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Helton has happy draft memories
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06/04/2002 6:10 pm ET 
Helton has happy draft memories
By Todd Helton, as told to Thomas Harding / MLB.com

Todd Helton thinks dropping to the Rockies in the draft was a blessing. (Ben Margot/AP)
The first time that Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton was drafted, by San Diego in the second round in 1992 out of Knoxville (Tenn.) Central High School, it merely disturbed his fun during a vacation with friends. But when the Rockies grabbed him in the first round in 1995, eighth overall, out of the University of Tennessee, it turned out to be the happier and longer-lasting memory.

The first time, I didn't know what the heck was going on, plus I was on my senior trip to Myrtle Beach (S.C.) and wasn't thinking about baseball.

My dad called me and told me what team had drafted me, what round and that's it. Then I went back to the beach.

All-Star ballot When I got drafted by the Padres, me and my buddies went to the mall and got Padres hats. That was in Myrtle Beach. I think that hat is at my mom's house somewhere, unless she threw it away when she moved.

The second time, when I was drafted by the Rockies, was more exciting because I knew that was the team I was going to. But I had zero idea who would actually pick me.

2002 First-Year Player Draft
JUNE 4-5 | NEW YORK CITY
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I thought I was going to be going to the Oakland A's. They told me, straight up, I was their man. If I was going to be there, they were going to pick me. But then they ended up taking Ariel Prieto, who defected from Cuba and came out for the draft.

So I dropped down. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I think at that time, being a college guy, I was like a lot of people -- totally wrong -- worrying about where you're drafted overall as far as first, second, third, fourth or fifth, instead of what the organization is like. It's not right. I was definitely a lot better off with the Rockies than with the A's with Mark McGwire and Jason Giambi playing first base.

The Rockies' general manager, Bob Gebhard, was the first guy I talked to. Ty Colishow was my area scout, but 'Geb' had seen me hit a lot at Tennessee. So the only person I talked to was Geb. He had a job to do, and that was to sign me, and he did it. I was the first college guy to sign. I didn't waste any time.

Thomas Harding covers the Rockies for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.





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