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The Rockies 2015 draft class in retrospect

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Monday, January 3, 2022

The 2015 MLB Rookie Draft marked a new era for the Colorado Rockies. For the first time in almost 20 years, the team selected high schoolers with it’s first four picks. Additionally, it was the first draft with newly named GM Jeff Bridich at the helm.

While 2015 was the first draft with Jeff Bridich as GM, now-GM Bill Schmidt was then serving as the Rockies scouting director. So while Bridich was undoubtedly able to make his mark on the Rockies draft strategy, the betting money would say that the Rockies drafts with Schmidt as GM would not mark much of a departure from the drafts with Schmidt as scouting director.

With that in mind, let’s rewind to the Rockies 2015 draft class. This was a draft where the Rockies had four picks in the first two rounds, and their selections were lauded as one of the strongest classes in baseball. Let’s see how they’re looking now.

The hits

Brendan Rogers, Round 1, 3rd Overall

Brendan Rodgers leads the list of picks that went right for the Rockies in 2015. He was seen as one of, if not the, most talented players in the draft and had a chance to go No. 1 overall. The overall draft board was incredibly deep with high end shortstop talent, so after collegiate players Dansby Swanson and Alex Bregman went 1 and 2, respectively, the Rockies had their man at no. 3. He made his big league debut in 2019, battled injuries in 2020, but then lived up to his pedigree in 2021, establishing himself as an every day big leaguer. Like most all players in this list, his career still has a long way to go before it can be properly judged, but the Rodgers pick was a success.

Sam Hilliard, Round 15, 437th Overall

Selected after his freshman year at Wichita State, Hilliard has enjoyed a steady rise through the minors towards making his big league debut in 2019. He has bounced between AAA and the big club since, appearing in exactly half of the Rockies games this last year, totaling 0.6 rWAR. He looks poised to get lots of chances in the Rockies outfield in 2022, and is the only member of the 2015 15th round to have played in the majors thus far.

The TBDs

Justin Lawrence, Round 12, 347th Overall

It’s hard not to call the Justin Lawrence pick already a success. Making the big leagues, especially out of the 12th round, is a challenge for any draftee and is by no means a guarantee. Lawrence has the potential to be one of the biggest successes from this draft class if he is able to harness his elite stuff and become a shutdown reliever for the Rockies. He missed the entire 2020 season serving a ban for performance enhancing drugs, then made his debut in 2021, totaling -0.7 rWAR, 17 strikeouts, and 19 walks over 19 appearances. With JLaw, it’s all about the stuff. He had trouble keeping runners off the bases in 2021 but showed elite strikeout pitches that modern bullpens crave.

Peter Lambert, Round 2, Pick 44

The direction of Lambert’s next few years will go a long way as whether to call this draft a success or not. He made his big league debut in 2019, missed 2020 due to injury, and was a September callup in 2021. With the departure of Jon Gray, Lambert is a leading candidate to take on a bigger role in 2022, and is he’s able to throw well, could potentially make this pick look like a steal.

The misses

Mike Nikorak, Round 1, Pick 27

For a draft that was only in 2015, it’s hard to call too many picks misses. Nikorak, unfortunately, earns that title, despite being viewed as one of the better pitching talents in the draft. Picked with the compensation pick the Rockies got for the Mets signing Michael Cuddyer, this pick was essentially a freebie, and the Rockies went with a high upside highschool arm. He ended up having bad luck with injuries, undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2017, but still landed on prospect lists afterwards. His recovery held him to limited time the next couple years, and he did not play at all during the COVID-shortened 2020 season. He retired from baseball last April.

Overall, it’s hard to judge this draft too harshly yet. Sure, it would have been nice to have Walker Buehler (24th overall), Mike Soroka (28th), Ke’Bryan Hayes (32nd), Brandon Lowe (87th), or Jared Walsh (1,185th!), but hindsight in this case is certainly better than 20/20. Hilliard and Rodgers are contributing players to the big league club, and Lambert plus others will hopefully make that step in the coming years.

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Rockies top prospects 2022: Outfielders Zac Veen and Benny Montgomery top Colorado’s farm system | CBS Sports

Turning to some more recent drafts, we have more prospect rankings. Similar to other outlets, CBS Sports has released their updated list of Rockies rankings with 2020 draftee Zac Veen leading the way. Benny Montgomery and Drew Romo make up the rest of the Rockies list. These three have the potentially unenviable position of being bright spots in an otherwise underwhelming farm system of a Rockies team that will provide plenty of opportunities for them to contribute in the coming years.

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