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Rockies' top pick thrilled to see dream realized

DENVER -- David Dahl left Coors Field last week having accomplished two things: With a strong workout performance on the basepaths and in the outfield, he cemented his status as a top-10 pick in the First-Year Player Draft. And in one short batting practice, Dahl went deep more often in a Major League park (nine times) than he did in a full season at Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham, Ala.

"I'm not a power guy. I'm usually a gap-hitter," said Dahl, who was drafted by the Rockies with the 10th overall selection on Monday night. "But obviously, playing at Coors will help a lot."

On Tuesday afternoon, Dahl was still coming to grips with the fact that his childhood dream had been realized with a single phone call.

"I was watching the Draft with my friends and family, and the Rockies called about five minutes before the pick," Dahl said. "I felt emotional, just to see my dreams come true. It still hasn't sunk in, though. I woke up this morning thinking that it was just a dream."

The Rockies broke away from their recent Draft philosophy in selecting Dahl. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound outfielder is the first high school player the Rockies have chosen in the first round since 2004, when they nabbed current Colorado third baseman Chris Nelson.

Of course, the Rockies' selecting Dahl was a result of more than a weekday workout. Scouting vice president Bill Schmidt was in Colombia to watch Dahl -- a member of USA's Gold Medal Squad -- drive in 15 runs in 11 games last summer in the Pan American Games.

"We followed him the last couple of years, hard through the whole process," Schmidt said. "In all the different showcases, he always produced and always hit."

For as much as the Rockies wanted Dahl, it's possible he wanted them more. Dahl grew up idolizing Chipper Jones and then, when he figured he'd make a living in the outfield, tried best to emulate Jacoby Ellsbury and Johnny Damon. Dahl has the speed to make such a comparison valid -- he ran a personal-best 6.4 seconds in the 60-yard dash in his workout with the Rockies -- but not the power numbers. Playing in Denver, where the air is considerably thinner than it is in the Southeast, could change that.

"I loved it up there," Dahl said. "The ball just flies."

And Dahl likes the idea of playing in Coors Field's spacious and open outfield.

"My speed will help me with that," he said. "I'll be able to get good jumps on the ball."

Said Schmidt, "He has shown he can cover some ground in the outfield, and that's important in this ballpark. ... He has good instincts."

In his final high school season, Dahl hit .435 with 11 doubles, three triples, three homers and 18 stolen bases. An Auburn signee, he declined to discuss whether he'd forgo college in a Tuesday conference call, but the smart money (lots of it, as the Rockies allocated $2.7 million for their first-round pick) says he'll sign with the club.

"I'm very excited for this opportunity," Dahl said. "To go in the top 10 is an honor, especially to an organization like the Rockies."

Colorado Rockies, David Dahl