The MLB Draft is just one day away. This draft doesn’t garner nearly enough attention as does the drafts of both the NFL and NBA. It does, however, give teams a chance to peg their future on a stud coming out of college or high school. The Rockies have nailed many picks in their organization’s history. With Colorado selecting No. 8, there should be a surplus of talent to choose from.
This has me thinking, though. Who have been three of the best picks to ever play at Coors Field? Let’s take a gander at who I believe are the three best to ever be picked up by the Rockies in the draft (present team excluded).
Say all you want about his career 4.60 ERA, this guy could win games. The 1997 second-round pick of the Rockies notched 72 wins in his 10 seasons in Colorado. He did this all without averaging more than four strikeouts per nine innings. How is this possible? Cook had a sinker that was regarded as one of the best in the game during that stretch. He began his career with just a fastball and some off-speed selections, but added a dimension to that fastball by getting it to sink – and sink a lot. Cook induced 2,648 ground balls that led to outs with the Rockies.
Keeping the ball down is important for a pitcher, especially at Coors Field. Cook had a ground ball to fly ball ratio of 2.45 throughout his career. This shows that he kept the ball in the park, even if he wasn’t striking a lot of guys out.
Though Cook went on to become an All-Star and pitch in the World Series, what may have been his greatest feat was pitching two complete games on fewer than 80 pitches. In 2008, Cook hurled a complete-game shutout on just 79 pitches against the Padres (Side note: see where Troy Tulowitzki was batting?!). One year earlier, the right hander from Hamilton, Ohio threw a complete game against the Padres on only 74 pitches. Those two performances were the lowest pitch count total of a complete game since 1990.
A year after Cook was selected, the Rockies took a kid out of Stillwater, Okla. in the seventh round named Matt Holliday. Little did they know, Holliday would become an All-Star and Silver Slugger three times. The 2007 runner-up in NL MVP voting smacked 128 home runs and 483 RBI during his tenure with the Rockies.
Holliday enjoyed one of the best seasons in Rockies history in 2007. The outfielder led the league in hits (216), doubles (50), RBI (137) and batting average (.340). His 2007 season was best exemplified by this game-winning slide against the Padres to get to the playoffs. Holliday finished second in MVP voting, despite have better numbers than the eventual winner, Jimmy Rollins.
Holliday was traded after the 2008 season to the Oakland Athletics for Carlos Gonzalez, Houston Street and Greg Smith. He now mans the left-field corner for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Helton, the No. 8 overall selection in the 1995 draft, went on to have a pretty decent career, I guess. Helton finished his 17-year career as one of the greatest hitters to ever put on a Rockies uniform. He ranks first in Rockies history in hits (2,519), doubles (592), home runs (369) and RBI (1,406). The “Toddfather” also was no stranger to acceptance speeches as he accumulated five All-Star appearances, four Silver Sluggers and three Gold Gloves. Helton will be the first player to have his No. 17 retired on Aug. 17 to celebrate his illustrious 17-year career.
Added on to his success on the field, Helton has been named “Tennessean of the Year” and been inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. He still awaits the grandest of awards, though – Cooperstown. If it were up to only Rockies fans, he would have a bust and a section dedicated to just himself.
With the eighth selection in the 2014 MLB Draft, might we see somebody of this caliber join the organization? One can only hope.