Astros: Revisiting the 2012 amateur draft hits, misses

WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 09: Carlos Correa #1 of the Houston Astros in action against the Detroit Tigers during a spring training baseball game at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 9, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Astros defeated the Tigers 2-1. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 09: Carlos Correa #1 of the Houston Astros in action against the Detroit Tigers during a spring training baseball game at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 9, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Astros defeated the Tigers 2-1. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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We take a look back at the Houston Astros picks in the 2012 MLB draft.

For the first time during the Houston Astros extensive rebuild, they had the first overall draft pick. The year was 2012, and they needed to hit big in this draft to set themselves up for the future. As it turns out, they did just that.

Many thought Stanford pitcher Mark Appel or outfielder Byron Buxton would go first overall, but the Astros surprised everyone and went with young shortstop Carlos Correa out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. Because they could get him for an under-slot signing bonus, that freed up money to pay over-slot money to some later picks, including high school righty Lance McCullers Jr. That strategy worked out pretty well.

The First Round Picks

Correa went first overall, and it’s hard to argue with that pick now. Thus far he’s provided the Astros with 24.5 WAR, the most of any player taken in that first round. He’s yet to reach his ceiling and could become an MVP caliber player if he can stay healthy. Other players picked early in the first round were Buxton, Kevin Gausman, Addison Russell, Corey Seager and Marcus Stroman.

In the supplemental round, the Astros took McCullers 41st overall and gave him an above-slot bonus in order to sign. He was taken two spots after Joey Gallo and three spots after Mitch Haniger. Athletics first baseman Matt Olson went six spots later.

McCullers has only totaled 6.2 WAR thus far, but is hoping to add to that total soon. He’s had his share of success in the regular season and the postseason thus far and is an important player for the team over the next few seasons.

Second through Fifth Round

In the second round, the Astros took shortstop Nolan Fontana out of the University of Florida. He didn’t hit much in the minors, though he did display a good batting eye. The Angels claimed him off waivers in late 2016 and gave him 35 plate appearances between the 2017 and 2018 seasons, but he hit just .065. Going later in the second round were lefthanded pitchers Alex Wood and Paco Rodriguez.

In the third round, the Astros selected pitcher Brady Rodgers out of Arizona State. Rodgers went to high school in Rosenberg but couldn’t stick with the Astros. In eight total major league appearances between the 2016 and 2019 seasons, he posted a 15.53 ERA before being released last August. Also going in that third round were reliever Edwin Diaz and catcher Tom Murphy.

With their fourth round pick, the Astros grabbed high school third baseman Rio Ruiz. He was traded to the Braves in the Evan Gattis deal but couldn’t stick in Atlanta. He did post a .682 OPS as the third baseman for the Orioles in 2019 and is hoping to continue to improve. Also selected in the fourth round was first baseman Christian Walker.

Then in the fifth round, the team went with outfielder Andrew Aplin out of Arizona State. He’s never reached the majors and spent most of 2019 playing Independent League ball. Going later in that fifth round were Chris Taylor, Mallex Smith, Max Muncy and Ross Stripling.

Key Late Rounders

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The Astros grabbed outfielder Brett Phillips in the sixth round, then sent him to Milwaukee in the Carlos Gomez trade. He has just a .203/.280/.339 line in three seasons in the major leagues and was traded to the Royals in 2018.

The team’s seventh-round pick was outfielder Preston Tucker from the University of Florida, older brother of Kyle Tucker. The elder Tucker put up a .734 OPS in his debut season of 2015 but couldn’t stick. He played for the Braves and Reds in 2018 and is set to play in Korea this year.

Catcher Tyler Heineman was the team’s eighth-round pick and was sent to the Brewers in early 2017. He made his major league debut with the Marlins in 2019, appearing in five games. He signed with the Giants as a non-roster invitee for the 2020 season.

The only other picks to reach the majors were 33rd round pick Mike Hauschild and 34th round pick Jordan Jankowski. Each player has provided -0.2 WAR in his brief time on a major league mound.

So all told, this draft didn’t provide much beyond the first couple of picks. But those first two picks went really well, so it’s hard to say this is a bad draft. There’s not as much depth as we might like, but they hit home runs with their top two selections.

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