Day 1 of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft has come to a close and it looks like the Colorado Rockies, once again, have come away with some of the most premier talent on the board.
Last year’s 10th overall pick in David Dahl is looking like one of the better steals of the first round, but can they mirror that in 2013?
All signs point to yes. With a farm system that ranks around the middle of the table, the Rockies have addressed their weaknesses and made the necessary moves to moves towards contention in the next few years.
Here are some bold predictions for the Rockies Day 1 draft picks.
Pick No. 3: Jonathan Gray, RHP
Baseball enthusiasts will be talking about this pick for years to come. Jonathan Gray has the command, velocity and composure to become one of the faces of this Colorado pitching staff in the coming years.
It begins with his arsenal. The altitude of Coors Field has proved costly for pitchers who traditionally relay on off-speed pitches for success. Locating an above average fastball has been the key to pitcher’s success a mile above sea level. Matt Belisle and Rafael Betancourt have exhibited success in Coors over the last couple of seasons primarily off one pitch, the fastball.
Gray’s fastball registers in the upper 90s even cresting 100 mph at times. His location of the pitch is widely considered to be one of the best in this draft class. While I expect the farm system to take a few mph off his fastball, Gray’s nasty slider is an excellent pitch to complement his heater.
The fastball is his go-to pitch, but it’s his slider which makes him a leader in the strikeout department. His slide piece is filthy and major league ready, topping out in the high eighties, even nineties at times. Its late break had college hitters flailing and heading to the dugouts.
Another aspect of Gray’s game with noting is his consistent windup, which offers the perfect frame for improvement. It’s cool, collected and able to be repeated, allowing Gray to concentrate on crafting other aspects like movement and location.
This season for the Sooners, Gray went 10-2 with a 1.59 ERA and 138 strikeouts in 119 innings, exhibiting pure dominance.
Bold Prediction: Gray will spend all of next season working on his changeup, which is not yet major league ready. The 21-year-old righty will work his way through the system rather quickly and we’ll see Gray recalled to the bigs within the first few months of the 2015 season.
Pick No. 42: Ryan McMahon, 3B
School: Mater Dei High School (Calif.)
Ryan McMahon out of the athletically prestigious Mater Dei High School is first round talent that happened to slip through the cracks.
Here’s a dual-sport athlete who was not only quarterback of traditionally a powerhouse football school, but a stud on the diamond. McMahon batted a cool .405 with 32 RBI in 27 games this season for one of the top ranked teams in the state.
The 18-year-old third baseman is known primarily for his defensive ability with excellent range and an absolute cannon for an arm.
The bat isn’t major league ready yet, but his swing is quick through the zone making him predominantly a line drive hitter with some good raw power at times.
Bold Prediction: McMahon will end up signing with the Rockies. He will take a good five years to develop in the system, but will eventually outplay Nolan Arenado for the starting third base job.
Pick No. 70: Alex Balog, RHP
School: University of San Francisco
The Rockies landed another steal in the Competitive Balance Round B in right-hander Alex Balog.
Balog is 6’6’’, 225 pounds with an elongated yet smooth delivery that has hitters on edge. There’s a lot to like about this guy’s arsenal. His fastball tops out in the mid-90s and drops off at the end. Balog has a decent 11-5 curve and a slider with great horizontal movement.
All of his pitches, especially his change have room for improvement and aren’t close to major league ready. But, this kid’s potential is one of the highest this deep into the draft.
Bold Prediction: Balog will take at least four years to mature into major league talent. If Balog can develop a consistent sinker to add to his arsenal, he can ripen into a solid option out of the bullpen for the Rockies.