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Gray headlines Rockies' pitcher-heavy Draft class

DENVER -- When your home ballpark sits a mile above sea level and the ball cuts through the thin mountain air, you can never have too many fresh arms.

So the Rockies focused on finding a group of talented young pitchers, selecting 25 starters and relievers in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft. The crown jewel of the class is starter Jonathan Gray, who Colorado nabbed with the third overall pick. The hard-throwing righty from Oklahoma has a fastball that hangs in the mid-90s that he can land in any corner of the zone, and he couples it with a slider and a changeup.

"I think we don't basically draft for need, we draft for who's the best available," said Rockies senior director of scouting operations Marc Gustafson. "We feel really good about the fact that we got some good [pieces]."

The Rox may have secured another future member of their starting rotation in Alex Balog, a righty out of the University of San Francisco drafted in the Competitive Balance Round B.

In the third round, they turned to the mound again, picking up Memphis left-hander Sam Moll, who scouts predict will secure a place in the bullpen as a pro.

"He's an up-tempo, high-energy, competitive kid that throws strikes," Gustafson said. "It is always important with these young pitchers that they get their development process in between starts, meaning bullpen activity."

While pitching may be the primary need for the Rockies, they did not bypass standout offensive talents in the early rounds. They dipped into the high school ranks for their second pick of the Draft to snag third baseman Ryan McMahon from California's Mater Dei High. McMahon, a left-handed batter, has a quick swing with plenty of room for power.

In the fourth round, Colorado pounced on South Alabama corner outfielder Jordan Patterson, who the Rockies hope develops into a run-producing slugger.

"He's a hitter. We like him at a corner position in the outfield," Gustafson said. "He's a run producer, gap-to-gap line-drive hitter and somebody that we project -- all going well -- that he's in the middle of the lineup somewhere."

On Day 2 of the Draft, the Rox selected two established college players in outfielder Michael Tauchmann, a four-year player at Bradley, and shortstop Patrick Valaika, the 2013 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year for UCLA. They picked up another raw athletic talent in Terry McClure, a high school center fielder out of Georgia.

"The variety of arms, fresh arms, position player upside," Gustafson said of what excites him about this class. "It's just a nice combination from Jonathan Gray so far to Tauchman. It's just a real nice mix."

For the Draft's final day, the focus turned to the bullpen, as Colorado selected 20 pitchers in rounds 11 through 40. College players like southpaw Billy Waltrip -- a teammate of Gray's at Oklahoma -- and South Alabama's Dylan Stamey, drafted in the 12th and 14th rounds, respectively, highlighted the list of potential relievers.

In the later rounds, Rockies fans saw a pair of familiar names come off the board. First came Brody Weiss, son of Rockies manager Walt Weiss, in the 22nd round. A shortstop from Regis Jesuit High in Aurora, Colo., Brody is committed to play at California-Santa Barbara.

"The Rockies knew him best, because he's been running around here," the elder Weiss said. "He was down there all spring. They got to see him up close and personal. It's exciting. ... Guess I'll have to negotiate with the Rockies the next couple weeks."

Two rounds later, Colorado took Hunter Brothers -- the brother of Colorado closer Rex Brothers -- who is also a pitcher.

The Rockies took one other local product in pitcher Alec Hansen out of Loveland High.

Ian McCue is an associate reporter for

Colorado Rockies