Astros: Revisiting the team’s awful 2007 amateur draft
We take a look back at the Houston Astros awful 2007 MLB amateur draft.
If you’re wondering how bad a team’s draft could possibly be, the 2007 Houston Astros are here to answer it for you. This draft literally gave them nothing — not a single one of the players they signed ever reached the majors.
There are multiple reasons for this. Four of their selections did end up cracking the big leagues, but the Astros didn’t actually sign any of them. What’s worse is they didn’t have a pick until the 111th overall selection, coming in the third round.
Their first round pick went to the Rangers as compensation for the signing of Carlos Lee, and their second rounder went to the Padres as compensation for the signing of Woody Williams. Under the CBA at the time, a team would forfeit draft selections for signing certain free agents, so they made those signings knowing it would cost them more than just money.
The Lost Picks
Just in case you’re curious, the Rangers used that first round pick on pitcher Blake Beavan, while the Padres used the second rounder on infielder Eric Sogard. It’s unlikely the Astros would have been any better off with either of those two players, but it’s the opportunity cost we have to look at, because there’s no way of knowing who the Astros would have taken with those picks.
Some of the available players the team could have taken in the first round were Rick Porcello, Todd Frazier, Sean Doolittle, Josh Donaldson, Jordan Zimmermann, Giancarlo Stanton and Freddie Freeman. With that second rounder, they missed out on Danny Duffy, Jonathan Lucroy and Steven Souza Jr. Of course there’s no guarantee the team would have taken any of those players, but you never know.
The Astros got some solid seasons out of Lee, and I wrote recently that he actually justified that $100 million contract the team gave him. Williams, on the other hand, went 8-15 with a 5.27 ERA in his one season in Houston, so I think we’d all like a do-over on that one.
When they finally did get around to making a selection, the Astros took high school infielder Derek Dietrich in the third round. Of course they did not sign him, as he chose to attend Georgia Tech instead. He was re-drafted in the second round by the Rays in 2010 and has put up 5.2 WAR in seven major league seasons. The team missed out on Corey Kluber with this pick.
Incredibly, the Astros didn’t sign their fourth round pick either. They took pitcher Brett Eibner out of The Woodlands High School, but he ended up going to the University of Arkansas. He was re-drafted by the Royals in the second round in 2010, but ended up reaching the majors as an outfielder in 2016. He was worth only -0.6 WAR in parts of two major league seasons, and taken a few picks later was Jake Arrieta.
Moving on to the eighth round, the team took pitcher Chad Bettis out of Monterey High School in Lubbock, but he chose to attend Texas Tech instead. The Rockies took him in the second round in 2010 and he’s provided 3.6 pitching WAR in seven major league seasons, also beating a testicular cancer diagnosis.
In the 38th round, the Astros drafted pitcher Robbie Weinhardt out of Oklahoma State. He returned to school and was taken in the 10th round in 2008 by the Tigers. He put up a 6.39 ERA in two major league seasons.
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The header is a misnomer simply because there are none. Those four unsigned picks were the only ones from this draft class to ever reach the major leagues. They signed 34 players in this draft, and not a single one of them made it to The Show.
In fairness, it’s hard to have a good draft when you don’t have a pick until the third round. Once you get past the first couple of rounds, it’s hard to find future impact major league talent. But the Astros didn’t do themselves any favors by not signing their first two selections. It doesn’t matter who you draft if you don’t sign them.
Part of having a good draft is not wasting early selections on players who either don’t intend to sign or who will only sign for a larger bonus. The Astros clearly were not going to commit enough money to dissuade these talented high schoolers from attending college, so making those selections was like shooting themselves in the foot.
There was plenty of criticism directed at owner Drayton McLane for not committing enough money to the draft, and that’s more than fair. But GM Tim Purpura put himself in a bad position, both with the free agent signings and by using early picks on players who wouldn’t sign. There’s a reason this would end up being Purpura’s final draft before he was fired.