Pitching-thick Draft haul should aid Rox
Team officials like potential impact of outfielder, catcher
DENVER -- The Rockies were heavy on pitching during the upper reaches of the 2007 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, but the first two position players they took, Louisiana Tech outfielder Brian Rike and Illinois catcher Lars Davis, could be impact players.
Rike, a second-team All-American, showed power and speed in college, hitting .346 with 20 home runs, one shy of the school record. He also was 16-for-18 in stolen base attempts, demonstrating a combination of baseball sense and speed.
Davis, the Big Ten Player of the Year, could eventually fill a position that always is a priority. He led the Illini with 90 hits, 55 runs, 13 home runs, 56 RBIs, a .644 slugging percentage and a .461 on-base percentage. He's also 24-of-84 against would-be basestealers.
But pitching is always a priority. Of the 45 players the Rockies took, 24 were pitchers.
"I think it just worked out that way," Rockies scouting director Bill Schmidt said. "We had an opportunity to just add to what we have in our system and address some areas of need."
The Rockies' Draft started with Vanderbilt closer Casey Weathers, the eighth overall pick, and six of the top 10 draftees were pitchers.
The Rockies used two of those choices for high school hurlers -- left-hander Isaiah Froneberger of Forrest Park (Ga.) High in the third round and right-hander Parker Frazier of Bishop Kelley High in Tulsa, Okla., in the eighth. Frazier is the son of former Major Leaguer George Frazier, the Rockies' television color commentator.
Schmidt said Froneberger had a fastball in the 90-mph range and an above-average curve. Schmidt also said Rockies scouts Dar Cox and Tom Holliday liked Frazier's knowledge and feel for pitching, and his fastball will develop when his 6-foot-5 frame fills out. Forenberger has signed with Georgia and Frazier with Oral Roberts, but Schmidt said the Rockies feel confident they can sign both.
It's doubtful many high Draft picks have come as far as Rike, who was a walk-on out of Richmond, Texas.
"You see so many guys drafted because they can hit or because they can run or because they can throw," Tech coach Wade Simoneaux said in a story posted on the university's athletics Web site. "Brian's got all three of those, and he looks like a ballplayer. That's obvious for him to be taken in the second round.
|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|
"For him to develop like that in three years and come out in the second round is outstanding. That's one of the biggest compliments a college program can have, and of course Brian has a large part to do with that because of his work ethic and his relentless attitude toward baseball."
Schmidt said Rike was outstanding at the corner positions and might be able to play center. But he was happy to get a player with such tools in the No. 72 spot.
"When I saw him he played right field, and played real well that day," Schmidt said. "He's a left-handed bat, has the ability to at least fill in at all three spots, with some power and decent speed. I was impressed with the tool package we were able to get in that spot."
Davis, a Canadian, turned down the Devil Rays after being drafted in the 49th round in 2003. This past season, he batted .400 -- the first Illinios player to do so since 1996 -- and became a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award, given to the nation's top collegiate catcher, and the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, which goes to the nation's top player.
"Just the type of person he is, his work ethic and his talent, he is well-deserving of being a third-round Draft pick," Illinois coach Dan Hartleb said on the university's athletics Web site. "Everyone involved with the Illinois baseball program is very proud of what he's done and is extremely proud of the way he's represented our program. Lars will have an extremely successful professional career."
Schmidt said Davis is a rarity.
"He's a left-handed hitting catcher, and those guys always have value. Plus, he can catch and throw, and has shown some power with the bat," Schmidt said.
The Rockies have begun negotiations with Weathers and his agent, Mark Pieper, but no agreement had been reached as of Friday night.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.