June 2012

Updated Draft Results

by: Gabe Cassillo

After 2 Days of the MLB Draft, the Astros have selected 16 players, ranging from first overall pick, Carlos Correa, to number 459, Erik Gonzalez.  While there’s still one more day, and still 25 more rounds to go, let’s take a brief look at what the Astros were able to do through the first part of this years draft.  Check out some of the MLB.com scouting videos for a more in-depth look at some of the Astros top selections.

1. (1)  Carlos Correa-SS (Puerto Rico Baseball Academy)

At only 17, Correa became the highest selected Puerto Rican player in the history of the MLB Draft.  6′ 4” 170 lbs. with room to grow, Correa is seen by many as a five-tool talent and could develop into the next great shortstop, drawing comparisons to a young Alex Rodriguez, and Troy Tulowitzki.

2. (41)  Lance McCullers-RHP (Jesuit HS, FL)

One of the themes in this year’s draft for the Astros was upside.  In McCullers, they got a top 10 talent in the supplementary round due to signability concerns.  At 6′ 1” and 190, McCullers throws hard in the upper 90s. Interestingly enough, he was also drafted at the same pick (41) as his dad, Lance McCullers Sr., was, 30 years ago to the day.


3. (61)  Nolan Fontana-SS (University of Florida)

The first college selection by the Astros, Fontana is a solid defender with good speed and an average bat.  At 5′ 11” 190, Fontana is most likely the first of this year’s class to spend his summer in Tri-City.

4. (96) Brady Rodgers-RHP (Arizona State)

Not quite elite, but still very talented and a solid pick, Rodgers will most likely be one of the ‘Cats arms this summer.  He’s a 6′ 1” 195 lbs. righty with an average fastball, and three other secondary pitches.

5. (129) Rio Ruiz-3B (Bishop Amat HS, CA)

The third high schooler taken by the Astros, Ruiz is from Southern California and fell in the draft after having to miss time this season following surgery to break up a blood clot near his clavicle.  Ruiz definitely has solid tools to be a Major leaguer and looks like a solid pick given his position for the Astros.

*Disclaimer*  Before you go any further, let’s just take a step back.  The reality of these next few picks is that no one knows what they will be.  From this point on, and really the first few rounds as well, any projections are just a pundits best guess.

6. (159) Andrew Aplin-CF (Arizona State University)

7. (189) Brett Phillips-CF (Seminole HS, FL)

8. (219) Preston Tucker-OF (Univeristy of Florida)

9. (249) Tyler Heineman-C (UCLA)

10. (279) Daniel Minor-RHP (Texas A&M Corpus Christi)

11. (309) Joseph Bircher-LHP (Bradley University)

12. (339) Hunter Virant-LHP (Adolfo Camarillo HS, CA)

13. (369) Joyce Terrell-LF (Florida State)

14. (399) Brian Holmes-LHP (Wake Forest)

15. (429) Joe Sclafini-SS (Dartmouth)

16. (459) Erick Gonzalez-RHP (Gateway Community College, AZ)

Keep checking back here at ‘Cats Corner for more updated coverage of the draft and the 2012 ValleyCats.  We will be posting more comprehensive info about each of the players when we get an official roster early next week.

Reaction: Draft Day One

by: Evan Valenti (@EvanValenti)

The Houston Astros shocked the Major League Baseball world last night when they passed on both Mark Appel (RHP, Stanford) and Bryon Buxton (OF, Appling County HS) with the first-overall pick, and selected young Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa (Puerto Rico Baseball Academy). They followed that up by taking Lance McCullers Jr. (RHP, Jesuit HS) with their sandwich pick (41st overall).

And I love both picks.

Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, P.R.

I had read earlier in the day that Correa was shooting up draft boards, with rumors of him going possibly at number three overall to the Seattle Mariners. With more investigation, it became clear that he was in the mix with the Astros at number one. But the experts still thought it would come down to Buxton or Appel, with most leaning towards Appel. Instead, Houston selected the “toolsy” middle-infielder, who draws comparisons to Alex Rodriguez and Troy Tulowitzki (extremely high praise). He should be a relatively easy sign, with some thinking he will sign under-slot, which is a huge bonus.

Here’s the book on Correa (via Baseball Prospect Nation)

Carlos Correa, 6’3″-6’4″, 190 pounds

On-Base (Avg):          20/50
Power:                           30/60
Arm:                               50/60
Fielding:                      40/50
Speed:                           50/40 

Other experts and scouts think that Correa is a better hitter now and could end up at a 60 grade if he lives up to the hype. His power is clearly one of his biggest tools, hence the A-Rod and Tulo comparisons. His bat gets through the zone pretty quickly, but he will have to shorten his swing against professional pitchers. He has a knack for hitting the ball with power to all fields, which could turn into a plus-tool if he fills out the way people think he will (remember he is only 17-years old).

Defensively, he’s a wiz. He moves fluidly, has great range (despite his big frame), a plus arm, and great glove. Again, as he fills out his body, he might have to switch over to third base. But his glove is so good that it will play at the hot corner, so that should not be a concern.

Lance McCullers Jr., RHP, Jesuit HS, FL

McCullers slipped a lot if you look at Jim Callis’ big board of best player available (BPA). Callis had Lance ranked 13th overall, but McCullers had some signability issues attached to him. He has a strong commitment to Florida, but obviously could be signed for the right price. MLB.com and MLB Network’s Jonathan Mayo believed that a team with multiple picks last night would be the team to take the talented right hander. He was right (even though he guessed the Cardinals pretty much the entire show). The Astros can use the money they saved by drafting Correa over Appel (who’s price tag is rumored to be high) and give it to McCullers.

Below is the scouting report on McCullers (once again brought to you by Baseball Prospect Nation):

Lance McCullers Jr, 6’2″, 192 pounds

Fastball:               60/70
Curveball:           30/50
Slider:                   50/70
Change-up:        30/40
Control:               30/50  
Command:        20/40  

McCullers has great bloodlines. His father, Lance, was a big league pitcher for a couple different teams for seven years (Padres, Yankees Tigers, Rangers). He has great raw stuff that has the potential for a nasty four-pitch arsenal that features three plus, potentially plus-plus, pitches. His fastball sits in the mid-90’s and can touch 98-99 mph. Needs to work on consistent arm slot, but that can be corrected with good coaching. His breaking stuff needs work, but there’s room to have nasty off-speed pitches that can be thrown as an “out” pitch. With more work, McCullers could be one of the most talented arms taken in this year’s draft.

The Astros aimed high with these first two picks, which I have no problem with. Jeff Luhnow, Houston’s General Manager, believes Correa “has a chance to be a star” in the Majors no matter where he plays. They took a risk with McCullers, but I believe it will pay off. Houston could not have done much better on day one. I wonder what is in store for day two.

Go to tcvalleycats.com to participate in day-two’s live chat! Chat room starts at 12 p.m. on June 5.

Draft Tonight

Tonight the MLB Draft will take place starting at 7pm.  The Astros will be picking 1st overall as well as in the 41st slot (supplementary round).   A lot is still unsettled and will most likely remain so right up to draft time regarding who will be selected.  Stay in the loop with the ValleyCats Network (VCN) throughout the day, and join us for a live chat starting at 6:30.

Twitter: @ValleyCats, @EvanValenti

Facebook.com/valleycats

Live Chat: https://client.scribblelive.com/user/Login.aspx (either click view live chat or sign in with an account)

Who’s Number Two?

by: Evan Valenti (@EvanValenti)

It seems that the Astros will either select Matt Appel (RHP, Stanford, Ca.) or Bryon Buxton (OF, Appling County HS, Ga.) with the team’s first-overall pick on Monday night, barring some unforeseen change. But Houston has another pick on day one as compensation for losing Clint Barmes to the Pirates in the offseason.

So who should they pick at number 41?

Ty Buttrey, RHP, Providence HS, Charlotte, NC:

MyMLBDraft.com has the Astros selecting right-hander Ty Buttrey with its comp pick. A 6-foot 5-inch, 205 pound mammoth, Buttrey features a couple of pitches that could turn into plus-pitches with some fine tuning. At 18-years old, Ty throws his fastball in the high-80’s, low-90’s (he hit 97 mph once), which can be heavy at times. He has two off-speed offerings that project to 50 on the scouting scale (curveball and change-up), but both need some work. He needs to tighten up the curveball and the change-up will come with time. His height will definitely be one of his biggest assets as he continues to fill out his body. Buttrey is committed to Arkansas in the fall.

James Ramsey, OF, Florida State:

At 6-feet and 195 pounds, Ramsey is often lauded for the hard work he puts in day in and day out. Drafted last year in the 22nd round, scouts project this toolsy outfielder as a fringe everyday outfielder, with room for growth. He tools are all average, except for his plus speed, but tends to play above them. This season he hit .382/.515/.673 with 12 homers (team leader) and 49 RBI. Last year he was named the MVP of the Cape League All-Star Game, where he deposited a home run into the bullpen at Fenway Park.

Mitch Nay, 3B, Hamilton HS, Chandler, AZ.

Nay got off to a slow start this season, but has really turned it around lately. A prototypical body for a third baseman (6’3″, 195) and has a plus-arm. Scouts tend to think that he’ll end up moving to right field as he gets older because his glove isn’t great at the hot corner. Nay has had trouble handling off-speed pitches, but has improved in that category as the season has progressed which makes scouts think he can end up hitting for average. Don’t be fooled though. Power at the plate is Nay’s biggest asset. He is committed to Arizona State in the fall.

Tom Murphy, C, Buffalo:

I tweeted about Murphy a few days ago after a regional scout raved to me about him. He told me he loved this kid and whoever ended up selecting the catcher from Buffalo would end up loving him as well. “Murph” hit .311/.396/.616 this season for the Bulls with 13 home runs and 51 batted in (both team-highs). He’s quick for a catcher (ran a 6.7 60) and he is decent behind the plate, but has to work on his throwing as the ball tends to sail on him every now and then. No mistake about it, his biggest asset is his power. In a showcase against Team USA, Murphy hit an estimated 450-foot bomb against LSU’s (and top-ten pick) Kevin Gausman (watch it below). He is a junior at Buffalo, but one would think if he is selected that high Houston could lure him away from his final year with the Bulls.

Nick Williams, OF, Ball HS, Galveston, TX:

I wanted to throw a wild card in here and I think Williams fits that mold. A raw, toolsy dynamo who confuses scouts all across the country. Some see him as a Ken Griffey Jr./Andruw Jones type center fielder with power to all fields, speed to burn (6.47 60), but needs some work defensively. Has quick bat speed, but he tends to have a lot of movement in his swing which he will need to tighten up as he faces better competition. He has tools you just can’t teach, but will definitely need some time to develop. Williams is committed to Texas in the fall.

Make sure you stay tuned for more coverage leading up to the 2012 MLB Draft on Monday, June 4, at 7 p.m.!

Information from Baseball America was used in this report

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