Astros 2012 First Rounder makes Spring Training Debut


The 2012 draft, as far as Astros fans are concerned, is largely recognized for the number one overall selection in Carlos Correa. At times it seems that people have forgotten about the Astros second first round pick of that draft. On Tuesday afternoon, Lance McCullers Jr., or LMJ for short, appeared for his MLB Spring Training debut.

Correa and McCullers have shared a lot of playing time between the lower levels of the Astros system. In 2013 they were apart of a championship team with the Quad City River Bandits. A year later they were apart of a 2014 Lancaster Jethawks team with plenty of talent.

It is too soon to write their script moving forward. But it is noteworthy that that McCullers likely would not be in the system had the Astros not drafted Correa. In case you have forgotten: Correa signed an under-slot deal in 2012. The Astros savings on Correa enabled them to take a kid who had slid due to signability concerns.

McCullers was a top-of-the-draft talent due to a baseball pedigree. He also possessed two major league offerings in an electric fastball and a great curve ball. With the 41st pick in the 2012 draft, the Astros were able to draft and sign McCullers. Between two rookie-level affiliates, LMJ pitched to a 3.46 ERA in 26 innings of work.

Lance seems to have handled his first two professional seasons fairly well. Though some scouts are quick to point out mechanic issues to cause high walk rates, Lance is still only 21 years old. Being a high school draft pick means that he is going to continue to be well younger than his competition.

This sentiment is shared with Fangraphs writer Kiley McDaniel in an Astros prospect evaluation:

"“McCullers had some predictable troubles in the Cal League last year (walks and homers, mostly), but will be 21 in a more neutral Double-A environment next year. One scout said he thinks McCullers turns into a #3 starter that throws a shutout one game, then walks five guys the next game. The backup plan is a closer along the lines of Brad Lidge or Francisco Rodriguez, so the Astros should get a solid contributor as long as McCullers stays healthy.”"

Tuesday’s outing led to 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, and 1 K. That is certainly a good sight to see from Lance, who enters the 2015 season at 21 years old.

McCullers may be advancing somewhat slow throughout the system, but he is a great arm to follow throughout the season. He has been apart of two championship teams so far in his professional career. Will he help the 2015 Corpus Christi Hooks to a Texas League Championship?