Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Rockies focus on college talent in 2017 Draft

Colorado took six high school players in 40 rounds
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- The Rockies began their 2017 MLB Draft with a high school player -- infielder Ryan Vilade of Stillwater, Okla., in the second round -- then didn't take another high schooler until the 35th round.

Rockies vice president of scouting Bill Schmidt has long believed the club should "take the best guy, and that's what we do when it's our turn to pick." The lack of a first-round pick, which reduced the club's bonus pool money, no doubt was a factor since they didn't have the flexibility to offer more to entice a player to forgo a scholarship. In total, Colorado took six high school players.

View Full Game Coverage

DENVER -- The Rockies began their 2017 MLB Draft with a high school player -- infielder Ryan Vilade of Stillwater, Okla., in the second round -- then didn't take another high schooler until the 35th round.

Rockies vice president of scouting Bill Schmidt has long believed the club should "take the best guy, and that's what we do when it's our turn to pick." The lack of a first-round pick, which reduced the club's bonus pool money, no doubt was a factor since they didn't have the flexibility to offer more to entice a player to forgo a scholarship. In total, Colorado took six high school players.

View Full Game Coverage

A byproduct of having so many college players could be a quick return on the investment.

:: 2017 MLB Draft coverage ::

The early picks were heavily college pitchers. University of Virginia reliever Tommy Doyle (Competitive Balance Round B) fits the profile of a quick-mover. However, he has been working on a full complement of pitches in case he becomes a starter. Furman University right-hander Will Gaddis (third round) and St. Johns River State College (Fla.) right-hander Pearson McMahan are power right-handers.

But the Rockies have always been reluctant to put a quick timetable on a player.

"Some are going to move quicker than others," Schmidt said. "But you don't put a timetable because they all develop at their own rate, and some may need extra time."

The next three pitchers picked -- University of Texas lefty Nick Kennedy, a college sophomore; University of Minnesota lefty Lucas Gilbreath, a Westminster, Colo., native who played locally at Legacy High school; and lefty Hunter Williams, who was ruled academically ineligible at the University of North Carolina at the start of the school year -- are arms without huge innings loads in college.

However, the Rockies will be careful with them as they enter pro ball.

"They've had a bit of a breather since their college seasons, but Mark [Wiley, director of pitching operations] and his group will watch their workload," Schmidt said. "For me, the thing that matters most is getting them through the summer healthy."

• Rox prioritize pitching on Draft Day 2

An intriguing position player is University of Arkansas left-handed hitting first baseman Chad Spanberger (6 foot 3 and 235 pounds), who hit 20 homers during the college season. From the sixth round, when Spanberger was drafted, the Rockies increased the mix of pitchers and position players.

• Rox take HS INF Vilade in 2nd round of Draft

"It's a mature body, and needless to say it's a power bat," Schmidt said. "He really played well the second half of the year, and look what he did in the SEC Tournament [MVP] and the Regionals. He's got a chance to impact the ball. We thought if he was there when we picked, we would grab him."

The Rockies selected two Colorado prep products: right-handed pitchers James Notary of Broomfield and Drake Davis of Ralston Valley. Other Colorado natives selected were Gilbreath and left-hander Reagan Biechler of Wichita State University and Pine Creek High.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies