DENVER -- The Rockies' Draft began with high school right-hander Riley Pint, but as the process continued it became heavy with collegiate players -- pitchers especially.After taking Pint out of St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Kansas) fourth overall, the Rockies completed Day 1 by picking a pair of Southeastern Conference
DENVER -- The Rockies' Draft began with high school right-hander Riley Pint, but as the process continued it became heavy with collegiate players -- pitchers especially.
After taking Pint out of St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Kansas) fourth overall, the Rockies completed Day 1 by picking a pair of Southeastern Conference pitchers -- righty Robert Tyler of Georgia and lefty Ben Bowden of Vanderbilt. In the first 31 rounds they selected 20 collegiate pitchers and just two high school players: Pint and infielder Colton Welker from Stoneman Douglas High School (Florida) in the fourth round.
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Rockies scouting director Bill Schmidt said part of the strategy was based on a strong crop of young Latin American players in the farm system.
"That's where our needs were, and you have to balance that out," Schmidt said. "At the same time we felt good about what we were able to do. Each class is different. Last year we had a bunch of college shortstops high in the Draft, and this year it was very thin in that area. So we took what this class has to offer:"
Drafting large numbers of pitchers could lead to surprises, such as righty Christian Bergman (currently on the Rockies' disabled list), a 24th-rounder in 2010, and lefty Matt Reynolds, a 20th-rounder in 2007 who pitched for the Rockies from 2010-12.
"We ended up taking a lot of arms, and when you do that there's a chance you're going to be surprised -- you look up and that late-round guy is in the big leagues, maybe in your bullpen," Schmidt said.
After selecting potential high-impact arms with the first three picks, the Rockies made some intriguing choices high in the Draft. For example:
• Third-rounder Garrett Hampson, a shortstop from Long Beach State, offers speed, grit and leadership.
"His grit and baseball IQ are off the charts, and the run of shortstops from Long Beach State has been pretty good -- started with Bobby Crosby, then Troy Tulowitzki, Evan Longoria, Danny Espinosa and Matt Duffy," Schmidt said.
"He's different in that he's a speed guy, but what's the same is he's a winning player, who has learned how to be a leader. Our scouts were very high on the kid."
• Welker, already 6 feet and 205 pounds with the potential to add strength if not weight, will move from shortstop to a corner position.
"We are intrigued by his approach and his ability to hit, with the chance to add some power down the road," Schmidt said.
• The Rockies have an emphasis on developing catching depth, which started under former general manager Dan O'Dowd and has increased under current GM Jeff Bridich. They took Arizona State's Brian Serven, who was adept at controlling the running game, in the fifth round.
• Schmidt said he has been watching power-hitting Willie Abreu, a right fielder from the University of Miami, since his sophomore year of high school -- back when the Rockies were scouting outfielder Albert Almora Jr., whom the Cubs called to the Majors this week. Abreu is a sixth-rounder.
"We've watched him physically mature and he's gotten some hits, and has some thump in his bat," Schmidt said. "He had back-to-back Friday night walk-off home runs [this year] -- I happened to be there for one of them. He has a strong arm, he's 6-3, 6-4, very physical, and we think he can be a late- or middle of the lineup-type run producer."
• Seventh-rounder Reid Humphreys played mostly outfield at Mississippi State, but Schmidt said assistant scouting director Damon Iannelli -- who is from the same hometown and has known him since his teenage years -- recommended him as a pitcher. Humphreys approached the mid-90s with his fastball before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012.
"He also has a good slider, and Damon has a lot of confidence in the kid," Schmidt said.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and** like his Facebook page**.