DENVER -- For Ryan Warner, the Draft experience was flipped.
The talented right-handed pitcher from Colorado Springs was still on the board toward the end of the third round when he got a phone call. The Phillies wanted to pluck him with the No. 125 pick. Another phone call. The Marlins, with the No. 127 slot, wanted him, too.
But there was only one team Warner wanted. He had already dropped a bit on boards because some teams penciled him as a tough sign; Warner was a North Carolina State signee, and had been since November. Once he began slipping, he decided with his family that it'd either be the Rockies, his childhood favorites, at the No. 128 pick, or he'd go to college and hope for a higher slot in three years.
So the Draft, the principle of which is teams choosing players, became quite the opposite.
"I called [Rockies senior director of scouting operations] Mark Gustafson, and said, 'Are you guys going to pick me? I want to be a Rockie, but I've got the Phillies and the Marlins on the phone,'" Warner said. "I trusted Mark when he said they would draft me, gave the Phillies and Marlins a high number, and it worked out."
After going to such trouble to make sure he ends up with the team he wanted, there is no way Warner's going to be anything but a Rockies farmhand.
"I've already made that decision," said Warner, who was the first high school player from the Centennial State to be drafted in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. "We'll be working out the contract pretty soon."
Warner called NCSU and informed his would-be pitching coach, Tom Holliday, that he'd be foregoing college. Holliday is the father of Matt Holiday, who was drafted by the Rockies in 1998 and was a key part of the team's World Series run in 2007.
"They knew I was going to get drafted, so they understood," Warner said. "They've helped me with so much, and I couldn't have asked for more. Coach Holliday knows the Rockies organization is a good one and that I'm in good hands."
The Rockies have been Warner's favorite team since he moved to Colorado Springs from Chicago at age 5. He has team banners on the walls of his bedroom, and a Rockies baseball cap he remembers wearing while trying -- unsuccessfully -- to get World Series tickets in '07. His favorite player is Todd Helton, whom he has not yet met. He figures to soon, though, whenever he heads to Denver to work out a contract.
It was a sort of home-field advantage that allowed the Rockies to get Colorado's Gatorade Player of the Year. Warner will have a certain leg up on the competition when he works his way up through the club's Minor League system.
"I'm so used to the thin Colorado air, I know my stuff is good here," Warner said. "And it'll only get better."
Pitching at high altitude his entire life, Warner has learned to paint the corners, keep the ball down in the zone and mix in his offspeed pitches to keep opponents guessing. His senior season at Pine Creek High School, Warner finished with a 7-1 record and 2.81 ERA, with a 5.6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Warner credits the height advantage he was blessed with, throws his fastball around 91 mph and relies on a nasty curve as his out pitch.
"I'm excited to go on the road, pitch at sea level, and see the movement on that thing," Warner said. "It should be fun."
Thanks to a little Draft-day guile and guts, Warner got to choose the team he wanted. And that, perhaps, is his best curveball yet.
A rundown of the rest of the Rockies' picks on Day 2 of the Draft:
Round 2, 73rd overall: CF Max White, Williston (Fla.) High School
Round 3, 105: C Tom Murphy, University of Buffalo
The 19-year-old White, a University of Florida signee, hit .407 his senior season, with five homers and 24 RBIs. White also had a .968 fielding percentage in 29 games, 24 of which he started in the outfield.
The right-handed Murphy boasts a lot of power. As a junior in 2012, he cranked 13 home runs and brought in 51 runs for a slash line of .311/.396/.616. Murphy, the 2011 MAC Player of the Year, has one season of eligibility left, but it's likely he ends up signing with the Rockies.
Compensation B Pick, 128: RHP Ryan Warner, Pine Creek (Colo.) High School
The 6-foot-7 Warner tossed a no-hitter and a one-hitter in his final year at Pine Creek.
Round 4, 138: RHP Seth Willoughby, Xavier
Willoughby is Xavier's all-time saves leader with 28. He'd have one more year of eligibility if he chooses not to sign with the Rockies, which is unlikely.
Round 5, 168: SS Matthew Wessinger, St. John's (N.Y.)
Drastically improved his draft stock by hitting .353 with six homers and 47 RBIs in his senior season.
Round 6, 198: RHP Matt Carasiti, ST. John's (N.Y.)
Carasiti started in 14 of his 18 appearances, compiling a 7-5 record and a 3.98 ERA. He struck out 64 in 83 2/3 innings pitched, and walked 31. Carasiti did not give up a home run.
Round 7, 228: C Wilfredo Rodriguez, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy
The 5-foot-10 Rodriguez hits from the right side of the plate and is viewed as a project player by most scouting reports.
Round 8, 258: OF Derek Jones, Washington State
As a senior, Jones had an impressive slash line -- .335/.438/.574 -- with nine homers and 45 RBIs. He was named to the 2012 All-Pac-12 team.
Round 9, 288: RHP Zach Jemiola, Great Oak (Calif.) High School
In 23 1/3 innings pitched in 2012, Jemiola held opponents to a .173 batting average, but also had an ERA of 5.40. He struck out 24 and walked 25. Jemiola had pledged to attend UC Riverside.
Round 10, 398: 1B Ben Waldrip, Jacksonville State
Waldrip hit .344 with 46 RBIs and a team-best 10 home runs.
Round 11, 348: RHP T.J. Oakes, Minnesota
Oakes had a 7-3 record for the Golden Gophers, twice going the distance. His 2.31 ERA was the best on the team among starters, and he boasted a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.2. Oakes has one year of eligibility remaining. His father, Todd, is the pitching coach at Minnesota, so it'll be interesting to see if that factors into the decision-making process.
Round 12, 378: 1B Correlle Prime, Manatee (Fla.) High School
Carried the team as a pitcher this spring -- tossing two shutouts in one week -- but it's his bat the Rockies are most interested in. As a junior, Prime hit .398 with 30 RBIs. He is a State College of Florida signee.
Round 13, 408: CF Kyle Von Tungeln, Texas Christian
TCU is still playing, recently advancing to the Super Regionals, but the juniors stats right now include a .301/.442/.521 slash line, two homers and 24 RBIs. He has only grounded into one double play all season and has drawn as many walks as he has strikeouts (42).
Round 14, 438: RHP Shane Broyles, Texas Tech
Broyles came on in relief in 18 of his 23 appearances, recording a 2-2 record to go with a 4.42 ERA -- in 57 innings pitched, he allowed 28 runs. Broyles was better as a sophomore at Seminole State J.C., where he finished with a 2.81 ERA and a 7-1 record.
Round 15, 468: RHP Scott Oberg, University of Connecticut
Oberg had nine saves, and went 5-0 with a 0.99 ERA. He struck out about one batter an inning and allowed just two extra-base hits (both doubles). Oberg is a junior.