Rox seek balance between arms, bats in Draft

Colorado, which has four Top 50 picks, tends toward college pitchers, prep hitters

Rox seek balance between arms, bats in Draft

DENVER -- The 2015 Draft will take place from Monday through Wednesday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Monday at 4 p.m. MT. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 5 p.m., with the top 75 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of Day 2 begins with a live Draft show at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, with exclusive coverage of Day 3 beginning at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of over 1,700 Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the Rockies, whose first selection is the third overall pick.

In about 50 words
Making a qualifying offer to free agent Michael Cuddyer last winter -- he refused and signed with the Mets -- gave the Rockies the 27th overall pick as compensation. That's four picks in the Top 50 (Nos. 3, 27, 38, 44).

The scoop
The Rockies' last couple of Drafts have followed a pattern: Their top pick is a collegiate player -- righty Jon Gray out of Oklahoma third overall in 2013, Kyle Freeland from Evansville eighth overall in '14 -- followed by a high schooler. Collegiate players generally sign quickly at or slightly below the slotted figure.

"Really, it's balance; that's one of the things we've been able to do with our Draft," said vice president of scouting Bill Schmidt. "If you look at our system, at Double-A it's a little stronger with position players, but at the lower levels, it's a little more balanced."

First-round buzz
The latest MLB.com mock draft has Colorado taking Illinois lefty Tyler Jay, a reliever in college who has the potential to develop into a starter. But Lake Mary (Fla.) High School shortstop Brendan Rodgers and LSU shortstop Alex Bregman also are possibilities.

Draft 2015: Middle Infielders

This will be Jeff Bridich's first Draft as the Rockies' general manager and Schmidt's 16th with the club. According to the VP of scouting, the strength of the collegiate players is in the middle infield. One projection had Colorado going for Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson, although the latest mock has him going No. 1 overall to the D-backs. Schmidt also said the club is considering everyone, including two high-ranked pitchers coming off Tommy John surgery -- lefty Brady Aiken of IMG Academy, who went tops overall to the Astros last year but didn't sign, and righty Michael Matuella of Duke.

Money matters
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.

Any team going up to 5 percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75 percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75 percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100 percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100 percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.

The Rockies have been assigned a pool of $13,989,800, which ranks second in the Majors. Colorado's first pick is slotted at $6,223,300.

2015 Draft: Brady Aiken, P

Shopping list
The general pattern with the Rockies and many teams is to go for collegiate arms and high school bats in the upper rounds. Since Schmidt arrived in 2000, Colorado has taken just two collegiate hitters with its top pick -- Troy Tulowitzki in '05 and Kyle Parker in '10. Beyond that, though, the Rockies shoot for a balance of position players and pitchers.

Trend watch
Schmidt likes selecting players who will immediately join the Minor League system and start their pro career. Of the last seven top picks, four have signed immediately.

Rising fast
Because Gray has been in Major League camp the last two springs and the Rockies are always in need of pitching, it's easy to wonder why he isn't in the bigs yet. But Gray was drafted in 2013, last year was his first full professional season and he is already in Triple-A. In May, his runs and walks were down and his innings increased, so he is not far from ready.

Gray continues to impress

Cinderella story
Three pitchers from lower rounds are members of Colorado's bullpen. Righty Christian Bergman (24th round, 2010) made 10 starts last year, and he is a key long reliever and spot starter. Righty Scott Oberg (15th round, '12) is pitching in middle relief. Lefty Ken Roberts (25th round, '10) earned a promotion from Triple-A Albuquerque, although he is on the 15-day disabled list with left elbow inflammation.

In The Show
All eyes are on Eddie Butler (supplemental first round, 2012), who debuted last year while battling a shoulder issue, but recovered to make the season-opening rotation this year. Righty Chad Bettis (2nd round, '10) is showing promise in the rotation after an ill-fated attempt at relief work last season, and lefty Christian Friedrich (1st round, '08) may have found a home in the bullpen

The regular lineup is dotted with Draft picks: shortstop Tulowitzki (1st round, 2005), third baseman Nolan Arenado (2nd round, '09), center fielder Charlie Blackmon (2nd, '08) and outfielder/first baseman Ben Paulsen (3rd, '09), whose opportunity came in part because of an injury to left fielder Corey Dickerson (8th, '10). The Rockies selected backup catcher Michael McKenry in the seventh round in '06.

The Rockies' recent top picks
2014: Freeland, LHP, extended spring camp
2013: Gray, RHP, Triple-A Albuquerque
2012: David Dahl, OF, Double-A New Britain
2011: Tyler Anderson, LHP, extended spring camp
2010: Parker, OF, Triple-A Albuquerque

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.