The Rockies may have grabbed their future catcher with their sixth-round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, taking catcher Dom Nunez with the 169th overall pick.
Nunez made it to the pinnacle of high school baseball as a shortstop, and now he's trying to make it in professional ball as a backstop.
An extremely versatile player, Rockies senior director of scouting operations Marc Gustafson said the organization will first give him a shot in the infield.
"We're going to start him out in the infield," Gustafson said. "We took a premium athletic, handsy type player that has a good bat, meaning that there's some versatility. We're providing a young man to the development department that can play in the middle of the infield, corner, third base position.
"At some point in time, we'll probably take a look at the catching position. But what an awesome prospect."
The left-handed hitter out of Elk Grove High School (Calif.) played in the infield for the national team in both 2011 and '12, helping lead Team USA's 18-and-under squads to gold medals each time, before moving behind the plate this spring. The switch has turned out to be a good one for the 6-foot, 170-pounder, who was one of the more intriguing catchers in the Draft.
Nunez uses his feel for the game to play above his talent and has a good approach as a hitter, batting .424 and driving in 37 runs for Elk Grove this season. He has gap power -- three homers, seven doubles and three triples -- but doesn't profile as a power hitter.
He signed a letter of intent with UCLA, and if he decides to stick to that commitment, he will likely turn down something close to the $265,00 slotted signing bonus for his Draft position.
Rockies take lefty Moll with third-round pick
The Rockies began Day 2 of their 2013 First-Year Player Draft by selecting lefty Sam Moll with the 77th overall pick.
At 5-foot-11, 187 pounds, Moll may not be the biggest guy in the world, but the Memphis southpaw makes up for it with arm strength. Moll, Memphis' Saturday starter, can touch the mid-90s at times with his fastball.
While Moll made 15 starts with the Tigers this year, some scouts say his arsenal is best-suited for a bullpen spot as a short-term reliever.
"We're going to provide the best tools available, meaning in this case, Sam Moll is a left-hander that has started, and time could dictate that we might make a move to the bullpen," Rockies senior director of scouting operations Marc Gustafson said. "But we're not going to talk about that yet with this young man."
Moll's curveball is a potential out pitch with a hard, sharp break to it, and his changeup has the chance to be an average offering, though he has to become more consistent with his arm speed.
In 48 2/3 innings, the junior limited opponents to a .202 batting average and struck out 67 batters. Moll went 5-2 with a 2.77 ERA for the Tigers. He earned 2013 preseason All-Conference USA honors, voted on by the league's nine head coaches.
He was the third-highest draft pick in program history and the third Tigers player drafted by the Rockies. Strong and athletic, he has a bulldog mentality and goes right after hitters.
"He's an up-tempo, high energy, competitive kid that throws strikes, and it is always important with these young pitchers that they get their development process in between starts," Gustafson said.
After Moll, Colorado drafted right fielder Jordan Patterson, a dangerous swinger out of South Alabama. In the fifth, the Rockies grabbed right-hander Blake Shouse out of Middle Georgia College and then third baseman Dom Nunez from California's Elk Grove High School in the sixth.
The seventh round brought a proven college right-handed starter in Arizona's Konner Wade. In the eighth round, the Rockies drafted center fielder Terry McClure -- a raw but athletic prospect -- from Riverwood International Charter School in Georgia.
The Rockies' spent their ninth round selection on defensively-gifted UCLA shortstop Patrick Valaika. Their final pick in the 10th round reeled in right fielder Michael Tauchman from Bradley, the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year.
The Rockies' Minor League system is loaded with offensive talent, and a lefty like Moll will certainly help the Rockies bolster their depth on the mound. By grabbing hard-throwing righty Jonathan Gray with the third overall pick and taking four other pitchers in the first 10 rounds, Colorado demonstrated its primary objective was to find reliable arms that can handle hitter-friendly Coors Field.
Patterson and McClure -- the two primary outfield prospects -- could eventually fill the holes around the Rockies' two offensive centerpieces, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. However, top outfield prospects like Kyle Parker and David Dahl have a head start in the path to the big leagues.
Nunez and Valaika could both turn into defensive studs, helping to round out a Rockies lineup with plenty of powerful bats.
Rockies take versatile slugger Patterson in Round 4
With the 109th overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, the Rockies selected right fielder Jordan Patterson out of the University of South Alabama.
A Mobile native, Patterson had his choice of colleges out of high school, but he decided to stay put and go to South Alabama. He became a legitimate college hitter who can play multiple positions with the Jaguars.
He took home the Sun Conference Player of the Year award after hitting .352 and collecting 82 hits, four of them homers. Patterson also had 49 RBIs and scored 69 runs.
Patterson mostly played first base in college, but he has the athleticism and speed to play in the outfield. At 6-foot-5, he has the body type and strength to be a productive hitter in the heart of the order.
"He's a hitter. We like him at a corner position in the outfield," Rockies senior director of scouting operations Marc Gustafson said. "He's a run producer, gap-to-gap line drive hitter and somebody that we project, all going well, in the middle of the lineup somewhere."
He should be able to hit for average and power from the left side and a capable defender in the infield or the outfield. He finished his junior campaign with a .992 fielding percentage. South Alabama's captain also gets very high marks for his leadership ability.
Patterson even pitched 14.2 innings this year and carried a 1.84 ERA, the lowest on the team, a tribute to his athleticism.
The corner outfielder also showed impressive patience in 2013, walking 41 times in contrast to just 34 strikeouts.
Rockies tab two-way standout Shouse in Round 5
With their fifth-round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, the Rockies selected right-handed pitcher Blake Shouse out of Middle Georgia College.
Shouse was a two-way player at Middle Georgia, typically beginning games at third base or shortstop before coming in to close. He allowed just three earned runs in 25 relief appearances in 2013 -- good for a team-low 1.07 ERA -- picking up 12 saves and recording 35 strikeouts in the process.
Playing on both sides of the ball had another benefit: It reduced wear and tear on his arm. As a sophomore, he tossed only 25.1 innings.
Shouse is still learning as a pitcher, but the 6-foot-2 right-hander has the tools to be an impact reliever down the road. A promising athlete, he could be Colorado's future closer or a shutdown arm out of the bullpen.
"He's got a fresh arm. He's got a high-velocity type arm, very quick arm action," said Marc Gustafson, the Rockies' senior director of scouting and operations.
"This is a young man [where] patience will be part of the routine for him, and the key part for Shouse will be ultimately getting his feet wet in the regular pitching routine."
The Rockies like him as a right-handed pitcher, but if he upholds his commitment to the University of Georgia, he would likely continue as a two-way player. Gustafson said the organization is confident that Shouse will choose the pros over the traditional college route.
"There's a lot of time and energy spent with the signability piece," Gustafson said. "We're confident and comfortable that all of the guys that you and I have been talking about, they're going to be in a Rocky uniform."
Shouse's fastball sits around 90 mph with hard-sinking action, and he regularly dials it up to 94 mph. He also throws a solid changeup and a curveball that has the potential to be a plus pitch.
Rockies take Arizona righty Wade in Round 7
With their seventh-round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, the Rockies selected right-handed pitcher Konner Wade.
Even though he had a down season in 2013, Wade still has the potential to be a standout big league starter, thanks to his arsenal of pitches and solid frame. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound junior was named a 2013 Louisville Slugger preseason second-team All-American.
Wade drew national attention when he pitched two complete games as a sophomore in the 2012 College World Series, which Arizona won. His performance earned him a spot on the College World Series All-Tournament team.
Wade has more than proved he can go the distance, but the 104.2 innings he pitched as a junior, after tossing 136.1 in 2012, likely took a serious toll on his arm and might explain the drop-off.
"He's been in the spotlight. He's a kid that might need a little rest," said Marc Gustafson, the Rockies' senior director of scouting operations. "He's got a lot of innings pitched throughout his career, and that's because he was so good during his collegiate career.
As the No. 2 starter in 2012, he had an 11-3 record and carried a 3.96 ERA, numbers that fell to 5-6 and 4.30 this year.
"With all of these guys, we take a very close look at workload, pitches thrown, things of that nature," Gustafson said. "So you have to remember this kid has done it. He's been there and done it." Wade was selected in the 35th round of the 2010 Draft by the D-backs, but elected to play college ball at Arizona.
The right-hander's fastball sits in the high 80s, but has heavy sink to it, inducing ground balls. His changeup is his best secondary pitch, as it is very deceptive and has late sink. His slider is inconsistent at this point, but could be more reliable in the future.
If Wade can channel his 2012 College World Series form, he could be one of the biggest steals of the Draft.
Rockies project with Round 8 pick McClure
The Rockies went for a high school bat in Round 8 of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, taking Georgia prep star Terry McClure with the 229th overall pick of the Draft.
Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier -- a pair of top 10 picks -- got most of the press among Georgia high school outfielders in this Draft class, but that was no reason to forget about McClure, a toolsy prospect in his own right.
"High in talent in terms of impact, meaning the athleticism is going to take these guys to places that I think we're going to be very proud of," said Rockies senior director of scouting operations Marc Gustafson.
Strong and athletic, McClure certainly looks the part, and he can play. The right-handed batter, selected out of Riverwood International Charter School in Sandy Springs, Ga., has good bat speed, and he should have at least average power in the future.
As a senior, McClure hit .386, finishing with 34 hits and eight homers on his way to being named a 2013 Rawlings All-American. Even with Meadows and Frazier in his class, McClure was ranked the fourth-best high school player in Georgia.
McClure has good speed on both sides of the ball, running well out of the box and moving extremely well in the outfield. That speed is why most scouts see him as a center fielder at the professional level.
He can be overly aggressive at the plate, but that's not at all unusual for a young hitter.
"There's a common theme here," Gustafson said. "With the position players that we took, we're looking for those guys that are athletes. We're looking for versatility, we're looking for high upside."
It might take the Georgia Tech commit a few years to put it all together, but he has the potential to be an everyday outfielder down the line.
UCLA shortstop Valaika taken by Rox in Round 9
The Rockies tapped into a family with deep bloodlines in baseball when they grabbed UCLA shortstop Patrick Valaika in the ninth round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
As the Bruins' cleanup hitter, Valaika has 58 hits and leads the team with five homers and 42 RBIs in his junior campaign. But his greatest value might come on the opposite end, as Valaika's .979 fielding percentage in 59 starts earned him the 2013 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award.
Rockies senior director of scouting operations Marc Gustafson noted his defensive prowess is of particular value at a venue that favors hitters like Coors Field.
"When we stress ground balls from a pitching staff and the pitcher-catcher relationship, to call pitches that we would hope induce ground balls or double plays and things of that nature, you got to have somebody that can catch it, and you got to have somebody that can throw it across the diamond, Gustafson said. "And do it consistently."
Valaika, 20, may slide over to second base at the pro level due to lack of arm strength.
At 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, he will likely never be a true power hitter, but he has the potential to spray the ball around the field and hit for average. He shows a maturity beyond his years at the plate with a team-high 32 walks this season.
With a year of college eligibility left, there's a chance Valaika will head back to Westwood for his senior campaign.
"He can handle the bat if called upon to sacrifice bunt, to move the runners, to bring the runner in from third with less than two outs," Gustafson said. "That's our focus, and that will be the focus going forward, is somebody that can be aware."
His UCLA team is one of 16 clubs in the NCAA Super Regionals after taking down San Diego -- home to highly-regarded slugger and second overall pick Kris Bryant. UCLA started a best-of-three series with Cal State Fullerton on Friday.
Patrick's oldest brother, Chris, is an infielder for the Miami Marlins and another brother, Matt, played a year of Minor League ball in the Cardinals' organization.
Rox tab outfielder Tauchman with Round 10 pick
With their final Day 2 pick of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, the Rockies found a proven offensive talent in the 10th round by selecting outfielder Michael Tauchman from Bradley.
Through four years with the Braves, Tauchman set a school record by reaching base 367 times and finished with 239 hits, third most in program history. Forty-two of those hits were doubles and 10 were triples. A second-team Louisville Slugger All-American as a senior, he also hit a career-high .425 this year.
Those numbers were enough for the outfielder to be named Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year.
"I think you have to go to the track record," said Marc Gustafson, the Rockies' senior director of scouting operations. "I think he was the leading hitter in the nation. ... This guy can swing the bat. He can produce.
"With any player at this point in time, from round 10 through the end of the draft, there's potential big leaguers."
Never one to hit tape-measure blasts into the bleachers -- he hit only eight home runs in his career -- Tauchman's speed could make center field his home in the pros. He was successful on 28 of his 30 steal attempts this year.
Tauchman will likely need a few years before he's ready for the big leagues, but his combination of speed and hitting will give him a chance to develop into a valuable role player. As a four-year starter, he has the experience and intangibles to climb through the Minor League system.
"We look at statistics, we analyze video and we take a very close look at the makeup and character of these guys," Gustafson said. "And Michael Tauchman fits all of those criteria>"
Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.