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?”
“Come on. We talked about this.”
“Look, Mike, the draft is an art.”
“Then why do we apply our Decision Science team to it?”
“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.”
“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?