The 10 Best Draft Picks in Houston Astros History
Cameron Drew. Robbie Wine. Tommy Nevers.
Don't remember them? That's fine. The Houston Astros thank you for not reminding them of three of the biggest draft misses in franchise history.
Not all of the Astros' picks have been flops. Houston has delivered its fair share of All-Star talent on draft day, including a future Hall of Famer, one of the most dominant pitchers of the last 40 years and two players who were among the premier standouts of the past decade.
So, sit down and enjoy as we count down the ten best draft picks in Houston Astros history. The list will certainly provide for spirited debate.
Then again, debate is what we encourage.
10. Ken Forsch (18th Round, 1968)
Forsch was a versatile hurler for the Astros from 1970-80, shuttling between the bullpen and starting rotation at a moment's notice. Forsch earned his only All-Star appearance in a Houston uniform in 1976, when he saved 19 games while recording a 2.15 ERA.
His most memorable Astros moment came on April 7, 1979 when he no-hit the Atlanta Braves in a 6-0 win. Forsch walked just two batters while facing the minimum 27 at the plate. He finished 11-6 with a 3.04 ERA, his best season as a starter.
9. Ken Caminiti (Third Round, 1984)
The slugging third baseman appeared headed to Cooperstown after winning National League Player of the Week honors after his first week in the bigs. Caminiti anchored the hot corner for the Astros from 1987-94 and returned for two seasons (1999-2000).
His most productive seasons were in San Diego, where the use of steroids helped fuel his 1996 NL MVP season and three Gold Gloves. Despite the PED abuse, Caminiti—who died in 2004—remains one of the most popular players in Astros history.
8. Shane Reynolds (Third Round, 1989)
Reynolds was the workhorse of four National League Central division champions from 1997-2001. He amassed 248 of his 278 career starts in an Astros uniform, compiling a 103-86 record with a 3.95 earned run average.
His best season came in 1998, when he finished 19-8 with a 3.51 ERA en route to helping Houston to a club-record 104 wins. Reynolds won 16 games in 1999, earning his only All-Star appearance in the process.
7. Darryl Kile (30th Round, 1987)
Remembered more for his tragic death as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2002, Kile's best seasons came in Houston.
The owner of one of the most devastating curveballs in recent memory, Kile came into his own in 1993, finishing with a 15-8 mark with a 3.51 ERA. That season also saw Kile deliver his finest performance when he pitched a no-hitter against the New York Mets on Sept. 8.
Kile won 19 games for Houston in 1997 before bolting to Colorado as a free agent. Kile won 71 of his 133 games in H-Town with a 3.79 ERA.
6. Bill Doran (Sixth Round, 1979)
The slick-fielding Doran was a fixture at second base from 1982-90, accumulating 1,139 hits and 203 steals.
Overshadowed by the likes of Ryne Sandberg and Tommy Herr during most of his career, Doran had five seasons of at least 20 steals, including a career-high 42 during the Astros' National League West title run in 1986. He hit .276 and scored 92 runs that season, finishing 11th in balloting for the NL Most Valuable Player award.
5. Billy Wagner (First Round, 1993)
The pride of Ferrum College began his reign of terror upon National League hitters as a part-time closer in 1996 before taking the job for keeps the following year. During the next seven seasons, "Billy the Kid" mowed down an average of 12.4 batters per nine innings and recorded 225 saves in a Houston uniform before heading to Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and Atlanta.
A three-time All-Star with the Astros, Wager had one of the best seasons as a closer in 1999, saving 39 games and striking out a whopping 124 batters in a mere 74 1/3 innings of work. Wagner finished fourth in the National League Cy Young award balloting and finished among the top 20 in voting for the NL MVP.
4. Roy Oswalt (23rd Round, 1996)
The rail-thin Mississippi native hit the majors like a thunderclap in 2001, finishing 14-3 with a 2.73 ERA despite spending the first month of the season in the minors. Oswalt was second in the National League Rookie of Year award chase and was fifth in the NL Cy Young award balloting.
Since then, Oswalt has become one of the most prolific hurlers in the game, recording consecutive 20-win campaigns in 2004-05 and winning at least 14 four other times while finishing in top five in NL Cy Young voting four times.
The three-time All-Star enters the 2010 season with 137 wins and should surpass the late Joe Niekro as the Astros' winningest pitcher sometime this summer.
3. Lance Berkman (First Round, 1997)
After rewriting the Rice University record books, the All-America outfielder needed less than two seasons to make the short drive up the street to begin his assault on the Astros record book.
One of the most beloved players in franchise history, "The Big Puma" has hit at least 21 homers since becoming a regular fixture in the lineup in 2000. Berkman has driven in at least 100 runs six times while garnering six trips to the All-Star game.
Berkman, who has helped guide the Astros to three trips to the playoffs, had his best season in 2002, when he hit 42 homers, driving in a league-best 128 runs, while hitting .292.
2. J.R. Richard (First Round, 1969)
Few pitchers struck fear in the hearts of batters like the 6'8", 230-pounder from Vienna, La. Richard's intimidating presence was backed up by a fastball that consistently topped triple digits, although—more often than not—he had no control of it in the early portion of his career.
Once Richard did find his control, he embarked on a four-year stretch (1976-79) where he won 74 games and struck out 1,044 batters. Richard was at his best in 1979 when he struck out a club-record 313 batters while recording a 18-11 record with a NL-best 2.71 ERA.
Richard was 10-4 with a 1.90 ERA in the first half of 1980, receiving the starting nod in the All-Star Game in the process. Tragically, Richard suffered a near-fatal stroke on the afternoon of July 31 and never pitched in the majors again, denying him a chance to further build upon his potential Hall of Fame career.
1. Craig Biggio (First Round, 1987)
The undisputed owner of the "Mr. Astros" moniker, Biggio began his career as a catcher, earning All-Star honors in 1991. He was moved to second base the following season and became the first player to ever be named to the All-Star team as both a catcher and second baseman.
The Seton Hall grad earned five more All-Star nods while becoming one of the best lead-off hitters of all time. Biggio had consecutive seasons of at least 51 doubles (1998-99) and six seasons of at least 28 steals en route to guiding Houston to seven playoff appearances and a National League title.
Biggio put the icing on his Hall of Fame-bound career when he recorded his 3,000th hit on the night of June 28, 2007. He retired as the club's all-time leader in hits (3,060), total bases (4,711), doubles (668) and extra base hits (1,014).