Rockies gearing up for Draft
Well-prepared club will select eighth overall on Thursday
DENVER -- The Rockies can count on being able to choose a highly regarded player with the eighth overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft on Thursday in Orlando, Fla.
But because many of the teams in front of them are sorting through the craziness of negotiations that crops up in the week before the selections begin, the Rockies aren't sure of the identity of that player.
"We've worked on this thing now for 11 1/2 months, evaluating players and stuff," said vice president of scouting Bill Schmidt. "And we're going to find out in a week how it's going to unfold. People will take who they take for their reasons.
"We're not going to pass at eight, I'll tell you that. We'll take somebody. Who that is, I don't know."
The Rockies' top selections can be difficult to predict. Schmidt joined before the 2000 Draft. Counting first-round picks and compensatory picks between the first and second rounds, the Rockies have drafted four pitchers and four infielders.
The rumor mill links several players to the Rockies, such as Clemson lefty reliever Daniel Moskos, Chatsworth (Calif.) High School third baseman Matt Dominguez, Ecole Du Versant Gatineau, Quebec, high school righty Phillipe Aumont, Arkansas lefty Nick Schmidt, and Vanderbilt right-handed closer Casey Weathers.
As usual, the pick could be any or none of the above.
The Rockies believe in taking the best player available, rather than targeting pitching or a certain position. Also, since selecting right-hander Matt Harrington fourth overall in 2000 but watching negotiations become contentious and unsuccessful, they stress the importance of reaching an agreement quickly and having the player in the Minor League system as soon as possible.
"I think we've had success with guys going out and playing," Schmidt said. "People do things for different reasons, but the guys that we've sent out have had success. That first summer plays an important role."
Like many clubs that aren't huge spenders in free agency, amateur scouting is the lifeblood of the Rockies.
The current Major League roster has 10 draft picks and one player signed as an amateur free agent.
|1. TB||LHP||David Price||Vanderbilt U|
|2. KC||SS||Michael Moustakas||Chatsworth HS (Calif.)|
|3. CHC||3B||Josh Vitters||Cypress HS (Calif.)|
|4. PIT||LHP||Daniel Moskos||Clemson U|
|5. BAL||C||Matthew Wieters||Georgia Tech|
|6. WSH||LHP||Ross Detwiler||Missouri St U|
|7. MIL||LF||Matthew LaPorta||U Florida|
|8. COL||RHP||Casey Weathers||Vanderbilt U|
|9. ARI||RHP||Jarrod Parker||Norwell HS|
|10. SF||LHP||Madison Bumgarner||South Caldwell HS|
"There's been a lot of time and effort by a lot of people -- scouts, area scouts, pro scouts, player development," Schmidt said. "It's kind of what we set out to do a few years ago."
Recent Rockies top picks
2006: RHP Greg Reynolds: Chosen second overall out of Stanford, Reynolds is a prime example of how the Rockies operate. He signed quickly, for $3.25 million and has produced, but the club is being careful. Reynolds is 4-1 with a 1.58 ERA through seven starts at Double-A Tulsa, but the club has put him on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. It's still conceivable that he could make his Major League debut by season's end. The fact two other Pac-10 pitchers from the 2006 Draft, Brandon Morrow (Mariners) and Tim Lincecum (Giants), are already contributing at the Major League level isn't pressuring the Rockies at all to rush Reynolds.
2005: SS Troy Tulowitzki: Even with the careful philosophy, Tulowitzki blew through the Minors after being selected seventh overall out of Long Beach State and signing a $2.3 million bonus. He was in the Majors by late August 2006 and was the club's Opening Day shortstop in 2007. After hitting .244 in April, Tulowitzki sizzled at a .305 clip in May and emerged as a team leader despite his youth.
2004: SS Chris Nelson: Progress has been painful for Nelson, who signed for $2.15 million after being nabbed ninth overall out of Redan High in Stone Mountain, Ga. Hamstring problems limited the early part of his career. The Rockies were encouraged by his performance in Hawaii Winter Baseball after last season, and he batted .260 with four home runs and 26 RBIs through his first 49 games at high Class A Modesto this season.
2003: 3B Ian Stewart: Because of his power potential, Stewart -- selected 10th overall out of LaQuinta High in Westminster, Calif., and signed to a $1.85 million bonus -- is the most talked-about prospect who has yet to be seen at the Major League level. He went through a year of adjustment at Double-A Tulsa in 2006 (.268, 10 HR, 71 RBIs). This year at Triple-A Colorado Springs, he is hitting to all fields and showing discipline (.299, .370 on-base percentage through 49 games).
Rising fast: Infielder Corey Wimberley (sixth round, 2005) put up strong batting and on-base numbers at Alcorn State, and the Rockies believe there is more pop in his bat. Wimberly hit a speed bump this spring when he suffered a hamstring injury that delayed the start of his season. He hit .247 in his first 21 games at Double-A Tulsa. But he had hit a combined .381 with a .427 on-base percentage, with 86 steals in 99 attempts, in 2005 and 2006.
Cinderella story: The Rockies drafted right-hander Brandon Hynick out of Birmingham Southern in the eighth round last season, but they're getting top-round production. Hynick, 22, is dominating the advanced Class A California League, to the tune of 8-0 with a 0.69 ERA in his first 10 starts at Modesto, with 51 strikeouts to seven walks. Hynick signaled that he was special last summer, when he went a combined 4-3 with a 2.41 ERA and 79 strikeouts to nine walks at Rookie-level Casper and short-season Tri-City.
In the show (from the 2004-06 drafts): Tulowitzki.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.