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First day a mixed bag for Rockies06/07/2004 9:12 PM ET
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
DENVER -- It came off as the manifestation of a draft philosophy. Looking to become more athletic, the Colorado Rockies snapped up prep middle infielder Chris Nelson from Redan High School in Stone Mountain, Ga., with their first choice and tabbed position players for four of their next five picks.
Truth be told, luck played a huge role in the Rockies being able to execute the plan.
The Rockies had brought in Nelson, 18, for a workout Friday, but had given up hope by Monday. Every indication was the Baltimore Orioles, picking just ahead of Colorado, would draft Nelson. In fact, it came from the Birds' mouths.
"This morning, we thought he wasn't going to get to us. They told us an hour before the draft they were taking Nelson," Rockies scouting director Bill Schmidt said. "When they called out the ID number, I went, 'Whoa.' Their Georgia scout called out the pick, and it was a different ID number."
Baltimore drafted Rice pitcher Wade Townsend, who was projected by Baseball America to wind up with Colorado.
Having built up pitching in previous drafts, the Rockies have added a few power hitters and were looking to increase overall athletic ability.
"Nelson's got the potential to hit," Schmidt said. "He's an above-average to solid above-average runner, and the athleticism was something we needed. In my opinion, he was the best high school hitter in the draft."
The Rockies expect to quickly sign Nelson, who has signed a scholarship with Georgia but made no secret of his desire to turn pro, and send him to Rookie-level Casper.
Nelson liked the way the draft went.
"I love the Rockies, there's nothing wrong with the Rockies and nothing wrong with the Orioles," he said. "I just want to play ball anyway."
After Nelson, Colorado's top picks were:
"We tried to go after the best player, and it kind of unfolded for us that we ended up with the best athletes," Schmidt said. "I had a gut feel with Seth Smith and Macri -- they're both athletes and we'll see how that plays out. Register is an athletic pitcher. It kind of just worked out that way."
Colorado picked in 18 rounds Monday, and did get around to pitchers. Starting with Oregon State left-hander Jake Postlewait in the seventh round, Colorado grabbed pitchers with seven out of 11 picks.
The draft continues through the 50th and final round Tuesday.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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