Astros: Revisiting the 2011 amateur draft hits, misses
We take a look back at the Houston Astros 2011 MLB amateur draft.
The 2011 draft was the last for GM Ed Wade with the Houston Astros. While his tenure hadn’t gone as hoped and the writing was already on the wall for his eventual departure, he delivered in a major way: he gave us George Springer.
The Astros picked 11th overall and needed to hit the jackpot with this pick, and boy did they ever. Some big and recognizable names went off the board before Houston’s turn came around, including Gerrit Cole (first overall), Trevor Bauer, Anthony Rendon, Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez. This was a really good first round overall, and the Astros were no exception.
The Astros took Springer 11th overall out of the University of Connecticut. He’s become one of the most important players to this team over the past half decade and has totaled 25.4 WAR thus far in the majors. The only first round picks to exceed that are Rendon and Lindor.
Since no one taken behind Springer in the first round has done better, I’d say the pick was a slam dunk. There are some talented players who went later, including Sonny Gray, Kolten Wong, Jackie Bradley Jr., Trevor Story, Blake Snell and the late Jose Fernandez. But I wouldn’t take any of them over Springer, and neither would the Astros.
Unfortunately, the rest of the draft hasn’t yielded much in the way of results for this team.
Second through Fifth Rounds
The Astros took high school pitcher Adrian Houser in the second round. He was traded to the Brewers in the Carlos Gomez deal, which continues to look even more regrettable. Houser made brief appearances in the majors in 2015 and 2018 before pitching 111.1 innings of 3.72-ERA ball in 2019. Players taken later in the second round include Daniel Norris, James McCann and Nick Ahmed.
The team went with pitcher Jack Armstrong out of Vanderbilt with their third round pick. After signing for a $750,000 bonus, he never pitched in the minor leagues thanks to Tommy John surgery, among an apparent series of arm injuries. Players going later in this round include Matt Andriese, Tony Cingrani and Adam Morgan.
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In the fourth round, the Astros selected left-handed pitcher Chris Lee out of Santa Fe Community College in Florida. He made it to A-ball with Houston before being sent to the Orioles in 2015, and he’s made it to Triple-A thus far. He’s also pitched some Independent League ball as well. Going later in this round were Mike Clevinger, Tony Zych and Noe Ramirez.
With their fifth round pick, the team grabbed pitcher Nick Tropeano out of Stony Brook. They then traded him to the Angels in Nov. 2014 for Hank Conger. Tropeano has worked to a 4.51 ERA in 217.1 innings with the Angels and signed with the Yankees before the 2020 season. Going later in the fifth round was none other than Mookie Betts.
Notable Later Picks
This header is a misnomer, simply because there aren’t any notable later picks. The only other selection to reach the majors was the 20th round pick, third baseman Matt Duffy. He managed a total of 12 plate appearances between the 2015 and 2016 seasons before being taken off waivers by the Rangers. He’s not played in the majors since.
Beyond that, none of the other picks panned out. This draft went 50 rounds, and of those 50 selections, only four of them have reached the majors. Two of those reached the majors with another team, and only one — Springer — has had any real impact for the Astros.