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MLB draft 2018: Rockies recap

Introducing the newest group of future Rockies

The draft is behind us and it’s time to assess what the Rockies did to improve their farm system this year. The MLB draft consists of 40 rounds so it’s a lot of new names in the organization. I’ll go through the first 12 rounds and write up a brief summary of each player. After round 12 I’ll pick out a group of players I’ll be following closely throughout the summer. If you’re wondering which of these players have signed, check out our draft tracker.

Round 1, pick 22: Ryan Rolison, RHP, Ole Miss

Rolison went from a top ten pick to start the year to a projected early second round selection to a projected late first round selection due in large part to an ill-fated tweak to his delivery. He was trying for greater deception but ended up losing a little command so he ditched the new delivery and bumped himself up to the first round. There is a lot to like here, including a potential plus breaking ball (it’s been called a slider but it looks more like a curve), good control, and a solid, competitive athlete with a good work ethic.

Round Competitive Balance A, pick 42: Grant Lavigne, 1B, Bedford HS (NH)

A first base only prospect in all likelihood, I’ve seen Lavigne’s power given grades between 50 and 70 with little consensus and a pretty limited amount of video available. One thing we know about Lavigne is that he hit really well when he was in school, but New Hampshire is a far cry from pro ball. If the bat doesn’t play, there’s not a defensive home to fall back on, but if the bat plays up to that 70-grade power with the hitting ability he showed in high school, he could be worth the price the Rockies paid to get him.

Round 2C, pick 76: Mitchell Kilkenny, RHP, Texas A&M

Kilkenny has only been starting full time for the last year but showed he can handle a starter’s workload with an impressive season in which he averaged over 6 innings per start. He slowed a little bit in the last few weeks of the season but for the most part impressed with good command of his three-pitch arsenal. None of his pitches project out to be better than above-average, but he has a good feel for pitching and his stuff plays up because he locates his fastball, slider, and changeup so well.

Round 3, pick 96: Terrin Vavra, SS/2B, Minnesota

Two of Vavra’s three years at Minnesota were hampered by injury, but he was healthy this year and impressed at the plate, slashing .385/.468/.620. He’s not a hulking kid but has quite a bit of raw power and a good hit tool to go along with a solid approach at the plate. Although most scouts see him as a second baseman, the Rockies will likely try him out at shortstop to see how things go given his good instincts that help his tools play up.

Round 4, pick 126: Ryan Feltner, RHP, Ohio State

Feltner is a flame-thrower who has been clocked up to 98 mph, but there is a lack of deception and movement to the pitch, and it gets hit too easily. He was reliever of the year in the wood bat Cape Cod League last summer so there is a thought that he’s best suited as a high-leverage reliever. Feltner throws an above-average changeup to go with the heater and will probably be tried as a starter but could end up a quick mover sitting in the Rockies bullpen in a couple years.

Round 5, pick 156: Jake Bird, RHP, UCLA

A pitch to contact type, Bird struck out just over five batters per nine innings in his four-year career at UCLA. He has good control of a sinking low-90s fastball, his mid-80s cut slider, and a developing changeup, inducing a lot of ground balls. He fits the mold of a back-end starter and he could move quickly through the organization as a middle reliever as well.

Round 6, pick 186: Niko Decolati, 3B, Loyola Marymount

Decolati has been given plus power grades by evaluators but he dropped to day 2 because of his hitting ability. Decolati has a lot of work to do to become a better hitter but there is plenty of ability to work with and the Rockies are hoping to adjust his approach and swing to limit the holes and reduce his strikeout rate. Decolati has above average speed and a strong arm and should play primarily at third base in his pro career.

Round 7, pick 216: Andrew Quezada, RHP, Cal State Fullerton

Quezada is a slightly undersized righty who has been consistently good throughout his college career. He trusts his stuff and goes right after hitters with a low to mid-90s fastball, a slider, and a changeup, all of which are average or better pitches. His control is spotty but when it’s there, he has the makings of a back-end starter, throwing a lot of strikes and keeping hitters off balance.

Round 8, pick 246: Nick Bush, LHP, LSU

Bush threw more than five innings just once in his LSU career, and that was just four weeks ago when he saved LSU’s season by beating Alabama and throwing six innings of five hit baseball. Aside from that, Bush has spent his career at LSU as a lefty specialist with a good breaking ball and a low-90s fastball.

Round 9, pick 276: Willie MacIver, C, Washington

MacIver has shown a good ability to hit and a good approach throughout his career but was injured at the start of this season and was never able to get going. As a catcher, he has a strong arm and a reliable glove but has been used at third and first primarily this year. There is some power in there, but he hasn’t been able to tap into it in games thus far.

Round 10, pick 306: Cade Harris, 3B, Oklahoma

Harris snuck onto the radar this season with a solid showing, featuring a good hit tool and a good approach. He hit 23 doubles and walked 66 times in 63 games while showing off above average speed and a good arm. Harris strikes out a lot but the Rockies will hope to correct that in time.

Round 11, pick 336: PJ Poulin, LHP, UConn

Poulin has improved steadily over the course of his career, finishing with a good season this year pitching primarily out of the bullpen. He also opened eyes in the Cape Cod league over the summer, showing good control of a low-90s fastball and a big breaking ball. The Rockies will likely deploy him as a reliever.

Round 12, pick 366: Kyle Datres, OF, UNC

Datres has a good approach and great bat speed to go with above average speed on the basepaths. He doesn’t have a lot of power potential, but he profiles well as a super-utility guy who can hit and play a lot of different positions. He’s a great athlete and should he find a way to maximize his tools and hit for some power he could easily end up an every-day player.

★ ★ ★

Let’s turn to some other interesting picks. These are players I’ll be following the closest this year.

Round 15, pick 456: Coco Montes, SS, South Florida

Montes finished the season on a 20-game hitting streak and slashed .331/.400/.487 on the year. He transitioned to shortstop from second base this year and will continue to learn the position as a pro.

Round 17, pick 516: Reese Berberet, 3B, Long Beach CC

Berberet has slashed .308/.386/.602 in two years at Long Beach Community College with a big jump in power production this season. He hasn’t been up against top competition but has a good looking swing and a good arm.

Round 19, pick 576: Zach Hall, OF, UC Colorado Springs

Hall is the first player ever drafted out of UCCS after slashing .317/.406/.711 this past season. Hall has power and a good approach but is likely locked into left field as a pro.

Round 20: pick 606: Luke Morgan, CF, College of Charleston

Morgan entered the 2017 season at the College of Charleston as a promising junior college transfer but promptly fell flat on his face as he looked overmatched by D1 pitching. This year he slashed .326/.393/.496 and scouts got to see the player they were hoping for with a good approach, above-average speed, and solid hitting ability.

Round 22, pick 666: Jacob Barnwell, C, Ohio State

Barnwell is an excellent defensive catcher with a strong arm and a little hitting ability. He’s a consistent hitter but the Rockies drafted him as a defensive specialist and he should rise quickly in that role.

Round 23, pick 696: Colten Schmidt, LHP, Louisiana Lafayette

Schmidt took advantage of his first full season as a starter by posting some of the most impressive numbers in D1 baseball and the Rockies are hoping those numbers translate to pro success. He ranked 4th in BB/9 at 0.76, 11

Round 26, pick 786: Will Golsan, CF, Ole Miss

Golsan has been a fixture in the Ole Miss lineup for four years and has been a consistent hitter throughout his time there. He has above-average speed and may be able to stick in center in the pros.

Round 27, pick 816: Eric Hepple, RHP, Central Florida

Hepple throws a low-90s fastball and a low-80s slider and misses a lot of bats. He’s been a reliever throughout his college career.

Rounds 33-39: Seven High Schoolers

The Rockies picked Nick Pogue, Jake Moberg, Sean Mullen, Cadyn Zimmerman, Easton McMurray, Kumar Rocker, and Isaiah Thomas in these rounds. All seven guys had some buzz going into the draft (none more so than top 25 prospect Kumar Rocker) but none are expected to sign with the team.

Round 40, pick 1206: Brett Auerbach, C, Saddleback CC

The Rockies’ Mr. Irrelevant this season is Auerbach, an athletic, bat first catcher who impressed in two years at Saddleback. Regardless, Baseball Census has a nice scouting report of him.

★ ★ ★

Overall, the Rockies picked a lot of experienced players who should move through the minors quickly. The draft seems to further reinforce the Rockies’ desire to win in the more immediate future rather than wait it out for a high school player to be ready. The only high schooler they have a realistic shot of signing is Lavigne. Other clubs who drafted just one realistically signable high schooler: the Astros, Athletics, and Nationals.

The Rockies have built up a strong, young farm system over the last few years and now they look to take advantage of the young high-schoolers they selected in recent drafts by selecting more veteran college players who should arrive around the same time as a lot of those previous selections. It will be a fun few years watching these guys work their way up.