Rockies Stay True To Tradition, Take Lefty With Top Pick

DENVER—The Rockies went down a familiar path when they took Oregon lefthander Tyler Anderson with the 20th overall pick in the draft. It was the third time in the past four drafts that Colorado had selected a lefty in the first round.

With the 11th pick in 2009 they chose prep lefty Tyler Matzek, who was demoted last week from high Class A Modesto to low Class A Asheville. In 2008 they opted for college lefty Christian Friedrich with the 25th pick. Friedrich is pitching at Double-A Tulsa.

"When it was our turn to pick, we thought he was the best player available," scouting director Bill Schmidt said of Anderson. "We think he's a very athletic lefthanded pitcher. He's had success at the college level that we believe is going to ultimately translate here at the major league level. His athleticism, his competitiveness, his character all fit our model, what we're looking to acquire here, and we liked the physical talent."

Despite speculation that the Rockies would use their first pick to draft a position player who could be an offensive contributor, Schmidt said the organization opted for the best player available. Utah's C.J. Cron would have fit the bill. His father Chris is a former major leaguer and once managed Triple-A Colorado Springs.

The Angels selected Cron with the 17th pick, but highly regarded college infielders Kolten Wong and Levi Michael were still available.

"We stayed true to our board," Schmidt said. "There's been a lot of time and effort by a lot of people, and we just stayed with our evaluations and stayed true to our board when we made our selection."

And that led the Rockies to the 21-year-old Anderson, who went 8-3, 2.17 this season and in 107 2/3 innings set a single-season Oregon record with 114 strikeouts and just 35 walks.

"He pitches at 92-93 (mph). He'll get 93 occasionally," Schmidt said. "It's not like he's 86-89. It's 90-92 with a good changeup and probably an average breaking ball. He can command his fastball. He's got a feel (for how) to pitch. He's been successful not only in college but with Team USA last summer, and we feel like he has a chance to potentially move quick."

With the 45th overall pick, a supplemental choice for the loss of free agent righthander Octavio Dotel, the Rockies chose shortstop Trevor Story from Irving (Texas) High. Story is the first high school position player the Rockies have taken in the first or supplemental first round since shortstop Chris Nelson (ninth overall) in 2004.

Story, 18, hit .484 with eight homers and 29 RBIs and has signed a letter of intent with Louisiana State.

"We'd like to think he'd like to get his professional career started, but that'll play out," Schmidt said. "We saw an athletic kid with quality makeup. We thought he had the potential to play if it's not shortstop, second base, third base. He'd be able to stay on the dirt and we thought (have) a chance to develop some offensive skills."