DENVER -- Left-handed-hitting high school center fielder David Dahl had an impressive workout at Coors Field last week. But the Rockies' decision to take him 10th overall on Monday in the first round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft started coming together a long time ago and a long way from here.
Dahl, 18, out of Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham, Ala., was part of Team USA's Gold Medal-winning squad in the Pan American Games last summer in Colombia. Dahl drove in 11 runs in 15 games. It was part of an impressive summer in showcase events.
Rockies scouting vice president Bill Schmidt and team Latin American VP Rolando Fernandez watched the event and saw a player they hope is part of the Rockies' future outfield.
"I wanted to see that whole group of kids, how they handled being in a foreign country," Schmidt said on Monday night. "In all of the different showcases, for me, he always produced and always hit. We've also seen it over time.
"We followed him for the last couple of years, hard through the whole process. We liked his athletic ability. We like him as a person, first and foremost. He has some speed and power we feel hopefully is going to transfer up here."
The Rockies also selected Radford University right-hander Eddie Butler with the 46th overall pick, which was awarded as compensation for losing free-agent infielder Mark Ellis to the Dodgers over the winter. The Draft continues Tuesday and Wednesday.
In addition to the Rockies, Dahl visited the Mets, Cardinals and Nationals, and worked out for the Pirates. But when he worked out for the Rockies, he hit nine batting-practice home runs and ran a personal-best 6.4 seconds in the 60-yard dash, and wanted the Rockies as much as they wanted him.
"I honestly fell in love with it out there," Dahl told the Birmingham News. "Colorado is a great place to live and just seemed like a nice place to be. The big thing is that park and that field is with how the ball carries. It would just be an awesome park to play in."
Before last summer, Dahl had more time in showcase events as a right-handed pitcher than as an outfielder. But he began to turn scouts' eyes during the Perfect Game National Showcase in Fort Myers, Fla., and he hit .714 over five days of the USA Baseball Tournament of the Stars while battling through the early stages of mononucleosis, which eventually forced him off the field. After taking July off to recover, Dahl participated in the East Coast Pro Showcase in Lakeland, Fla., and the Perfect Game All-America Game in San Diego.
After the game in San Diego, Dahl had to make Team USA in a tryout.
This season with Oak Mountain, Dahl hit .435 with 11 doubles, three triples, three home runs and 18 stolen bases.
Power numbers are Dahl's weakness, but Schmidt said he sees Dahl's 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame filling out and becoming stronger. Schmidt said Dahl has tools that could make him an effective Rockies player.
"He has the ability to run the ball down," Schmidt said. "He has shown he can cover some ground in the outfield, and that's important in this ballpark. If he has to move to the corner before he gets here, he can still be an asset. He has good instincts.
"He has a solid-average arm. His arm can be developed. I've seen some above-average throws out of him. There are tools to this kid."
Dahl also has worked through some injuries. As a sophomore, he suffered a stress fracture in his lower back from working out too aggressively but worked himself back into condition. At the request of his family, he sat out a few days of the high school season with a strained hip flexor, but he regained health.
Dahl has signed a letter of intent with Auburn, but Schmidt said the Rockies will be talking with him soon about signing.
"I am just going to have to sit down and talk about it with my family soon," Dahl said. "Right now I am just trying to enjoy the moment tonight and have fun with my friends and family. We will just have to see about all of that later."
Choosing Dahl represents a slight departure from the Rockies' recent pattern. Dahl is the first high school position player the club has taken with its top pick since current Colorado third baseman Chris Nelson, who was a shortstop out of Redan (Ga.) High School when they took him in 2004. Of their previous six top picks, just one -- Kyle Parker (now at Class A Modesto) out of Clemson in 2010 -- was a non-pitcher.