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Rockies excited to nab Christensen

Rockies excited to nab Christensen

DENVER -- The Rockies went after collegiate pitching for three of their top four picks and six of their first 10 in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday, but they used their second-round choice on a hitter that they know well.

David Christensen, 18, a right-handed hitting outfielder from Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Fla., had committed to the University of Miami, but he and the Rockies established the parameters of an agreement late Monday night contingent on his being available at No. 48 overall. Terms were not disclosed, but sources said Christensen's signing bonus was close to $750,000 -- the average for the last two second picks of Round 2.

The Rockies have had a detailed look at Christensen. John Cedarburg, the Rockies' Florida area scouting supervisor, coached Christensen in a high school all-star event in Wilmington, N.C., last year. Also, Georgia Tech assistant Josh Holliday, brother of Rockies outfielder Matt Holliday, recruited Christensen and Dave Holliday, uncle to the brothers, is a Rockies national cross checker who has evaluated Christiensen.

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Rockies fans have a chance to see Christensen on Wednesday night, when he plays for the East squad in the All-American Baseball Game '06 presented by Sony PlayStation from Albuquerque, N.M. FSN Rocky Mountain will telecast the game at 9 p.m. MT.

"I had just made a decision that if I had the opportunity to be a top 50 pick, it would be the best thing for me to sign and get going in pro ball," said Christensen, who soon will report to the Rockies' Rookie-level affiliate in Casper, Wyo., of the Pioneer League. "It was best for me to end up with an organization that knows me well, and has a good history of bringing up players from within."

Christensen is listed at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, and observers see him maturing to the 210 range by the time he is of Major League age. He receives high marks for his ability to track balls and make throws defensively.

Rockies scouting director Bill Schmidt said he believed the relationship between the club and Christensen would pay off.

"I saw David last summer, I saw him last spring as a junior, so I had some history, seeing him at different events," Schmidt said.

Speaking of high marks, Christensen tallied a 4.61 weighted GPA as a high school senior, and scored 1300 on the original SAT and 1880 on the new one. His final three college choices were Miami, Stanford and Georgia Tech, according to his father, Roy Christensen.

Now, Christensen is concentrating on his baseball education.

"I'm just looking forward to working on becoming a true professional hitter and getting to face great pitching day in and day out," Christensen said.

After taking Stanford right-hander Greg Reynolds second overall and nabbing Christensen, the Rockies selected two pitchers that experienced hard luck in 2006.

Third-rounder Keith Weiser, a left-hander from Miami (Ohio) University, went 3-5 with a 4.23 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 93 2/3 innings, after winning 10 games and posting a 2.73 ERA the previous season. Fourth-rounder Craig Baker, a righty from Cal-State Northridge, went 6-9 with a 3.97 ERA for a team that struggled, but he had two complete games and one shutout, and struck out 102 in as many innings.

The Rockies broke from pitching in the fifth round to take slender high school shortstop Helder Velazquez from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. Their first post-high school position player came in the sixth round, Manatee (Fla.) Junior College right fielder Kevin Clark. Middle Tennessee State catcher Michael McKenry came in the seventh round before the Rockies used three more picks on right-handed pitchers -- Birmingham Southern College's Brandon Hynick, LSU's William Harris and Lincoln Trail College's David Arnold.

Schmidt said the Rockies needed pitching depth.

"As [assistant general manager Bill] Geivett says, there's only one second base and one third base, so we can't have multiple guys out there at the same time," Schmidt said. "We just felt the need for some pitching. In this year, what the draft brought and what our options were, pitching was the best for the organization."

Tuesday consisted of the first 18 of 50 rounds. The Rockies went for position players for six of their final eight picks.

Aaron Miller of Channelview (Texas) High School originally was considered a pitching prospect, but he developed so much as a hitter that Colorado took him as an outfielder in the 11th round. Austin Ranch, a 6-3, 210-pound catcher from El Captain High in San Diego, went in the 12th round, followed by infielder Spencer Nagy of Tallahassee (Fla.) Community College.

Colorado took outfielders in the next three rounds -- Jeff Kindel of Georgia Tech in the 14th, Victor Ferrante of Solano Junior College in Napa, Calif., in the 15th, and Anthony Jackson of Pacific in the 16th. The Rockies completed the first day with a pair of right-handed pitchers, Michael Gibbs of Virginia Commonwealth in the 17th and Andrew Cashner of Angelina College in Lufkin, Texas, in the 18th.

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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