A Closer Look at the Astros Draft

by: Evan Valenti (@EvanValenti)

ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian once told me one of the reason’s why he is so successful is because he has a knack for noticing the uncanny. As a kid, he studied box scores looking for irregularities, interesting/rare stats, etc. and has applied that to his professional journalism career (KurkGems is always a “must watch” segment). So, with that in mind, I decided to put the Houston Astros draft under the microscope.

As a part of its exclusive draft coverage, Baseball America ranks each of the 50 states and Puerto Rico as well as the players associated with each section. They rank it on a 1-5 star system, with a “1-star” grade being the lowest and a “5-star” grade being the highest grade (a 5 grade indicates a draft class that is “one for the books”). The only area that received a 5-star grade was Puerto Rico, with Astros draftee Carlos Correa being the top talent. 

The Astros first nine picks came from three areas: the Southeast (Puerto Rico and Florida), Arizona, and California. Florida and California received 4-star grades (12 total draft picks from those two areas) while Arizona received a 2-star grade (3 draft picks). Houston also drafted nine total players from its home state of Texas (3-star) and three from Illinois (2-star)

Florida and Puerto Rico:

The Astros, under the influences of Larry Pardo (amateur scout for Southern Florida and Puerto Rico), John Martin (amateur scout for Northern and Central Florida), and JD Alleva (Houston’s East Regional Supervisor), drafted some of the region’s top players. We all know Correa was the top talent in Puerto Rico, but Houston feasted on this area hoping it will pay dividends in the future.

List of P.R. and FL Draftees (rankings indicated per Baseball America, high school talent in italics):

Carlos Correa, SS – 1st (P.R.)
Lance McCullers JR, RHP – 3rd (FL)
Nolan Fontana, SS – 9th (FL)
Brett Phillips, OF – 17th (FL)
Preston Tucker, OF/1B – 34th (FL)
Terrell Joyce, OF – NR
Mike Martinez, 1B – 62nd (FL)


Arizona State’s baseball program is a powerhouse. Known for its success (Barry Bonds, Reggie Jackson, Andre Ethier, Dustin Pedroia just to name a few), Arizona State finds itself ranked this year among the nation’s elite. So it is easy to see why Houston would want to grab a few players from that program.

List of AZ Draftees:

Brady Rodgers, RHP – 4th
Andrew Aplin, OF – 9th
Erick Gonzalez, RHP -29th


California is widely considered one of the best, if not the best, state for baseball talent year-in and year-out. Lauded for its talent in the collegiate ranks (UCLA, Cal-State programs, Stanford), California has a huge advantage: its ability to sustain high-quality baseball all year long. 

List of CA Draftees:

Rio Ruiz, 3B – 21st (Northern Cal.)
Tyler Heineman, C – 53rd (Northern Cal.)
Hunter Virant, LHP – 10th (Northern Cal.)


Much like Florida and California, Texas is another state that has the ability for an athlete to participate in a sport year-round. Texas might be the best state for producing pure athletic talent, no matter the sport. With nine selections from all over the state, the Astros clearly have a taste for home cooking.

List of TX Draftees:

Daniel Minor, RHP – NR
Austin Elkins, 2B – 63rd
Travis Ballew, RHP – 45th
CJ Hinojosa, SS – 9th
Angel Ibanez, 3B – NR
John Neely, RHP – NR
Mike “MP” Cokinos, C – NR
Mitchell Traver, RHP – 13th
Joe Shaw, RHP – 64th 

Make sure you keep checking the blog for updates on who has signed! ValleyCats roster coming soon!


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