The Coors Effect

June 10, 2009 5:12 AM

Rockies draft, day one

The Rockies had five picks in the first three rounds of this year's draft, and in general, I think they did a good job both in addressing needs and acquiring talent.

1.  Tyler Matzek, LHP, Capistrano Valley HS (Ca.)

I like this pick.  Matzek, who Baseball America tabbed as the eighth-best player available in the draft, is a great pick for two reasons: one, he was probably the best player available when the Rockies selected; and two, he does fill a need in the system (after Christian Friedrich, the Rockies are very short on left-handed pitching.)  Matzek dropped to the Rockies because of concerns about signability -- he's committed to Oregon, and reportedly has some very large bonus demands -- but we're assuming that the Monforts green-lighted this selection.  In other words, Matzek probably will sign; the only problem is that he may be more expensive than most teams would like.

The real reason I like this pick, however, is that it signals that the Rockies were looking to draft the best player rather than making a safe pick, which is what they did with Reynolds and Weathers in 2006 and 2007, respectively.  Matzek may be a tough sign, but assuming he does, he should be worth it -- in Matzek the Rockies should have a potential front-line starter.

2.  Tim Wheeler, OF, Cal State Sacramento

Baseball America had Wheeler ranked as the fourth-best hitter available in the draft (15th overall), and he was well-regarded enough that the Rockies had considered taking him with their first pick, but rightly gambled that he would still be available at the end of the first round and snagged him with the 32nd pick of the draft.  Wheeler had an excellent season for Sac State, hitting .385/.494/.765 with 18 homers, striking out just 28 times to 29 walks.  Wheeler projects as a left fielder in the pros, and could be the impact bat the Rockies need.  Again, another pick that I like -- the Rockies not only filled a need, but they picked the best player available.

3.  Rex Brothers, LHP, Lipscomb

Starting to notice a pattern here?  Baseball America had Brothers rated as the #17 draft prospect, the number three lefty (after Matzek and Rangers draftee Matt Purke), and the top college lefty.  Unlike Matzek, who probably fell a bit due to signability concerns, Brothers -- much like Friedrich last year -- fell to the Rockies for no apparent reason.  Brothers has excellent stuff, with a fastball that touches 97 mph, and had a strong year for Lipscomb with 132 strikeouts in 94 innings.  He needs to work on his command (43 walks), but he has the stuff to succeed as a starting pitcher.  Once again -- best player available, fills a need.  Also, I've been to his hometown (Shelbyville, Tennessee.)

4.  Nolan Arenado, C/3B, El Toro HS (Ca.)

Arenado is the first player who you could really call an overdraft.  Baseball America had him as the #147 player in the draft; the Rockies selected him with the 59th pick, in the second round.  There are questions about Arenado's defense, but the bat is undeniable, as he hit .519 in his senior year, and has quite a bit of power potential.  Most likely the Rockies will try him at catcher first because of his strong throwing arm, but third base is another possible destination if he doesn't work out at catcher.  My thumb is sideways on this pick, as Arenado could be a solid selection, or he could be a bust.

5.  Ben Paulsen, 1B, Clemson

A 6'4", 205-pound lefty, Paulsen certainly looks like a first baseman.  After hitting .367/.435/.618 at Clemson, with 13 homers, Paulsen was projected to go in the third or fourth round.  He's an average defender and limited to first, so his bat will have to carry him.  He looks like he should hit for average, but will his power develop?  I had hoped the Rockies would draft Rich Poythress to be Helton's successor, but Paulsen could just as easily be that guy; he's probably not as good as Helton, but with his ability to hit for average with decent power he should be a good one.  We'll see.

In short -- I really like this draft so far.  The Rockies addressed needs and picked some good players; what's not to like?

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