Restocking the system is the goal
Astros could lean toward high school pitchers in Draft
The Astros are coming off their best First-Year Player Draft in at least four years with first-round pick Jason Castro, a catcher, and a handful of young arms enjoying promising starts to their professional careers.
The Astros will draft 21st overall in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft but won't pick again until No. 69 overall (second round) because they have no supplemental picks. The lack of early selections helps underscore the importance of this Draft for the Astros.
MLB.com will offer live coverage and analysis of the entire First-Year Player Draft on June 9-11. MLB Network will broadcast the first round at 5 p.m. CT on June 9 from its Studio 42 in Secaucus, N.J., and those 32 selections also will be simulcast live on MLB.com.
Beginning with the 33rd pick, up-to-the-minute on-air coverage from the remaining rounds will shift exclusively to MLB.com, where host Vinny Micucci will be joined by MLB.com Draft expert Jonathan Mayo and Major League Scouting Bureau director Frank Marcos.
Once the first night is done, the Draft will continue with rounds 4-30, via conference call from MLB headquarters in New York, at 11 a.m. on June 10. Rounds 31-50 will be on June 11, starting at 10:30 a.m.
Here's a glance at what the Astros have in store as the First-Year Player Draft approaches:
In about 50 words
The Astros won't have as many early picks as they did in 2008, but general manager Ed Wade and scouting director Bobby Heck still plan to find impact players in a continuing effort to restock Houston' s evolving Minor League system. The Astros own three of the first 100 selections.
"After last year's Draft we feel good about the quality of depth we have, but there are a lot of areas that need to be addressed and upgraded. Along those lines, my approach is the same as last year. We need to add depth. We're not in position to address needs yet. We need to stack up another class like we did last year. We'd maybe be reluctant to pick a catcher high in the Draft because of what we added last year. We see Jason Castro as a fast-track guy. From that standpoint, we might not invest in a catcher. But we need to keep adding a lot of talent everywhere. "
The Astros don't pick until 20 others have selected in the first round, so a lot could change. Expect Houston to continue to try to rebuild its Minor League system by taking the best athlete available, but don't be surprised if it goes after pitching. There could be a pair of intriguing left-handers available in Kentucky's James Paxton and Lipscomb's Rex Brothers, but if athletic high school center fielder Everett Williams of Austin, Texas, is available the Astros might not be able to pass him up.
About the only area the Astros can be considered rich in is catching, as Castro is the future. Houston needs help just about everywhere else, especially corner-outfielder power bats, middle infielders and starting pitching.
The Astros took a balance of high school and college players last year, but have been more inclined to take high school pitchers in recent years. That's not to say the Astros won't take a blue-chip college player if one falls in their lap, but they would like to get as many young arms in their system as they can.
Recent top picks
2008: Castro, taken No. 10 overall, went to Major League Spring Training and was impressive. He was hitting .294 with six homers and 38 RBIs through 50 games at high Class A Lancaster.
2007: The Astros didn't sign their top pick.
2006: First-round pick Max Sapp, a catcher from Orlando, Fla., was expected to miss the entire 2009 season after a near fatal bout with meningitis during the offseason. He hit just .200 last year in 74 at-bats at low Class A Lexington.
Since being drafted in the fifth round in 2007, left-handed-hitting outfielder Collin DeLome has progressed one level each year and was hitting .262 with 10 homers and 25 RBIs through 41 games at Double-A Corpus Christi.
Right-hander Daniel Meszaros, a 2008 48th-round pick from the College of Charleston, has been a quick riser. He had a 1.19 ERA in his first 20 outings of 2009 (14 at low Class A Lexington and six at games at Double-A Corpus Christi).
In The Show
The Astros haven't had any players from their previous three Drafts reach the Majors.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.