We take a look back at the Houston Astros picks in the 2015 amateur draft.
It’s sometimes a tricky business when you’re drafting amateur players in the game of baseball, as the Houston Astros can attest. Unlike in football and basketball, the draft picks are often at least a couple of years away from being ready for the big time, and thus it can be tougher to project how they’ll fare.
But a good draft can build a foundation for sustained success, while a bad draft can set a franchise back years. So since we have nothing better to do, we’ll start evaluating each Astros draft, starting from 2015 and working backward, since the more recent drafts need more time to fully evaluate.
The First Rounders
The Astros were fortunate to have the second and fifth overall picks in this draft. The second pick came virtue of their failure to sign the No. 1 overall pick from 2014, Brady Aiken. They used it to select LSU shortstop Alex Bregman, which I’d say was a home run selection.
Bregman has already turned in 22.4 WAR in the majors, making him the most valuable pick in this draft so far. The player taken before him, Dansby Swanson, has totaled 4.6 WAR so far with the Braves. Though he didn’t stick at his drafted position, that wasn’t due to lack of ability on Bregman’s part, and he’s proven to be a strong defensive third baseman thus far.
With the fifth pick, the Astros took high school outfielder Kyle Tucker, who quickly became one of the game’s top prospects. He hasn’t fully established himself in the majors yet, but 2020 was going to be his year to do that. His development took longer simply because of his status as a high school draftee, and he could become a perennial All-Star yet. There’s no reason to disagree with this pick, although Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi was taken two spots later.
With the 37th overall pick, the Astros selected high school outfielder Daz Cameron, son of former major leaguer Mike Cameron. The younger Cameron was traded to the Tigers in the Justin Verlander deal, and his star has since dimmed a bit. This may not turn out to have been a great pick, but the team sold high to bring in a future Hall of Famer.
The Second through Fifth Rounds
In the second round, the Astros took pitcher Tom Eshelman out of Cal State Fullerton. He was traded to the Phillies in the Ken Giles deal, which we just took another look at in detail. He just reached the majors this year with the Orioles. Phillies second baseman Scott Kingery was taken two spots later, though not much has come from this second round in terms of major league success thus far.
The club took TCU pitcher Riley Ferrell with its third round pick. Ferrell has yet to reach the majors and briefly left the Astros via the Rule 5 Draft. He’s now 26 and is still searching for success at the Triple-A level. Perhaps one day he will become a useful reliever in the majors. Rays infielder Brandon Lowe and Cardinals outfielder Harrison Bader were taken later in this round.
In the fourth round, the Astros took catcher Anthony Hermelyn out of the University of Oklahoma. He hit just .227 in three minor league seasons, only reaching High-A ball. He’s played the past two years in Independent League ball. Cardinals infielder Paul DeJong was taken later in the fourth round.
With their fifth round pick, the Astros grabbed pitcher Trent Thornton out of the University of North Carolina. He was traded to the Blue Jays in Nov. 2018 for Aledmys Diaz and pitched to a 4.84 ERA in 154.1 innings for Toronto in 2019.
Late Round Gems
In the eighth round, the Astros took catcher Garrett Stubbs out of the University of Southern California. Hardly a can’t-miss prospect, he’s advanced to essentially become the team’s third catcher with some defensive versatility. If rosters are expanded in a potential 2020 season, he could find himself on the team.
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In the 12th round, Myles Straw came to the Astros out of St. Johns River Community College in Florida. He’s developed into a speed and defense-first outfielder with solid contact ability and some plate discipline. As we looked at recently, he could be in line for the everyday center field job in 2021.
The Astros took outfielder Drew Ferguson in the 19th round out of Belmont University. He’s yet to reach the majors but hit .250 in major league Spring Training this year and has a career .293 average in the minors. He could be in line for a bench role on the 2021 club.
A couple of familiar names show up later in the draft. The Astros took Conor Biggio, son of Craig Biggio, in the 34th round, and Kody Clemens, son of Roger Clemens, in the 35th round. Biggio never played in the minors, while Clemens chose to play at the University of Texas instead and was drafted by the Tigers in the third round in 2018.
One more familiar name pops up in the form of 37th round pick Luken Baker out of Oak Ridge High School in Conroe. He chose to attend TCU and had a distinguished career at the plate before being drafted by the Cardinals in the second round in 2018.