The Houston Astros need to bolster the farm system but are missing their top two picks in the draft.
While we wait to see whether MLB and the MLBPA can put aside their petulance and give us a 2020 season, we do have some real baseball happenings this week. The 2020 MLB Draft will take place, with the first round starting at 6 p.m. CT on Wednesday and airing on MLB Network and ESPN. The Houston Astros, however, won’t be featured.
As a result of the notorious sign stealing scandal, the Astros forfeited their first and second round picks in both this year’s draft and next year’s. So their first pick this season will come at No. 72 overall, a compensation pick for Gerrit Cole signing with the Yankees. The second through fifth rounds will take place on Thursday beginning at 4 p.m. CT on MLB Network and ESPN2.
Remember, the draft is only five rounds this year, so the Astros will have a total of four picks: their compensation pick for Cole, plus picks at Nos. 101, 131 and 160. Their total bonus pool is only $2,202,600, which is easily the smallest of all 30 MLB teams.
This comes at a time when the minor league system needs an infusion of talent. Some top prospects have graduated to the majors, while others have been traded in recent years, most notably in the Zack Greinke deal from 2019. The Astros farm system is no longer among the game’s best, so a crucial time in the franchise’s history is made even more slippery by the lost picks.
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However, the rookie class will likely be larger than these four picks. Teams can sign as many undrafted free agents as they want, but cannot give them signing bonuses greater than $20,000. In all likelihood, the Astros will add some undrafted free agents to their minor league ranks.
Unfortunately, since the Astros don’t pick until 72nd overall, they’re not included in the mock drafts I’m seeing online, as most of those only cover the first round. So it’s really tough to predict who’ll be the best available players whenever the team’s pick finally comes around.
What we do know, however, is that of their Top 30 prospects, 17 of them are right-handed pitchers. They have only one left-hander on the list in reliever Blake Taylor, who’s at No. 27. Only three of their Top 30 prospects are outfielders, and none of them made it into the Top 10.
So the Astros would do well to try and find some left-handed pitchers and outfielders, and infielders and catchers wouldn’t hurt either. They seem to have plenty of right-handed arms. However, given the state of the draft this year, they’ll probably end up drafting the best player available regardless of position or fit, which may be the way to go this time.
As always, be sure to follow Climbing Tal’s Hill on Twitter, as we’ll be following the second day of the draft on Thursday. The picks will start rolling at 4 p.m. CT on MLB Network and ESPN2, giving new GM James Click his first chance to put his stamp on the organization.