Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow appeared on today’s radio pregrame show with Robert Ford and Steve Sparks. Luhnow talked about some of the players the Astros selected in this year’s draft and also touched on the recent roster moves involving Wade LeBlanc and Brad Peacock.
When asked by Ford and Sparks about the three college pitchers taken by Houston in the first three rounds, Luhnow said he believes Mark Appel will sign relatively quickly because “it makes sense for everyone involved”. Luhnow went on to say that Appel could possibly advance through the entire minor league system in a year or less. Luhnow continued, stating that he “wouldn’t be surprised if all three pitchers (Appel, Andrew Thurman, & Kent Emanuel) are in the Astros rotation five years from now”.
Luhnow said he believes picks four and five, Conrad Gregor and Tony Kemp, are products of an outstanding Vanderbilt program and have the potential to advance quickly through the minors. Luhnow called Kemp a “spark plug” type of player and mentioned him in the same sentence with Jose Altuve.
When asked about eighth round pick Jason Martin, a high school centerfielder from California, Luhnow said the Astros had scouted him repeatedly and were pleasantly surprised that he was still available in the eighth round.
Luhnow also beamed about 40th round pick Tyler Brunnemann. As a senior at Hardin Simmons University, the right-hander allowed only 20 hits in 40 innings while amassing 62 strikeouts.
With 21 pitchers selected by the Astros, the farm system is going to see another influx of young arms. Luhnow confirmed that the “piggybacking” system of starting pitchers will continue to be used in the minors next year.
I had mentioned in an earlier post that the Astros draft strategy seemed to put an emphasis on pitchers who are strike throwers and hitters who have good plate discipline. Luhnow confirmed today that plate discipline was an important characteristic that the Astros emphasized. He went on to say that it was something that was difficult to teach to players in the minor leagues. I’m going to go ahead and assume that throwing strikes fits into that same category.
Astros fans, in general, seem to be pretty happy with this year’s draft. But another recent move left many fans scratching their heads. I’m talking about the waiver claim of Wade LeBlanc and subsequent demotion of Brad Peacock. Luhnow also addressed that point in today’s interview with Ford and Sparks. Luhnow said the Astros like LeBlanc’s secondary pitches and his command and didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to add him to the bullpen mix. As for Peacock, Luhnow said that the plan all along was to send him back to Oklahoma City so he could continue to develop as a starter.