Astros lean toward pitching in Draft
Scouting director put emphasis on best-available pitchers
As the Astros focused on getting a win in their first game home from a nine-game road trip, the Houston front office was focused on restocking a very thin farm system.
In the second day of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, the Astros finished up a productive Draft by picking a total of 52 players, 25 of whom could someday have an opportunity to be on the mound in Minute Maid Park.
"As the Draft unfolded, the bats really went off the boards," said director of amateur scouting Bobby Heck. "After that, we really just put values on what was the best thing on the board. You can never have enough left-handed pitching, so we tried to focus on those guys that we thought were potential starters. Then once we ran out of that pool, it was more guys that had value as relievers."
Seven of the pitchers drafted were college players who have a strong chance of signing, while a few more were junior college guys who could choose to sign with the Astros over transferring to a four-year institution.
Nine of the pitchers drafted were high school seniors. They can choose either to sign with the Astros and enter the Minor Leagues, or to attend the college to which they committed.
One notable high schooler chosen the first day is local product Ross Seaton, a senior at Second Baptist who was drafted with the 109th pick in the supplemental B round.
The 6-foot-4-inch, 190-pound right-hander throws a 94-mph fastball and an 85-mph slider, with room to improve on each, and he also has a changeup that has the potential to become threatening.
Although Seaton has committed to Tulane, he has made it clear that he wants to become an Astro as much as Houston wants him. Heck said he expects that desire will lead him to sign in the next few weeks.
"We've seen him a lot," Heck said. "There was a lot of common feeling about his ability, as well as him as a person, so there was a great comfort with him."
Heck said he expects most of the high schoolers selected in the first 15 rounds will sign soon enough, while those in the later rounds may need a chance to play another year of summer league ball.
He said it is better for unpolished players to gain confidence before they enter Class A Greenville in Tennessee or Tri-City in New York, and the best way to do that is to play with people they know.
Astros' top five selections
|10.||C||Jason Castro||Stanford U|
|38.||RHP||Jordan Lyles||Hartsville (S.C.)|
|56.||CF||Joseph Austin||North Atlanta HS (Ga.)|
|88.||OF||Charles Davidson||Milton HS (Ga.)|
|109.||RHP||Ross Seaton||Second Baptist School (Texas)|
|Complete Astros Draft results >|
The Astros' second pick, Jordan Lyles, agreed to terms with the Astros on Thursday night, and fifth-round pick David Duncan (No. 152 overall) signed with the team on Friday. They will both attend mini-camps prior to the start of the Minor League season, when Lyles will go to Greenville and Duncan will go to Tri-City.
Heck said team representatives will be attempting to sign more draftees through the weekend.
The Astros' main goal was to sign the best player possible with each of their picks, and Heck said that was done successfully until the best players at each position began to disappear.
"You can take that through the Draft only so far, and then eventually you have to notice runs that are happening. As you get deeper in the Draft, you start filling some needs, but yeah, we tried to stay as long with the best player available as long as we could."
Houston took Jason Castro, a catcher from Stanford University, with its first pick, No. 10 overall. Castro was the first pitcher taken by the Astros since Robbie Wine in 1983.
Krysten Oliphant is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.