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Grading the Astros 2011 Draft Class

Ha. Look at this idiot. He's trying to grade the draft class before they've even signed! Wait, who's article is this again?...Crap...

I hate draft grades.

I mean it. I dislike them vehemently. They're silly. They're a waste of time. They mean little to nothing and that goes doubly for baseball, since none of these players will see any big league time for years. How are we supposed to know how Houston did?

Oh, right, I'm writing a column grading the Astros, not burying them. Okay, so let's have some fun and grade the draft everyone! I totally know what I'm talking about with these grades. They're super firm.

Signability: A-

I don't mean they took a bunch of guys that were signable here, but that they took some risks in the signing department. Guys like Jack Armstrong, Hoke Granger and others are not going to be easy to get signed, but have a ton of potential. If Houston can land a few of them, they'll immediately upgrade their system. If they lose Armstrong a year after losing Adam Plutko, I will be crushed.

Adding depth: B-

So many of Houston's big picks were pitchers, which is nice, but there are so many questions with pitching prospects. Yes, it's nice to add a bunch of them and hope one or two turn out, but the injury risk is much greater. I'd have liked to see one or two more shortstops added to the pipeline, but that's just me. Some solid depth late in the draft with guys like Zachary Johnson and Kevin Gonzalez.

MLB-ready talent: A

George Springer obviously leads the way here, but Houston did a very nice job balancing high upside guys with ones that are a ways off. For every Springer, Armstrong or Nick Tropeano, there was an Adrian Houser, Chris Lee and Javaris Reynolds. There were enough good pieces who could be ready in a hurry, though, that makes this a draft class which could help very soon.

Cool names: A+

Come on. Hoke Granger. Javaris Reynolds. Gandy Stubblefield. Jesse Wierczbicki. Wallace Gonzalez. Zach Dando.Steve Martin. You'll remember these guys for their names more than their skills at this point. That's a very, very solid name class.

Classiness: A

Here I'm referring to the drafting of Buddy Lamothe. In that now-apocryphal trip I took to Kingwood for the Class 4A baseball playoffs, I not only heard some very positive first-hand scouting reports on Gandy Stubblefield, but also heard the story of Lamothe for the first time.

One of the dads in the press box was telling the story of this kid, who was very good and did something dangerous when he was trying to have fun and paid a price for it. His son was on the team with Lamothe and the word was he might never walk again, much less play baseball. Having your entire world turned upside down like that has got to be rough. What the Astros did, even if it was ceremonial, was a very nice thing and reflects the kind of organization Houston has been under Drayton McLane. Rooting for a professional team is a tough thing when they are run like businesses. Fans don't often get to like the organization as much as the play on the field, but for one day, the Astros gave their fans a little bit of that.

College World Series watchability: A

Okay, so you want to watch the College World Series or the Super Regionals this week, since there's not much else going on after the NBA Finals ends, but you have no idea who to pull for. Obviously, go with the Aggies first and foremost. But, after that, you've got a couple of good options in UConn and Vanderbilt. That's a big plus for me, since I remember how cool it was to watch guys like Jason Castro and Charlton Jimerson play in the CWS, knowing they were future Astros.

Overall Grade: B+

This is a good class. The biggest thing the Astros added was power, both at the plate and on the mound. Power arms will strike guys out and power bats will hit home runs. It's the final piece to the puzzle that was this organization's depth.

I'd also wager this was Bobby Heck and Ed Wade's plan all along. They took over a system that was devoid of any life and started to rebuild slowly. They added piece after piece, college bats, high school arms, athletes who could play, that all built the system back up slowly. But, they had to add in a certain way.

They needed guys to fill out those rotations in the minors and keep them competitive, so they went with good, if not great, ceiling guys who may have signed easily. That created the depth they have now.

This draft, though, was about adding the last few pieces. They finally got some mashers to bring a new dimension to the system. With Ariel Ovando in the mix, Houston has some middle-of-the-order threats to go with guys like Jonathan Villar, Jiovanni Mier and Jose Altuve. That takes good planning and foresight. I'm not sure where the Astros go from here, but I know the farm system looks a whole lot more complete after this draft class than it did a year ago.

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