The Colorado Rockies received high marks for their 2010 MLB Draft class, signing 26 of their 51 selections. But have these prospects carried over that praise to the 2011 minor league season? The class begins with first-round selection OF Kyle Parker, but he isn't the only player who will be remembered from this draft class, success or not. Second-round selection RHP Chad Bettis was lighting up the Cal League early on, but a recent rough patch hit him and eighth-round selection OF Corey Dickerson is also showing early promise. And there are two high schoolers who have great potential.
Let's break down the first six selection made through five rounds:
Round 1, No. 26 - Kyle Parker, OF, Clemson - Parker's history is a well-documented one. While at Clemson, Parker was a two-sport star for the Tigers as an outfielder on the baseball team and the starting quarterback for the football team. The Rockies attempted to sign him to a baseball-only contract at the end of July, but Parker decided he wanted to play another season of college ball. He did, though, sign by the mid-August deadline (for a $1.4 million signing bonus) to officially join the Rockies' organization.
He struggled during the fall season, throwing for 2,213 yards with 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He completed 57.5 percent of his throws and was sacked 12 times. He suffered a nasty hit to the back in a game against Auburn and then had a few broken ribs during his bowl game. Then in January he settled on playing for the Rockies full time (he would have needed to give up part of his signing bonus had he chosen one final year of football).
After some early struggles and a bout with the flu, Parker is producing for the Low-A Asheville Tourists. He's hitting .286/.355/.465 with seven homers, 12 doubles and 43 RBI. He has 53 strikeouts to 16 walks, which has been expected. We're still waiting for more power to show, but Parker is just scratching the surface of what he can do.
Round 1s, No. 47 - Peter Tago, RHP, HS - The Rockies received this selection when Jason Marquis left in free agency and signed with the Washington Nationals. Tago, like Parker, also signed right before the deadline. Leading up to the draft, opposing batters saw a fastball that can reach 98 mph, but will sit in the low-90s.
He's made his three starts for Low-A Asheville, his debut coming on May 20. In that start, he went seven innings, struck out five and surrendered two runs on four hits and a walk. However, much still remains as witnessed by his other two starts, walking 10 batters and allowing eight runs on 11 hits.
Round 2, No. 76 - Chad Bettis, RHP, Texas Tech - Bettis has hit hard times recently, but he had been at the top of the leaderboard for ERA and strikeouts for the first month and a half of the season. His 79 strikeouts are second in the league and he just threw eight innings of two-hit ball, striking out eight. Though he reached 98 on his fastball out of the pen in college, the Rockies are developing him as a starter until he proves he can't be one. That may never happen.
Round 3, No. 107 - Josh Rutledge, SS, Alabama - No one is ever going to confuse Rutledge for a power hitter, but he has his strengths on defense. How far that will carry him is another question. Since the middle of May, Rutledge has helped his season line move to .308/.400/.371 for Hi-A Modesto.
Round 4, No. 140 - Russell Wilson, 2B, N.C. State - Wilson, like Parker, was a two-sport star in college and returned last fall for another season. While it appeared that Wilson was committed fully to baseball, it appears more likely that Wilson will play football again in the fall, but for a new school. A slow start may have given him second thoughts. He is hitting .218/.372/.313 for Asheville. On June 5, he hit his second home run of the season and collected three hits.
Round 5, No. 170, - Joshua Slaats, RHP, Hawai'i - Slaats pitched three games for Asheville this season before he was placed on the Temporarily Inactive List on April 25. He came back on May 13, but has been inconsistent, walking 19 and striking out 21 on the season. He's allowed 55 hits and four home runs in 37 innings. His 2010 results in the Northwest League still offer hope: 1.95 ERA, 42 K in 32.1 IP.
Others To Keep An Eye On
Outfielder Corey Dickerson (8th round) is slugging .616 through 146 at-bats with 13 doubles and 12 homers for Asheville. On June 3, Dickerson went 3-for-3 with three home runs and 10 RBI.
Catcher Will Swanner fell to the 15th round over concern about his college commitment, but the Rockies swooped and signed him. He hit seven homers in 76 at-bats (nearly one-third of his 23 hits) for the Pioneer League Casper Ghosts. But he has much work to do at the plate, striking out 33 times with zero walks. He hasn't played yet in 2011, but should by the end of June when the Northwest League season starts for the Tri-City Dust Devils.