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Rockies draft Chase Dollander and two others - 'He was No. 1 on (our analytics department's) wish list'

Patrick Lyons Avatar
July 10, 2023

It may only be Day One of the 2023 MLB Draft, but the Colorado Rockies have already assembled a trio of intriguing prospects with their first three picks.

RHP Chase Dollander, LHP Sean Sullivan and C/SS/OF Cole Carrigg would love to have the same immediate success of last year’s top selections had once turning pro: RHP Gabriel Hughes, 3B/OF Sterlin Thompson and OF Jordan Beck.

Dollander, a standout for the University of Tennessee in 2022 where his 10-0 season with a 2.39 ERA with 108 strikeouts through 79.0 innings, entered the year as the odds on favorite to go first overall on Sunday. Instead, it was a different SEC starter, RHP Paul Skenes of LSU, taking those honors as when the Pittsburgh Pirates made their choice.

“A year ago, if (Dollander) goes in the draft, he probably doesn’t get to the ninth pick,” GM Bill Schmidt said of his newest college arm. “He got to the ninth pick for reasons of performance. But we think with some adjustments, he has a chance to be a solid everyday Major League starting pitcher.”

The 21-year-old junior went 7-6 with a 4.75 ERA and 120 strikeouts in 89.0 innings over 17 starts. He gave up twice as many home runs as last year and saw his walk rate increase. The issue has an easy resolution, according to Schmidt.

“He made some mechanical judgments that probably he didn’t need to make, trying to get better and making some tweaks,” Schmidt explained Sunday night. “He’s got to tweak it back.”

According to Marc Gustavson, Senior Director of Scouting Operation, Colorado scouted Dollander as a freshman at Georgia Southern University and followed him through two years in Knoxville, Tenn. After meeting with him for 25 minutes at the MLB Draft Combine, the organization liked Dollander’s maturity and the overall person presented before them.

With the next two picks, the Rockies selected LHP Sean Sullivan in the second round (46th overall) out of Wake Forest University followed by C Cole Carrigg out of San Diego State University with their competitive balance round B pick (65th overall).

While Sullivan appeared to be a reach in the second round according to some draft prognosticators, Colorado clearly liked the entire package starting with his effectiveness on the mound. The Massachusetts native pitched to a 5-3 record with a 2.45 ERA over 69.2 innings, allowing just 43 hits with 21 walks and 111 strikeouts through 17 games. His 14.3 strikeouts per nine was second best in the nation.

Though the scouting department ruminated about how different the 6’4” lefty appeared with his low release point, it was actually another part of the draft team that pushed hard for taking Sullivan.

“Our analytics department, he was No. 1 on their wish list,” Gustafson explained. Between the vertical break, stride length and arm slot, it all pointed to the 20-year-old.

Carrigg was deemed one of the best pure athletes of the 2023 crop, highlighted by his 70-grade arm that allowed him to feature for the Aztecs at catcher, shortstop and center field.

SOUTH YARMOUTH 8/02/22 Y-D second baseman Cole Carrigg reacts to the call after tagging Parks Harber of Brewster attempting to stretch a ball that took a bounce on the third baseman Michael Boeve into extra bases. The safe call was overturned.
Brewster At Y D Cape League

“He told us to our face (that) he’s a catcher,” Assistant GM Danny Montgomery shared of the 21-year-old from California. As part of the onboarding process with the club, the Rockies will sit down with Carrigg to determine the best position for this gifted player.

The switch-hitter was named First-Team All-Mountain West for the second season in a row after batting .313 with eight doubles, five triples, two home runs, 27 RBI and 17 stolen bases.

The 2023 MLB Draft continues on Monday with rounds 3-10 beginning at 12 p.m. and rounds 11-20 continuing on Tuesday. 

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