On June 4th, the 2011 MLB Draft will be starting and someone will be joining last year's first round pick, Delino Deshields Jr., as a member of the Houston Astros. For some time, the draft was not the Astros friend as they have missed on a number of their picks.
However, the last two years the Astros have picked a number of players who look to have a lot of promise and will be playing for the Houston Astros in the future. This year the Astros will have the 11th pick in the first round and I have come up with five possible targets the Astros may look at in that spot.
Bubba Starling is an interesting prospect and is considered one of the top players in this year draft. Every scouting report raves about his talents and ProDraftCentral.com talks about how he is a five tool position player and can also throw a 90+ mph fastball. He does however project as an outfielder.
Baseball America has Starling as the number one high school prospect, so why would he possibly be available at 11 for the Astros? Teams may shy away from him because he has other options than baseball. Starling has accepted a football scholarship to play quarterback for the Nebraska Cornhuskers as well as play on their baseball team.
Even with that red flag, a team will draft him early in the first round because ESPN's Keith Law described Starling as an "obnoxiously talented baseball player." If he is available at 11 for the Astros, this is a no brainer.
Francisco Lindor is one of the top infield prospects, but there are conflicting scouting reports on this high schooler from Florida. Prodraftcentral.com describes Lindor as a shortstop who has already shown great defensive prowess and makes some pretty spectacular plays in the field. BaseballBeginnings.com doesn't disagree with this assessment as they gave him a 4/5 for the field and a 5/5 for his arm.
They do however differ when it comes to this switch-hitter's potential at the plate. Pro Draft Central says that Lindor will have average power and will be able to "generate plenty of doubles with a powerful gap-to-gap approach." However Baseball Beginnings only gives him a 2/5 for both hitting and power as they say they don't see him as a middle of the order type bat or buy into the raw power that others see.
Daniel Norris is a left-handed pitcher coming out of Science Hill High School in Tennessee, who is the top left-handed pitcher in this year's class. He is a pitcher that most people like and projects well to the majors. BaseballBeginnings.com describes Norris as "one of the hard-to-find high school left-handers who show you who he is at a young age." They also gave him good grades for his pitches with the fastball getting a 6/6, changeup getting a 5/6 and his slider getting a 4/5.
This scouting report though was put together in November of last year and ProDraftCentral.com recently said that Norris' stock has dropped since 2010, most likely due to questions about his control. However, they have him as the sixth ranked high school prospect, so he didn't slip that much. Norris will most likely be available for the Astros at 11 if they want to pick him.
This right-handed pitcher seems to be the Astros pick in a number of mock drafts on the internet. MLBDraftGuide.com says Guerrieri has been the biggest mover in this year's class so he may not even be available when it is the Astros turn to pick.
Guerrieri has a fastball that is in the range of 93-96 and he has been clocked as high as 98. He also has a change up in the 81-83 range and a plus slider that has made him very attractive to teams and is why he has quickly moved up the ranks. The one knock against Guerrieri has been his consistency, but I think that will come over time and he would not be a bad pick for the Astros.
This is who I hope the Astros will have an opportunity to pick with their 11th pick. Taylor Jungmann has had undeniable success in his two years at Texas. In 2009, he went 11-3 with a 2.00 ERA and 101 strikeouts, helping Texas get to the College World Series Championship, ultimately losing to LSU. Last year he went 8-3 with a 2.02 ERA and 129 strikeouts.
ProDraftCentral.com does question his pitching mechanics and says that some experts use this as a reason for him to be a likely candidate as a bust as a pro. I personally don't think he will be a bust as he has an above average fastball that pushes 97 mph, along with a slider and a changeup, even with unorthodox mechanics.
I think Jungmann is the best choice as he is closer to Major League ready than say Guerrieri. With the Astros having a depleted farm system they need to focus on players who can contribute sooner. What is even better is that since he is from Texas, he has already pitched at Minute Maid Park and should be comfortable there as you can see in this video.