The 1997 Draft: The Colorado Rockies draft a good starter but missed a great infielder

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 4: Aaron Cook #28 of the Colorado Rockies pitches during a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on September 4, 2011 in San Diego, California. The Padres won 7-2. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 4: Aaron Cook #28 of the Colorado Rockies pitches during a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on September 4, 2011 in San Diego, California. The Padres won 7-2. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /
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Colorado Rockies, Dave Veres
5 Mar 1998: Pitcher Dave Veres of the Colorado Rockies in action during a spring training game against the Milwaukee Brewers at the Maryvale Baseball Park in Maryvale, Arizona. The Rockies defeated the Brewers 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr /Allsport /

With the 18th overall pick of the 1997 MLB Draft, the Colorado Rockies drafted right-handed pitcher Mark Mangum out of high school in Kingwood, Texas.

Mangum signed with a bonus of $875,000, which was $100,000 less than any of the picks ahead of him but the Rockies soured on Mangum quickly.

Within a year, the Rockies traded him to the Montreal Expos to complete a trade that was made in the previous December. Mangum was the player to be named later in a four-player deal. The Rockies sent a PTBNL (Mangum) and outfielder Terry Jones (career 0.8 rWAR) to Montreal for minor leaguer Mark Hamlin and MLB reliever Dave Veres.

Veres was the key piece of the deal as he was a four-year MLB veteran with 225 appearances and a 3.07 ERA. Veres played with the Rockies for two years before he was traded to St. Louis along with his best friend, the late Darryl Kile. Kile and Veres played together in Houston, Colorado, and St. Louis.

In the trade, though, the Rockies acquired Mark Hamlin and despite being a career minor leaguer, it was an odd move. The Rockies had just traded Hamlin to Montreal in November 1996 (three weeks prior to the Veres trade) in the trade that sent their 1996 top two draft picks (future MLB All-Star Jake Westbrook and pitcher John Nicholson) to Montreal for second baseman Mike Lansing.

So in the period of six months, the Rockies traded each of their last two first-round draft picks and one of their second-round draft picks to Montreal for reliever Dave Veres and second baseman Mike Lansing. Decent major leaguers but not worth two first and one second-round picks.

Westbrook became a major leaguer and Nicholson and Mangum didn’t so it panned out for the Rockies but considering how quickly they gave up on those three for their return, they really should have made some better picks.

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