Feeling The Draft: Top Rated Rockies Selections

For all the time and effort scouting staffs put into prepare for Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft, it frequently comes down to good fortune.

The Rockies selected Todd Helton with the eighth-pick overall in the first round of the 1995 draft. And there was a bit of debate because original scouting director Pat Daugherty never had then-general manager Bob Gebhard watch Helton play.

Daugherty didn't see any reason for Gebhard to make the trip. 

It was well known that the Oakland A's, who had the fifth selection overall, were set to take Helton. Word was they even had a deal in place.

Moments before the late Dick Bogard, scouting director for the A's, was to announce the team's selection in a conference call, then A's general manager Sandy Alderson informed him that he was to select right-handed pitcher Ariel Prieto, a Cuban defector who was pitching for an independent league team in Palm Springs, Ca.

Alderson was adamant that the A's needed pitching, and needed it in a hurry, and over the protest of the organization's scouts, at least one of whom quit over the incident, the A's took Prieto.

That, however, wasn't the Rockies only good fortune in landing Helton. Three years earlier, when Helton came out of high school, he was a second-round selection of the San Diego Padres. Helton and the area scout agreed to a deal, but when scouting director Reggie Waller showed up to sign Helton, the contract called for a lesser sum.

Waller blamed it on his secretary, and challenged Helton to a foot race for the difference. Helton declined, told Waller to leave, and instead of becoming a Padre, Helton went to Tennessee, where in addition to being a relief pitcher/center fielder, he was the quarterback in between Heath Shuler and Peyton Manning.

The Rockies were the beneficiary. Helton not only signed with Colorado -- for less than what he would have received from the A's -- but he became the face of the franchise, spending his entire career with the Rockies.

He has the highest career WAR of any draft choice in franchise history. WAR can be a little misguided in light of the fact the length of a player's career can inflate the WAR, but whatever numbers that are used in evaluating Helton, he's at the top of the list among Rockies players.

Dexter Fowler was a bonus for current scouting director Bill Schmidt. He selected Fowler in the 14th round of the 2004 draft. Fowler, however, was committed to play baseball for Miami. The budget didn't have the money to lure Fowler to pro ball.

Then, in the first week of August that year, the Rockies dealt Larry Walker to the Cardinals, saving roughly $2 million in salary, and Schmidt was given $1 million, which enabled him to provide a bonus that convinced Fowler to sign a pro contract instead of attending Miami. 

With this year's draft being held Monday through Wednesday, take a look at drafts past.


Player, pos Round, year School WAR
Todd Helton, 1B 1st round, 1995 University of Tennessee 61.2
Matt Holliday, OF 7th round, 1998 Stillwater (Ok) HS 44.7
Troy Tulowitzki, SS 1st round, 2005 Long Beach State University 44.1
Nolan Arenado, 3B 2nd round, 2009 El Toro HS (Lake Forest, Ca.) 29.8
Craig Counsell, 2B 11th round, 1992 University of Notre Dame 22.4
Chone Figgins, 2b 4th round, 1997 Brandon (Fl) HS 22.2
Dexter Fowler, OF 14th round, 2004 Milton (Ga.) HS 18.3
Juan Pierre, OF 13th round, 1998 University South Alabama 17.1
Chris Iannetta, C 4th round, 2004 University of North Carolina 16.1
Aaron Cook, RHP 2nd round, 1997 Hamilton (Oh) HS 15.7
Clint Barmes, SS 10th round, 2001 Indiana State University 15.6
Charlie Blackmon, OF 2nd round, 2008 Georiga Tech 15.4

Source. Baseball-reference.com


Year Player Pos WAR
1995 Todd Helton 1B 61.2
2005 Troy Tulowitzki SS 44.1
1996 Jake Westbrook RHP 13
1999 Jason Jennings RHP 11.2
2002 Jeff Francis LHP 9.6
1993 Jamey Wright RHP 9.1
2011 *Trevor Story SS 7.1
2014 Kyle Freeland LHP 5.4
2013 Jon Gray RHP 5.4
2011 Tyler Anderson LHP 4.7
2009 *Rex Brothers LHP 4.6
2003 Ian Stewart 3B 3
2009 Tyler Matzek LHP 2.7
2001 *Jayson Nix SS 1.9
2012 David Dahl OF 1.2
2005 *Chaz Roe RHP 0.7
1998 *Matt Roney RHP 0
1992 John Burke RHP -0.5
2008 Christian Friedrich LHP -0.6
2006 Greg Reynolds RHP -1.5
2010 Kyle Parker RF -1.6
1998 *Choo Freeman OF -1.8
2012 *Eddie Butler RHP -2.1
2004 Chris Nelson SS -2.4

*Compensation Picks 46. Eddie Butler (Rockies-1s) - Supplemental Pick for loss of Free Agent Mark Ellis 45. Trevor Story (Rockies-1s) - Supplemental Pick for loss of Free Agent Octavio Dotel 47. Peter Tago (Rockies-1s) - Supplemental Pick for loss of Free Agent Jason Marquis Tim Wheeler (Rockies-1) - From Angels, compensation for Free Agent Brian Fuentes 34. Rex Brothers (Rockies-1s) - Supplemental Pick for loss of Free Agent Brian Fuentes 32. Chaz Roe (Rockies-1s) - Supplemental Pick for loss of Free Agent Vinny Castilla Jayson Nix (Rockies-1s) - Supplemental pick for failure to sign 2000 No. 1 Matt Harrington Matt Roney (Rockies-1) - From Braves, compensation for Free Agent Andres Galarraga 36. Choo Freeman (Rockies-1s) - Supplemental Pick loss of Free Agent Andres Galarraga 40. Jeff Winchester (Rockies-1s) - Supplemental Pick for loss of Free Agent Walt Weiss

Source: Baseball-reference.com

Top Players by Position

WAR Ringolsby
C Chris Iannetta 16.1 C Iannetta
1B Todd Helton 61.2 1B Helton
2B Craig Counsell 22.4 2B Clint Barmes
3B Nolan Arenado 29.8 3B Arenado
SS Troy Tulowitzki 15.6 SS Tulowitzki
LF Matt Holiday 44.7 LF Holiday
CF Dexter Fowler 17.1 CF Charlie Blackmon
RF Brad Hawpe 4.4 RF Hawpe
SP Aaron Cook 15.7 SP Kyle Freeland
RP Shawn Chacon 6.5 RP Chacon