Once Again, We Hear That Familiar ‘Tick, Tick, Tick …’

By Brian Todd

“Jeff, we’re on the clock.”

“We’ve been on the clock, Mike. We’ve been on it since, oh, mid-September.”

“Right, but this time there’s an actual clock.”

“Oh, crap, is the windbag with the bad haircut standing at the podium?”

“Yep. Selig’s ready for his 15 seconds of fame. You know, shaking a hand. Helping Carlos on with his jersey.”


“Rodon. Carlos ‘Freaking’ Rodon. That’s who we’re picking, right?”

“Uh …”

“Come on. We talked about this.”

“Look, Mike, the draft is an art.”

“Then why do we apply our Decision Science team to it?”

“Remember 2007?”

“Uh, I think I was still living in my parents’ basement playing D&D.”

“In 2007, the Astros drafted 42 players, the first being Derek Dietrich in the third round.”

“Oh, THAT 2007. Yeah, I’ve looked it up.”


“Well, of the three kids from that draft who have seen time in the majors, all three declined to sign with Houston that year. They’re time—their limited time—in the majors has all been with other teams. It was horrible.”

“How horrible?”

“A total WAR of minus-two.”

“See, Mike. That’s why I need to do this right. Dietrich looked good on paper. But it takes more than numbers. It takes …”


“Yeah, now that was a draft. We signed our first ten, and nineteen of our first twenty. I mean it wasn’t just Correa and McCullers and Ruiz. Our top nine picks are guys most dedicated fans –”

“Jeff, the only fans we have left are dedicated fans.”

“– have heard of. Brady Rogers, Andrew Aplin, Brett Phillips, Preston Tucker, Tyler Heineman. Heck, we grabbed Aaron West in the 17th round. We got Joe Sclafani in the 14th. Three of our top ten current prospects came from that draft.”

“Heck, Jeff, we got five of our top twenty prospects in the 2012 draft. There’d be more if it wasn’t for all the guys we’ve picked up in trades.”

“See what I’m saying. It was a work of art. And that’s what I need here.”

“So, we going with a low-money guy at one-one? Gonna grab those top players other teams think they can’t sign later in the top five?”

“Art comes in many forms, Mike. So, let’s get this slip of paper up to that bastard of a commissioner, and hope he gets a paper cut when he unfolds it.”

2007: Houston drafts 42 players, starting with Derek Dietrich (who doesn’t sign because Uncle Drayton is cheap) in the third round. Four more of the top 13 draftees follow suit and do not sign with Houston. Only three players from the draft have made it to The Show. Combined WAR (all for other teams) of -2.0. This was, mercifully, Tim Purpura’s final draft.

2008: Houston drafts 52 players starting with Jason Castro and Jordan Lyles. Both sign, but 20 players do not. Interesting names in the draft are Ross Seaton (remember when he was The Next Big Thing?), J.B. Shuck and a catcher in the 35th round named Rene Garcia, who is spending part of his third season in Corpus. Combined WAR for the group is 5.3, but Castro alone has earned 5.9 WAR. Hey, even a blind squirrel finds a nut, right? Well, we’re dealing with Ed Wade as GM now, so that’s an improvement.

2009: Houston drafts 51 players starting with Jiovanni Mier at 21st overall. (Good Lord, remember when we were one of the best nine teams in baseball? That seems like forever ago.) Houston signs 24 of its first 26 picks, including a seventh-rounder named Dallas Keuchel. Wonder whatever happened to that guy? Other notable names include Telvin Nash (3rd) and Jonathan Meyer (next pick, competitive balance for not signing Chase Davidson in 2008). In the 20th round we picked J.D. Martinez, and in the 48th round a guy named Paco Rodriguez, who didn’t sign but was drafted in 2012 by the Dodgers and has a 1.7 WAR. Total WAR for the group (including Paco Rodriguez for the Dodgers) is 3.6, and 2.7 WAR of that belongs to that Keuchel kid. Our only top-ten prospects from the 2009 draft are Jonathan Singleton and Domingo Santana, and they were drafted by the Phillies. Oh, and Stassi at No. 11 was picked by Oakland.

2010: Houston drafted 52 players in 2010, and none have made it to The Show as of today. That could change pretty quickly. Of the 52 draftees, only 17 – most from the 32nd round and beyond – didn’t sign. Right now, that 2010 draft is like a who’s who of our minor leagues: Delino DeShields Jr (prospect No. 6, at CC), Mike Foltynewicz (No. 5, at OKC) and Vincent Velasquez (No. 8, Lancaster). There’s no MLB WAR for this group, but that’s sure to change. Other names from this draft include Austin Wates (the pride of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) and Jake Buchanan (NC State) and Thomas “AA Ain’t Nothin’ But A Thang” Shirley. Alex Sogard (NC State … again) was a picked in the 26th round. We also picked up Michael Feliz in the international round, and he’s our No. 9 prospect, after the A’s signed him but steroids voided the deal.

2011: Houston drafted 50 players in 2011, and thus far only one has made it to The Show. You might have heard of this kid. He’s got a 1.0 WAR. Goes by the name of Springer. Not until the 14th round did Houston not sign a draftee, and a total of 15 did not sign. Aside from George Springer, we signed Nick Tropeano (No. 16 prospect, OKC). Teoscar Hernandez was an international signing. I know that’s a different draft, but it was also in 2010. We got him for a lousy $20,000, and now he’s our No. 12 prospect.

2012: This was a banner year. Houston drafted 41 players and signed 31. Most of the non-signees came at the bottom of the draft. In addition to Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers, Rio Ruiz and Nolan Fontana, the draft was deep with guys like MP Cokinos in the 31st round. Again, five of our top twenty prospects came from this draft. No WAR yet, but check back in two years. By the way, this was Luhnow’s first draft.

2013: Of Houston’s 40 picks, it signed its first fourteen before swinging and missing three times. In all, only eight draftees did not sign. Houston picked Mark Appel at the top, then added Andrew Thurman (prospect No. 15, Quad Cities), Kent Emanual, Conrad Gregor, and Tony “On Base” Kemp. Brian Holbertson (9th round, QC) is a catcher making a mockery of the Midwest League as we speak. Kyle Westwood (13th round, Lancaster) is holding up well in the Cal League.

And now Houston is on the clock again. Here’s hoping for another work of art.


How glad are we that the Tim Purpura/Uncle Drayton years are behind us?

How has Luhnow done thus far in drafting?

How much do you now appreciate Ed Wade with a little hindsight?

Who would you pick 1-1?

20 comments on “Once Again, We Hear That Familiar ‘Tick, Tick, Tick …’

  1. Purpura was a disaster. Drayton was good in the beginning and near dementia later.
    Wade’s trades get better with age. Luhnow’s haven’t. That $25,000 payoff this week from Colorado was a joke.
    Luhnows 2012 draft was genius. The draft last year caught up with his style, but Kemp may make that draft look better in two years.
    I would draft the top player on the Astros board. Seriously, they have spent thousands of hours on this 1.1. I would draft the player they have rated #1. They claim Correa was #1 on their board and two years later that seems to be our best draft pick since Berkman. I think Carlos Correa could be the best player in baseball by the year 2018.


  2. I would take Aiken with the first pick. We have some good pitching prospects at the higher levels of the minors that we can afford to draft and develop a high school pitcher and it appears Aiken is the most polished pitcher in the draft.


    • I have never seen Aiken pitch, but if a high school guy is the most polished pitcher in the draft, that’s rather exceptional. But as Brian notes above, a high school arm has not been taken with the first pick in decades. There’s a reason for that. I’ll leave it to the experts. They have much better info than us.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The last high school pitcher taken 1-1 was more than 20 years ago. He was a can’t-miss prospect who … Missed. Never topped AA.

    I’d be happy with Aiken, Rodon or Jackson. Frankly, if Alex Jackson is really an impact bat, he might be the best pick.

    This will be a deep draft. There’s first-round talent 70-80 picks deep. That means four guys that good for Houston.

    Thank goodness we won’t have to suffer through another Purpura debacle. I think we are still feeling the effects of 2007.

    Wade was OK at the draft, but I think this bunch does its due diligence as much for round 38 as it does for those sandwich picks.

    Looking forward to tomorrow.


  4. Adam Dunn now has as many HR as Jeff Bagwell for his career.

    As you pointed out, luhnow’s drafts have all started at 1.1. I don’t think Ed Wade did badly with a couple exceptions. The thing is, however, Mier isn’t the only first rounder from 2009 who won’t sniff the majors. In hindsight mike Trout goes higher than 25 that year.


  5. FYI, 2006 was Max Sapp. The only players of value we got were Chris Johnson and Bud “Don’t Sign That” Norris. 2005 we selected “pitcher” Brian Bogasevic. Aside from Bogy, we got value from Brandon Barnes and negative value from Tommy Manzella.

    So for three years — 2006-2007 — our only real value came from Bud Norris. That’s three wasted years.


  6. Like you point out Brian – 3 seasons of almost nothing draft-wise leaves us where we were – so barren that we had to quick promote Altuve, Martinez and Paredes.
    – I am not glad the early McLane years are gone but the late ones with Purpura especially – stinko.
    – Luhnow looks like he had a tremendous 2012 – while 2013 may end up disappointing. But a lot can happen in the next few seasons.
    – Even when Wade was here I was not totally pounding him. He and Luhnow both seem to have problems signing FAs that really are of value. Wade picked a lot of guys in the draft that are looking good now. His Pence trade which brought back Singleton, Cosart and Zeid with Santana as the PTBNL may be one day considered one of the best in club history. (ironic that Wade was beat on for trading with the Phillies and that trade with the Phillies is his gem).
    – I want them to pick the guy they have rated highest – I wonder if they drafted Appel as their highest rated or as the guy everyone else said was highest.


    • I think Appel was highest rated, and I’m not going to worry about him unless he’s stinking the joint up in mid-July.

      Good point about Wade getting kicked for trading with the Phillies. I always thought a successful burgler knew where the jewels were hidden. That seemed to be the case with Wade and the Phils.


      • Anytime you get folks panning a trade for a bunch of prospects years before those same prospects even have chance to develop, well, those folks are usually the ones that bail early. They seem to be gone now.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I think they wanted Appel most. I’m not concerned with his struggles early on. I don’t have the stats on players having major abdominal surgery, but suspect it played a role in his slow start. If he has a bad spring training in 2015 I’ll consider grumbling.


  7. Good post and thoughts fellars. Looking at our farm a lot of good arms that cant all be in the Bigs with us. Bat or an arm, I would go young on all for the next wave 2018. I’m was one that bagged on Wade, just cause I couldn’t get past he looked and acted like a weasel, but looking back he did a lot of good deals that got us moving in the right direction. I read somewhere lately that some Gurus had Appel as a mid rotation guy anyway. will see. I’m really looking forward to Santana, Correa, Folty, and Tropeano. in the dugout.


  8. With Wojoski back on the shelf, when do they find room for Thomas Shirley at OKC? oldpro, how come no comment on our new first baseman at Lancaster? He had a pretty good night.


    • I glanced at the boxes this morning and I remember Conrad Gregor having a big night and I didn’t understand how I missed his promo. I have guests here and have taken my 3 YO granddaughter under my wing to let the girls have some fun. I am exhausted, but she is exhausted, too, so I must be doing something right.
      I think Gregor is a sleeper. No two ballplayers progress the same and I think Gregor is very mature and moves along at a steady pace. His power is going to develop slower than some because he is not a monster to begin with. He is just steady and determined. I think he is one of those guys that looks good in the minors and will look good in the majors, without ever flashing greatness.. I love having him behind Tucker, who is behind Singleton at first base. One of those three are going to hit a lot. And again, there is the DH, in case we are so blessed that two of them might hit a lot.
      Did you notice that Perdomo, who was hitting over .350 at Lancaster was at 2B for Corpus last night and was 2 for 3 in a shutout loss. Also, Aplin has practically disappeared in CC and Tucker was at 1B all night. The outfield was DDJ, Epps and Heras, who is having an awful time right now. The outfield in CC, which was going so well early in the season has really floundered lately.
      Six steals for Lancaster last night. Correa had two but was thrown out trying for a third at third base.


  9. Top 3 starting pitchers in CC on DL, West, Rodgers and Cruz. I do not like the Tandem pitching system!
    So now Appel has tendonitis and is out for a couple more weeks. At least he’s not injured. Sarcasm.


  10. Well, that would help explain why Shirley might be stuck in CC. oldpro, keep an eye on your precious cargo. We can get along without you for a couple of days.


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