We take a look back at the Houston Astros picks in the 1992 MLB amateur draft.
You knew we were going to get here eventually. As we work our way back through the Houston Astros drafts, we come upon one of the more disappointing ones in 1992. This was the year the team had the No. 1 overall pick, and they failed to make the most of it.
The Astros famously passed on drafting a high school shortstop named Derek Jeter, despite scout Hal Newhouser’s insistence. The team didn’t want to pay the signing bonus they feared he’d command, so they drafted third baseman Phil Nevin out of Cal State Fullerton instead.
As I wrote recently, the team mishandled the entire situation. They declined to pony up for Jeter, who would be drafted by the Yankees, and then they mishandled Nevin’s development and gave up on him too soon. He would eventually reach his peak in San Diego in the early 2000s.
There are a number of other notable players taken after this pick, including Shannon Stewart, Jason Kendall, Johnny Damon and Charles Johnson. But this pick seemingly came down to Jeter and Nevin, and the Astros didn’t do themselves any favors.
Through the Fifth
The team also had a supplemental pick at No. 37 overall thanks to their failure to sign their first round pick in 1991. With this pick, they took Georgia pitcher Kendall Rhine, who pitched to a career 5.88 ERA in six minor league seasons. Considering their next pick was just two spots later, they didn’t miss anyone with this selection at least.
With their second round pick, the Astros selected high school shortstop Dave Landaker. He made it as far as High-A ball in four minor league seasons, but hit just .203/.316/.235 at that level. He also did not hit a single home run in his four professional seasons. Players missed with this pick included Jon Lieber, Todd Helton and Jason Giambi.
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In the third round, the team took pitcher Chris Holt out of Navarro College. He would pitch for the Astros in parts of four seasons, totaling a 21-42 record and 4.51 ERA in 90 starts and 13 relief appearances. The most significant players they missed here included Jon Nunnally and Roger Bailey.
The Astros did not sign their fourth round pick, high school shortstop Chad Sheffer. The Mariners would take him in the 14th round in 1995 but he would only play two minor league seasons. The team did not miss anyone of consequence with this pick, however.
Then in the fifth round, the team took high school left-hander Sean Runyan. They traded him to the Tigers prior to the 1997 season, and he pitched out of their bullpen in three seasons, compiling a 3.66 ERA in 103 appearances. Players they missed here included Doug Mirabelli and Steve Cox.
Notable Later Picks
In the 10th round, the Astros drafted left-hander Jamie Walker. They lost him in the Rule 5 Draft in 1996, and he went on to put up several solid seasons as a reliever, mostly with Detroit. In the 13th round, they took Puerto Rican left-hander Hector Mercado, who made 112 major league appearances between the Reds and Phillies.
One of their later picks actually reached the majors with the Astros. Their 19th round selection, junior college pitcher Mike Grzanich, made one major league appearance. He pitched one inning for Houston in 1998, allowing two runs on a hit and two walks.
Two unsigned players would eventually reach the majors. Their 29th round pick, right-hander Bob Howry, would be taken in the fifth round by the Giants in 1994 and pitch in 13 big league seasons. Their 31st round pick, left-hander Robert Ramsay, would be drafted in the seventh round by the Red Sox in 1996 and make 43 major league appearances.