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MLB Draft Preview: Astros Look To Lock Up Draft Picks

Note: Be sure to check out David's handy draft guide from last week as well.

The MLB First Year Player Draft commences tonight at 6 p.m. CT, and it will last for three days. The Astros have chosen Jeff Bagwell to represent them at this year's draft, along with amateur scout Everett Stull.

Currently, Houston has two first round picks. General Managar Ed Wade has stressed the importance of not only drafting the best player available with those picks, but signing those draftees as well. Wade likely alludes to the Astros' 2007 draft, when they were unable to sign their first three picks, leaving a major talent gap in their farm system.

David Coleman writes on The Crawfish Boxes that while the 'Stros may be able to land an elite talent, they need to consider how much that player will potentially cost them before making any commitments.

I'll get into some of the rumors in a minute but one I want to talk about before the jump is Zack Cox. These two reports have him requesting "Pedro Alvarez money." That would be about 6 million and seemingly prices the Astros out of his league. Their budget, with three first round picks, probably precludes them from going that much over slot for a player. I already had my doubts about Cox before these reports, but couple that with a possible major league contract request, and Cox falls right off it. If Cox does get a MLB contract, that means his arbitration clock starts immediately and he'd have to be added to the big league roster in a matter of years. Since the Astros may not be retooled enough to contend until 2012, it seems like a lot to ask for a sped-up arbitration clock.

Many experts have tabbed outfielder Josh Sale of Bishop Blanchet High School in Seattle, Wash., to be the Astros' top choice, both from a talent and financial standpoint. Tune in tonight to the MLB Network to see what the Astros will do with their picks.

For more, check out David Coleman's MLB Draft Preview, as well as his individual player profiles, at SB Nation's Astros blog, The Crawfish Boxes.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.