Rox add high school righty Nikorak at No. 27
DENVER -- The Rockies selected Stroudsburg (Pa.) High School right-hander Mike Nikorak, who owns a 97-mph fastball, with the 27th-overall pick during Monday's MLB Draft.
Earlier, the Rockies selected Lake Mary (Fla.) High School shortstop Brendan Rodgers with the third-overall pick. Nikorak and Rodgers played together in the Under Armor All-American Game at Wrigley Field last summer, and became friends during the showcase circuit.
Nikorak brought about 25 people with him to the MLB Network studios in Secaucus, N.J., and Rodgers and his group joined in the celebration.
"I saw his face and he saw my face in multiple different places," Nikorak said. "Me and Brendan, we're both ballplayers and we both know what needs to be done. We're definitely friends, and we're going to build that relationship as we work together in the organization."
Nikorak, 18, 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, was the Draft pick the Rockies received as compensation for losing outfielder Michael Cuddyer to the Mets via free agency.
The Rockies also chose third baseman Tyler Nevin of Poway (Calif.) High School at 38th overall choice, in Competitive Balance Round A, and right-handed pitcher Pete Lambert of San Dimas (Calif.) High as the 44th overall pick, in Round 2. The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 10:30 a.m. MT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 11 a.m.
"Myself, personally, and our staff, we got a lot of looks at these kids all summer against the other better high school kids in this class, so we feel good about all four of them," said Bill Schmidt, the Rockies' vice president of scouting.
Nikorak impressed scouts by throwing his fastball at 94-97 mph at last summer's Perfect Game National, and since last summer has gained a reported 28 pounds. Nikorak is a University of Alabama recruit. The No. 27 pick is valued at $2,004,600.
Nikorak said he thought he could be a Draft prospect when his velocity climbed. Needing to improve physically, Nikorak trained with popular fitness trainer Eric Cressy in Hudson, Mass., and put on 25-28 pounds since last summer. With a delivery strikingly similar to that of Athletics righty Sonny Gray, Nikorak developed a knuckle-curve as an offspeed pitch, and is developing a two-seam changeup.
Nikorak was ranked 15th on the MLB.com prospect list, but several righty pitchers went later than their prospect listing indicated. As the Draft progressed, Nikorak said he received indication the Rockies were interested.
"I'm happy I waited as long as I did; I think me and Brendan are going to be huge for the organization for what we bring to the table," Nikorak said. "Everything happens for a reason, and falling to 27 and getting picked up by Colorado is a blessing."
In addition to the big group at the Draft, Nikorak received special video messages from his brother, Steve Nikorak, a former White Sox Minor League infielder who is playing with St. Paul in the American Association, and former National Football League quarterback Brett Favre, who became a friend and a supporter through Nikorak's advisor, Jeff Randazzo.