We take a look back at the Houston Astros picks in the 2013 MLB Draft.
The 2013 MLB Draft wasn’t kind to the Houston Astros. We could generously call it disappointing, but I’d rather characterize it as a flat-out embarrassment. While 2012 went pretty well, the team got almost nothing out of their 2013 picks.
This was the second straight year they’d had the No. 1 overall selection, and it worked out pretty well the first time. They’d passed on Mark Appel in 2012 to take Carlos Correa, and when Appel came around again in 2013, perhaps Jeff Luhnow figured he’d be crazy to pass on him again.
The Top Pick
Appel was a can’t-miss talent out of Stanford, and the Astros took him first overall. Unfortunately he was never able to translate his college success into pro ball, as evidenced by his career 5.06 ERA in the minor leagues. He posted a 4.37 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A in 2015, his last year in the Houston system.
The Astros traded Appel to the Phillies in late 2015 in the Ken Giles trade. Appel was limited to just eight starts in 2016 before posting a 5.27 ERA at Triple-A in 2017, and he would retire after that. So in the end, the Astros got basically nothing for their No. 1 overall pick.
It hurts even more when you look at the other options. The Cubs took Kris Bryant second overall, while Jon Gray went third overall to the Rockies. The Astros could’ve changed the course of baseball history if they’d taken Bryant instead of Appel. Aaron Judge was also taken in the first round, but he went at No. 32 and wouldn’t have been much of an option to go first overall at the time.
The Rest of the Top Five
With their second round pick, the Astros selected pitcher Andrew Thurman out of UC-Irvine. He posted a 5.38 ERA in A-ball in 2014 before heading to Atlanta in the Evan Gattis trade. He never advanced beyond Double-A and has been out of affiliated ball since 2017. Others taken in the second round include Trevor Williams, Oscar Mercado and Chad Pinder.
In the third round, the team took left-hander Kent Emanuel out of the University of North Carolina. His advance through the minors has been somewhat slow, but he was added to the 40-man roster this past offseason, so the jury is still out on this pick. Tyler O’Neill, JaCoby Jones and Ryon Healy also went in the third round.
The Astros went for offense with first baseman Conrad Gregor out of Vanderbilt in the fourth round. He hit quite well in A-ball but never got it going in Double-A. He’s played Independent League ball the past three seasons. Here’s a big miss — Cody Bellinger was taken later in this fourth round.
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In the fifth round, the team finally found a player who’d reach the majors — Tony Kemp. He hit .240/.322/.376 in 239 games with the Astros before being traded to the Cubs for Martin Maldonado in 2019. He’s currently on the Oakland Athletics’ roster.
Other Notable Picks
I’ll refrain from using the term “late round gems” simply because there weren’t really any here. The sixth round pick, high school catcher Jacob Nottingham, went to Oakland in the Scott Kazmir deal in 2015 and then to Milwaukee in the Khris Davis deal in 2016. He’s provided 0.3 WAR in 18 major league games over two seasons.
The only other pick to reach the majors was the team’s 33rd round pick, first baseman Tyler White, who provided 0.5 WAR in parts of four seasons with the Astros. He was traded to the Dodgers in 2019 for minor league pitcher Andre Scrubb.
But that’s it. Only four of the team’s 40 picks have reached the major leagues thus far, and two of them did so with other teams. The other two are no longer with the Astros, so they’ve effectively gotten almost nothing from their 2013 draft class. For a rebuilding team with the No. 1 overall pick, that’s pretty rough.