Astros: Revisiting the 2008 amateur draft hits, misses

Jason Castro #15 of the Houston Astros looks on against the Minnesota Twins on August 9, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Astros defeated the Twins 7-5. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
Jason Castro #15 of the Houston Astros looks on against the Minnesota Twins on August 9, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Astros defeated the Twins 7-5. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /
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We take a look back at the Houston Astros picks in the 2008 MLB draft.

When you’re evaluating a team’s picks in the MLB draft, most of them will be misses. If you’re lucky, you can end up with just a few players who end up reaching the major leagues and making some kind of an impact. In the case of the Houston Astros in 2008, they weren’t quite that lucky.

They did do pretty well with their first round pick, but the remaining ones didn’t turn out so well. Unearthing a late round gem is difficult, and they had no such luck in this year. In the end, hitting on a couple of your picks generally makes a good draft, but they fell a bit short in this one.

The First Rounders

With the Astros’ first pick coming at No. 10 overall, several big names were already off the board including Eric Hosmer and Buster Posey. The team went with Stanford catcher Jason Castro, who would be an All-Star in 2013. Though he never quite reached those heights again, he settled in as a sound defensive catcher with a little bit of pop in his bat — not quite what the team hoped for but far from a bust.

He spent six seasons in an Astros uniform, totaling 9.0 WAR during his time. Some of the players picked afterward were Justin Smoak, Aaron Hicks, Brett Lawrie and Gerrit Cole (though he did not sign). I wouldn’t really say that any of those were clearly better choices than Castro, so it’s hard to argue with the team’s pick here.

They also had a supplemental first round pick coming in at No. 38 overall, which they received for the loss of Trever Miller to free agency. The Astros used the pick on high school right-hander Jordan Lyles, who would eventually be traded to the Rockies for Dexter Fowler. He has a career 5.11 ERA in nine seasons. Players picked after this include Lance Lynn, Wade Miley and Logan Forsythe.

Second through Fifth Rounds

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In the second round, the Astros took high school outfielder Jay Austin. He only made it to High-A ball and has been out of affiliated baseball since 2012, though he continues to play in independent leagues and the Mexican League. Players selected later in this round include Tyson Ross, Charlie Blackmon and Tyler Chatwood.

In the third round, the team selected high school first baseman Chase Davidson, but he did not sign. The Astros drafted him again in the 41st round in 2011, but he only made it to A-ball. Players picked before the team’s next selection include Craig Kimbrel and Brandon Crawford.

With their fourth round pick, the Astros took outfielder T.J. Steele out of the University of Arizona. He made it as high as Double-A but hasn’t played affiliated ball since 2012. Players going later in that round included Dee Gordon and Jason Kipnis.

Then in the fifth round, the team went with pitcher David Duncan out of Georgia Tech. He posted a 5.78 ERA in three minor league seasons, never advancing past High-A ball. Players taken after him included Alex Avila and Robbie Grossman.

Notable Later Round Picks

There’s not much to speak of here. The Astros took outfielder JB Shuck out of Ohio State in the sixth round, and he did briefly reach the majors with the team. But he’s been worth a career -1.3 WAR, and he’s the only other player the team signed who would reach the majors.

The team’s 33rd and 34th round picks, Shawn Armstrong and Jordan Jankowski, did briefly reach the majors, though they did not sign with the Astros but were instead re-drafted in a subsequent draft. Other than that, none of their other picks reached the majors.

Related Story. Revisiting the 2009 draft. light

So in the end, the only real on-field contribution they got was from Castro. Lyles might have turned a corner in his career based on a solid run he had with the Brewers in the second half of 2019, but only time will tell if that’s the case. The rest of the picks really didn’t pan out.

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