2013 MLB Draft Recap: Houston Astros

By Matt Appel

For the second consecutive year, the Astros owned the first overall pick in the MLB Draft. It was unclear, even on draft day, what direction Houston would go in with that selection. Ultimately, the Astros opted to take Stanford RHP Mark Appel first overall. Appel, who went 8th overall to the Pirates in the 2012 draft but went back to Stanford for his senior year, dominated this past season. The righty went 10-4 with a 2.12 ERA in addition to 4 complete games and 2 shutouts. Appel is expected to progress through the Astros system quickly, and the Houston native should make his MLB debut at some point in 2014.

With their next two picks, Houston went back to the college pitching well. RHP Andrew Thurman (UC-Irvine) was the 2nd round pick, and LHP Kent Emanuel (UNC) went next at pick 74 in the third round. Both of these junior hurlers were Friday night starters for their respective teams. Thurman was rumored to have 1st-round potential, but slipped to the Astros at the start of the second round. Great command of his fastball-change up combination has earned Thurman comparison to current Astros’ minor leaguer Nick Tropeano, a former ValleyCat. Thurman was mentioned as one of the more polished college hurlers in this draft. Emanuel is described as lefty workhorse-type starter, who’s best offering is a mid -90’s fastball that he throws with excellent command. The junior pitched to a 2.70 ERA this past year and allowed only 130 base runners in his 120 innings, a very respectable mark. He was named as this past year’s ACC Pitcher of the Year, and anchored the top-seeded Tar Heels rotation.

In the 4th and 5th rounds, the Astros took the liberty to draft the right side of the Vanderbilt infield. 1B Conrad Gregor (No. 107 overall) and 2B Tony Kemp (No. 137 overall) will join each other as players in the Houston organization, should they sign, after playing three years as teammates with the Commodores. Kemp, who stands at 5’7”, was this year’s SEC Player of the Year. He hit an incredible .391 and added a personal high of 34 stolen bases. A .491 OBP adds to Kemp’s credibility as a professional player. His teammate Gregor doesn’t hit for as much power as the standard first baseman does, which impacted his draft stock reportedly, but his ability to get on base at a high rate still makes him a threat in the lineup. Gregor had a career-best 48 RBI this year for Vanderbilt.

The ‘Stros went to the high school level in the 6th for a player with great upside. C Jacob Nottingham (No. 167 overall) was a two-sport standout at Redlands HS in California, and has the ceiling of an All-Star level catcher in the Majors. James Ramsay, an All-Big East outfielder at USF, went next to Houston at pick 197. Ramsay was one of the best defenders in all of Division-1 this past season, and has solid offensive tools. In the 8th round, the Astros took UNC catcher and Kent Emanuel’s battery mate Brian Holberton. Holberton excels best while at the plate, as opposed to behind it.

In the 35th round, the Astros took a player with a familiar last name. Kacy Clemens was drafted by the team his dad, Roger, once played and now works for with the 1037th overall pick. However, Kacy, a right-handed pitcher with similar mechanics to his father, says he is going to stay true to his commitment to the University of Texas.

Overall, the Astros took 24 pitchers out of their 40picks in the draft, attempting to meet an organizational need for pitching at all levels. Here is the complete list of the players Houston took. Look for some of those 40 players to be here at “The Joe” in 2013.

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