Keith Law Thinks the Astros Are Going After A Tall Flame-Throwing Prep Pitcher in the 2016 MLB Draft.
After writing the post that the Houston Astros should go after a catcher in the first round of the 2016 MLB Draft, I read that Keith Law is hearing that the Astros may be after a prep school type of pitcher in the first round. Here is a quote from Law’s MLB Mock Draft 3.0 on whom the Astros will pick, “I’ve heard the Astros linked to prep arms (Whitley in particular) and college arms, so I guess you could say they’re looking for a pitcher.”
Let’s take a look at the pitching picks by the Houston Astros in recent drafts in the first round, and it hasn’t been too promising outside of probably Lance McCullers late in the 1st round of the 2012 MLB Draft, the recent first round pitching selections have been misses for the Astros. With Mark Appel in 2013 and Brady Aiken in the 2014 draft, both players are no longer in the Astros system. This gives Astros fans some hesitancy over picking a pitcher in the first round.
Part of the reason that the Astros are seeking a pitcher could be that the Astros selected three hitters in the first round in 2015, with Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker, and Daz Cameron. Part of what Jeff Luhnow’s goal was to build a system that continuously replenishes itself over time, they need to alternate picks based on what they addressed the previous year. I’m exaggerating this a little, just trying to justify why they are going after a pitcher when the catcher depth is weak.
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Who is this T.J. Zeuch that Law says thinks the Astros would pick and who is the Forest Whitley that he suggests that the Astros are after? According to MLB Pipeline, Zeuch has a tall frame, being 6’7” tall, and his fastball sits around 92-94 according to MLB Pipeline. He has hit 96-97 mph since his return to the mound following his groin injury. He also throws a slider and changes up around 80 ish mph, but his upper 70’s curveball is his second best pitch.
Whitley is expected to go with the 15th overall pick to the Twins, who is a 6’7” high school pitcher out of San Antonio. Like Zeuch, he can throw the fastball 92-97 mph with a curveball in the lower eighties. He was just a kid throwing in the 70’s when he started high school, but now he has developed into a power pitcher as he leaves high school.
If we are to interpret what Law is predicting, the Astros are looking for a tall power pitcher in high school. With the arms of McCullers, Joseph Musgrove, David Paulino, Francis Martes, and others, they think that they have the arms needed now. This selection could mean they are looking for a pitcher who will be ready in 2020 or beyond.
Yesterday, I wrote that the Astros should draft Zach Collins, Law says he will be drafted around the 10th overall pick in the draft. Maybe in the second round, the Astros can draft a catcher. I will continue looking at other positions tomorrow.
One pitcher I don’t see the Astros going after would be Cal Quantrill because of his recent Tommy John surgery, the Astros restructured Aiken’s contract following their elbow concerns on him.
***Stats and info from MLB Pipeline***