Monday, March 25, 2013

Colorado Rockies Pitching Through The Years

The past few years I have read about many baseball writers state that the Colorado Rockies have a problem drafting talented pitchers. I wanted to go back to 1993 and look at all the pitchers drafted by the Rockies to see for myself. Plus I want to see how many drafted Rockies pitchers who pitched in the majors and successfully. Many writers and fans tend to think that the Rockies need to buy pitching talent. The Rockies need to buy pitching talent is way too high, the Rockies first priority is they need to draft much better.  Being a small market team, the Rockies can't buy a championship like the Yankees can.  They need to take a book on other small market teams like Tampa Bay.  Here is the year by year break down of Rockies drafted pitchers, the round, the years pitched in the Majors, and their Major League pitching record.

Jamey Wright (1st Round) MLB 1994-present     90-124
Bryan Rekar (2nd Round) MLB 1995-02     25-49
John Thomson (7th Round) MLB 1997-07     63-85
Juan Acevedo (14th Round) MLB 1995-03     28-40
Mark Brownson (30th Round) MLB 1998-00     2-2

Luther Hackman (6th Round) MLB 1999-03     9-10
Mike Saipe (12th Round) MLB 1998        0-1

Scott Randall (11th Round) MLB 2003     2-5
David Lee (23rd Round) MLB 1999-04     5-2

Jake Westbrook (1st Round) MLB 2000-present      98-95 (All-Star) (Never pitched for Rockies)
Shawn Chacon (3rd Round) MLB 2001-08       45-61 (All-Star)
Tim Christman (11th Round) MLB 2001     0-0

Aaron Cook (2nd Round) MLB 2002-present          76-79 (All-Star) 
Justin Miller (5th Round) MLB 2002-10              24-14

Matt Roney (1st Round) MLB 2003-06               1-10
Jermaine Van Buren (2nd Round) MLB 2005-06       1-2 
Luke Hudson (4th Round) MLB 2003-07              17-18
Mark DiFelice (15th Round) MLB 2008-11          5-1

Jason Jennings (1st Round) MLB 2001-09           62-74 (Rookie of the Year)
Craig House (12th Round) MLB 2000            1-1
Justin Hampson (28th Round) MLB 2006-12          5-4
Manny Corpas (FA Draft) MLB 2006-present           12-18

**Dan O'Dowd Takes Over

Jason Young (2nd Round) MLB 2003-04               0-3
Cory Vance (4th Round) MLB 2002-03                1-3
Scott Dohmann (6th Round) MLB 2004-08           9-8
Sean Green (12th Round) MLB 2006-11             10-12
Justin Huisman (15th Round) MLB 2004                  0-0

Ubaldo Jimenez (FA Draft) MLB 2006-present              69-66 (All-Star) (No Hitter)
Ryan Speier (FA Draft) MLB 2005-09                         7-3

Jeff Francis (1st Round) MLB 2004-present              67-73
Micah Owings (2nd Round) MLB 2007-12               32-33  (never pitched for Rockies)
Mike Esposito (12th Round) MLB 2005                 0-2
Franklin Morales (FA Round) MLB 2007-present            11-16

Ryan Mattheus (19th Round) MLB 2011-present           7-5
Esmil Roger (FA Draft) MLB 2009-present               11-12

Steven Register (3rd Round) MLB 2008-09                0-0
Jim Miller (8th Round) MLB 2008-present                 2-3
David Patton (12th Round) MLB 2009             3-1
Josh Newman (19th Round) MLB 2007-08           0-0
Xavier Cedeno (31st Round) MLB 2011-present       0-1
Jhoulys Chacin (FA Draft) MLB 09-present               23-31
Matt Daley (FA Draft) MLB 2009-present               1-2


Greg Reynolds (1st Round) MLB 2008-11              5-8
Will Harris (9th Round) MLB 2012-present              1-1
Juan Nicasio (FA Draft) MLB 2011-present            6-7

Matt Reynolds (20th Round) MLB 2010-present            5-3

Christian Friedrich (1st Round) MLB 2012                 5-8

Rex Brothers (1st Round) MLB 2011-present             9-4
Rob Scahill (8th Round) MLB 2012-present                0-0


1993-1999 Pitching Record:  571-695
2000-2012 Pitching Record:  291-305


*Chris Sale, White Sox star pitcher, was drafted by the Rockies in 2007, but stayed in College.
*2010-2012 most draft picks are still working through the minors.


This list isn't exact, I tried the best I could to compile the names and records using  What surprised me was the Rockies had drafted pretty well in their first 10 years (pre humidor).  A few pitchers actually slipped through and pitched great for other teams.  One good pitcher that was traded before made the Rockies was Jake Westbrook.  Indeed there seems to be a trend downward of Rockies draft pick pitching prospects that has been successful in the majors.  The last pitcher drafted by the Rockies that has had any real success as a starter was drafted in 2004, Jhoulys Chacin with a record of 23-31.  The Rockies have been plagued in the past several years having hard throwing pitchers, with arm trouble or that have little control causing high walk totals.  It seems since about 2002 that the Rockies are basing pitchers on how hard they throw and not the quality of their pitches.  Several pitchers like Ubaldo Jimeniz, Esmil Rodgers, and Jhoulys Chacin have had a history of throwing near 100 MPH, but also pitching very erratically and over throwing, missing their targets.

Before 2002 the Rockies seem to favor the pitchers who weren't hard throwers but could work the zones and get people out.  In a 20 year period the Rockies have only produced 4 1st round pick pitchers with credible MLB success.  Since 2005 (7 year total) only SEVEN Colorado Rockies drafted pitchers have made the major leagues.  From 1993-2004 (11 year total) a total of 49 Colorado Rockies drafted pitchers made the major leagues.  In 2007-2009 the Rockies always stated they had a "home grown" championship team.  Yes, a good amount of the hitters/fielders were drafted by the Rockies, but in the NL Championship year in 2007, only 7 of the 29 (24%) pitchers who pitched that year were drafted by the Rockies.

Pitchers such as Jake Westbrook, Aaron Cook, Jeff Francis, and Jason Jennings never blew batters away, but they can eat innings while keeping the game in hand.  They all tend to have a bit of a higher ERA than star pitchers, but one thing is for sure, they can throw strikes.  One of the biggest things about throwing at Coors Field is to limit the free passes, don't try to over throw causing the ball to sail up in the zone creating a potential hard hit ball.  Looking at some of graphs from the past few years, the Rockies pitchers tend to pitch middle out to batters.  Hard throwers don't have the control or confidence to throw low and inside a 100 MPH fastball to keep a batter uncomfortable.

Is buying pitching really going to help?  Historically no, most pitchers that came to Colorado found out that they weren't successful here.  Mike Hampton got paid nearly $20 Million for 2 years and had an ERA near 6.00.  Lets face it Rockies fans, it is growing clear that the Rockies will always have a high team ERA no matter if they draft or buy pitching.  The bigger the pitching talent a team buys, the higher the talent traded out of Colorado and could even lessen the amount of early round draft picks.

A example of a bad free agent signing  was last year the Rockies paid $8.2 Million for Jeremy Guthrie (a career 47-65 pitcher with a mid 4 ERA).   Just three months into the season it appeared Guthrie was a flop.  In the years since Dan O'Dowd took over for the Rockies as GM late in 1999, only 22 Rockies drafted pitchers have made the majors, the lowest of all the 30 major league teams that I compiled. (adding only 2 Rockies pitching draft picks to the MLB per year on average)

The fewer quality Rockies draft pick pitchers causes the team to go after sub par pitching in the likes of Guthrie, Sanchez, and Moyer.  As a former pitcher in college, I understand that pitching can be a total crap shoot.  It only takes one bad pitch motion to blow out an arm and ruin a career, but several of these pitchers drafted in past almost ten years had problems just making it out of Single A Ashville.  If a healthy high draft pick pitcher can't make it out of Single A, there has to be some issues either in the scouting or development departments, or even both.  The Rockies need quality scouts who can really evaluate mechanics before the drafting pitchers.  Sometimes scouts can peg a pitcher as a great prospect on basis of their record and pitching speed alone.  I am encouraged that the Rockies notice they have a severe problem in development of pitching lately and hopefully it is a successful.   During Dan O'Dowd's time as GM the Rockies home grown pitching has had an MLB record of 291-305, which is 14 games under .500.   The Rockies are one again one of the lowest of the 30 teams with the lowest home grown pitching record since 2000. There is really only two pitchers who have had much longevity during O'Dowd's time and that is Francis and Ubaldo.

Last year's 75 pitch count was an historical and embarrassing front office flop, given the department shifting around this winter, I would expect this to be a make or break year to the front office.  Though Walt Weiss is on a one year contract, the team's pitching mess was given to him by a bad front office.

Jon Garland Signing

With it looking like there could be a few injuries and the lack of success from Chatman and Outman, the Rockies had to make a move.  The Rockies needed another bandage, and they needed it quick before opening day.  Jon Garland is a similar move to last years Guthrie signing.  Garland is a career 139-119 with a high 4.32 ERA.  One concern is he didn't pitch in 2012 due to shoulder injuries, but on a bright spot he can be an innings eater.  He pitched over 200 innings in 6 of his 12 years pitching.  He has averaged giving up 1 home run per 8 innings, and 1.1 hits per inning.  He does have a quality of not giving many free passes, he has just given up 700 walks in 2083 career innings.  I would expect if Garland can stay healthy would be an ERA from 4.50-5.00, which is actually in a step better than last years team ERA near 6.  Good luck Garland!
I know all of us Rockies bloggers have our pitching views, but the Rockies fortunes will not magically change until better pitching prospects are developed.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. I always admire a blog post with a ton of research to it.

    Also, loooove that Ubaldo from 2005 Studio. Golden Age.


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