Rockies Draft Report
By Barney Hutchinson
DENVER--A Canadian pitcher had to go to Alaska and Wichita, Kan., to get exposure.
Jeff Francis put himself on the map with his time in the Alaska Summer League and the National Baseball Congress tournament in Wichita, and the Rockies made the University of British Coumbia lefthander the ninth overall pick in the draft, a move that further raise his high profile.
"Maybe I'm trying to blaze a trail, so to speak, for players like me," Francis said. "There will be more players coming from British Columbia."
"Jeff is a quality lefthander," said Rockies scouting director Bill Schmidt. "He has a three-pitch mix. He's a kid I've seen since high school when he pitched on the junior Canadian club. So I had some history with him."
Back then, Francis was a skinny 6-foot-2. Now he's 6-foot-5 with the ability to add 20 more pounds to his frame.
"His stuff got a little firmer," Schmidt said. "He threw in the low 80s coming out of high school. Now he's up to 92-93. He has a good feel for pitching. And he has a body that can get stronger. We see him as a guy that has the potential to move fairly quickly."
Schmidt said Francis got more exposure pitching for the Anchorage Bucs in the Alaska Summer League, going 7-1, 1.29 against quality opposing players.
"I viewed the experience as a test," Francis said at the time. "I wanted to measure myself against the best players in the country. The season was awesome."
Francis, 21, went 7-2, 1.93 in 75 innings this spring for UBC, an NAIA school north of the boarder.
"He threw only 75 innings," Schmidt said. "Most guys in college go 120 innings. He's just at 75. He doesn't have the wear and tear of other guys. We viewed him as one of the top college pitchers in the country.
"It was a good fit for the organization. When you put him in with Aaron Cook, Jason Young and Cory Vance who are in our organization, he would fit in very well. He's another quality lefthander."
The Rockies waited until the fourth round to take Clemson third baseman Jeff Baker. Schmidt wants to sign all four of his top picks. Does he see the fourth-rounder as a challenge? "Yes," he said.
Outfielder Brad Corey, the Rockies' 16th-round choice, signed a letter of intent to Mississippi State. He hit .453-9-43 his senior season at Pleasure Ridge Park High in Louisville and went 7-0, 0.52 on the mound. He was a two-time all-state selection in Kentucky.
Ninth-round selection John Tetuan, a righthander from Wichita State, was the Missouri Valley Conference pitcher of the year during the spring, going 10-1, 1.72.
Fifth-round draft choice Doug Johnson, a righthander out of Bryant College in Smithfield, R.I., went 8-3 for the Bulldogs during the spring. Scouts saw a fastball at 91 mph. Bryant went 35-22 for his career and set a school record for single-season wins this spring.
Former Rockies first-round draft choice Matt Harrington went to the Devil Rays in the 13th round. The Rockies drafted him seventh overall in 2000, and the Padres took him in the second round in 2001.
Colorado drafted righthander Ben Crockett in the third round, No. 81 overall. Last June, the Harvard product turned down the Red Sox, who drafted him in the 10th round. "He proved he was healthy," said Schmidt. "He went to the Cape Cod League and pitched very well there, taking all his turns." Schmidt said Crockett has an average fastball, a chance to have an above average changeup and he is a plus-strike thrower with command. "And he's an intelligent kid, you would hope," Schmidt said.
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