Helton highlights Rockies' rich Draft history
Holliday, Pierre among successful stars uncovered in top 15 rounds
DENVER -- Like almost everyone else, the Rockies have had several first-round successes since they began taking turns in the MLB First-Year Player Draft in 1992. But in any team's Draft history, players who were supposed to make it but didn't and those who overcame odds are the more memorable stories.
Players such as Garrett Atkins, Matt Holliday, Clint Barmes, Brad Hawpe and Juan Pierre became front-line players. Yet on Draft day, they stood in line while others were called.
The 2014 Draft will take place on June 5-7, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday, June 5, at 4 p.m. MT. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 5 p.m., with the top 74 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 10:30 a.m. MT on June 6.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Here's a look at some of the often inspiring stories, and cautionary tales, in the first 15 rounds of Rockies Drafts.
Round 1: Todd Helton, 1B, Tennessee, 1995
Helton retired last year as the club's career leader in many offensive categories, and the Rockies will retire his number. Other hits: right-hander Jamey Wright (1993), right-hander Jason Jennings (1999), left-hander Jeff Francis (2002) and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (2005). Since Tulowitzki, production has been spotty, but several top-rounders are close to popping. The wildest story was right-hander Matt Harrington (2000), who never signed after a bitter negotiation and never pitched for a Major League organization.
Round 2: Aaron Cook, RHP, Hamilton (Ohio) High School, 1997
Cook, a sinkerballer, developed into an All-Star who helped dispel the notion that pitching in Denver was impossible. The current roster has two key members from this round, outfielder Charlie Blackmon (2008) and third baseman Nolan Arenado (2009). Outfielder Seth Smith (2004), now with the Padres, developed into a winning player. The what-might've-been story was right-hander Jason Young (2002), who signed a record bonus at the time but had his career snuffed by injuries.
Round 3: Shawn Chacon, RHP, Greeley (Colo.) High School, 1996
In 2003, Chacon became the first homegrown Rockies pitcher to be chosen for the All-Star Game. This has been a dry round since. Catcher Josh Bard (1999) with his10-season career, all with other clubs, is by far the best performance of a third-rounder since Chacon. The Rockies believe infielder Josh Rutledge (2010) will be special, however.
Round 4: Chone Figgins, INF, Brandon (Fla.) High School, 1997
Fans still cringe at the memory that the Rockies, trying to fill an outfield hole, dealt Figgins in 2000 for Kimera Bartee -- whom they released after 12 games. Figgins made an All-Star Game appearance in 2009, was a key member of successful Angels teams and now plays for the Dodgers. Catcher Chris Iannetta (2004), now with the Angels, and utility man Jeff Baker (2002) also were fourth-round hits.
Round 5: Garrett Atkins, 3B, UCLA, 2000
Atkins received some Rookie of the Year votes in 2005 and Most Valuable Player votes in 2006, and at .301 with 25 homers and 111 RBIs was a key cog in the 2007 team that went to the World Series. It was not a long career -- 817 games over eight years -- but it's remembered fondly in Colorado. Since then, only infielder Matt Macri (18 games in 2008) has appeared in the Majors from this round.
Round 6: Scott Dohmann, RHP, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2000
It was tight, but Dohmann (9-8, 5.32 ERA in 164 games 2004-08) nosed out right-hander Luther Hackman (9-10, 5.09 in 149 games 1999-2003), picked in 1994, based on a higher WAR -- .02 to -1.8. Then there was first baseman Joe Koshansky (2004), who never could overcome the perennial presence of Helton at the position. Outfielder Sean Barker (2002), who played three games in 2007, was the only other player from this dry round to make the Majors.
Round 7: Matt Holliday, third baseman, Stillwater (Okla.) High School, 1998
Teams avoided Holliday, who had committed to Oklahoma State and also was one of the nation's top football players as a quarterback, and it worked to the Rockies' benefit. Switched to left field before making the Majors, Holliday blossomed into a star who finished second in MVP voting during the Rockies' magical 2007 season. He continues to star with the Cardinals. This round also produced outfielders Cory Sullivan (2001) and Ryan Spilborghs (2002), who were contributors and now work as broadcasters, and current Rockies Triple-A catcher Michael McKenry. Before them, right-hander John Thomson (1993) built a 10-season career.
Round 8: Corey Dickerson, Meridian (Miss.) Community College, 2010
Dickerson has shown the makings of a high-average, high-production hitter in the Majors since breaking in last season. He could develop into the first everyday player from this round. Outfielder Jeff Salazar (2002) played for the Rockies, D-backs and Pirates 2006-08 before elbow issues hurt his career; now he is an entrepreneur with a product to help with elbow pain. Right-hander Jim Miller (2004) is still working as a reliever in the Yankees' system.
Round 9: Jordan Pacheco, C, University of New Mexico, 2007
Pacheco had a strong offensive rookie season in 2012 as a corner infielder and has segued into the backup catcher role. Only Pacheco and right-hander Will Harris (2006), who has been in the Majors this season with the D-backs, have made it to the Majors.
Round 10: Clint Barmes, INF, Indiana State, 2000
Barmes -- still playing for the Pirates -- has had by far the most longevity of the 2000 draftees. He started at second for the Rockies' playoff team in 2009 and at short for the Pirates when they broke a long postseason drought last season. The Rockies' first two 10th-rounders -- right-hander Garvin Alston (1992) and Edgard Clemente (1993) -- made the Majors, but Barmes is the only one since.
Round 11: Brad Hawpe, OF, LSU, 2000
This one has mostly to do more with what Hawpe meant to the Rockies before injuries short-circuited his career. He was a key clutch performer in 2007, whose work in September helped make the run to the World Series possible, and an All-Star in 2009. He'll represent the Rockies at this year's Draft. Outside of Colorado, the choice here would be their first 11th-rounder, infielder Craig Counsell, who was blocked by current Rockies manager Walt Weiss early in his career but ended up with World Series rings for the Marlins and D-backs.
Round 12: Sean Green, RHP, University of Louisville, 2000
Green turned into a serviceable reliever at the big league level, with 264 appearances in six seasons with the Mariners, Mets and Brewers. Right-hander Mike Esposito (2002) signed a large bonus but made just three big league appearances.
Round 13: Juan Pierre, OF, University of South Florida, 1998
The work Pierre did on his bunting and outfield play just to make the Majors is legendary in Rockies circles. His 614 stolen bases for six teams in 14 seasons rank 18th all-time.
Round 14: Dexter Fowler, OF, Milton (Ga.) High School, 2004
Fowler had committed to the University of Miami, and teams afraid of his bonus asking price let him slide to this round. The Rockies used the salary savings gained by trading Larry Walker to the Cardinals to sign him. Fowler helped the club to the 2009 playoffs and was the leadoff man until being dealt to the Astros this past winter. The only other 14th-rounder to appear in the Majors was the Rockies' first -- right-hander Juan Acevedo (1992).
Round 15: Mark DeFelice, RHP, Western Carolina, 1998
DiFelice made 77 Major League appearances (2008-09, 2011) and went 5-1 with a 3.79 ERA. But the story is perseverance. DiFelice was released by the Rockies in 2004, pitched a year in the Orioles' chain before becoming a free agent, and was released by the Nationals and the Cubs before ever appearing in The Show.