file photo / Pioneer Press
file photo / BoCoPreps.com
Lucas Gilbreath was elated to have been chosen in the 2014 Major League Baseball amateur draft shortly after graduating from Legacy High School, but at that moment the thoughts of signing with the hometown Colorado Rockies were minimal at most.
On Tuesday, however, with the 206th pick in this year’s version of the draft the Rockies showed they had only gained more interest in the left-handed pitcher from Broomfield, deciding to call on him once again as a potential prospect in their system after he finished his junior season at the University of Minnesota.
The recent season saw him convert from a reliever to a starter for the Golden Gophers and earn First Team all-Big Ten honors as well as being a semifinalist for the College Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher of the year.
“I’m definitely excited and I really just consider it a blessing to have this opportunity, and I’m just hopeful for the future and that I can continue to develop,” said Gilbreath, who was drafted in the 39th round by Colorado the first time around. “I think it was a good year for our team and for me individually, and I was able to learn a lot of things and develop a lot going from a reliever to a starter. There’s still some room to improve everywhere in my game, but this year I found some things that can help me out at the next level.
“You never know how serious any of the contact is with teams, but I always had a special place in my heart for the Rockies and I expressed that to them. I think we were on the same page.”
Gilbreath led Class 5A baseball in strikeouts both his junior and senior years while with the Lightning, and after a bit of a rough transition to the college game has put together two consecutive outstanding seasons.
As a sophomore, he went 3-2 with one save while totalling a minuscule 1.36 earned-run average in 33 innings. This year, he led the team with 81.1 innings and struck out 92 batters on his way to a 5-2 record. His ERA was 2.66, which also led his team.
While education continues to be of high importance, Gilbreath seemed well prepared for the opportunity to compete in the Rockies’ system. Having played in the Northwoods and Cape Cod summer leagues each of the past two years, Gilbreath decided to let the draft play out before making any decisions about putting more mileage on the arm.
After Tuesday, he said he anticipates heading to Grand Junction to join the Rookie League Rockies.
“I don’t know anything officially yet, but I’m guessing they’ll send me to Grand Junction or somewhere like that,” Gilbreath said. “You never know about the draft and I was thinking about going somewhere later in the summer like the Cape Cod league again, but this worked out for me and it will take up quite a bit of my summer now.
“It’s nice to see (Colorado) developing from within and let them work their way up through the system to make an impact on the team.”
Gilbreath was the second Colorado player taken in the 2017 draft, with still more picks to be made Wednesday. Regis Jesuit grad and current Oregon pitcher David Peterson was picked in the first round, 20th overall.