After drafting Mark Appel with the first pick, the Astros continued to add pitching in the next two rounds. Mike Elias and company selected right-hander Andrew Thurman out of Cal-Irvine in the second round and North Carolina lefty Kent Emanuel in the third.
Thurman impressed big league scouts with his outstanding command of a full arsenal of pitches. He features a low-90s fastball and his changeup could be his best pitch. Thurman’s excellent command can be attributed to a smooth delivery that he is able to repeat consistently. What this year’s pitching class lacks in star power it makes up for in depth. Thurman looks like a solid choice even though he projects as a #4 starter.
Emanuel is a similar pitcher to Thurman, only from the left side. He is a 4-pitch pitcher with low-90’s heat and a plus changeup. Emanuel also projects as a #4 or 5 starter. He is a strike thrower — and that seems to be a recurring theme as the Astros go about their business in the early rounds. Although he lacks “wow” stuff, Emanuel knows how to pitch, as is evidenced by his 26-8 record and an ERA in the low twos in three seasons at UNC.
In rounds four and five the Astros selected a pair of infielders from Vanderbilt University. Fourth-rounder Conrad Gregor is a high average and OBP first-baseman. His power numbers have never matched up with his 6′ 3″, 215 pound frame. Gregor hit only three homers at Vandy this season. If the power doesn’t materialize, Gregor will have to hit a ton to be an above average 1B or corner outfielder for the Astros.
Fifth-rounder Tony Kemp is a 5′ 7″, 165 pound second-baseman who also hits for a high average. He has good speed on the basepaths, but lacks any power whatsoever. Originally an outfielder, Kemp has turned into a plus fielder since moving to second. I’m not sure if he projects as much more than a utility player. This pick could be for the purpose of having someone to push Delino Deshields.