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'09 Draft class stands tall on mound

'09 Draft class stands tall on mound

With the 2009 season and Arizona Fall League (where several 2009 draftees got their first taste of pro ball) in the books, we take a look at the early results of each club's '09 Draft class: how their top picks did; late-round picks that fared well; which picks are likely to move up the ladder quickest; and which picks clubs were unable to sign.

The Rockies certainly did a fine job of identifying who they wanted and going after them aggressively, as they signed 40 of their 52 picks, including the first 30. That list was highlighted by their No. 1 pick, California high school lefty Tyler Matzek, one of the premium young arms in the Draft but one whose likelihood to sign had been in question. He was inked with minutes to spare and is the luminary on a deep list of new talent in the fold.


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With 12 picks in the first 10 rounds, the Rockies added seven pitchers, including four college arms near the end of that run. When not picking off pitchers, the club concentrated on deepening its corner infield and outfield depth, not taking a middle infielder until the 14th round.

2009 DRAFT RECAP

Top five picks

1. Tyler Matzek, LHP: The 11th player taken overall, he probably would have gone even higher had there not been concerns about whether he would sign. A polished and poised southpaw considered one of the closest high school picks to being big league ready, the California native signed late and will make his pro debut in 2010. He was impressive in instructional league, showing his easy delivery and great mechanics, with a lively fastball consistently in the mid-90s, a sharp curve and a power slider. He has a quick arm and a good feel for the mound.

1. Tim Wheeler, OF: The last pick of the first round out of Sacramento State fashioned a 12-game hitting streak to finish the season at short-season Tri-City. He had a .256 average, five homers, 35 RBIs, 10 steals and 13 doubles. The 6-foot-4 left-handed hitter has raw power potential and is a fine athlete, working on his overall game. He projects to play in left field or possibly center.

1S. Rex Brothers, LHP: Drafted out of Lipscomb College, the southpaw with the fastball in the mid-to-high 90s and plus slider split the season between Tri-City and Class A Asheville, with a 3.38 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings, walking eight. He limited hitters to an identical .216 average at both stops.

2. Nolan Arenado, 3B: Taken out of high school in California, Arenado had a terrific pro debut, hitting .300 with two homers and 22 RBIs along with 15 doubles in 54 games at short-season Casper. He followed that up by being named the Rockies' instructional league MVP. He has good discipline at the plate and power potential, and he is agile in the field, having moved from shortstop to third base in high school. He has the arm for the new position and the leadership and attitude of a shortstop.

3. Ben Paulsen, 1B: The left-handed hitter out of Clemson didn't show the power he possesses in his pro debut at Tri-City, where he hit just one homer while batting .280. He is adequate defensively, but is fine for first where the key will be how his bat plays.

Best of the Rest

Alabama outfielder Kent Matthes (4) is one of the top power prospects the Rockies took in the Draft after leading Division I with 28 homers. He had 23 doubles at Tri-City, hitting .289 with five homers and 35 RBIs. ... Right-hander Chris Balcom-Miller (6) was Pioneer League Pitcher of the Year as he went 4-0 with a 1.58 ERA in 11 starts at Casper, striking out 60 in 57 innings while limiting hitters to a .181 average. He throws a sinking fastball in the low 90s with deceptive delivery, and his slider is also a potential plus pitch. ... Righty Charlie Ruiz (10) out of Long Beach State dominated in relief in his pro debut, leading the Northwest League with 17 saves for Tri-City, which was good for fourth in the system. He had a 1.14 ERA in 32 games, fanning 46 in 31 2/3 innings and limiting hitters to a .186 average. ... Outfielder Avery Barnes (11) out of Florida has plus speed and stole 23 bases for Casper, hitting .335. ... First baseman Jared Clark (12) out of Cal State Fullerton led the organization with a .346 average, most of which was spent at Casper, where he had 11 homers, 44 RBIs and 13 doubles for a .591 slugging percentage.

Fast Risers

While Matzek is as poised as they come, he is still a high school pick and with that prized arm will not be rushed. But polished college performers such as Wheeler and Brothers could move quickly. So, too, could Paulsen and Matthes, among others. Ruiz could also rise quickly if his 2009 debut is any indication.

Unsigned

With 40 out of 52 players signed, there aren't many players who fit this bill. Outfielder Corey Dickerson (29), a center fielder out of Meridian (Miss.) Community College, hit .381 with 15 homers and 54 RBIs and now heads to Mississippi State. Outfielder Tym Pearson (35) from Springfield, Ore., is a great athlete who decided to forgo college football to play baseball at Western Nevada Community College, so he will be eligible for the 2010 Draft. Catcher Mark Tracy (49) out of Duquesne was the lone unsigned college pick, and he's the son of Rockies manager and National League Manager of the Year Jim Tracy.

Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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