Astros load up on pitchers on Draft's second day
Second-rounder is OU recruit; third-rounder has MLB bloodlines
HOUSTON -- The Astros took full advantage of a Draft touted for its pitching depth on Day 2, selecting hurlers with their first four picks and 14 of their 29 picks on Tuesday.
"The power arms, a lot of them went off yesterday between 11 and 69," said assistant general manager and director of scouting Bobby Heck. "But, luckily for us, there were some left over, and we think we got a couple of those in the first few picks."
Headlining the group of pitchers was second-round pick Adrian Houser, a right-hander from Locust Grove High School in Oklahoma, who will have to decide between signing with the Astros or playing for the University of Oklahoma.
"I've always been an OU fan and always wanted to play for OU," Houser said. "But, then again, baseball is my life, and I want to go play pro ball, and I want to get in the Minor League system so I can learn everything as fast as I can, so I can work my way up to the Majors as fast as I can. It's just going to be a process that's going to take some time, probably. I've got a lot of thinking to do."
Houser's father, Mike, who coached his son as a preteen and later in high school, said his son will be happy with either decision but thinks he is leaning a certain direction.
"I think if things work out the way we think they're going to, I think he'll probably be an Astro," Mike Houser said. "But I don't know that for sure."
Adrian Houser, who helped guide his high school team to the first 4A State Championship in school history, is in a family surrounded by baseball. His brother played college baseball. His uncle, James Knott, was drafted by the Mets in 1992 as a pitcher, and he is also distantly related to catcher Robert Davis, who played eight seasons in the Major Leagues.
Houser said he got the impression from a few teams he could have been selected late in the first round, but the disappointment didn't last long as he was selected early in the second round with the 69th pick.
"Back when I was 5, I said I wanted to go pro in baseball, and everybody looked at me like I was stupid," Houser said. "I just stuck with it, and here I am."
The pick continued two trends for the Astros under Heck. It marked the third straight year the Astros selected a high school pitcher in the second round after taking Tanner Bushue in 2009 and Vincent Velasquez in 2010.
The selection also sustained a trend of valuing athleticism. First-round pick George Springer, an outfielder from the University of Connecticut, stole 31 bases this season. Houser played football and basketball before choosing baseball.
"We have gotten more athletic, both in our position players, as well as the pitchers," Heck said Friday regarding past drafts. "With Jordan [Lyles], a lot of the reason for his success is because of his multi-sport athleticism."
Houser was one of just seven of the Astros' first 30 picks that wasn't from college or junior college. General manager Ed Wade said that trend was not by design.
"At the end of the day, if the ratios are skewed one way or the other, it's just a product of the talent that's in the Draft," Wade said.
Houston selected 6-foot-7, 230-pound Vanderbilt right-hander Jack Armstrong with its third selection. His father, who carries the same name, pitched seven seasons in the Major Leagues.
The Astros used their fourth-round pick on southpaw Christopher Lee from Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Fla., and their fifth-round pick on right-hander Nick Tropeano from Stony Brook University in New York.
Wade said he thinks the club will be well positioned when it comes to signing players.
"There are some guys that, because of the fact that they don't sign early enough, they run out of time, they run out of season, and their first professional experience is in the instructional league, and that can cost them as much as a year of big league time," Wade said. "Any time they can have a wood bat in their hands and play in a professional environment, it's probably going to accelerate their path to the big leagues."
The Astros selected just three players from the Lone Star State, none of whom played college ball in Texas. Wade said the club still expected to find value during Day 3 of the Draft, which begins with the 31st round.
"We're still going the way they're ranked on the board," Wade said. As we've proven with guys like Danny Meszaros, who's pitching in Triple-A right now, there are opportunities to get good prospects even in the 40s in this Draft."
Live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft resumes at 11 a.m. CT Wednesday on MLB.com, where fans will receive exclusive coverage of Day 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Here is a rundown of the Astros' Day 2 picks:
Round 2, Adrian Houser, RHP, Locust Grove High School (Okla.)
The 6-foot-3 right-hander is the third straight high school pitcher taken in second round by the Astros. An 18-year-old senior, he was 10-1 with a 0.62 ERA in 2011.
Round 3, Jack Armstrong, RHP, Vanderbilt University
His father pitched in the Major Leagues for seven seasons. Armstrong had control issues and injuries that he overcame but now features a fastball in the upper 90s.
Round 4, Christopher Lee, LHP, Santa Fe CC (Fla.)
Another pitcher standing over six feet tall at 6-foot-2, he was 3-3 with a 2.85 ERA in six starts this season.
Round 5, Nick Tropeano, RHP, Stony Brook University (N.Y.)
Tropeano was 12-1 with a 1.84 ERA in 2011, tossing four complete games. He was named the America East Co-Pitcher of the Year in 2010.
Round 6, Brandon Meredith, LF, San Diego State University
The 6-foot-2, 225-pound outfielder was the first high school player to hit a home run at PETCO Park. He was named a preseason second-team All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association of America and hit .272 with five home runs this season.
Round 7, Javaris Reynolds, CF, King High School (Fla.)
The high schooler missed his graduation to participate in a pre-Draft workout with the Astros. It paid off for the 6-foot-2 outfielder from Tampa, who was scouted by Larry Pardo.
Round 8, Brandon Culbreth, RHP, Forsyth Country Day School (N.C.)
He continued a trend of tall and large pitchers on Day 2, standing 6-foot-3, 200 pounds. He was on the 2010 All-Region Second Team.
Round 9, Jonas Dufek, RHP, Creighton University
The 6-foot-5 Dufek recorded 128 strikeouts in 112.2 innings in 2011, walking just 29 batters. He was 12-1 and threw 16 complete games.
Round 10, Kyle Hallock, LHP, Kent State University
He led the Golden Flashes with a 1.95 ERA in 16 starts. It marked the second straight season he tallied at least 15 starts.
Round 11, Justin Gominsky, CF, University of Minnesota
Gominsky fought past a knee injury that limited him in 2010 to hit .307 in 2011. He is a former two-sport athlete, having played football and baseball in college.
Round 12, Miles Hamblin, C, University of Mississippi
The Rowlett, Texas, native appeared in 46 of 52 games in 2011 for the Rebels yet committed just three errors. The versatile catcher also played first base and designated hitter and was a relief pitcher in 2010.
Round 13, John Hinson, 2B, Clemson University
The redshirt junior hit .331 and swiped 23 bags in 2011 while also showing power, blasting nine home runs. He hit .351 with 17 home runs the previous season.
Round 14, Horace Stubblefield, RHP, Lufkin High School (Texas)
The only Texas player high school player drafted by Astros during the first 30 rounds, Stubblefield was 6-0 in district play with one save. He had a 1.07 ERA in 2011.
Round 15, Zachary Johnson, 1B, Oklahoma State University
Johnson led the Cowboys with a .356 batting average. The junior college transfer also led the team with 13 home runs and 63 RBIs en route to being named the 2011 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.
Round 16, Scott Zuloaga, LHP, Scottsdale CC (Ariz.)
The Thousand Oaks, Calif., native tossed 1.08 strikeouts per inning and recorded a 1.82 ERA in 2011.
Round 17, Tyson Perez, RHP, Fresno CC (Calif.)
Perez made the First-team Central Valley All-Conference team this season, posting a 3.49 ERA in 69 2/3 innings.
Round 18, Kevin Miller, RHP, University of California-Berkeley
Standing just at six feet, Miller was still imposing on the mound, striking out 84 batters in 79 innings. He was 6-4 with a 2.62 ERA, lowering his ERA from last year, 4.72.
Round 19, Mitchell Lambson, LHP, Arizona State University
He made the honorable mention Pac-10 All-Conference team, posting a 4.41 ERA with a 7-2 record. He earned First Team All-Pac-10 honors in 2010.
Round 20, Matthew Duffy, 3B, University of Tennessee
The 215-pounder hit .312 this season with six home runs and snagged seven bases. He was also the Volunteers' regular third baseman the previous season, playing in 55 of 56 games.
Round 21, James Howick, SS, Jacksonville University (Fla.)
He started 51 of 54 games, hitting .319 and striking out 29 times in 207 at-bats. He showed a little power with four home runs.
Round 22, Andrew Muren, CF, Cal State-Northridge
The 6-foot-6 athlete committed only one error in 2011 despite starting 53 of 55 games and managed to hit .307 with nine stolen bases.
Round 23, Ruben Sosa, 2B, Oklahoma City University
The speedster stole a whopping 44 bases and posted an on-base percentage of .446 while hitting .389.
Round 24, Jesse Wierzbicki, 1B, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
The sure-handed defender posted a .996 fielding percentage this season and hit .301 at the plate. He showed speed at first base, stealing seven bases and legging out three triples.
Round 25, William Flamion, LF, Central Catholic High School (Calif.)
Flamion reached base more often than not, posting a .522 on-base percentage and walking 22 times while striking out just five times in 85 at-bats. He hit .388 his senior year.
Round 26, Jared Fisher, RHP, Newport High School (Wash.)
Fisher struck out 64 batters in just 51 innings en route to becoming an All-Region First-Team selection with a 1.92 ERA in nine starts.
Round 27, Alexander Todd, SS, Sonoma State University (Calif.)
Todd hit .332 in 214 at-bats in 2011 after transferring to Sonoma State from Centenary College. He also smashed five home runs and 10 doubles this season.
Round 28, Jordan John, LHP, University of Oklahoma
John made the 2011 All-Big 12 freshman team, posting a 2.35 ERA with a 4-2 record and starting seven of his 20 games. He allowed 23 runs in 61 1/3 innings but only 15 were earned.
Round 29, Wallace Gonzalez, OF, Bishop Amat Memorial High School (Calif.)
Gonzalez, the final high schooler to be snagged by the Astros on Day 2, had a 4-for-4, six-RBI performance to lead Bishop Amat past Mountain View St. Francis to advance to the Hard 9 National Classic semifinals.
Round 30, Jordan Steranka, 3B, Penn State University
The junior hit .323 with eight home runs and 57 RBIs for the Nittany Lions, hitting one more home run than he did in 2010. He started all 54 games he played in and also snagged six bases.
Rowan Kavner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.