2011 MLB Draft Heats Up Down The Stretch

The Rockies hold two of the first 45 picks in the 2011 MLB Draft. In what direction will they go?

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2011 MLB Mock Draft: Jonathan Mayo Also Projects C.J. Cron To Rockies

It's kind of tiresome to keep seeing the same player(as) associated with the Colorado Rockies in the 2011 MLB Draft (just as it was with the Denver Broncos and the 2011 NFL Draft). Whether that player actually winds up with the Rockies is another thing, but many of these projections are based on solid sources, or at least we want to believe.

And so Utah 1B C.J. Cron does appear to be a heavy favorite at No. 20 overall for the Colorado Rockies--should Cron go there. Add MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo to that list:

20. Colorado Rockies: CJ Cron, 1B, Utah
There's been a lot of talk about a college hitter here -- Kolten Wong and Levi Michael might be fits -- but while you don't draft for need, there will be a bit of an opening soon at this position in Colorado, and Cron flat-out raked this year.

Interestingly, all three players mentioned by Mayo in the above are taken picks 20-22. Cron goes to the Rockies, Levi Michael (a shortstop who would move to second with the Rockies) heads to Toronto and Kolten Wong is nabbed by St. Louis. Another possibility could be the high school LHP Daniel Norris, who falls to No. 23 in this scenario. Would the Rockies want to add another top young lefty like they did in 2009 with Tyler Matzek (his 2011 struggles aside)?

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2011 MLB Mock Draft: C.J. Cron To Rockies In Kevin Goldstein's Working Projections

Remember how the Denver Broncos were going to draft Marcell Dareus because it was a great fit for the team? But then a few days before the draft Von Miller's name emerged as the possible (and then actual) selection. Well, for the last couple of weeks there have been two names associated with the Colorado Rockies and the 2011 MLB Draft: C.J. Cron and Kolten Wong.

One needs just to look through this stream to find out that those two have been named to the Rockies more than any other players. Add Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein to the list for Cron:

It's very rare to hear one name connected so often with a team drafting so late in the first round, but that's the case with Cron and the Rockies. He can't run, can't throw, and can't field, but he's also the college bat most likely to hit in the middle of a big league lineup.

Goldstein will have his final mock draft available on Monday, the day of the first round. It seems unlikely that he will change from his Cron selection

But this seems like such a sure pick that is can't possibly happen. Or even Wong for that matter. What if a team owner comes in and demands a "safe bat" like Cron in the mid-teens? Or what about high school arm falling to the Rockies at No. 20? Find out June 6.

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2011 MLB Mock Draft: Keith Law Projects C.J. Cron Or Kolten Wong To Rockies

The 2011 MLB Draft gets underway on Monday, June 6, and the consensus among draft experts appears to have the Colorado Rockies selecting either Utah 1B C.J. Cron or Hawaii 2B Kolten Wong with the 20th pick of the first round. Keith Law's latest mock draft for ESPN Insider projects Cron but also thinks Wong could be taken there. He classifies, as others have, the two as being "safe bats."

Cron, recently named as a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, blistered the ball to the tune of a .434/.517/.803 with 26 doubles, 15 home runs and 59 RBI. He walked 31 times and struck out just 21 times. One could question his production since he hit in many offensive parks during Mountain West competition, but that hasn't diminished some projections of a .300-plus batting average and 40-home run power.

Wong, as we've established in previous updates is a solid fielder who could potentially move elsewhere on the diamond (possibly catcher). He'll use the field when he hits and may have decent pop for a glove second baseman. He hit .378/.492/.560 with 11 doubles, 3 triples and seven homers. He also stole 23 bases.

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2011 MLB Mock Draft: C.J. Cron, Kolten Wong Could Be Selected By Rockies In 1st Round

With less than a week to go until the 2011 MLB Draft, there appears to be some uncertainty at the top of the board while the Colorado Rockies' selection may have come into sharper focus. While Rice's Anthony Rendon and UCLA's Gerrit Cole have long been speculated to go with the top two picks, high school outfielder Bubba Starling and Virginia LHP Danny Hultzen could also go there.

In Keith Law's latest mock draft (Insider required), he still stick with Rendon and Cole as the top two picks, but he does hint that the Rockies may have already settled on their board:

The Rockies are heavy on Wong and Cron, with one (non-Rockies) cross-checker indicating that he thought they were down to those two players for this pick.

Law goes with Wong here since Utah's C.J. Cron goes a few picks earlier. Wong would be a steady second baseman who plays solid defense and has a good approach at the plate. Cron is a big power bat who would be considered Todd Helton's replacement in a few years.

And John Sickels at Minor League Ball also believes Wong is the pick here for the Rockies.

This appears to be a conservative approach to the draft, though the Rockies have taken risks the last two years with LHP high schooler Tyler Matzek (control issues in Hi-A) and Clemson OF/QB Kyle Parker. Might the Rockies want to take a chance on a guy like Georgia Tech LHP Jed Bradley, who slides to No. 21 in Law's draft?

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2011 MLB Mock Draft: Baseball America Projects Levi Michael To Rockies Again

Baseball America's Jim Callis released his second 2011 MLB Mock Draft (subscription required - free version here) on Friday night and nothing changed for the Colorado Rockies at pick No. 20. Callis still sees North Carolina SS Levi Michael as the Rockies selection. 

Levi doesn't offer great upside, but he'd be ticketed for second base with Troy Tulowitzki entrenched at short. Hawaii 2B Kolten Wong would make a better pick at that point, but the Rockies could always deviate from the college path. While Callis seems to believe the selection will only be a college player, preferably a college pitcher, the Rockies have taken a different approach recently (see Tyler Matzek in 2009). 

Perhaps a better choice would be the high school lefty who goes No. 21 to the Toronto Blue Jays, Daniel Norris. For more on Norris, visit here. In short, Norris is a potential four-pitch pitcher who is advanced in his development.

The MLB Draft takes place June 6-8.

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2011 MLB Mock Draft: Kolten Wong Could Help Rockies Up The Middle

The Colorado Rockies currently have Jonathan Herrera as their second baseman, and after a hot start Herrera has cooled off. However, he is still doing quite well: .284/.378/.380 in 36 games. He's walking three percent more of the time this season (9.7 to 12.6) and has seen a three percent decline in his strikeouts (16.2 to 13.2). How long he can be the starter is up in the air, but there isn't much of a challenge coming from the farm.

However, the Rockies could look toward a rare second base first-round prospect in the 2011 MLB Draft. Both Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com and Patrick Ebert of Perfect Game project Hawaii's Kolten Wong as the Rockies' selection at No. 20 overall. Mayo calls Wong "[a]n advanced college hitter who can run," allowing him to move to the majors quickly. Ebert, though, makes it sound as though this selection is a legitimate possibility:

Reliable sources have indicated that they don't expect Wong to get past the Rockies should he make it this far.

Wong is hitting .368 this season with six home runs, 22 stolen bases and 36 walks to nine strikeouts. His scouting report at Perfect Game pegs him as a batter who has learned to use his stick properly as well as being a grinder on the base paths. His defense has improved steadily over the years.

The Rockies, though, in recent years have shown that they are willing to look beyond a safe college player and go for a young arm (Tyler Matzek, 2009). Could Archie Bradley, No. 21 to the Blue Jays, be someone the Rockies would be willing to commit a financial windfall on?

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2011 MLB Draft: ESPN's Keith Law Projects Texas A&M RHP John Stilson To Rockies

In his most recent mock draft (subscription required), ESPN baseball analyst Keith Law projects Texas A&M RHP John Stilson to the Colorado Rockies with the 20th overall selection.

Stilson started his career as a reliever, but has found success in the Aggies starting rotation, going 5-1 with a 1.59 ERA this season through 85 innings for the 11th-ranked Aggies. Stilson also boasts an 4.05 K/BB ratio and a 9.4 K/9 strikeout rate. Opposing batters are hitting .225 against him this season. Many scouts currently view Stilson as a MLB reliever, but unlikely to stay a starter due to health concerns with his delivery.

The Rockies drafted a similar player from Texas Tech in the second round of the 2010 MLB Entry Draft by the name of Chad Bettis. Most viewed Bettis as a likely MLB reliever, but he has excelled in A and A+ ball since being drafted, and has established himself as one of the Rockies’ top starting pitching prospects. It could be possible that Colorado follows a similar route with their first round selection this year.

Law also suggests that the Rockies could have interest in LSU OF Mikie Mahtook. Mahtook currently sports a .385/.485/.697 line while playing center field for the Tigers. He’s rated as a solid college bat with five-tool star potential. The Rockies have spent first round selections on college outfielders with power potential the past two years; Kyle Parker from Clemson (1st, 2010) and Tim Wheeler from Sacramento State (1st supp., 2009). Both Wheeler and Parker are enjoying excellent seasons in the minors.

Neither projected pick would fill a specific system need, but the Rockies’ recent draft history suggests either Stilson or Mahtook are very likely possibilities.

Follow this stream for more on the 2011 MLB Draft.

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2011 MLB Mock Draft: UNC's Levi Michael, Future Rockies Infielder?

Baseball America is known for its extensive draft coverage, and they recently came out with their first official mock draft (subscription required) for the 2011 MLB Draft. At No. 20, the Colorado Rockies select North Carolina Tar Heels shortstop Levi Michael with the idea that Michael would be converted to second base. As a freshman, Michael started 65 games at second base (committing 13 errors, for what it's worth), so he does have experience at the position.

As a junior, Michael's hitting .327/.478/.497 with three triples, four home runs and 41 RBI. He has 41 walks to 28 strikeouts and has been hit by a pitch 11 times. He's also able to take advantage on the base paths, stealing 14 on 15 attempts. He stole 20 in 2010.

There's also a suggestion that the Rockies could look at Utah's C.J. Cron. A future first baseman, 6-foot-4, 230-pound masher has smacked the ball around this spring for a .448/.520/.855 slash line with 23 doubles and 14 home runs. He goes a few picks later to the Nationals. He would likely be ready for the majors in a couple of years, right when Todd Helton's contract ends.

If the Rockies wanted to be adventurous and show that they aren't afraid of drafting another young high school pitcher in the first round (Tyler Matzek's troubles pushed to the side, that is), they could go with Josh Bell, a talented prep outfielder who goes one pick later at No. 21 to the Blue Jays.

But with several weeks to go, there are certainly players who will drop and offer the Rockies ever more intriguing possibilities.

Follow this stream for more on the 2011 MLB Draft.

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2011 MLB Draft: Rockies To Pick 20th Overall, Could Take LHP Daniel Norris

The 2011 MLB Draft takes place June 6-8, which gives teams just under a month to get in their final evaluations on college and prep players. Over at Minor League Ball, John Sickels is already putting out mocks for the first round and the supplemental first round. Who does he have the Rockies selecting?

20) Rockies: Daniel Norris, LHP, Tennessee HS: Well, if Christian Friedrich and Tyler Matzek don't pan out, let's try Daniel Norris.

Norris is the third lefty to go in this mock and the first high school lefty to be drafted. Norris is the top-rated high school lefty in the draft. As Sickels points out, the Rockies have two lefties in their system who have questions surrounding them. Friedrich, 24, has battled elbow injuries over the last season or so and has had trouble early in the 2011 season (6.16 ERA, 37 hits allowed in 30.2 innings).

As for Tyler Matzek, it would be an understatement to say that he has struggled this season so far. In six starts, he has a 9.82 ERA and has walked 24 batters in 18.1 innings (19 H, 21/20 R/ER). He walked a season-high eight batters in two innings on April 25. However, he has struck out 21 batters. The Rockies should be worried about him--if they aren't already.

If the Rockies chose Norris, they would be getting a 6-foot-2, 180-pound lefty who can work his fastball in the mid-90s and use three other pitchers. In a write-up of a late-April start, Nathan Rode of Baseball America reported that Norris had his fastball reach 96, mostly sitting at 93-95, and used his curveball, slider and changeup as well. The slider is one pitch he will need to work on, but the fastball-curveball is what gets things done.

The Rockies have a supplemental round pick because they offered arbitration to Type 'B' free agent Octavio Dotel, who then signed with the Toronto Blue Jays in the offseason. With that extra pick, Sickels could see the Rockies taking a second prep player, shortstop Phillip Evans. He's committed to Tony Gwynn's San Diego State Aztecs, but the money of a supplemental pick could change things.

He's 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds. According to one evaluation, he can be a solid player for a team, but not a superstar. And with Troy Tulowitzki playing short for a large part of the next decade, Evans' future would likely need to be at another position, likely second base.

Follow this stream for more as we approach the draft on June 6-8.

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