The Rockies may have the day off, but the 2019 MLB Draft is taking place tonight, so it’s time to see what the experts have to say about the Rockies’ first round pick (23rd overall).
To provide some context, MLB.com’s Jim Callis has written, “The crop of talent for the 2019 Draft appears to be one of the most imbalanced in recent memory. Quality position prospects abound all over the diamond, while question marks surround the best pitchers available.” So it probably won’t be a year for the Rockies to get another Ryan Rolison.
In terms of what the Rockies look for in draft selections, Bill Schmidt, Rockies vice president, scouting, told Thomas Harding, “We’re looking for guys with good bat-to-ball skills, and pitchers who can throw it over the 17 inches of the plate with command.” When it come to available money, the Rockies have $7,092,300 to spend in the first 10 rounds, including $2,926,800 for their first selection. Harding also makes this point:
The Rockies have a young Major League rotation and are trying to develop relievers, since some veterans’ contracts will expire in coming years. But none of this affects the “best player available” Draft philosophy. Schmidt said the club doesn’t earmark positions to stock with its later picks. That philosophy makes sense, since the club in recent years has had even its top prospects play multiple positions to increase their chances of making it up the chain.
For the Rockies, historically their selections tend to fall into two categories: high school-level pitchers or college-level position players. First, here’s how both categories have fared in the Rockies’ farm system.
Recent draft picks: High school-level pitchers
Drafting a pitcher is out of high school is risky: they rarely rise fast and usually require time to develop before they’re ready. And sometimes, they’re never ready. The Rockies have a mixed history of pitchers drafted out of high school:
- Ryan Castellani, Brophy College Preparatory (Phoenix, AZ) (2014 Round 2, #48); currently in Albuquerque; MLB ETA 2020.
- Mike Nikorak, Stroudsburg HS (PA) (2015 Round 1, #27); currently in Asheville; MLB ETA 2010.
- Peter Lambert, San Dimas HS (CA) (2015 Round 2, #44); currently in Albuquerque; MLB ETA 2019.
- Riley Pint, St. Thomas Aquinas HS (KS) (2016 Round 1, #4); currently in Asheville; MLB ETA 2021
Of this group, Lambert is clearly the closest to seeing major league action even though he is younger than the guy drafted the year before him, Castellani, illustrating the risks of drafting pitchers out of high school.
Recent draft picks: College-level position players
A college-level player has the benefit of being closer to the major leagues, and teams have a clearer sense of their development. Arguing against this, Kiley McDaniel writes at FanGraphs that some hitters may be eschewing college for the majors because college baseball lacks hitting coaches and players require training before hitting the majors, so that’s something to keep in mind. That said, here are some recent examples of the Rockies’ college drafts:
- Sam Hillard, Wichita State (2015 15th Round, #437); currently in Albuquerque; MLB ETA 2019.
- Garrett Hampson, Long Beach State (2016 3rd Round, #81); currently in Albuquerque; MLB ETA now.
- Bret Boswell, 2B, Texas (2017 8th Round, #236); currently in Hartford; MLB ETA 2020.
- Terrin Vavra, SS, Minnesota (2018 3rd Round, #96); currently in Asheville; MLB ETA 2021.
We know that Hampson is the closest to becoming a full-time Rockie given his solid play for the team in 2018. Hilliard, too, appears to be close, but Hampson, drafted a year later, is ahead in terms of development. As for Boswell and Vavra, it’s early, but results look positive.
2019 mock draft results
With that in mind, here are some names that the experts are predicting.
J.J. Goss, RHP, Cypress Ranch High School (Cypress, TX)
In The Athletic, Nick Groke writes that Goss has “perhaps the best prep slider in the draft.” He also throws a lot of strikes — like a perfect game last month that took only 71 pitches. Groke sees Goss as consistent with the Rockies’ tradition of picking high school right-handed pitchers. He’s committed to Texas A&M.
Daniel Espino, RHP, Georgia Premier Academy (Statesboro, GA)
MLB Daily Dish selects a different high school-level, right-handed pitcher for the Rockies but doesn’t offer any details as to why. Our sister site Talking Chop provides this profile and points to the quality of his fastball. You can watch video here.
Michael Busch, 1B, North Carolina
Keith Law makes this intriguing comment in his mock draft 2.0 for ESPN: “The Rockies were heavy at the ACC tournament, with GM Jeff Bridich in attendance, to see Busch play.” Make of that what you will. Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs agree with Law in their mock draft 3.0.
Also worth noting, Longenhagen and McDaniel take their speculation into later rounds:
We also have Colorado on UNC-Wilmington SS Greg Jones at this pick, UCLA 1B Michael Toglia and Georgia 3B Aaron Schunk at their second pick, and Cal C Korey Lee at their second or third pick.
Kameron Misner, RF, Missouri
Misner’s name came up in FanGraphs’ 2.0 mock draft as well as a mock draft by Mike Axisa. For Longenhagen and McDaniel, Misner is “spotty,” but they see “legit 70 power” if an organization can provide sufficient development. Axisa writes that “his performance track record (.226/.349/.321 during SEC play) and swing-and-miss issues (22.0 percent strikeout rate) create questions about how he’ll handle upper level pitching.” McDaniels cites Misner as a hitter who will require retraining.
Logan Davidson, SS, Clemson
Melissa Lockhard for The Athletic sees Davidson as “arguably the best player left on the board” when the Rockies’ moment arrives. He’s a switch-hitter with above-average speed and power; however, he struggled to adjust to the wood bats of the Cape Cod League.
Our sister site The Good Phight provides a nice overview here, complete with video.
But at the end of the day, who knows? And that’s what makes the draft so much fun. (If I were laying money, I’d put mine on Misner.) Purple Row will have extensive coverage. You can get started with this piece by Eric Garcia McKinley on the history of the Rockies in the draft.
If you have mock predictions that I’ve missed or thoughts on the draft, or suggestions as to how the Rockies should spend their draft picks, leave them in the comments.
In the 2019 Draft, the Rockies will select
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