Last June brought the Ed Wade view of the drafting and player development world to the Astros. Right now that is looking like a pretty nice view indeed. The Astros signed 9 of their first 10 picks, and all but 5th rounder Duncan have shown at least flashes of high level talent. Recall last year the Astros had a 1st and 3rd round supplemental selection and so drafted 12 players in the first 10 rounds. Prior to the draft Director of Amateur Scouting Bobby Heck said the Astros intended to look for up-the-middle players. True to his word 10 of the first 12 players selected were up-the-middle players. Just Jon Gaston and the unsigned Charles Davidson were corner outfielders. In the realm of player development the Astros have made significant changes in the organization. The once vaunted Venezuelan academy has been shuttered and all Hispanic players not ready for the Stateside teams will now be sent to the Astros Dominican complex. In addition the Astros will add a new team to the rookie level Gulf Coast League. There you can expect to see young Hispanic players get their first view of the United States. Further this year’s high school draftees can expect to spend their first professional season in the GCL. The other big change is that the Astros will be more aggressive regarding promoting players than they have under previous regimes. Evidence of this can be seen in the promotion of last year’s 48th round pick Dan Meszaros to AA Corpus Christi and young pitchers Jordan Lyles, Ross Seaton, and Brad Dydalewicz starting the year in low-A Lexington. 2009 draftees can expect a rapid rise through the system if they learn quickly and perform well.
With last year’s draft appearing to be very strong expectations for this year’s draft are running high. The Astros had 11 selections in the first 10 rounds. The had a supplemental third round pick for not signing the aforementioned third round pick Charles Davidson. The Astros first round pick was #21 rather than #20 thanks to the Nationals not signing their first round pick last year (#9) and being awarded the 10th pick this year as compensation. The Astros intended to continue to pick the best available player as they continue to try to rebuild the farm system. Anything close to the quality of last year’s draft will go a long way to doing that.
Heck said they would not necessarily look for catchers early in the draft considering what they did last year and the perceived depth of catching in the system. Still he knew they could not draft on need alone. This year the Astros selected 2 catchers, 4 first basemen, 2 second basemen, 3 third basemen, 6 shortstops, 9 outfielders, 19 righthanded pitchers, and 6 lefthanded pitchers.