Astros Draft Targets: Walker Buehler RHP
By Eric Huysman
In this series of posts, I will look at the top-ten prospects available to the Houston Astros to draft with the second and fifth overall picks. While it all depends on who the Arizona Diamondbacks take with the number one pick, the Astros will be able to scoop up whatever leftovers are available when they are on the clock.
The draft class took a big hit with the loss of Michael Matuella to Tommy John Surgery. While there are plenty other pitchers available, Matuella will still be drafted in the first round by a team willing to wait. If the Astros recent history with Brady Aiken, it does not look like the Astros will be one of them. With Matuella out of the picture, let’s look at Walker Buehler, a right-handed pitcher from Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt seems to be an Astros feeder recently giving us Tony Kemp and Conrad Gregor among others.
Who is Walker Buehler
The 20-year old junior from Vanderbilt was previously drafted by the Pirates in 2012, but chose to honor his commitment to Vanderbilt. He missed the start of the 2015 college season with a sore elbow but returned with his normal repertoire. Scouting reports say that he normally pitches between 92-94 and hits 96 on occasion. Walker has four pitchers that could be elite in the majors, but his top two pitches are his fastball and curveball. His changeup is very inconsistent, similar to the Houston Astros offense this year. He is 6’1 and 165 pounds, so he is a thin framed pitcher.
Buehler gained some press in 2014 by leading the Vanderbilt to the College World Series, giving the Commodores to their first ever World Series win. He is currently on the same team as several players who are destined to go in the early rounds of the MLD draft. With the loss of Matuella, most people feel like he is the top pitcher available.
Buehler pitched eight innings on April 11th, only allowing five hits with 13 strikeouts. The Commodores lost the game in the ninth inning of that game, but it had nothing to do with the potential top draft pick.
Why Would the Astros Draft Buehler?
The Astros lost the number one pick last year with the Brady Aiken drama, so there might be internal pressure to replace that arm in the farm system. Because Aiken was a high school pitcher, signing a college arm would make up for the year of missed player development. If the Astros draft him, there is potential for him be up with the Astros in 2017. Buehler would give the Astros a potential 1-2 punch in the rotation with Mark Appel.
If the Astros do draft Buehler, they should draft a hitter with the number five pick and the first-round pick next year. The Astros lost out on a potential stud hitter in the 2013 draft in Kris Bryant to draft Appel. While the Astros do have hitting prospects, besides Carlos Correa, none of them are expected to be a Bryant type star. The current Astros hitters are struggling to make contact; it would be great to know that we have so more hitting prospects in the pipeline. I hope shortstop Brendan Rodgers is available with the second pick of the draft, but the Diamondbacks will probably pick him up.
What Are Others Saying?
MLB Draft Blotter by Jesse Burkhart
"Vanderbilt righthander Walker Buehler made his second start of the year on Sunday after being sidelined the first couple of weeks with elbow soreness. He sat 92-94 mph and touched 96 with an 11-to-5 curveball that registered between 79-81, allowing four hits and one earned run over four innings. Although his 6-foot-1, 165-pound frame isn’t an ideal starting pitcher’s build, he offers a fastball and curveball that both grade as future plus with a changeup that flashes above-average, giving him front-end potential. I wish there was less effort in his motion, but that will become less of a concern as fills out his wiry, athletic frame."
I wrote about Brendan Rodgers here.
I wrote about Michael Matuella here.
Keep up with the rest of the series below.
Astros Draft Prospect: Kyle Funkhouser
Astros Draft Prospect: Trenton Clark
Astros Draft Prospect: Walker Buehler
Astros Draft Prospect: Jon Harris
Astros Draft Prospect: Tyler Jay
Astros Draft Prospect: Andrew Benintendi
Astros Draft Prospect: Kyle Tucker
Astros Draft Prospect: Daz Cameron
Astros Draft Prospect: Dillon Tate
Astros Draft Prospect: Alex Bregman
Astros Draft Prospect: Carson Fulmer
Astros Draft Prospect: Dansby Swanson
Astros Draft Prospect: Brendan Rodgers
CTH Mock Draft (First Five Picks)
Next: Astros Top Prospects Part 3: 10 - 6
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