With four selections in the top 50 picks of the 2022 MLB Draft, not to mention the fifth-most bonus pool money among the 30 teams, the Colorado Rockies have an opportunity to bolster their farm system in a major way over 20 rounds and three days worth of picks.
That process began by taking RHP Gabriel Hughes from Gonzaga University with the 10th overall pick.
“A well rounded young man on and off the field, but most importantly on the field,” Marc Gustafson, Senior Director of Scouting Operations said of the 20-year-old starter. “A strike thrower, aggressive mindset, attacks hitters. He took the ball every weekend every Friday night. And so we know that the durability is there and that pitch mix is certainly very exciting.”
The Idaho native made 15 starts this spring, going 8-3 with a 3.21 ERA (98.0 IP, 35 ER) with a nearly 4-to-1 strikeout to walk rate.
Hughes’ 138 strikeouts was good for ninth in the nation, earning him not just All-American honors, but a place as a Golden Spike Award semifinalist for best amateur baseball player in the nation.
One early concern for Hughes is the 98 frames he worked with the Bulldogs as their ace starting pitcher.
“Obviously we’re not going to do anything to harm that health,” Gustafson explained when discussing Hughes’ first minor league assignment. “So we’re going to be very, very cautious.”
The sophomore becomes the first player in Gonzaga history to be selected in the first round and the first collegiate pitcher picked by the Rockies in the first round since 2018 when left-hander Ryan Rolison was taken 22nd overall.
The next three picks on day one also provide the organization with tons of potential: 2B/OF Sterlin Thompson, OF Jordan Beck and RHP Jackson Cox.
Thompson was selected 31st overall with the Rockies’ Compensation Pick for losing Trevor Story in free agency.
The 21-year-old out of the University of Florida played both second base and right field for much of his sophomore season, starting all 66 games of the Gators’ season.
He posted a .354/.443/.563 slashline with career highs in home runs (11), doubles (16), runs (59), walks (37) and stolen bases (10) following a 2021 season where he was awarded a place on the Freshman All-SEC Team and the SEC All-Tournament Team.
“First and foremost, we like the bat,” GM Bill Schmidt said of Longmont-born Thompson. “I think Coach (Kevin) O’Sullivan at the University of Florida basically stated he was the best hitter he’s ever had the privilege of coaching during his time in Florida.”
Considering that includes a list of O’Sullivan-developed players include All-Stars Mike Zunino and Pete Alonso, not to mention 2021 National League Rookie of the Year Jonathan India, Thompson’s reputation could precede him if he starts his professional career in Low-A Fresno, as has been indicated.
Colorado seems intent on giving him an opportunity to play some third base, which he’s done in the past. If he can pull that off, the odds of this selection being one of the biggest steals of the 2022 MLB Draft could be high.
With the 38th pick, awarded to the Rockies as part of the Competitive Balance Round A, they took another college bat in OF Jordan Beck.
The 6’3” linchpin to a Tennessee lineup that led the SEC with an impressive 57-9 record has a unique combination of power and speed, not to mention an added tool of swagger.
“With Jordan, it’s right-handed power, a big, strong corner bat,” praised Schmidt on Sunday night. “He’ll play left and right. Probably best suited to play left than right in Coors Field. It’s probably power over hit, but he’s had a solid three-year career at the University of Tennessee.”
The final pick of the day went to RHP Jackson Cox of Toutle Lake High School in Washington. Though many of the high-end prep players make commitments to Division I programs – in the case of Cox, he was committed to the University of Oregon – the Rockies have no concerns about signing the 18-year-old.
“He’s made all indications he’d like to start his professional career,” GM Bill Schmidt said of Cox.
At 6’1″ and sitting at 92-95 mph with his fastball, Cox has one of the best breaking balls amongst prep pitchers in this year’s class.
Day Two on Monday begins at 12pm and Colorado will make eight picks between rounds 3-10 followed by 10 picks to close out Tuesday in rounds 11-20.