2017 MLB Draft Grades: Colorado Rockies
Best Pure Hitter: SS Ryan Vilade (2), Colorado’s top pick, grew up around the game, has a long track record for hitting as an amateur—often hitting third for USA Baseball’s 18U national team in 2016—and has shown the ability to make adjustments. Best Power: 1B Chad Spanberger (6) turned on his power at the right time, first in the Southeastern Conference tournament (five homers), then with 19 homers in the Rookie-level Pioneer League. He’s got plenty of swing-and-miss to go with his plus power, as does OF Casey Golden (20).
Fastest Runner: Vilade can turn in above-average to plus run times, closing in on 4.2 seconds to first base. He worked hard on it in his last high school year with a conditioning program to improve his running form. OF Joey Bartosic (19) also runs well and is George Washington’s career stolen-bases leader (84).
Best Defensive Player: The Rockies will let Vilade play his way off shortstop. He may slow down as he grows into his listed 6-foot-2, 194-pound frame, but he has the above-average arm to handle third base.
Best Athlete: Vilade also checks in here in a college-heavy class; he’s the only high school player the Rockies signed.
Best Fastball: RHP Will Gaddis (3) has touched 95 but pitches in the low 90s with plus life and solid fastball command when he’s going right. RHP Tommy Doyle (2.5), the club’s second pick, has touched 96 and could go higher as he throws more fastballs in pro ball.
Best Secondary Pitch: LHP Nick Kennedy (5), an eligible sophomore, has a good 90-94 mph fastball but a better slider with finish and low-80s power. He has a fresh arm, having thrown just 70 innings in two seasons at Texas and shifted into a starting role full-time after signing.
Best Pro Debut: Golden and Spanberger did their jobs with Rookie-level Grand Junction, protecting Vilade in the lineup. Golden led the league with 20 homers while Spanberger tied for second with 19; Golden hit .288/.372/.654 while Spanberger batted .294/.368/.617.
Helcris Olivarez Fit Right In Versus Older Opponents
The 20-year-old Dominican lefty flashed three plus pitches at times and appeared unfazed while facing experienced hitters at the alternate site.
Most Intriguing Background: RHP Moises Ceja (32) has an older brother Nestor who has reached Double-A as an umpire. Kennedy’s father Dave is the head strength and conditioning coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; he’s done that for powerhouse college programs at Nebraska, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Texas A&M.
Closest To The Majors: Gaddis’ fastball command should help him move quickly; he walked just seven in 44.1 innings in his debut, though he was eminently hittable at Grand Junction.
Best Late-Round Pick: LHP Hunter Williams (11) had his moments at North Carolina, with a 2.43 ERA in 77.2 innings in two seasons before failing out of the program. He pitched in indy ball in 2017 prior to the draft and still has arm strength, striking out 30 in 27 innings for Grand Junction. Golden’s power gives him a chance.