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MLB Draft 2017 results: Recapping and grading the Colorado Rockies’ 40 picks

Hope you like college players

The MLB draft has wrapped up and it was an interesting draft for the Rockies. I can’t say I was surprised at the direction they decided to go, but I had hoped they would look at a few more exciting high school options mid-way through the draft. Instead, after selecting Ryan Vilade, they selected 33 college players in a row before finally taking another high schooler. Because they had so little pool money to work with, the strategy makes sense, but the rest of the bottom five teams in terms of available cash all picked at least one high schooler in the 10-20 range.

Drafts are often more about filling specific needs and selecting player types the organization feels comfortable with than they are about loading the lower levels with high-upside 18-year-olds. Thus, teams tend to gravitate towards specific player types throughout a single draft. The Rockies are no exception, and it is pretty easy to break down the Rockies player types into six categories. There are categories within these categories of course but overall, there is a good pattern we can work with.

College Pitchers who likely project as Relievers

Tommy Doyle (CBB), Nick Kennedy (5), Shameko Smith (13), Colton Hathcock (15), Garrett Schilling (18), Nate Harris (21), Jesse Lepore (24), Derrik Watson (25), Brandon Lambright (27), Reagan Biechler (31), Moises Ceja (32), Alec Byrd (33), Hayden Roberts (34), Michael Agis (36)

Wow, that’s a lot of names! I have fourteen players listed under this category, by far the most crowded of the six. The Rockies have developed the strategy these past two drafts of selecting a lot of guys with this type of profile. Most of these guys pitched out of the pen at least part time in college and figure to pitch there long-term based on their command issues, their limited arsenal, and/or their durability.

As far as the value here for the Rockies, I think they did well. They took a few guys who have been on my radar in Doyle, Kennedy, Smith, Harris, and Byrd. All five of those guys have a chance to eventually pitch at the highest level. Doyle, Harris and Hathcock have deeper arsenals and may start initially in pro ball but I see them ending up as relievers. Watson, Lambright, Roberts and Agis all fall into the category of questionable control with good strikeout numbers.

On the whole, the Rockies grabbed some good relief talent early on. I like the fact that there was a clear focus on adding talent to the system at the position. Signability shouldn’t be a big problem for most of these guys so there won’t be many wasted picks. However, the fact of the matter is they picked fourteen college relievers while more exciting, still signable options were available. I think the category was over-drafted and 8-10 of these types is a better target here.

Overall Category Grade: B-

Versatile College Up-the-Middle Players

Bret Boswell (8), Matt McLaughlin (12), Alan Trejo (16), Joey Bartosic (19), Danny Edgeworth (23), Brett Stephens (28), Todd Czinege (29), Jeff Moberg (30)

This is the second-most drafted group by the Rockies. Before I continue, you’re right, Danny Edgeworth is not an up-the-middle player but he fits best in this category so there you go. I really, really like this group of guys. They are all athletic and most of them play multiple positions which is important for any team. Most of them have good contact ability and speed with limited power.

Boswell and Bartosic are a couple of my favorite picks in this draft for the Rockies. I talked about Boswell in my Day 2 recap, and Bartosic is an athletic guy with good range in center, good contact skills and plus speed. Edgeworth may not fit into the category, but he’s a really athletic third baseman who plays plus defense at the hot corner. McLaughlin, Trejo, Stephens, Czinege, and Moberg all have good hit tools and play at least adequate defense.

There are eight players in this category and I think that’s about what I would want as well. These types of guys are important for organizational depth and I’m betting a couple end up on a Major League roster. Value wise, I think this was the strongest category. They got Moberg in the 30th because of his age but there’s a lot of talent there. They got one of the best defensive third baseman in college with Edgeworth in the 23rd. And I would have taken Bartosic and McLaughlin at least a round earlier than the Rockies got them. Again, signability isn’t a big concern with these guys so this is a successful draft for this category.

Overall Category Grade: A

High School Players

Ryan Vilade (2), James Notary (35), Tyler Hardman (37), Drake Davis (38), Colin Hall (39), J.T. Stanley (40)

It feels a little like cheating to throw all these guys in one category but really the only name that matters here is Ryan Vilade. As I said in my initial draft preview, Vilade is an ideal pick for the Rockies and I couldn’t be happier to have him in the system. Besides Vilade, the other five guys are almost certainly going off to college so it’s hardly worth going into detail. I will just say that if Tyler Hardman signs, watch out. His swing is a thing of beauty and he has big power potential.

It’s unlikely the Rockies will be able to sign any of the remaining five guys and the biggest disappointment in the draft was how few high schoolers they selected. Typically, you want to get at least one or two guys in the middle rounds but it just never happened. Still, Vilade is the headliner of this year’s draft and he single handedly keeps the grade up.

Overall Category Grade: B

College Power Hitters

Chad Spanberger (6), Sean Bouchard (9), Casey Golden (20), Daniel Jipping (22), Aubrey McCarty (26)

This was a good draft for college power bats and the Rockies didn’t disappoint. They grabbed five guys who all have big upside. I covered Spanberger and Bouchard in my Day 2 coverage. Casey Golden is a power hitter who strikes out a bit, but does have decent contact skills and is pretty athletic. Jipping is a power/speed type who generates power from his impressive bat speed.

This is a cool story so I’m going to tell it: You may know Aubrey McCarty as the switch pitcher who was being hyped back in 2013 and was selected by the Giants that year. He decided to go to college but didn’t play his freshman year at Vanderbilt and was used sparingly the following year. He transferred to Gordon State for the 2016 season where he became a 2-way player. He raked in his first year as a part-time hitter. In 59 games played he recorded a hit in all but 7 of them! He played 2 ways again 2017 for Florida A&M and he continued to hit well. Once he focuses all his attention on hitting he could turn out to be a good bargain in the 26th round.

This was a good section of the draft for the Rockies. I like the fact that there are five players here and not 1 or 10. Power hitters who are limited defensively tend to fall on draft day and it is always a good idea to snag them when you can. I like the McCarty pick and Casey Golden could be really good. The Rockies should be able to sign all of these guys without much difficulty. The only downside is that one of these picks could have been a high-upside prep player.

Overall Category Grade: A-

College Pitchers who project as Starters

Will Gaddis (3), Pearson McMahan (4), Lucas Gilbreath (7)

This could very well be wrong as a couple of the fourteen guys in the reliever category may end up as starters but this is how I see them developing. Obviously, Gaddis is the top guy here and I really like what he brings to the table. He’s already a polished starter and should move quickly through the system. McMahan is a toss-up between starting and relieving. I imagine they’ll try him as a starter and I like him enough to project him there. Gilbreath should end up starting with his arsenal and ability to command his pitches.

This category is light on talent but it wasn’t much of a priority for the Rockies here. They have good starting pitching depth and are apparently comfortable with it right now. I can see Gaddis ending up as a three or four starter who brings consistency to the rotation. Other than that, there’s not much to get excited about here.

Overall Category Grade: B-

Bounceback Candidates

Austin Bernard (10), Hunter Williams (11), Jeff Bohling (17)

Here are the guys that represent the Rockies’ riskiest investments. All three have question marks regarding either their performance or off-the-field issues. Bernard is a career backup at Pepperdine but really played well over the summer in the Northwoods League. He hasn’t been a catcher for very long and obviously the scouting department loved what they saw from him over the summer. Williams has an intriguing story detailed here. Hopefully, the Rockies can get the best out of him. Bohling was the WCC player of the year in 2016, showing good contact skills and gap power. This year he really struggled to replicate his success and ended up with the Rockies in the 17th round.

I’ll be honest, this was a flop category for me. I don’t understand taking Williams and Bernard in this draft over a couple high-schoolers. The Rockies are taking on a fair amount of risk here anyway, why not draft a higher upside high school kid who carries similar risk (in failure to sign rather than failure to produce). Bohling is a guy I like and I can understand taking a chance on him in the 17th but the other two don’t make sense to me. Gabriel Rodriguez was still on the board in the 10th and Jack Schneider was there in the 11th. I’d prefer at least one of them and I’m guessing we could have afforded both, although we will have to wait and see what the final figure looks like for each.

Overall Category Grade: D-

★ ★ ★

This was an interesting continuation in a lot of ways from what the Rockies did in the draft last year. It certainly seems like they have a type. I liked a lot of what they did in this draft and I understand why they made the selections they did. I would have liked to see one more high-schooler earlier on but the financials were obviously a big concern. It’s hard to fit all these guys into categories, and some fit better than others, but it is interesting to see the player types the Rockies gravitate towards.

Looking at the draft as a whole, I would say the Rockies met my expectations in almost every way. I was pleasantly surprised by their pick of Ryan Vilade and disappointed in their lack of a high-schooler after that until round 35. I was also surprised at the sheer amount of college relievers they took, although the strategy in general wasn’t terribly surprising.

A lot goes into a draft: years of scouting, months of rearranging the board, and days of last minute shuffling. One of the things I love most about the draft is how much it changes in a year and even when you think you know who’s going where, you really have no idea. We’ve just seen a new group of players at the start of their journey through the Rockies system, all hoping to someday play for the Big Club; now the search begins for the next group.

Overall 2017 Draft Grade: B-


How would you grade the Rockies’ 2017 draft class?

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