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Draft Preview: Rockies look for best athletes

Draft Preview: Rockies look for best athletes

The Rockies, who pick 26th in the first round and have a compensatory pick at 47 for the loss of pitcher Jason Marquis to the Nationals through free agency, continue to serve as a scouting and player development success story. The entire infield consists of Draft picks -- three in the first round (first baseman Todd Helton, third baseman Ian Stewart and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki) and a 10th-round success story (second baseman Clint Barmes). The outfield has one second-round pick (Seth Smith) and an 11th-rounder who became an All-Star (Brad Hawpe).

The pitching staff also is mostly homegrown. With no change in the way the Rockies approach free agency -- they'd rather lock up their own young stars with multiyear deals than even participate in the open market -- the Draft will continue to be a huge part of the team's roster strategy.

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Draft Central

MLB.com will offer live coverage and analysis of the entire First-Year Player Draft from June 7-9 on MLB.com/Live. The first round and Compensation Round A will be broadcast live on MLB.com and MLB Network on Monday, beginning with the Draft preview show at 4 p.m. MT.

MLB.com Draft expert Jonathan Mayo will join Greg Amsinger, Harold Reynolds, John Hart, Peter Gammons and Baseball America executive editor Jim Callis on Monday's broadcast.

Coverage for rounds 2-50 will shift exclusively to MLB.com/Live. Rounds 2-30 will be streamed Tuesday, beginning at 10 a.m. MT, and rounds 31-50 will be streamed Wednesday, starting at 10 a.m. MT. Host Pete McCarthy will be joined by Mayo and former general manager Jim Duquette.

Here's a glance at what the Rockies have in store as the Draft approaches:

In about 50 words
The Rockies' amateur acquisitions under vice president of scouting Bill Schmidt, director of international operations Rolando Fernandez and general manager Dan O'Dowd have made for a more physical roster. There is more power, speed and athletic ability.

The scoop
The Rockies don't hone in on filling positions or holes in the player development system through the Draft. "We're taking the best player available," O'Dowd said. "It's not anything any more complicated than that. We have holes, but if you go into the Draft trying to fill those holes, then you're trying to predict what's going to happen four or five years down the road. None of us are that good. So many things change. We've learned a lot of lessons over the years, and that's one of them."

ROCKIES RECENT FIRST-ROUND PICKS
Year Player Current team
2009 Tyler Matzek Asheville (A)
2008 Christian Friedrich Tulsa (AA)
2007 Casey Weathers Out (Recovering from right elbow surgery)
2006 Greg Reynolds Out (Bone chip in right elbow)
2005 Troy Tulowitzki Colorado
2005 Chaz Roe Colorado Springs (AAA)
First-round buzz
Word in Draft circles is the Rockies like Aaron Sanchez, a tall, lean right-handed pitcher from Barstow, Calif. There is also a chance the Rockies could look locally to another tall righty, Kevin Gausman of Centennial, Colo., and Grandview High School. The Rockies haven't been afraid to pick a high schooler who could fall because of perceived salary demands, position concerns or competition with college scholarships or other sports. Kaleb Cowart, a pitcher and switch-hitting infielder from Cook County, Ga., and Nick Castellanos, a power-hitting third baseman from Archbishop McCarthy High School in Southwest Ranches, Fla., are also possibilities.

Shopping list
It's really simple: Bring in as many good, physical athletes as possible. This includes pitchers. The Rockies like for their pitchers to be threats offensively.

Trend watch
Pitchers selected in the Draft are not making the Major League contributions the Rockies expected. Only Aaron Cook, who was selected before the current regime, and Jeff Francis emerged from the Draft to make the current starting rotation. Matt Daley is the only Rockies amateur acquisition in the bullpen, and he wasn't drafted. That's one reason O'Dowd, Schmidt and Fernandez, as well as the owners through spending, give Latin America the same emphasis they place on the Draft.

Recent Draft History

Rising fast
Christian Friedrich, the 2008 top pick out of Eastern Kentucky, overcame early-season forearm trouble but is healthy and pitching at Double-A Tulsa.

Cinderella story
With the power he has displayed in his career, it's hard to believe Hawpe lasted until the 11th round. He's one of the game's most productive right fielders.

In The Show
Rockies Draft picks and signings from Latin America pretty much are the show when it comes to the big league roster.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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