Jeff Bridich’s first draft as GM was focused on young, high-upside talent. The Rockies first four picks in 2015 were all high schoolers, headlined by an infielder out of Lake Mary, Florida - Brendan Rodgers.
Bridich’s second draft had a different strategy, going after pitchers. The 2016 season was 2013 first-round pick Jon Gray’s rookie year in the bigs, and his success convinced Bridich to double down on the homegrown arms. In the 2016 draft, the Rockies took 23 pitchers out of their 41 picks, including their first three picks.
The First Round - Riley Pint, Round 1, Pick 4 & Robert Tyler, Round 1, Pick 38
Let’s start with the big ones. At the time, the Pint pick was defensible, if not day dream inspiring. He touched 102 MPH on his fastball, making him one of the “hardest-throwing prep arms of all time”. On top of that, he was an example of a high schooler succeeding without the extensive specialization shown by so many draft caliber players. As highlighted in Jeff Passan’s book “The Arm”, Pint intentionally did not play nor train for baseball year round, instead playing basketball in the offseason. The implication then, for scouts and later Rockies fans, was that he was far from reaching his potential. However, anyone who knows the story of Billy Beane knows that high school players carry high risk, pitchers especially so.
Pint struggled with injuries and control problems during his time with the Rockies, ultimately retiring during the 2021 season. He last threw for High-A Spokane.
Robert Tyler, the Rockies second first-round draft pick, had a similar story in the majors. Picked out of the University of Georgia, Tyler was a hard throwing righty who had an at times inconsistent collegiate career. He was projected as a potential high-impact arm who was more polished than Pint. Unfortunately, his career went a similar direction. He struggled with injuries in the low minors and announced his retirement in early 2020 after playing with the High-A Lancaster Jethawks.
Garrett Hampson, Round 3, Pick 81
More so than most teams, the Rockies seem to continually embrace the familiar. Clint Hurdle is the latest in a long list of names of Rockies that are on their second tour of duty with the team. So when another shortstop out of Long Beach State was available in the draft, the Rockies didn’t miss their chance, considering their success with the prior one. Hampson took just two years to reach the majors and has been a mainstay ever since. It’s easy to play the what if game when thinking about the Rockies first round picks, both in terms of what they could have became and who the Rockies could have taken instead, so it’s nice to have a solid player like Hampson on the board later, considering some of the names that went in the 80 picks before Hampson.
Colton Welker, Round 4, Pick 110
Ranked as high as third in one edition of Purple Row’s prospect rankings, Welker has had an up and down time as a prospect, but the door’s certainly not closed on him yet. He sat out most of 2021 due to a PED suspension, but returned and made his major league debut later in the year. Between the suspension and the pandemic shortened 2020 season, Welker has missed the better part of two years of his recent development, so it’s hard to glean much from his cup of coffee in 2021. Here’s hoping he’s able to regain the top prospect form and make a positive impact in 2022.
Michael Toglia, Round 35, Pick 1040
Another example of the Rockies focusing and refocusing on certain players, 2016 was the first year that the Rockies drafted Michael Toglia. He did not sign in 2016, but attended UCLA, only to be drafted again by the Rockies at 23rd overall in the 2019 draft. He is currently number four on the PuRP list.
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Gasp! Actual Rockies news. But, not the best news for Rockies fans looking for a change. Yet another example of the Rockies returning to the familiar, Sterling Monfort (youngest son of Dick) was recently promoted to Director of Scouting. The younger Monfort turns just 31 this year, but has spent his entire professional career working within the Rockies organization. A flip through the other MLB teams directors shows that Sterling is by far the youngest in his position across the MLB. The position is often seen as a stepping stone to a GM role, confirming what most Rockies fans already knew and feared - the Monforts won’t be moving away from the Rockies any time soon.
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