In today’s installment of Rockies draft retrospects, we’ll review the 2018 draft.
This draft was a continuation of the strategy from previous Bridich era drafts - heavy on college players, especially college pitchers. Ryan Rolison (current no. 2 PuRP) led the Rockies selections as a southpaw out of Ole Miss, and was followed by another 22 pitchers out of 41 total picks. The Rolison pick was followed up by taking Grant Lavigne (current no. 15 PuRP), a high school first baseman out of New Hampshire, and then college players with every pick until the 33rd round.
This draft class has just begun to make its impact on the major leagues, and will be the last class that we’ll look at individually. The relative abundance of college players drafted, not just by the Rockies, has enabled this class to have a quick impact on the league. Notable picks include 2021 NL Rookie of the Year and uber-selective hitter Jonathan India (5th overall out of University of Florida), Trea Turner / Max Scherzer trade bait Josiah Gray (72nd overall out of Le Moyne College), some of the would-be saviors of the Mariners franchise - Jarred Kelenic (6th overall out of Waukesha West HS) and Logan Gilbert (14th overall out of Stetson University), and finally one of the newest elite pieces from the ever-evolving Rays rotation, Shane McClanahan (31st overall out of the University of South Florida).
From the Rockies perspective, it’s simplest to compare this draft class with who is on the most recent list of PuRPs.
Rockies 2018 Draft Class
|Current PuRP Ranking
|Current PuRP Ranking
|U. of Mississippi
|Bedford (NH) HS
|*drafted by Oakland
Today, it’s the pair of Ryans that lead this group. Both had up-and-down 2021s after missing the 2020 season of development - Rolison with appendicitis and later a broken hand, and Feltner making two starts in the bigs, neither going particularly well. Rolison appeared in the Dominican Winter League this offseason, and both will enter Spring Training (whenever that may be) and be given every chance to prove they belong in the Rockies 2022 rotation.
Mitchell Kilkenny is the other pitcher on this list. He put together an impressive season across A and high-A ball this year, compiling a 12-3 record and 3.27 ERA, and also putting up 107 strikeouts against just 22 walks over 113 innings. Kilkenny will look to move up the organization in 2022 - the caveat to his numbers in A-ball is that he was in his age 24 season, competing against mostly younger players. However, he’s shown he has stuff and consistency, so if that continues as he moves up the minors, he’ll also likely move up prospect lists.
After mashing in Grand Junction in 2018, Grant Lavigne took a step back in 2019. Followed by the lost 2020 season, he had a lot to prove coming into 2021. He put up respectable numbers in Fresno (.281/.388/.442) but took a step back after his promotion to High-A Spokane (.225/.362/.342). His tools potential alone will keep him in prospect lists for the foreseeable future, and a lack of development is understandable considering the turbulent nature of the minors in 2020, but 2022 will be an important year for Lavigne to see whether the former top-100 prospect can regain some of his sheen.
Willie MacIver and Jameson Hannah both spent the majority of their 2021s with Double-A Hartford. MacIver raked to start the year at High-A (.286/.395/.542 over 46 games) and was rewarded with a Futures Game start and a promotion to Hartford. He slowed down there, but ended the year with a .220/.314/.390 line over 103 games between three levels. Hannah, in his first full season in the Rockies organization, put up a respectable .255/.325/.351 line over 79 games in Hartford. Both are nearly major league ready and could see time at Coors in 2022.
Beyond the Rockies draftees that still appear on internal prospect lists, there are some other notable names on the list. Kumar Rocker was a long-shot “what if” option when the Rockies took him in the 38th round in 2018. The Mets took him in the most recent draft at 10th overall, but he went unsigned after a medical exam revealed arm damage. It is currently unknown where, if anywhere, he will pitch in 2022. Another big name taken in 2018 that has yet to (and likely never will) throw a professional pitch is Kyler Murray, taken ninth overall by the A’s, but more importantly first overall by the football version of the Cardinals.
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All of the recent Rockies Hall of Fame chatter starts and ends with Todd Helton, and rightly so. But in the years after Helton has hopefully been enshrined, our attention will turn to other former Rockies who will likely set their sights lower and hope to remain on the ballot for as long as possible. Troy Tulowitzki is eligible for induction in 2025, and noted Rockie Matt Kemp in 2026. While both players had remarkably different tenures with the Rockies, their careers were similarly derailed by injuries after starts that looked set for superstardom.
Although this offseason is far from over, many teams have already made significant moves to shore up their roster holes from 2021. The Rockies have not been one of those teams. By bWAR, their worst position was CF, and barring any large signings, the team will look to fill that spot internally in 2022. It is interesting to note that relative to the other National League teams, the Rockies had relatively one of the stronger weakest positions in 2021 - they were just one of four teams to provide positive value at their weakest position.
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