Astros Draft Updates: Latest signings, Korey Lee makes debut

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

Astros first round draft pick Korey Lee made his minor league debut, and nine of the top 10 picks have signed.

Getting right down to business, Astros first round draft pick Korey Lee made his minor league debut on Monday. Lee was assigned to the Class-A short season Tri-City ValleyCats and started his first game, going 0-for-4 at the plate.

Lee also allowed a stolen base in his debut, but was perfect in 10 fielding chances. He should be a sound defensive catcher with a particularly strong arm and good power at the plate, and he could advance quickly. He hit .338 for Cal this season and threw out 12 of 27 stolen base attempts.

Lee signed last week for a bonus of $1.75 million, which is below his slot value of $2.26 million. In fact, the majority of the Astros’ Top 10 picks have signed for less than slot value.

Piling Up the Savings

Second-round infielder Grae Kessinger signed for a $750,000 bonus, below his slot value of $953,100. Matthew Barefoot (sixth round OF), Blair Henley (seventh round P) and Luis Guerrero (eighth round OF) signed for $150,000 each, which is below all of their slot values. C.J. Stubbs (10th round C), brother of Garrett Stubbs, signed for $85,000, also well below slot value.

Those savings are then reinvested in other picks. While ninth round pitcher Peyton Battenfield signed for exactly his slot value, the Astros were able to give their fourth and fifth round picks a bonus beyond slot value in order to entice them to sign.

The biggest beneficiary was fourth-rounder Colin Barber, a high school outfielder who had committed to play college ball at Oregon. By offering him a $1 million bonus (well above his $410,100 slot value), the Astros convinced him to bypass college and go pro. Fifth-round pitcher Hunter Brown also signed for slightly above his slot value.

This is similar to what the Astros did when drafting Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers, Jr. Since they were able to sign Correa for less than his slot value, they used the savings to sign McCullers to an above-slot deal, when he otherwise might not have signed. That maneuver worked out pretty well.

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So thus far, the only Top 10 pick who hasn’t signed is third-round outfielder Jordan Brewer, who’s still playing in the College World Series with Michigan.

***Statistics courtesy of and***