Late picks Motte, Reynolds found way to bigs

Road to The Show tougher for those selected lower in Draft

Late picks Motte, Reynolds found way to bigs

DENVER -- Like many of those selected during the final rounds of the 2016 Draft, Rockies relief pitcher Jason Motte was just a name that came across the computer screen when the Cardinals picked in the 19th round in 2003.

"I was just sitting at my house," recalled Motte, who was drafted as a catcher out of Iona. "My little brother had a baseball tournament. I think my parents were there. I was watching on my computer, watching who got picked, stuff like that. I had a couple teams call me that day like, 'Hey, we may be interested in doing this and that.'

"But honestly, I was just sitting at the house on the computer."

It's a long way from staring at the computer screen to competing in the Majors, especially for the lower-round picks. But Motte and a couple of other Rockies prove it is possible.

The vast majority of the players picked Thursday, when the first two rounds were conducted, were seen on television. For most of the players selected Friday in rounds 3-10, there was online video analysis, and folks could see some of their highlights.

But of the players on the Rockies' roster for Saturday's game against the Padres, Motte was one of three drafted later than the fifth round. Others were catcher Dustin Garneau, a 19th-round pick by Colorado out of Cal State Fullerton in 2009, and first baseman Mark Reynolds, a 16th-round pick by the D-backs out of Virginia in 2004. Like those drafted Saturday, the only fanfare was someone from the team's Draft room calling out an ID number, saying whether the player was drafted before, then name, position, school and location.

Sometimes there is a phone call ahead of time, but often not since picks that late happen within seconds.

"I saw my name pop up first," Reynolds said.

Reynolds' solo homer

However it happens, it's an opportunity. Reynolds showed enough power to make the Majors in 2007, hit 44 home runs in 2009 and has had a solid career. Like Motte, who called his parents and everyone he knew before celebrating with a nice dinner, Reynolds didn't look at the names that went before him and become upset. He was happy to be called.

"I wasn't really anxious," Reynolds said. "I was more excited, I guess, just to get drafted and go play. That's all I wanted to do: go play. Once I got the chance, that's what I did."

The route to the Majors is long and uncertain. The cliché throughout the Minors is those drafted below the first few rounds have to prove they can play, while the early picks are given every opportunity to prove that they can't. But sometimes talent catches an organization's eye, even when it's assumed no one is looking.

2016 Draft Recap: Rockies

Motte was the fourth catcher taken in the Draft by a team that had perennial All-Star Yadier Molina a year away from making his big league debut.

"Nobody ever said anything to me about pitching when I got drafted," Motte said. "With St. Louis, I got drafted in '03, and it took until '05 or '06 to turn me to pitching. There were some people leading up to the Draft that were asking my college coach, 'Hey, would he pitch?' And my college coach said, 'He never pitched. You want to draft him and turn him into a pitcher? You do what you want. But he's never pitched.'

"St. Louis took a chance on me."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.