Rockies' top Draft pick from every season

February 9th, 2024

Todd Helton is not only a Hall of Famer after a 17-season career with the Rockies. He also is the standard bearer for players drafted and developed by the club. He was selected in 1995, and the rest is, thanks to the 2024 election, Cooperstown history.

How have the Rockies done in the past with their initial picks? If anything, any team’s listing of initial picks shows a lot of hit and miss, and it’s a reminder that teams select more than one guy for a reason. But the hope on the part of teams and their fans is that their top pick in a given year gives them Helton-like production and longevity.

Here is a look at Colorado’s first pick each year, with where the selection fell overall, going all the way back to their first Draft in 1992 -- a year before the team played a Major League game.

2023: Chase Dollander, RHBP, Tennessee (No. 9)
Highly touted as a collegian, Dollander did not pitch after the Draft and opted to get ready for ‘24. He has a near-100 mph fastball, and his slider is top-shelf velocity for that pitch.

2022: Gabriel Hughes, RHP, Gonzaga University (No. 10)
In their pitching-heavy Draft, the Rockies used their first pick on Hughes, a well-put-together (6-foot-4, 220 lbs.) righty who reached the mid-90s with his fastball on a collegiate pitching program, and could put on more velocity with an advanced training regimen. He also displayed a feel for a changeup and a slider in college.

2021: Benny Montgomery, OF, Red Land HS (Lewisberry, Pa.) (No. 8)
Rockies interim general manager Bill Schmidt, who has run the club's Draft since 2000, said they liked "his tool package -- athleticism with the size, the strength and speed combination." Those are hard to find together. Despite being 6-foot-4, he's a well-above average runner, and the has plenty of power.

2020: Zac Veen, OF, Spruce Creek High School (Fla.), No. 9 overall
In 2021 -- his first professional season -- Veen has displayed plate discipline (29 walks in his first 40 games) and speed (21 steals) to take advantage of experimental rules to promote the running game. He also recently hit his first professional home run.

2019: Michael Toglia, 1B, UCLA, No. 23
Toglia, like many of the players drafted in recent years, was set back by the lack of Minor League ball in 2020. A switch-hitter, Toglia is the Rockies’ No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, and is displaying power and plate discipline at Class A Spokane.

2018, Ryan Rolison, LHP, Ole Miss, No. 22
Rolison is ranked the Rockies’ No. 2 prospect and their top pitching prospect by MLB Pipeline. In 2021, he advanced (quickly) from Double-A Hartford to Triple-A Albuquerque before his season was interrupted by an appendectomy.

2017: Ryan Vilade, INF, Stillwater High School (Okla.), No. 48
The Rockies, having lost their first-round pick after signing free-agent infielder-outfielder Ian Desmond, didn’t pick until the second round in 2017. Vilade, currently playing the outfield at Triple-A Albuquerque, has emerged as the fourth-ranked Rockies prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

2016: Riley Pint, RHP, St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Kan.), No. 4
Pint struggled with injuries and the inability to consistently throw strikes. Pint retired briefly in '21, but returned for Spring Training in '22 and earned his Major League debut in '23.

2015: Brendan Rodgers, SS, Lake Mary High School (Fla.), No. 3
Rodgers dealt with injuries and the lack of a clear place for him during the early portion of his pro career. He's now a rookie, and is receiving regular playing time, mostly at second base.

2014: Kyle Freeland, LHP, University of Evansville, No. 8
Freeland, a Denver native, has been a leader of the rotation since breaking in at the start of the 2017 season. His '18 (17-7, 2.85 ERA, fourth in National League Cy Young Award voting) stands as one of the best seasons in club history. Freeland signed a five-year, $64.5 million contract with the Rockies in 2022.

2013: Jon Gray, RHP, University of Oklahoma, No. 3
Gray broke in with the Rockies in 2015 and has been a key member of the rotation since. He became the first pitcher in club history to earn at least 10 wins in four straight seasons ('16-19). Gray joined the Rangers in '22 and was a key figure in the team’s '23 World Series win over the Diamondbacks.

2012: David Dahl, OF, Oak Mountain High School (Ala.), No. 10
Dahl overcame a lengthy history of injuries in the Minors and Majors to earn an All-Star Game invitation with the Rockies in 2019. Non-tendered after last season, Dahl is with the Rangers.

2011: Tyler Anderson, LHP, University of Oregon, No. 20
Anderson overcame frequent injuries in the Minors to become a member of the Rockies’ rotation from 2016-19. Anderson has since pitched for the Giants, Pirates, Dodgers and Angels -- with whom he was signed through ‘25.

2010: Kyle Parker, OF, Clemson, No. 26
After a power-hitting college career, Parker put up solid numbers throughout his Minor League career. However, in the Majors, he hit .182 with three home runs for the Rockies from 2014-15.

2009: Tyler Matzek, LHP, Capistrano Valley High School (Calif.), No. 11
Matzek made 25 appearances, including 24 starts, with the Rockies from 2014-15 before performance anxiety derailed his career. However, Matzek returned to the Majors with the Braves in '20 and helped the team win the World Series a year later.

2008: Christian Friedrich, LHP, Eastern Kentucky, No. 25
Friedrich debuted in 2012 and went 5-8 with a 6.17 ERA before a stress fracture in his lower back sidelined him. He saw time with the Rockies from '14-15 and the Padres in '16.

2007: Casey Weathers, RHP, Vanderbilt, No. 8
Weathers was dealt along with infielder Ian Stewart to the Cubs in the deal that landed second base standout DJ LeMahieu. Elbow injuries kept Weathers out of the Majors.

2006 Greg Reynolds, RHP, Stanford, No. 2
Reynolds was a highly ranked prospect, but injuries interrupted his climb and participation. He pitched for the Rockies (2008, '11) and the Reds ('13) before becoming a California firefighter.

2005 Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Cal State Long Beach, No. 7
Tulowitzki debuted in 2006 and was a driving force behind the trip to the World Series in '07, his official rookie year. Tulowitzki made five All-Star Game appearances and won two Gold Glove Awards in his 10 seasons with the Rockies.

2004: Chris Nelson, SS, Redan High School (Ga.) No. 9
Nelson was with the club from 2010 until early '13, and after that he played for the Yankees, Angels and Padres. His best season was '12, when he batted .301 in 111 games.

2003: Ian Stewart, 3B, La Quinta High School (Calif.), No. 10
Stewart spent five of his seven Major League seasons with the Rockies, much of it as a regular (.236 in 432 games). He was sent to the Cubs in a deal that brought second base standout DJ LeMahieu.

2002: Jeff Francis, LHP, University of British Columbia, No. 9
Francis is best remembered as the No. 1 starter on the team that advanced to the World Series in 2007, when he went 17-9 with a 4.22 ERA over 215 1/3 innings. Francis pitched with the Rockies from '04-08, '10 and '12-13.

2001: Jayson Nix, SS, Midland High School (Texas), No. 44
Nix appeared in 22 games for the Rockies and batted .125 in 2008. It was the start of a seven-season career with the Rockies, White Sox, Indians, Blue Jays, Yankees, Phillies, Pirates and Royals.

2000: Matt Harrington, RHP, Palmdale High School (Calif.), No. 7
The pick occurred in the days before the Draft was “slotted,” meaning there was no assigned value to a pick, so Harrington and the Rockies never reached an agreement. Harrington played independent baseball from 2001-07, but never played for an affiliated Minor League team despite being drafted by the Padres (second round, 2001), the Rays (13th round, 2002), the Reds (24th round, 2003) and the Yankees (36th round, 2004).

1999: Jason Jennings, RHP, Baylor University, No. 16
Jennings earned 2002 NL Rookie of the Year honors, and was a key member of the starting rotation through '06. After the '06 season, the Rockies sent him to the Astros in a deal that netted most notably two key members of the '07 team that went to the World Series -- center fielder Willy Taveras and right-handed pitcher Jason Hirsh.

1998 Matt Roney, RHP, Edmond North High School (Okla.), No. 28
Roney stayed in the Rockies’ system through 2002, before being selected by the Pirates in the Rule 5 Draft. Roney made it to the Majors briefly with the Tigers ('03) and Athletics ('06), and returned to Oklahoma to train young pitchers.

1997: Mark Mangum, RHP, Kingwood High School (Texas), No. 18
After Mangum spent one year in the farm system, the Rockies sent him to the Montreal Expos in the trade that landed them reliever Dave Veres. Mangum never pitched in the Majors, but is a longtime director of youth baseball programs at Twelve Baseball in College Station, Texas.

1996: Jake Westbrook, RHP, Madison County High School (Ga.), No. 21
A year after drafting Westbrook, the Rockies traded him to the Montreal Expos in the deal that brought second baseman Mike Lansing. Westbrook spent 13 seasons in the Majors and earned a World Series ring with the Cardinals in 2011.

1995: Todd Helton, 1B, University of Tennessee, No. 8
Two seasons after being drafted, Helton debuted on Aug. 2, 1997, oddly, in left field. He would spend his entire 17-season career with the Rockies, and grab most of the franchise’s offensive records.

1994: Doug Million, LHP, Sarasota High School (Fla.), No. 7
Million, the first high school payer selected in 1994, tragically died on Sept. 23, 1997, after suffering an asthma attack while playing a television trivia game with a teammate. The Rockies’ award for most outstanding player in their Minor League system is named for Million.

1993: Jamey Wright, RHP, Westmoore High School (Okla.), No. 28
Wright made it to the Majors with the Rockies in 1996 -- the start of a 19-season career that included six seasons over two stints (1996-99 and 2004-05) with Colorado. Wright made 719 appearances, including 248 starts (132 with the Rockies) in his career.

1992: John Burke, RHP, University of Florida, No. 27
Burke grew up in the Denver area and played at Cherry Creek High School. He made it to the Majors with the Rockies, and went 4-6 with a 6.75 ERA in 28 games (nine starts) from 1996-97.