Astros: Revisiting the 2002 amateur draft hits, misses

KISSIMMEE, FL - FEBRUARY 25: Mark McLemore #62 of the Houston Astros poses during spring training photo day at Osceola County Stadium on February 25, 2008 in Kissimmee, Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
KISSIMMEE, FL - FEBRUARY 25: Mark McLemore #62 of the Houston Astros poses during spring training photo day at Osceola County Stadium on February 25, 2008 in Kissimmee, Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images) /
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We take a look back at the Houston Astros picks in the 2002 MLB amateur draft.

The 2002 MLB draft was another disappointing one for the Houston Astros. Like many of their subsequent drafts, they failed to find any future impact major league players, which is what led to their reliance on highly paid veterans and eventual decline.

Unlike their following two drafts, the Astros actually had their first round pick in 2002. That pick didn’t come until No. 29 overall, however, so most of the impact talent was already off the board. Zack Greinke, Prince Fielder, Scott Kazmir, Nick Swisher, Cole Hamels, Denard Span and Matt Cain were taken before Houston’s pick came around.

The First Five Picks

With their first round pick, the Astros selected pitcher Derick Grigsby out of Northeast Texas Community College. He pitched only two seasons in the team’s farm system, never advancing past A-ball. Players taken after him included Joey Votto, Jon Lester and Brian McCann.

In the second round, the team took high school pitcher Mitch Talbot. He never made it up to Houston, as he was traded to Tampa in the Aubrey Huff deal. He briefly appeared in the majors with the Rays in 2008, then made 40 starts for the Indians between 2010 and 2011, pitching to a 5.04 ERA. Players taken after him included Curtis Granderson and Charlie Morton.

The Astros took pitcher Rory Shortell out of San Diego State in the third round. He made it as far as High-A ball before pitching in independent league play for a few years. Players taken after him included Rich Hill and Josh Johnson.

With their fourth round pick, the team went with left-hander Mark McLemore out of Oregon State. He made 29 relief appearances for the Astros in 2007, pitching to a 3.86 ERA in 35 innings, but never saw the majors again. Players selected after him included Nick Hundley and Ben Francisco.

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In the fifth round, the Astros drafted left-hander Pat Misch out of Western Michigan, but he did not sign. He was re-drafted by the Giants in the seventh round in 2003 and pitched in the majors for six seasons, compiling a career 4.80 ERA. Players taken after him included John Maine and Pat Neshek.

Notable Later Picks

The only other players in this draft class to reach the majors were two players the Astros didn’t sign. Outfielder Nick Stavinoha, the team’s 39th round pick out of San Jacinto College, would be taken by the Cardinals in the seventh round in 2005. He played three seasons in the majors and compiled a .234/.256/.325 batting line.

The other non-signee was pitcher Scott Feldman, who the Astros selected out of junior college in the 41st round. The Rangers drafted him in the 30th round the following year, and he would go on to play 13 seasons in the majors. He also pitched three seasons for the Astros, compiling a 3.64 ERA in 52 starts and 21 relief appearances.

But that’s it. So of the players the team actually signed in this draft class, only two reached the majors. Talbot totaled -0.5 WAR for his career, though none of that came with Houston, while McLemore totaled 0.4 WAR. If that’s the best you get out of your draft class, it’s safe to call it a bad one.

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