Astros: Revisiting the 2009 amateur draft hits, misses

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 16: Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox during Game Three of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 16, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 16: Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox during Game Three of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 16, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

We take a look back at the Houston Astros picks in the 2009 MLB draft.

The 2009 MLB amateur draft was an interesting one for the Houston Astros. They were fortunate to select a couple of future All-Stars, though one would become an All-Star after leaving town. What’s interesting is neither of those players were selected in the first six rounds.

In fact, the team’s first six selections in this draft would all fail to reach the major leagues. That’s usually a death knell for a team’s draft, but the fact that they found a couple of gems helps redeem this class. Still, there’s plenty of disappointment to go around.

The First Round

The Astros had only one pick in the first round, coming in at No. 21 overall (meaning they had no supplemental picks in this round). Plenty of talent went off the board ahead of them, including Stephen Strasburg, Mike Minor, Mike Leake, Zack Wheeler and A.J. Pollock. When their turn came around, the Astros took high school shortstop Jiovanni Mier.

Mier simply didn’t hit enough, compiling a career .237 average and .339 slugging in the minor leagues. He was in the Astros system through 2015, then spent the next two seasons in the Blue Jays and Mets organizations. He played in the Mexican League in 2018 before calling it quits.

What really hurts is that four picks later, the Angels drafted Mike Trout. Other players picked later in this round were Kyle Gibson, Randal Grichuk, James Paxton and Garrett Richards. Nolan Arenado and Jason Kipnis both went before the Astros picked in the second round. Definitely some missed opportunities here.

Second through Fifth Rounds

In the second round, the Astros picked high school right-hander Tanner Bushue. He never made it past A-ball and was out of affiliated baseball following the 2013 season. Players picked after this include Steven Matz, DJ LeMahieu, Patrick Corbin, Kyle Seager and Wil Myers.

With their third round pick, the Astros grabbed high school outfielder Telvin Nash. He made it as far as Double-A but didn’t get enough hits or draw enough walks despite solid power. He’s played some Independent League ball the past three seasons. A future major leaguer picked after him was Jake Marisnick, who would eventually come to Houston anyway.

The Astros had a supplemental pick at the end of the third round due to their failure to sign their third round pick from the previous year. They used it on high school third baseman Jonathan Meyer, who briefly made it to Triple-A but has been out of affiliated ball since 2015. Players going after this pick included future Astros catcher Max Stassi.

In the fourth round, the team selected junior college right-hander B.J. Hyatt. He posted an 8.84 ERA in Rookie League that year and never pitched in affiliated ball again. Players going after this pick included Adam Warren, Chris Rusin and Brandon Belt.

Then in the fifth round, the Astros took shortstop Brandon Wikoff out of the University of Illinois. He briefly made it to Triple-A but couldn’t hit well enough to stick. Taken a few spots after this was current Nationals outfielder Michael A. Taylor.

Notable Later Round Picks

Once you get past the failure of the first five rounds, the Astros made a few nice picks. In the sixth round, they grabbed high school shortstop Enrique Hernandez, who they eventually traded to the Dodgers. He’s compiled 9.3 WAR so far in his major league career.

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They made arguably their best pick in the seventh round, selecting Dallas Keuchel out of the University of Arkansas. He won four Gold Gloves, made two All-Star teams and captured the 2015 AL Cy Young Award. He totaled 18.2 WAR for the Astros in his last five seasons in Houston.

In the 13th round, the team took outfielder Jake Goebbert out of Northwestern University. They traded him to Oakland in 2013, and he spent a brief time in the major leagues with the Padres in 2014. Nothing particularly notable here, except he actually did reach the majors.

The other gem the Astros found in this draft was 20th-round pick J.D. Martinez out of Nova Southeastern University. We all know the story here. Martinez couldn’t get it going in three seasons with the Astros and was released, but became one of the game’s most feared sluggers immediately upon catching on with Detroit. That one still hurts.

There were a couple of late round picks the Astros didn’t sign, but who would go on to reach the majors after being re-drafted. 36th-round pick Tyler Saladino would be taken by the White Sox in the seventh round in 2010, and southpaw Paco Rodriguez, the team’s 48th round pick, was taken in the second round by the Dodgers in 2012.

So on the whole, this wasn’t a terrible draft. It would look a lot better if the Astros had held on to Martinez a little longer, and the fact that the first six picks never reached the majors is rough. But they got a couple of future All-Stars in this draft, so it’s hard to complain too much.