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Rockies 2017 Draft Retrospective: Building depth and finding trade chips without a 1st Round Pick

Patrick Lyons Avatar
June 3, 2019

The 2019 MLB Draft takes place this week, June 3-5. For three days, teams will make selections for 40 rounds, drafting over 1200 amateur players from high school and college. This year, the Rockies hold the 23rd pick after earning consecutive National League Wild Card and finishing with the ninth best record last season.

Last year, Patrick Lyons and Rich Allen highlighting the Rockies’ haul in 20112012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

In a continuation of our MLB Draft series, let’s examine the 2017 edition.

2017 MLB Amateur Draft

Rockies 1st Round

Under GM Jeff Bridich’s second full season at the helm, the 2016 season gave the Rockies a glimpse of what-would-be in the coming years. Spending over $100MM on the Opening Day roster for the first time in franchise history due in large part to over $34MM marked for Jose Reyes and Jorge de la Rosa, the two would offer minimal value to the club. Reyes would be released in June after a 51-game domestic violence suspension and de la Rosa offered replacement level production, pitching to a 5.51 ERA in 134 innings.

The team won 7 more games than the previous year and finished better than 4th place for the first time since 2009 in Walt Weiss’ final season as a Rockies manager. Weiss  finished his four years at the helm for Colorado with a .437 winning percentage, worst in team history among their seven managers. In his place, the organization would hire former Padres manager Bud Black to be their skipper.

During the offseason, Bridich signed Ian Desmond to a club record deal for a free agent, a 5-year, $70MM pact. In signing a player who had received a Qualifying Offer, the Rockies had to forfeit $4.2M in allotted pool money and the #11 overall selection, the highest pick ever in the Qualifying Offer era.

48 Colorado Ryan Vilade Stillwater HS (OK) 3B
70 Colorado Tommy Doyle University of Virginia RHP

With a smaller pool of money for signing selections than normal, Colorado was limited in making a big splash this year. Settling for two picks in the second round, the Rockies selected a high school infielder and a college reliever.

As an 18-year-old at Grand Junction playing in a league with players nearly three years older than him, Vilade hit .308 with a .938 OPS. After a full-season in Asheville, he’s continued to show growth. His walk rate and stolen base percentage so far this season have improved in High-A as one of the youngest players in the entire California League.

Doyle struggled in the altitude of Grand Junction, but rebounded nicely with Asheville in 2018, saving 18 games with a 2.31 ERA and 10.2 strikeouts per nine. Before the closer hit the IL for Lancaster on May 1, the 23-year-old recorded seven saves while pitching to a 0.79 ERA.

Top 10 Selections

Pick Team Player School Position
1 Minnesota Royce Lewis JSerra Catholic HS (CA) SS
2 Cincinnati Hunter Greene Notre Dame HS (CA) RHP
3 San Diego Mackenzie Gore Whiteville HS (NC) LHP
4 Tampa Bay Brendan McKay University of Louisville RHP/1B
5 Atlanta Kyle Wright Vanderbilt University RHP
6 Oakland Austin Beck North Davidson HS (NC) RHP
7 Arizona Pavin Smith University of Virginia 1B
8 Philadelphia Adam Haseley University of Virginia OF
9 Milwaukee Keston Hiura University of California-Irvine 2B
10 Los Angeles AL Jo Adell Ballard HS (KY) OF

Notable players who slipped outside the top ten:  #13 Garrett Whitley (TB), #14 Kolby Allard (ATL), #16 James Kaprielian (NYY), #17 Brady Aiken (CLE), #18 Phil Bickford (SF)

As teams around MLB began salivating over the potential in signing Japanese star Shohei Otani, the buzz of the draft was over Hunter Greene and Brendan McKay, and whether they could continue as two-way players who could utilize their exceptional gifts both at the plate and on the mound.

Greene, a high school product out of Sherman Oaks in Los Angeles, got 30 at bats before focusing primarily on pitching. After being shut down in July of 2018, Greene and the Reds elected for him to have season-ending elbow surgery which will sideline him until the summer of 2020.

McKay, four years older than Greene, has been more successful in his career thus far. Recently promoted to Triple-A by the Tampa Bay, McKay has balanced pitching and hitting incredibly well, with the former taking precedence and elevating him to one step away from the majors.

The first player from the 2017 MLB Draft to make it to the majors was Atlanta’s Kyle Wright just fifteen months after being an amateur ballplayer.

The second and only position to to make the jump to the majors is Keston Hiura of the Milwaukee Brewers. After raking at every stop, including the Arizona Fall League where he won the MVP against the top prospects in the game, the 22-year-old Anteater has seen consistent starts at second base for the first place Brewers.

Notable players who taken after 22nd pick: #24 Walker Buehler (LAD), #28 Mike Soroka (ATL), #31 Chris Shaw (SF), #32 Ke’Bryan Hayes (PIT),  #36 Ryan Mountcastle (BAL), #41 Austin Riley (ATL), #42 Tristan McKenzie (CLE)

The Rest of the Rockies Picks

Nick Kennedy (5th Rd, #146): The University of Texas starting pitcher had a successful first season at Boise before struggling in Asheville in 2018. Converted to a reliever at the start of this season, Kennedy began missing more bats and dominating hitters with the Tourists. After pitching to a 2.08 ERA over 17 innings with a 25-to-1 ratio for strikeouts-to-walks, the 22-year-old was promoted to High-A on May 4.

Chad Spangenberg (6th Rd, #176): The power hitting first baseman hit a home run every twelve at bats in Grand Junction in 2017 and continued at a torrid pace in Asheville before being included in Seunghwan Oh deal with Forrest Wall at the trade deadline as the organization had much depth at his position. He played well with Toronto’s Low-A affiliate for the remainder of the year and was named a South Atlantic League All-Star. Spanberger has struggled to hit Double-A pitching through his first 45 games this season so far.

Bret Boswell (8th Rd, #167): The second Longhorn selected in this draft delivered during his first two seasons, including a late season promotion to High-A where he hit 10 home runs over just 30 games to give him 27 long balls on the year. It was enough to receive an invite to this year’s Spring Training with the Rockies. At Hartford this year, the 24-year-old second baseman and occasional third baseman is batting .187 and has seen his strikeout rate increase in his first stint at Double-A.

Sean Bouchard (9th Rd, #197): The 23-year-old from Southern California started his professional career as a first baseman before slowly transitioning to the outfield this season. In 2018, he hit .257 with 14 home runs and 75 RBI. With Lancaster, he’s hovering around .300 at the plate while increasing his extra-base hit rate in the Cal League thus far in 2019.

Alan Trejo (16th Rd, #476): The defensive wiz from San Diego State skipped Low-A Asheville after just 46 games at short season Grand Junction. Challenged with playing his first full season in High-A, Trejo hit a respectable .278 with 10 homers and 67 RBI. The 23-year-old had a torrid start to his year batting .476 during the first week of games at Hartford, earning himself consideration as a middle infield depth piece for the Rockies in the coming seasons.

Garrett Schilling (18th Rd, #536): The starter from Xavier University set himself apart last year at Low-A with his 3.87 ERA and 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 25 starts. The 23-year-old has struggled so far in the hitter friendly Cal League, with an increased walk rate not doing any favors.

Casey Golden (20th, #596): The four-year outfielder from UNC Wilmington is another power hitting prospect that highlights this draft class. After mashing 20 home runs in 54 games in Grand Junction, he followed up with 34 home runs in Asheville. Though his at bats per home run have decreased a touch in Lancaster thus far, he’s still one of the long ball leaders in the California League.

What Could Have Been?

Oftentimes, players are selected by teams in the late rounds of the MLB draft only to reject a signing a contract in lieu of honing their skills at the college level before re-entering the draft to potentially earn a larger signing bonus down the road.

In 2017, the Rockies drafted James Notary, Drake Davis, and Tyler Hardman in the later rounds and each opted to attend college with some of the nation’s top baseball programs: Notary attends TCU; Davis is at Arizona State; and Hardman plays for the University of Oklahoma.

The Rest of the 2017 MLB Draft

Notable players taken in 2nd round: #47 Griffin Canning (LAA), #56 Corbin Martin (HOU), #65 Wil Crowe (WAS), #66 Hans Crouse (TEX), #67 Cory Abbott (CHC), #68 Daulton Varsho

Notable players taken in 3rd round or later: #98 Michael Baumann (BAL), #100, Connor Wong (LAD), #198 Nick Margevicius (SD), #201 Parker Dunshee (OAK), #249 Kacy Clemens (TOR), #438 Cole Bellinger (SD), #491 Kutter Crawford (BOS)

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