Tuesday, June 9, 2009

MLB Draft Preview: Rockies Looking At Several Pitchers


The Major League Baseball draft is the step-child to all of the other major sport's drafts. There is very little fan fare involved. However, it is a big day for Rockies fans, as the majority of their future players come from the draft. In fact, on Opening Day the Rockies were the only team in baseball to have all nine starters come from the draft and through their farm system.

The Rockies, clearly unable to compete with big market teams like the Yankees and Red Sox for big name free agents, look to the draft to continue a steady stream of young, Major League ready players.

The Rockies typically go the safe route and draft a pitcher from a top-tier college program instead of taking a chance on a high school player who may require more money to sign. The Rockies state publicly that they always try to draft the top available talent, regardless of position or sign ability.

The 2009 draft may be slightly different as signs are pointing to the Rockies, with the 11th overall pick, selecting high school pitcher Matt Hobgood of Norco, CA. Hobgood was recently selected as the Gatorade High School Pitcher of the Year. He is a big kid, weighing in at nearly 250 lbs and drawing comparisons to the Dodgers Jonathan Broxton.

The Rockies have not selected a high school pitcher with their first pick since their failed attempt to sign Matt Harrington, a fireballer from Southern California who refused a signing bonus that was reportedly over $3 million. Harrington reentered the draft the following year and once again did not sign. He never threw a pitch in the Majors.

Just like any draft, there is a possibility that Hobgood will be gone by the 11th pick, and the Rockies have options in case that happens. They also reportedly like Sacramento State slugging outfielder Tim Wheeler, but are privately hoping that he falls to the 32nd spot, where the Rockies have a compensatory pick due to losing Brian Fuentes to free agency.

Another option is Arizona State right hander Mike Leake. He seems like a safe pick, but also does not have the ceiling that Hobgood looks to have. The draft starts tonight at 5pm Mountain Time and airs on the MLB Network.

Here is a look at the Rockies past first round picks:

2008: Christian Friedrich- pitcher, Western Kentucky
2007: Casey Weathers- pitcher, Vanderbilt
2006: Greg Reynolds- pitcher, Stanford
2005: Troy Tulowitzki- SS, Long Beach State
2004: Chris Nelson-SS, Redan High School, Georgia
2003: Ian Stewart-3B, La Quinta High School, Garden Grove, CA
2002: Jeff Francis- Pitcher, University of British Columbia
2001: (Sandwich Pick) Jayson Nix- 2B, Midland H.S., Midland, TX
2000: Matt Harrington- Pitcher, Palmdale HS, Palmdale, CA
1999: Jason Jennings- Pitcher, Baylor University
1998: Matt Roney- Pitcher, Edmond North HS, Edmond, OK
1997: Mark Mangun- Pitcher, Kingwood HS, Kingwood, TX
1996: Jake Westbrook- Pitcher, Madison County HS, GA
1995: Todd Helton- 1B, University of Tennessee
1994: Doug Million- Pitcher, Sarasota HS, Sarasota, FL
1993: Jamey Wright- Pitcher, Westmoore HS, Oklahoma City, OK
1992: John Burke- Pitcher, University of Florida (went to high school at Cherry Creek High School)

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