Colorado Rockies 1998 Draft: Drafting a Rockies legend

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 25: Matt Holliday #7 of the Colorado Rockies points to the dugout to celebrate after hitting a seventh inning solo homerun against the St. Louis Cardinals at Coors Field on August 25, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. Players are wearing special jerseys with their nicknames on them during Players' Weekend. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - AUGUST 25: Matt Holliday #7 of the Colorado Rockies points to the dugout to celebrate after hitting a seventh inning solo homerun against the St. Louis Cardinals at Coors Field on August 25, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. Players are wearing special jerseys with their nicknames on them during Players' Weekend. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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Colorado Rockies, Choo Freeman, 1998 MLB Draft
25 Feb 2000: Choo Freeman #82 of the Colorado Rockies poses for a portrait during Spring Training Photo Day in Tucson, Arizona. /

The Colorado Rockies drafted poorly at the beginning of the 1998 MLB Draft

With their three first-round picks in 1998, the Colorado Rockies drafted right-handed pitcher Matt Roney with the #28 overall pick, outfielder Choo Freeman with the #36 overall pick, and catcher Timothy Winchester with the #40 overall pick.

Roney and Freeman combined for a -1.9 rWAR in their careers. Roney never pitched for the Rockies as the Tigers claimed him as a Rule V pick in 2002. He pitched for them on their 2003 team (the team that is the worst MLB team in nearly 60 years as they lost 119 games) and he made three appearances for the 2006 A’s.

Freeman played for the Rockies in parts of three seasons with a career OPS+ of 56 and a career rWAR of -1.8. and Winchester never made it above Double-A.

There were only three players in the rest of the first round after #28 (Roney) that had a positive rWAR in their career so here’s who the Rockies have had instead.

They could have had one of:

  • 33rd overall pick: OF Brad Wilkerson, Montreal, 11.0 rWAR; or
  • 35th overall pick: OF Aaron Rowand, White Sox, 20.9 rWAR (two-time World Series Champ, one-time All-Star, and one-time Gold Glove winner)

And they also could have had pitcher Mark Prior (drafted by the Yankees but didn’t sign). He eventually was an All-Star and came in 3rd in NL Cy Young Award voting in 2003 for the NLCS-bound Cubs before he was riddled with injuries.

Two other players that went in the first half of the second round of the draft that the Rockies could have drafted were:

  • 50th overall pick: OF Adam Dunn, Cincinnati, 17.9 rWAR (two-time All-Star and 462 career homers)
  • 57th overall pick: C Brandon Inge, Detroit, 19.2 rWAR (one-time All-Star)

They weren’t available for the Rockies to pick by the time their two second-round picks came around (#60 and #71) but they could have drafted three of them in the first round.

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