Ryan Vilade, Tommy Doyle and 32 other draft picks sign pro deals with the Rockies. Then they hit the road.

Michel CooperLast Update : Thursday 22 June 2017 - 1:47 AM
Ryan Vilade, Tommy Doyle and 32 other draft picks sign pro deals with the Rockies. Then they hit the road.

Ryan Vilade, the son of a coach, grew up around professional baseball, so he has seen more pine tar in his 18 years than a forest. So he knows all about the new life he is about to live. It starts with a search for food.

“Long bus rides, late nights, early mornings,” Vilade, the slugging shortstop the Rockies drafted with their top pick last week in the MLB draft. “You have to live for it. That’s the fun part, finding ways to get better every day and finding ways to live. Mom’s not gonna make you dinner every night. So you have to find dinner.”

The Rockies on Wednesday whisked their top draft picks through Coors Field after officially signing 34 of them to professional contracts. Vilade, Colorado’s highest selection, at No. 48 in the second round, agreed to a $1,425,400 signing bonus, according to Jim Callis of MLB.com, the determined slot-value for his pick.

The shortstop from Stillwater High in Oklahoma, the same school from which the Rockies drafted Matt Holliday in 1998, arrived in Denver on Monday, underwent a physical Tuesday, signed Wednesday and on Thursday morning will drive to the Western Slope to start his career in rookie ball with the Grand Junction Rockies.

“I’m excited to put on a uniform and start playing,” he said. His dad, James, is an assistant coach at Oklahoma State and coached in the Texas Rangers system.

The Rockies, though, made Ryan wait. Vilade hopped onto national draft prospect lists last summer when he outslugged other high-profile names in a home run derby at Wrigley Field in Chicago, nailing multiple shots out of the ballpark and onto Waveland Avenue. On Wednesday, now officially a member of the Rockies, Vilade did not get to take batting practice at Coors Field.

“I really wanted to. But I’d rather watch all these guys hit balls out of the yard,” Vilade said, with Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado behind him in Colorado’s dugout filming a television interview.

“I’m in a great spot, especially with the Rockies,” Vilade said. “With Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado, they are power-hitting infielders. That’s what I bring to the table. They’re an organization that can develop me to be one of them.”

Colorado’s newest group of prospects huddled together to meet Rockies manager Bud Black when he walked off the field before batting practice. He greeted each one with a hand shake.

“Are you the big righty from Virginia?” Black said to Tommy Doyle, the 6-foot-6, 235-pound pitcher the Rockies drafted out of the University of Virginia with the 70th pick.

“Yes sir,” he said. Doyle could be on the quickest track to the majors. The 21-year-old threw 33 2/3 innings in relief for Virginia this season, with a 1.87 ERA.

“I met these guys. (Rockies scouting director) Bill Schmidt introduced me to them. They look like nice young men,” Black said. “I’m gonna follow these guys. I’m gonna follow Ryan Vilade. I’m gonna follow (fifth-round pick from Texas) Nick Kennedy. Who’s the big pitcher from Virginia? Tommy Doyle? I’m gonna follow Tommy. Big arm.”Virginia closing pitcher Tommy Doyle delivers ...

Paul Moseley, Star-Telegram via AP

Virginia closing pitcher Tommy Doyle delivers in the ninth inning of an NCAA college baseball tournament regional game against Dallas BaptistSaturday, June 3, 2017, in Fort Worth, Texas. Source: denverpost

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Michel Cooper