The Houston Astros needed to pull off a solid draft this year. As I said yesterday, General Manager Jeff Luhnow has led the braintrust that has turned around the franchise behind solid draft picks, and big trades. Last night was imperative that Luhnow dug deep and had one last solid draft.
Why was it so important? It’s pretty simple actually. Yes, they are mired in a 5-game losing streak, but the Astros currently sit at 34-25, the best team in the American League. Now, whether the upstart youngsters will hold off the Rangers and Angels all season is a question I can’t answer, but one thing is for sure. These are the new Astros, and they won’t be bad for quite some time.
Luhnow built the current roster with high draft picks, three No. 1 overall picks in fact. Carlos Correa made his big league debut, driving in his first RBI last night and Mark Appel will arrive sooner than later. The 2012 draft alone has three players on the roster set to make an impact. The opportunities to draft sure fire prospects will get harder and harder the further they slip down the draft board.
Last night, Luhnow had a prime opportunity to snag a few last immediate impact players with three picks in the top 40. He did just that, nabbing three of MLB’s Top 7 draft prospects. Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker and Daz Cameron all look like they possess the skills to advance up the Minor League ladder.
I may not agree with the picks, but there is no denying that they are strong picks. I still feel that Dillon Tate should have been a target, with either Tyler Jay or Carson Fulmer the backup plan. Clearly the experts were right and the Astros seemed dismayed by pitching after the slow progress of Mark Appel since taking him No. 1 overall in 2013, and then not being able to sign 2014 No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken. Had the Astros gone Tate, Tucker, and then Daz, I would probably be heralding them as the greatest drafters of all time.
Instead, they had a sensational draft. Bregman will instantly become one of the top middle infield prospects in the Astros system, especially with Correa poised to take over shortstop for a long time coming. He was compared to Dustin Pedroia, leading many to believe he would shift to second base, but a stellar defensive season at shortstop for LSU seems to have clouded that idea. If you are wondering about whether the Astros may fast track Bregman to the Majors, consider this: he is already older than Correa, so it’s not out of the question.
The Astros made it a family affair by drafting their No. 15 prospect’s brother Kyle Tucker. Kyle is seen to be the better all around player, will he make his own blood and big brother Preston expendable via trade when he is ready for the big leagues? Still just 18-years old, some question if he will be able to maintain the centerfield position in professional baseball, but he has all the tools to succeed in a shift to a corner outfield position.
How did Daz Cameron slip to the Astros at 37? The son of former Gold Glover Mike Cameron was considered one of the top outfield prospects in the entire draft, yet he was passed up on by every team. The simple answer is, as usual, money.
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Bleacher Report says that Cameron was expected to seek a $5-million signing deal, which now that he slipped out of the first round seems somewhat ludicrous. As Bleacher Report points out, Cameron is committed to baseball powerhouse Florida State, and with his former big league dad behind him, Daz doesn’t have a need for a big payday, and doesn’t need to rush to the Minor Leagues.
That being said, Cameron finds himself in a good position and although he will probably not get his asking price as a 37th pick, he could still merit close to $2-million. It is understandable why many teams passed on him, but something Cameron needs to consider is whether going to Florida State would increase his value. If he couldn’t get $5-million in the Top 5 picks yesterday, would a few years of college ball change that perception? There is no telling, and it should behoove Daz to join an organization that believes in its draft picks and brings them along with the chance to succeed.
Luhnow and his scouting department hit yet another home run with their first three picks in the MLB Draft last night. Whether they all sign is yet to be seen, but there is little to think that they won’t. The Astros needed one last good draft before their draft picks become less and lower and in turn, they had a great one.