A week ago today Major League Baseball officially released the draft order for the 2012 Rule 4 New Player Draft. It comes as no surprise that the Houston Astros are slotted for the first pick in the draft. This will be the third time in the club's history that they get the chance to select first, the other two times were in 1976 and 1992 and in those years they selected Floyd Bannister and Phil Nevin.
The big looming question on the minds of most Astros fans is "Who will they pick this year?" With a team firmly entrenched in rebuilding, the restocking of the farm system is critical to forming a winning organization going forward.
There are a handful of names that have become pretty well known as speculation begins to build including Stanford's right handed pitcher, Mark Appel, LSU's Kevin Gausman, San Francisco's Kyle Zimmer and Texas A&M's Michael Waccha. But pitchers aren't the only position being floated as possible first picks. Catcher Mike Zunino of Florida and outfielder Byron Buxton, a Georgia high schooler are also on the watch list for the initial selection.
The Rule 4 draft is always important, but for Houston this year's selection will likely be scrutinized like never before as fans wait for baseball to improve at a rapid rate. One this is certain, regardless of who the Astros select, the expectations for him will be high. An entire city is watching.
The draft will be held over the course of three days this year. On June 4th MLB Network and MLB.com will have live coverage of round 1 which will allow five minutes between picks as well as the first compensation round which will have one minute between selections. June 5th will see selections for rounds 2 through 15 with one minute between selection. June 6th will be rounds 16 through 40.
For now, all we know is this: the Houston Astros are on the clock...