The 2011 MLB Draft is in the books and it is now time to take a look at the Houston Astros' 2011 class. They drafted a total of 50 players and it started with George Springer, an outfielder from UConn who was picked 11th in the first round.
The chances the Astros sign all 50 players is pretty slim and fans may not hear about some of these players after draft weekend. Either way, here are the top 10 best picks the Astros made this year.
John Hinson was the Astros' 13th-round pick this year and has already signed a contract with the Astros. He did have one year of college eligibility left but decided it was time to get his pro career started.
The second baseman played his college ball at Clemson and, according to Hinson's dad, the Astros have big plans for him. JD Hinson said that John would start out in the NY Penn League with the Tri-City Valley Cats but that stint will be short-lived.
He would move on to High-A ball and if he hits well could be in Double-A by the end of next year. Sounds like the Astros have high hopes for their 13th-round pick.
Jack Armstrong is a right-handed pitcher from Vanderbilt who was the third-round pick for the Astros. A number of scouts rave about this prospect but the reason he lasted this long was he had some injury issues this past season.
Baseball Beginnings provides a good write-up on Armstrong and talks about his athleticism and hard working attitude, and says he could see Armstrong as "a guy with the ability to routinely haul 200 innings and win you close to 15 games or so year in and year out. If that’s not a first-round right-hander, beats me what the heck is."
Not bad for a third-round pick.
Center fielder Javaris Reynolds was one of the few players the Astros picked from the high school ranks. He was drafted in the seventh round and probably got drafted as high as he did because he worked out for the Astros before the draft and actually had to miss his high school graduation to do so.
Reynolds is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound lefthanded hitter with athleticism and above-average speed. He's physical and generates good bat speed. His raw approach at the plate and inconsistent swing may lead him to spend two years in rookie ball, but his upside is intriguing. He's committed to the State JC of Florida, formerly known as Manatee JC.
Nicholas Tropeano was the Astros' fifth-round pick and comes from the powerhouse college of SUNY Stony Brook in New York. The 6'4", 205-pound pitcher put up some pretty impressive statistics this past season as Stony Brook's number one pitcher. He went 12-1 with a 1.84 ERA, 119 strikeouts in 93 innings pitched and only 24 walks.
Looking at stats alone, Tropeano looks like a top-10 pick, but stats don't always tell the whole truth. Baseball America writes:
Tropeano's statistics are better than his pure stuff, and he uses pitching savvy and competitiveness to get hitters out. His fastball sits at 86-90 mph and touches 92, and he relies heavily on his secondary stuff. He has arguably the best changeup in the college ranks, a plus pitch that he'll throw in any count, and a hard slider. He has worked on a sinker.
Tropeano looks like a good pick but he does have some work to do if he plans on pitching for the Astros in the future.
Brandon Culbreth is another high schooler drafted by the Astros and, while still raw, is an intriguing prospect. The right-handed pitcher was the Astros' eighth-round pick and is already 6'5" and 200 pounds coming out of high school.
Baseball America says he has a fastball in the upper 80s but it should improve as he fills out. He also adds a "a slurvy breaking ball, but it has flashed sharp break at times." Culbreth looks like the biggest project out of all of the Astros' early draft picks.
This pick was not a top pick because of what Buddy Lamothe can contribute on the field but because it was a classy move by the Houston Astros organization. Lamothe tragically was paralyzed after a swimming accident just last month.
This, however, did not stop the Houston Astros from making this kid's dream come true by drafting him with their 40th-round draft pick. Anyone who wants to read more about Buddy's story can click here.
Jonas Dufek is a right-handed pitcher from Creighton who the Astros drafted with their ninth-round draft pick. Like Nicholas Tropeano, Dufek had some pretty impressive numbers this past season.
He won MVP in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament and then went out and beat Georgia with a 10-strikeout performance in the NCAA regional opener. He finished the season 12-1 with a 2.08 ERA.
Baseball America wrote the following about Dufek:
The 6-foot-5, 210-pound righthander's stuff and command improved this season. He boosted his fastball from 87-89 mph a year ago to 89-91, tightened his slider and did a better job of locating both pitches. He has a loose arm and a sound delivery.
Brandon Meredith was an outfielder for San Diego State and played for former All-Star Tony Gwynn. There seem to be conflicting reports on this prospect but the Astros felt confident enough to draft him in the sixth round.
CollegeBaseball360.com ranked Meredith as the 27th-best outfield prospect in this year's draft. In his freshman year, Meredith hit .308 with seven home runs and 44 RBI. Another interesting note is that Meredith hit a home run as a high schooler in Petco Park, a park some major leaguers have trouble hitting home runs in.
Baseball America talks about the differing views on this player:
"Scouts who like him say he's a quality athlete with above-average speed and above-average raw power, while others peg him as just a decent athlete with average speed and average raw power."
Only time will tell who is right, but I tend to agree with the first set of scouts.
Adrian Houser was the Astros' second-round pick and has already decided to pass on a scholarship at the University of Oklahoma to sign a major league contract. The Astros have had pretty good luck drafting athletic, high school pitchers in the second round, considering one of their draft picks from 2008 just made it to the majors in Jordan Lyles.
Baseball America wrote about Houser:
Houser has good size (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) and a quick arm capable of delivering 90-92 mph fastballs and topping out at 95. He also shows feel for a hard curveball but has a lot of work to do with his changeup. He uses his height and a high arm slot to throw on a steep downhill angle.
George Springer was the Astros' first and best pick of this year's draft. He is a very talented outfielder coming out of UConn and Baseball America says he may have "the best all-around tools out of any college player in the last decade."
They go on to say:
At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Springer has a skill set rarely seen among college players. He generates plus raw power with explosive bat speed. He has a plus arm and is a plus runner, and he's a smooth defender in center field.
During the telecast of the draft, all the analysts gave this player great reviews, and Astros fans should be excited Springer is a part of the organization. Being a college player, I don't expect him to hang around the minors very long and could possibly be with the team as early as next year.