The Colorado Rockies have the no. 8 overall selection in Thursday night’s MLB Draft. That gives the organization a ton of pressure, once again, to get a high pick right in order to successfully stay on track with their plan to win with homegrown talent.
Assessing draft needs for big league baseball teams is a different animal than the NFL or the NBA. Other than teams going out of their way to prioritize pitching (Greg Reynolds, anybody?), the process of developing players is long enough that teams generally will take the player they want even if his path is “blocked” or if that position is not an immediate “need.”
There are organizational needs that can be more glaring than others, but even assessing those needs is not the same. For the Rockies, they can certainly use arms. That said, they need quality players everywhere as they continue to replenish their farm system after some decidedly bad drafts.
The Rockies have hit on pitching picks lately, at least as far as the quality of the picks. That is true with Eddie Butler and Jon Gray in particular. So could they go pitcher again with the no. 8 pick? Of course they could (silly question), but it will depend on how the picks in front of them play out. On that matter, Nick Groke of the Denver Post offers the following:
Heard from 2 scouts on MLB draft. Told for #Rockies, RHP Aaron Nola and C Kyle Schwarber could be in play. LHP Kyle Freeland may be sinking.
— Nick Groke (@nickgroke) June 4, 2014
At 6’1″ and 170 pounds, Nola is a top pitching prospect in this draft. He might go as high as the top five, so if he was in play at no. 8 that could be a great development for Colorado. With a fastball in the low to mid-90’s and a couple developing secondary pitches, Baseball Prospectus projects him as a solid middle of the rotation guy (subscription required).
Also from the Prospectus guys, here is a prospect video about Nola:
I’m no scout and the camera angle is not ideal, but some of those heaters sure look zippy to me.
MLB.com projects Nola as a guy who might be able to help on the big league level right away. While the Rockies are doing their best to crush our spirits right now, they are still a team that has a chance to matter this season. That would be an interesting factor in Nola’s potential development if he fell to them and became their selection.
As for Schwarber, he checks in at a husky 6’0″, 230 pounds. Baseball Prospectus has him as one of the best bats available in the draft, with power from the left side and the ability to for average as well (subscription required). His defensive abilities at catcher are questionable, however, which is a familiar dilemma for the Rockies.
Depending on how far away he is from a promotion, it does seem a bit confounding that the Rockies would potentially have two power hitting catchers who need a new position (referring to Wilin Rosario, of course). Still, if they believe in his bat enough, they might take him as a hitter and figure out the rest later.
Here is a prospect video so you can take a look at Schwarber:
The Rockies will likely take a pitcher, and that is likely the right move. If that pitcher is Nola, then I believe most people will find themselves quite happy with that outcome.