Kyle Freeland was sitting down, but he still fell into his father's arms Thursday.
The Rockies selected the left-handed pitcher with the No. 8 pick in the Major League Baseball draft.
Freeland, a 21-year-old Denver native and graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School, crumpled into a hug from his father, Don, after hearing his name read on TV by MLB commissioner Bud Selig.
"Leading up to it, I didn't know how I was going to react," Freeland said. "But it was just a roller coaster of emotions when they called my name. I just had to grab my dad and give him a hug."
Freeland, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound strikeout specialist, went 10-2 with a 1.90 ERA at the University of Evansville as a junior this season. He had 128 strikeouts and only 13 walks.
He showed marked improvement in his junior year after playing in the Cape Cod League last summer. He was 18-15 with a 3.55 ERA overall at Evansville.
Freeland set a Colorado high school record with 145 strikeouts in the 2011 season.
"He always had great body control, and he was lean, with impeccable mechanics with smooth action," said Tory Humphrey, one of Freeland's coaches at Thomas Jefferson. "And a competitor."
Freeland said he throws a four-pitch mix — with a four-seam fastball as his primary pitch and a slider as his out pitch. And in Freeland, the Rockies picked a pitcher familiar with pitching at altitude.
"I grew up throwing in it — had success doing it, especially in high school. I'm not afraid of it. I'm looking to take it head on," Freeland said.
Rockies director of scouting Bill Schmidt said Freeland is above average on two pitches with put-down power.
"Kyle is a two plus-pitch left-hander who's a strike thrower," Schmidt said. "He's a Colorado kid, and we're excited to bring him into the organization."
The Rockies drafted 18-year-old second baseman Forrest Wall out of Orangewood Christian high school in Florida with the 35th pick. Wall committed to play at North Carolina before the draft. He is the highest-drafted high school second baseman in the draft's modern history. Originally a shortstop, he underwent labrum surgery in his left shoulder in 2011 and returned as a second baseman.
With the 48th pick in the draft, the Rockies selected right-handed pitcher Ryan Castellani, 18, of Brophy Prep in Arizona. He committed to play for Arizona State.
In a pitcher-heavy draft, the Chicago Cubs made a surprise pick at No. 4, taking power-hitting catcher/outfielder Kyle Schwarber. The Minnestoa Twins followed with shortstop Nick Gordon and the Seattle Mariners at No. 6 took outfielder Alex Jackson. That left an extra pitcher available for the Rockies at No. 8.
The Philadlephia Phillies at No. 7 drafted LSU right-hander Aaron Nola, the SEC pitcher of the year. That made Freeland available for a homecoming with the Rockies at No. 8.
The Houston Astros took left-handed pitcher Brady Aiken of Cathedral Catholic (Calif.) High School with the first selection in the draft.
Freeland is the fourth pitcher in the past six years drafted by the Rockies with their top pick. He joins right-hander Jon Gray (2013), left-hander Tyler Anderson (2011) and left-hander Tyler Matzek (2009).
The Rockies selected two pitchers with their three picks Thursday, the first day of the Major League Baseball draft:
No. 8 pick (first round)
Kyle Freeland, left-handed pitcher
University of Evansville
21 years old, 6-foot-4, 190 pounds
A former standout at Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver, Freeland went 10-2 with a 1.90 ERA in his junior year at Evansville. ... Had 128 strikeouts and issued only 13 walks this season. ... Four-pitch repertoire (four-seam fastball, slider, curveball and changeup).
No. 35 pick (competitive balance round)
Forrest Wall, second baseman
Orangewood Christian (Fla.) HS
No. 48 pick (second round)
Ryan Castellani, right-handed pitcher
Brophy Jesuit Prep (Ariz.)