We take a look back at the Houston Astros picks in the 1998 MLB amateur draft.
While many of their subsequent drafts were poor, the Houston Astros managed to grab a trio of future All-Stars in their 1998 class. Two of those were All-Stars in Houston, while the other earned the honor elsewhere. That’s a pretty solid haul for any draft class.
The team’s initial first round pick, which came at No. 19 overall, was sent to the Giants as compensation for the signing of relief pitcher Doug Henry. Seems like a pretty high price to pay just to sign a guy coming off a 4.71 ERA season. But the Astros actually received the Rockies first round pick at No. 17 overall thanks to the departure of Darryl Kile. So in a sense, they moved up two spots.
Still, wouldn’t it have been nice to have two picks in the top 20? Some big names already off the board were Pat Burrell, Mark Mulder, J.D. Drew, Carlos Pena and Jeff Weaver. Future Astros shortstop Adam Everett went to the Red Sox at No. 12. The Giants, using the No. 19 pick they got from Houston, took high school infielder Tony Torcato.
First Five Rounds
With their 17th overall pick, the Astros selected Notre Dame pitcher Brad Lidge. He, of course, became an All-Star closer for a time, at least until Albert Pujols knocked him off balance. Some of the players taken after him were CC Sabathia, Matt Thornton and Aaron Rowand. Sabathia was taken just one spot after the Giants took Torcato.
The Astros also had the No. 37 overall pick as compensation for Kile, and they used it on high school pitcher Mike Nannini. He would pitch in Triple-A in parts of four seasons but never cracked the major leagues. Players picked after him included Mark Prior (who did not sign), Adam Dunn and Brandon Inge.
Houston did not have its second round pick, as that went to the Cubs as compensation for the signing of outfielder Dave Clark, who put up just a .547 OPS in his lone season as an Astro. The Cubs used the pick on high school catcher Jeff Goldblach, who never reached the majors.
The Astros used their third round pick on high school pitcher Brad Busbin, who did not sign. He would be re-drafted by the Phillies in the 27th round in 2002 but play only one season in the minors. Players picked after this included Ryan Langerhans, Jason Michaels and Andres Torres.
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The team also did not sign its fourth round pick, high school outfielder Jason Van Meetren. He would be re-drafted by the Mariners in the 13th round in 2001 but never reached Double-A. Players missed here included Javier Lopez and Josh Hancock.
With their fifth round pick, the Astros selected left-hander Scott Barrett out of San Jacinto College, but he never did pitch in the team’s system. Players missed here included Ryan Vogelsong, Aubrey Huff and Bill Hall.
Notable Later Picks
With their seventh round pick, the Astros took high school catcher John Buck. He reached the majors after being traded to Kansas City in the Carlos Beltran deal and was an All-Star with Toronto in 2010.
In the ninth round, the team unearthed third baseman Morgan Ensberg out of USC. He was an All-Star in 2005 when he popped 36 homers and finished fourth in the MVP voting, but he was unfortunately not able to replicate that type of success.
With their 10th round pick, the Astros drafted Texas Tech infielder Keith Ginter. He played sparingly in parts of three seasons in Houston before being traded to the Brewers for Mark Loretta. He played regularly in two seasons in Milwaukee and managed an .812 OPS in 2004, but he was done after a poor 2005 with Oakland.
The Astros had two other picks briefly reach the majors. Sixth round pick Dave Matranga played in seven major league games, and 17th round pick Colin Porter managed 68 major league plate appearances. Also of note, the team drafted pitcher Rich Terwilliger in the 18th round, who is apparently no relation to Dr. Robert Underdunk Terwilliger Jr., AKA Sideshow Bob from “The Simpsons.”