Astros: Revisiting the 2000 MLB amateur draft hits, misses

KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 24: Chad Qualls #50 of the Houston Astros throws against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on July 24, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 24: Chad Qualls #50 of the Houston Astros throws against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on July 24, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

We take a look back at the Houston Astros picks in the 2000 MLB amateur draft.

As I’ve been going through this exercise, it’s become painfully obvious how poorly the Houston Astros drafted in the 2000s. The nature of an MLB draft is that you’re going to miss on most of your picks, but ideally you want to find one or two future notable major leaguers in each class. That has, unfortunately, not been the case very often.

Their first draft class of the new millennium did produce one notable name, so it wasn’t among their worst classes. But there’s plenty of talent they missed out on, as is the case for every team every year. Some notable players such as Adrian Gonzalez and Chase Utley were already off the board by the time the Astros picked at No. 27 overall.

First through Fifth Rounds

In the first round, the team drafted pitcher Rob Stiehl out of El Camino College. He looked good in 2001 but missed all of the 2002 season and was never the same after that, only briefly reaching Double-A. Adam Wainwright was drafted just two picks later, and Kelly Johnson, Xavier Nady and Joel Hanrahan also were taken before the team’s next pick.

The Astros hit on their second round pick, though, taking pitcher Chad Qualls out of the University of Nevada, Reno. He was a solid reliever for the team from 2004 to 2007 before being traded in the Jose Valverde deal. He returned to Houston in 2014 and 2015, even serving as the closer for a time. All told, he pitched to a 3.51 ERA in 380 appearances over six seasons in Houston. Players taken after him included Grady Sizemore and Chris Young.

In the third round, the Astros drafted high school pitcher Tony Pluta. He never made it beyond High-A ball and eventually spent six years pitching in independent leagues. Players taken after him included Cliff Lee, Yadier Molina and David DeJesus.

With their fourth round pick, the team selected high school third baseman Eric Keefner, but he did not sign. He was eventually drafted by the White Sox in the 22nd round in 2002 but never went beyond Rookie League. Players taken after him included Garrett Atkins and Bobby Jenks.

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Then in the fifth round, the Astros took high school outfielder Jake Whitesides. He never advanced beyond A-ball, hitting .213 in his minor league career. Players taken after him included Taylor Buchholz (who the team would later acquire) and Shawn Hill.

Notable Later Picks

In the eighth round, the Astros drafted high school pitcher Cory Doyne. He washed out of the Houston organization but eventually reached the major leagues with the Orioles in 2007. He allowed six earned runs in 3.2 innings for his major league career.

With their ninth round pick, the team took Stanford shortstop Eric Bruntlett. He was a serviceable utility player in parts of five seasons with the Astros before being included in the Brad Lidge trade with Philadelphia. That’s the trade that brought Michael Bourn to Houston.

I mention that because the Astros actually drafted Bourn in the 19th round in 2000 out of Nimitz High School. They did not sign him, however, as he chose to attend the University of Houston. He was later drafted by the Phillies in the fourth round in 2003.

Two other signees would eventually reach the majors. Their 15th round pick, outfielder Todd Self, made 49 plate appearances with the Astros in 2005. Their 30th round pick, pitcher Mike Burns, appeared in the majors for four teams (including Houston) in parts of three seasons.

There were two other players who didn’t sign that would eventually crack the majors. Their 11th round pick, pitcher Bob McCrory, made 15 major league appearances with the Orioles. Their 43rd round pick, pitcher Jason Windsor, appeared in four games with Oakland in 2006.