will probably play this summer for the Grand Junction Rockies and will look to follow in what is becoming a fairly lengthy track record of highly touted third basemen for the Rockies’ rookie affiliate.
In 2009, the Rockies selected high school prospect Nolan Arenado in the second round as a third baseman. Prior to the draft, there was some though that Nolan would be more valuable as a catcher, but the Rockies thought otherwise. Nolan rose quickly through the minors and is now the league’s top active defensive third baseman and is already making a strong case for one of the best ever.
The Rockies didn’t draft another high school third baseman whom they would sign until 2013 when they selected Ryan McMahon in the second round. McMahon is now with the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes after having a hot start in Double-A this season.
What no one realized at the time was that the pick of McMahon was going to start a trend. In every draft from 2013 to 2017, the Rockies have selected a high school third baseman in the first five rounds.
In 2014, the Rockies picked Kevin Padlo in the fifth round. Padlo was part of the Corey Dickerson trade with the Tampa Bay Rays that netted the Rockies Jake McGee and German Marquez.
The Rockies selected Tyler Nevin in Competitive Balance Round A in 2015. Nevin had a strong debut for Grand Junction that season but has since struggled to stay on the field due to injuries.
Colton Welker was the fourth-round pick last year for the Rockies. He translated a strong start in Grand Junction last summer into a starting spot for the Asheville Tourists, where he has been an offensive juggernaut.
Prior to this draft there was some joking that the one thing you could guarantee about the the Rockies draft was that they would pick a high school third baseman in the first five rounds. That trend indeed held up.
Though it is probably more of a coincidence than anything else, it does appear that the Rockies value the profile that these high school third basemen match. While the outcome for the prospects has been about as varied as one would expect, the Rockies are hoping that one of these guys turns out to be the next Nolan Arenado—and hopefully it won’t be Kevin Padlo.