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Clear Creek outfielder C.J. McElroy, who has a commitment to the University Of Houston for both baseball and football, looks like he'll instead sign with the St. Louis Cardinals after being a third-round pick in this week's MLB Draft. McElroy, the son of former reliever and last-black-man-with-glasses-to-play-baseball Chuck McElroy, said he would take a trip to St. Louis to talk with Cardinals brass:
Though McElroy and the Cardinals will have to come to an agreement on contract terms before he officially foregoes a career at UH, it appears he's leaning that way.
"I love baseball and it's been my first sport since I was little and I'm going to give away football to play baseball," McElroy said. "It's a great opportunity for me to play at the next level and I can do it. The money situation (will be a factor) and I'll probably take a trip to St. Louis and talk to people."
McElroy seems likely to sign with the Cardinals, who have a history with multi-tooled outfield types like Ray Lankford, Brian Jordan, and Colby Rasmus in the last fifteen years. He fits right in with that tradition on paper.
The Houston Astros continue to lock up their 2011 MLB Draft picks. After signing three on Wednesday, Thursday saw five more come under contract, including fifth round Stony Brook starter Nick Tropeano. Steve Campbell of The Houston Chronicle broke the story.
Scouting director Bobby Heck on Thursday announced the signing of righthanded pitchers Nick Tropiano (Round 5) and Blake Ford (44), first baseman Chase Davidson (41) and outfielders Andrew Muren (22) and Chris Epps (45).
That means the Astros have eight players from the 2011 class under contract already, and many more look like they're unofficially done. Major hat tip to Astros County for rounding up the majority of these links:
-According to the Winston-Salem Journal, sixth rounder Brandon Culbreth has signed for $150,000 and a fund for further college education.
-23rd rounder Ruben Sosa looks like he'll sign with the Astros in short order.
-31st rounder Jarrod McKinney's college coach expects him to sign with Houston.
-33rd rounder Dominique Taylor probably will not sign with the Astros.
New Astros CF George Springer may be considered raw on the baseball diamond, but his PR skills are already top-notch. In a chat with Stephen Goff earlier this week, the Astros Examiner brought up the idea of fellow Nutmegger Jeff Bagwell to Springer, and he played it very carefully, making sure not to seem too full of himself:
As a native of New Britain, Conn., and product of Avon Old Farms School, Springer -- an avid Boston Red Sox fan -- isn't too familiar with the history of the Astros, but he's aware of a legendary ballplayer named Jeff Bagwell from the state of Connecticut who had a similar background coming out of college before graduating to a Hall of Fame-caliber career in Houston.
"I can never put myself in the same sentence as Jeff Bagwell since he's an all-time great," Springer said. "It's nice to know that a player has gone down to Houston from Connecticut and put together one of the greatest careers any ballplayer could ever have.
"It's up to me to establish my own legacy and hopefully I can follow a similar path by making a significant impact for the Astros over a long-term period."
What's that saying about jibs? I like the cut of Springer's jib. He may take some time before he's MLB ready, but given the fact that Michael Bourn will be arbitration eligible for the last time in 2012, the Astros have to be hoping he can be ready for the start of 2013. Or at least June of that year, if MLB hasn't fixed their ridiculous Super Two issues yet.
In a not-so-shocking validation of the idea that despite it being illegal to talk about deals before players are drafted, teams do it all the time anyway, the Astros have signed three of their draft picks less than a day after the 2011 MLB Draft ended. Astros Examiner Stephen Goff broke the news:
In addition to signing Lamar University standout right-hander Blake Ford (44th round), the Houston Astros announced Wednesday night that two more picks -- Santa Fe Community College (Fla.) left-hander Chris Lee (fourth round) and Clemson infielder John Hinson (13th round) -- have agreed to terms after being selected on Day 2 of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
The three picks will likely be headed to the Astros rookie ball affiliates, either the GCL Astros or the Greeneville Astros in the Appalachian League. Lee will almost undoubtedly head to Greeneville, while Hinson should wind up either there or, more aggressively, with the Low A Lexington Legends.
Should be interesting to see what the terms look like, as not many had Lee ticketed as a fourth round pick and he could be a nice "signability" guy.
Most of the premium prospects are long gone, and even the long-shot prospects are basically finished by Round 30, but there's always the hope that the next Mike Piazza or Orlando Hudson can rise to the top out of these picks on Day 3. The Astros hit the local area rather hard, selecting two Texas A&M players, a San Jacinto Community College pitcher (more on him later), a Lamar University pitcher, and a pair of local high school arms from Caney Creek and Clear Creek. Here's the complete list:
Round 31 -- Jarrod McKinney, RF, Arkansas
Round 32 -- Zachary Dando, RHP, Central Arizona College
Round 33 -- Dominique Taylor, CF, Salt Lake CC
Round 34 -- Dustin Kellogg, RHP, Caney Creek HS
Round 35 -- Chris Morales, RHP, Clear Creek HS
Round 36 -- Kevin Gonzalez, C, Texas A&M
Round 37 -- Steve Martin, RHP, Texas A&M
Round 38 -- James Propst, RHP, Oklahoma State
Round 39 -- David Haerle, RHP, College of the Canyons
Round 40 -- Buddy Lamothe, RHP, San Jacinto College
Round 41 -- Chase Davidson, 1B, Georgia
Round 42 -- Hoke Granger, CF, Alabama HS
Round 43 -- David Grimes, OF, New York HS
Round 44 -- Blake Ford, RHP, Lamar University
Round 45 -- Christopher Epps, OF, Clemson
Round 46 -- Justin Shults, 1B, UC Riverside
Round 47 -- Zack Hardoin, LHP, Missouri
Round 48 -- Andrew Murray, C, New Jersey HS
Round 49 -- David Peterson, RHP, College of Charleston
Round 50 -- Colton Davis, OF, Florida HS
Long-time Astros draftniks may better remember Davidson from when the Astros drafted him in the third round out of high school in 2008. Lamothe is a story I want to get to work on tomorrow, but the basics on him: he's paralyzed. The Astros drafted him as a favor to his family.
Woodlands right-hander Bryan Brickhouse will have to make the biggest decision of his life by MLB's August 15th signing deadline. The right-hander has a scholarship to baseball power North Carolina, and was drafted by the Royals in the third round of the 2011 MLB Draft yesterday. Despite his obvious plusses as a prospect (namely, a mid-90's fastball) Brickhouse may be better served by becoming a Tar Heel and working on his consistency for a few years to really improve his draft stock. Baseball America said as much in it's look at him:
"He's not particularly big or athletic. He has effort in his delivery and doesn't always stay on top of his pitches. If he can develop consistency, Brickhouse might be a No. 3 starter."
Of course, the Royals may make that a moot point by offering Brickhouse over-slot money, perhaps into the millions. It would be hard to pass up that kind of money--Matt Harrington is the biggest cautionary tale in scouting lore, but if he dominated in college, Brickhouse could potentially earn himself a much higher signing bonus.
It won't be an easy decision for Brickhouse at all, and he'll have to deal with the mental calculus and decide what is the best bet for him.
Texas A&M right-hander John Stilson's draft stock was supposed to be crippled by a torn labrum, and though it is unlikely that he'll need surgery on it, the prevailing thought was that he'd be available well into Day 2. Instead, the Blue Jays ignored the risk and snapped him up in the third round. Stilson could still wind up going back to the Aggies next season just because Toronto could seek to lowball him due to a number of picks that are considered to be hard to sign, but third round money has to be looking pretty good to the right-hander after the labrum tear.
The Blue Jays also selected University of Houston commit and Galveston native Aaron Garza in the tenth round, and it looks like he'll likely sign based on Didier Morais' story in The Houston Chronicle today:
"The factors are if it's really the right fit for me," Garza said. "And I do really think I want to play professional baseball, so it just kind of boils down to that. There's not a day that goes by that I don't pick up a baseball."
Toronto also tabbed Crosby's Jeremy Gabryszwski in the second round, a projectable lefty that could gain velocity as he fills out more. Add in the fact that they finally stopped Matt Dean's freefall, and it's safe to say that the Jays ruled Texas on Day Two.
The Astros started off the second day of the 2011 MLB Draft by going heavy on pitching. They selected four straight arms from the second round on, finally breaking that up in the sixth round. Here's what we have on their first four picks of the day:
2-69: Oklahoma HS RHP Adrian Houser, an Oklahoma University commit.
MLB Bonus Baby says he's got a solid curveball and No. 3 starter upside. David Coleman put up a very long profile of him already at The Crawfish Boxes. There's also plenty of video of him available at that last link. The short of it is that Houser is a projectable high school arm with a good body and fairly clean mechanics.
3-99: Vanderbilt RHP Jack Armstrong
We already did a post on his backflips and relative lack of control. His dad, Jack Sr., was a MLB pitcher for seven years. He brings the heat, and has been clocked as high as 99 miles an hour. It comes down to harnessing the stuff and staying healthy, which he didn't really do with the Commodores last season. If he can't get better command of his stuff, he'll wash out quickly. If he can, then watch out. Keith Law adds that he has a plus curveball.
4-130: Santa Fe CC LHP Christopher Lee
Unfortunately, there's not much out there on this guy. I'm guessing he fits the typical Astros mold of velocity and build, because his statistics at Santa Fe were good but not mindblowing in the slightest.
5-160: Stony Brook RHP Nick Tropeano
Tropeano dominated in Stony Brook, posting a 1.84 ERA in 93 innings, while striking out 119. Unfortunately, it's not exactly a power conference. Law mentioned that he had a below average fastball in his chat today.
Other players picked by the Astros so far:
6-190: San Diego St. LF Jamon Meredith
7-220: Florida HS CF Javaris Reynolds
8-250: North Carolina HS RHP Brandon Culbreth
9-280: Creighton RHP Jonas Dufek
10-310: Kent State LHP Kyle Hallok
11-340: Minnesota OF Justin Gominsky
12-370: Mississippi C Miles Hamblin
13-400: Clemson 2B John Hinson
14-430: Texas (Lufkin) HS RHP Horace Stubblefield
15-460: Oklahoma St. 1B Zach Johnson
16-490: Scottsdale CC LHP Scott Zuloaga
17-520: Fresno City College RHP Tyson Perez
18-550: California RHP Kevin Miller
19-580: Arizona St. LHB Mitchell Lampson
20-610: Tennessee 3B Matt Duffy
21-640: Jacksonville SS Jimmy Howick
22-670: Cal-State Northridge CF Drew Muren
23-700: Oklahoma 2B Ruben Sosa
24-730: North Carolina 1B Jesse Wierzbicki
25-760: California HS OF Billy Flamion
26-790: Washington HS RHP Jared Fisher
27-820: Sonoma St. SS Alex Todd
28-850: Oklahoma LHP Jordan John
29-880: California HS OF Wallace Gonzalez
30-910: Penn State 3B Jordan Steranaka
For more detailed up-to-the-minute posts on most of these guys, I'd suggest checking out Astros County, which is doing yeoman's work on the draft today.
MLB.com's Brian McTaggart managed to catch up to new Astros outfield prospect George Springer yesterday night after Connecticut's regional win over Clemson to advance to Super Regionals. Springer was blown away to be picked and mentioned that his advisors and Houston had talked often leading up to the draft:
"I really don't have any words I can put how happy I was at the time [he was drafted]," he said. "It's something as a player and as a kid you always dream of. My friend, Matt Barnes, told me in the fifth inning, and I was blown away."
"My advisors had been going back and forth with them since this process started, and it became a reality today," Springer said.
The Astros will keep Springer in center field to begin with, and given his college statistics (46 homers, 76 steals, never slugging below .600 even with the new bats) it seems likely that he'll start out in Lancaster to start out his big league career. When he signs, that is. The Astros could also play it conservative and assign him to low A Lexington with most of the rest of their prospects.
Astros outfielder George Springer is an extremely interesting pick for the franchise. He's got the skillset of an elite player: should be a plus defender that may be able to handle center field, should hit for power, has a strong arm, and seems to have good plate discipline as well. Great, so why did he last until eleventh overall? Scouts are worried about his swing. Here's Keith Law on it:
Unfortunately, he's developed a real back-side collapse, so now he's swinging uphill, making lower-quality contact when he makes contact at all. That back side - since he's a right-handed hitter, that refers to the right side of his body - has always been a little soft through contact, but it's much more severe now, and means he's not making the hard contact that you want a potential top-10 pick in the draft to make.
If a hitting coach can clean him up, he has the potential to hit in the middle of a major-league lineup with plus defense in right field, but that's a substantial and very open question.
Baseball America has much the same scouting report at this point, also bringing up the "collapsing backside":
He struggled early in 2011, when his hands were tight to his body and his stance was narrow, and he collapsed on his back side. But he made adjustments and returned to form when Big East play started, showing scouts why he was the Cape Cod League's No. 2 prospect last summer. His early-season struggles scared some scouts who question Springer's swing mechanics, as he can be exposed with velocity on the inner half. He's raw for a college first-round pick, but Springer may have the highest ceiling in the draft.
Despite the questions about his swing, this was a pick that the Astros had to make. Given where Houston is right now, they need to be gambling on the highest ceilings that they can, and Springer absolutely fits in that mold. I'm no draft expert, but I'd give the pick a solid A- based on the type of player they got at No. 11 overall. To get anyone with a chance to be the best player in a draft at 11 is pretty solid.
The Astros managed a keeper of a pick in round one, snagging Connecticut outfielder George Springer, but some would argue that an even more talented player, from Texas, is still sitting on the board waiting to be called. Dallas Jesuit's Josh Bell has sent a letter to teams informing them not to draft him because he's committed to Texas, but as with most players, things can change quickly when you wave money in front of their nose.
Bell is clearly the best player available at this point in the draft. But due to the monetary package that Houston would have to award him (think $6+ million for starters) and the fact that it's a very deep draft, look for him to continue to slide past them. The real culprit is just the overall depth of the draft: there are so many good players available that taking a risk like Bell won't make sense for a few rounds.
Nonetheless, it would be a ballsy move for the Astros to select Bell at some point and have some of Jim Crane's loans offered to go directly into his account. It'd be no sure thing, but the Astros need to be taking risks with where their farm system is.
Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, once thought to be a lock for the No. 1 overall pick, slid all the way to the Washington Nationals pick at No. 6 overall yesterday. Rendon led the NCAA with 80 walks this season, proving that teams were still scared of him despite the shoulder issues that kept him from playing the field much or generating the same power that he did in his sophomore season.
When healthy, Rendon is a gifted third baseman with above-average range and arm strength. He has drawn comparisons to Evan Longoria and Ryan Zimmerman, though he bears a closer physical resemblance to David Wright. Rendon tore ligaments in his right ankle in the 2009 NCAA regionals and broke the same ankle on a slide with Team USA last summer, but he has been running and moving as well as ever this spring. He has average speed and runs the bases well. Both ankle injuries came on fluke plays, so scouts don't consider him injury-prone.
Scouts are torn on his ability to play second base, with it likely coming down to his range in the field. He has the physical tools, but he definitely profiles better as a third baseman. It should be interesting to see what the Nationals do in the near future if Rendon can't handle second base and is knocking on the door at AAA. He would likely make one heck of a trade chip if they decided to stick with Zimmerman.
After last night's successful selection of Connecticut outfielder George Springer, the Astros will go back to work for what will likely be the biggest day of the draft. Rounds 2-30 will be conducted today, and Houston will lead off it's selections with No. 69 overall in the second round.
Here's a list of today's Astros picks:
Rnd 2-69th overall
Rnd 3-99th overall
Rnd 4-130th overall
Rnd 5-160th overall
Rnd 6-190th overall
Rnd 7-210th overall
Rnd 8-240th overall
Rnd 9-270th overall
Rnd 10-300th overall
Rnd 11-330th overall
Rnd 12-360th overall
Rnd 13-390th overall
Rnd 14-420th overall
Rnd 15-450th overall
Rnd 16-480th overall
Rnd 17-510th overall
Rnd 18-540th overall
Rnd 19-570th overall
Rnd 20-600th overall
Rnd 21-630th overall
Rnd 22-660th overall
Rnd 23-690th overall
Rnd 24-720th overall
Rnd 25-750th overall
Rnd 26-780th overall
Rnd 27-810th overall
Rnd 28-840th overall
Rnd 29-870th overall
Rnd 30-900th overall
No word yet on who the Astros will get down with at No. 69 overall, but considering scouting director Bobby Heck's pre-draft comments, it seems likely that the Astros will go for a lot of pitching in the next few rounds. The 2011 MLB Draft will begin Day 2 at 11 AM CT.
The Houston Astros went with University of Connecticut outfielder George Springer with the No. 11 pick. Springer is a big bat with two tools they can’t teach: power and speed.
Springer has a natural uppercut to his swing and generates a ton of power with it. He’s got the potential to hit 30 home runs in the majors and is both fast enough and good enough defensively to play center field. That gives him the advantage of being a potential 5-tool guy, but even if he doesn’t develop, he’ll have three elite tools. That’s a coup for the Astros at this point in the draft.
Moreover, Springer provides power that has been missing in the past few drafts. Houston needs a middle of the order bat and Springer has a good shot to be that. An outfield of Springer, Ariel Ovando and J.D. Martinez is pretty danged exciting.
Springer has some issues with his swing, having a timing mechanism on his front step that could be problematic. But, the Astros are probably okay with that, since a guy like Ovando also has a lot of pre-swing movement.
If the Astros can sign him, as he’s reportedly asking for a lot, Springer will move up into the top 5 prospects in the Astros system immediately.
Two of the most respected names in the MLB Draft business, both in terms of quality and connections, are Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein and ESPN’s Keith Law. Their day-of-draft mocks have hit the table and there is still no consensus on who the Astros will take at No. 11 overall. Law offers up Florida prep shortstop Francisco Lindor as the answer:
Francisco Lindor, Monteverde Academy (Fla.)
Archie Bradley if he gets past picks No. 4, 7, 9, and 10. Also heard Jed
Bradley and even Alex Meyer here.
Seems like No. 11 is a little too late in the draft to get a good read on, but it looks like the Chris Reed rumors were overblown, or at least stuck in the wrong round. Goldstein has the Astros taking Texas right-hander Taylor Jungmann.
11. Houston Astros: Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Texas. All signs point to a pitcher, and Jungmann is a Texan with few anticipated signing issues. Last Mock: Sonny Gray
Sounds like there are still a number of possibilities at 11. The Astros will have a number of potential arms to choose from, and perhaps Lindor as well, as they look to upgrade their farm system.
Rumor came down on Saturday that the Astros were engaged in negotiations with Stanford left-hander Chris Reed as a possibility at No. 11 overall in the 2011 MLB Draft. The Astros quickly denied the rumor, but Frankie Piliere of Fox Spots had locked in on who the Astros were interested in last draft, and David Coleman of The Crawfish Boxes worries that this could be the real deal:
The Reed rumor? Like I said, it's got all the earmarks of what's happened in the past. The Astros narrow in on a guy from Stanford, where they've drafted at least three other players in the past few seasons. It's also an area of the country the Astros hit hard (California). It fits the quirky draft board of one Bobby Heck. It also fits into the kowtowing to these imaginary "recommendations" for slot prices.
That tells me the rumor has legs and should be believed more than the quick denials. Of course, I also got to see Chris Reed pitch Saturday night, as he closed out Cal State Fullerton. I just about pulled my hair out, seeing him in action. This guy? This low 90's throwing closer? Sure, he was heady, getting a big pickoff with one out, but his stuff wasn't impressive. I know I need to see him more, but I think I'm off the Heck bandwagon if they go through with this. Crane can clean house with this front office if he wants. I joked on the podcast that I'd go on the warpath on this site if the Astros took Francisco Lindor, but Reed may do it too.
If Houston does go with Reed, they'll be continuing a long-time fad of theirs: overdrafting players in the first round to save money. Drayton McLane is still the owner, and of course, fans don't really care all that much about the MLB Draft, but it would not be a good start for the Jim Crane era if the Astros went cheap on their first rounder here.
The first and supplemental first rounds of the MLB Draft will be held today, starting at 5 PM CT. You can watch it live on MLB Network or streaming live at MLB.com. Your Houston Astros were granted pick No. 11, and the names surrounding them have been pretty varied. They could go with Oklahoma HS righthander Archie Bradley, Texas righty Taylor Jungmann, Florida prep shortstop Francisco Lindor, or even a true surprise like Stanford lefty Chris Reed. Rice's Anthony Rendon is expected to go in the top couple of picks, possibly as high as No. 2 overall and if not, likely in the Top 5.
The Astros accumulated zero "sandwich round" picks, as they are called, because they lost no free agents worth offering arbitration to last offseason. Ergo, after No. 11, they will sit on their hands until the second round, where pick No. 69 will be their next chance to improve the farm system. Scouting director Bobby Heck seemed to think that the pitching was more impressive than the hitting, so it looks likely that they'll go there a couple of times in the first few rounds.
Here's a complete order of the first round picks that will be happening tonight:
1) Pittsburgh Pirates
2) Seattle Mariners
3) Arizona Diamondbacks
4) Baltimore Orioles
5) Kansas City Royals
6) Washington Nationals
7) Arizona Diamondbacks -- Failure to sign last year's first rounder, Barrett Loux
8) Cleveland Indians
9) Chicago Cubs
10) San Diego Padres -- Failure to sign last year's first rounder, Karsten Whitson
11) Houston Astros
12) Milwaukee Brewers
13) New York Mets
14) Florida Marlins
15) Milwaukee Brewers -- Failure to sign last year's first rounder, Dylan Covey
16) Los Angeles Dodgers
17) Los Angeles Angels
18) Oakland A's
19) Boston Red Sox -- Compensation pick for losing Victor Martinez
20) Colorado Rockies
21) Toronto Blue Jays
22) St. Louis Cardinals
23) Washington Nationals -- Compensation pick for losing Adam Dunn
24) Tampa Bay Rays -- Compensation pick for losing Carl Crawford
25) San Diego Padres
26) Boston Red Sox -- Compensation pick for losing Adrian Beltre
27) Cincinnati Reds
28) Atlanta Braves
29) San Francisco Giants
30) MInnesota Twins
31) New York Yankees
32) Tampa Bay Rays
33) Texas Rangers -- Compensation pick for losing Cliff Lee
SUPPLEMENTAL FIRST ROUND
34) Washington Nationals -- Compensation pick for losing Adam Dunn
35) Toronto Blue Jays -- Compensation pick for losing Scott Downs
36) Boston Red Sox -- Compensation pick for losing VIctor Martinez
37) Texas Rangers -- Compensation pick for losing Cliff Lee
38) Tampa Bay Rays -- Compensation pick for losing Rafael Soriano
39) Philadelphia Phillies -- Compensation pick for losing Jayson Werth
40) Boston Red Sox -- Compensation pick for losing Adrian Beltre
41) Tampa Bay Rays -- Compensation pick for losing Carl Crawford
42) Tampa Bay Rays -- Compensation pick for losing Grant Balfour
43) Arizona Diamondbacks -- Compensation pick for losing Adam LaRoche
44) New York Mets -- Compensation pick for losing Pedro Feliciano
45) Colorado Rockies -- Compensation pick for losing Octavio Dotel
46) Toronto Blue Jays -- Compensation pick for losing Kevin Gregg
47) Chicago White Sox -- Compensation pick for losing J.J. Putz
48) San Diego Padres -- Compensation pick for losing Jon Garland
49) San Francisco Giants -- Compensation pick for losing Juan Uribe
50) Minnesota Twins -- Compensation pick for losing Orlando Hudson
51) New York Yankees -- Compensation pick for losing Javier Vazquez
52) Tampa Bay Rays -- Compensation pick for losing Brad Hawpe
53) Toronto Blue Jays -- Compensation pick for losing John Buck
54) San Diego Padres -- Compensation pick for losing Yorvit Torrealba
55) Minnesota Twins --- Compensation pick for losing Jesse Crain
56) Tampa Bay Rays -- Compensation pick for losing Joaquin Benoit
57) Toronto Blue Jays -- Compensation pick for losing Miguel Olivo
58) San Diego Padres -- Compensation pick for losing Kevin Correia
59) Tampa Bay Rays -- Compensation pick for losing Randy Choate
60) Tampa Bay Rays -- Compensation pick for losing Chad Qualls
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