Astros: Revisiting the 1990 MLB amateur draft hits, misses

Detroit Tigers pitcher Brian Williams (L) blows a bubble as he sits in the bull pen with Tigers pitcher Jose Lima (R) from the Dominican Republic during the spring training game with the Houston Astros 23 March at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida. AFP PHOTO Tony RANZE (Photo by TONY RANZE / AFP) (Photo credit should read TONY RANZE/AFP via Getty Images)
Detroit Tigers pitcher Brian Williams (L) blows a bubble as he sits in the bull pen with Tigers pitcher Jose Lima (R) from the Dominican Republic during the spring training game with the Houston Astros 23 March at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida. AFP PHOTO Tony RANZE (Photo by TONY RANZE / AFP) (Photo credit should read TONY RANZE/AFP via Getty Images) /
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We take a look back at the Houston Astros picks in the 1990 MLB amateur draft.

The Houston Astros draft class in 1991 was, as we’ve examined, an epic failure. When comparing it to the 1990 draft, I think the ’91 draft was worse, but the fact that there’s even a question should tell you all you need to know. The ’90 class wasn’t much good either.

It wasn’t for lack of opportunity here either. The Astros had two first round picks, though they essentially swapped their original pick with the Giants. Houston signed Ken Oberkfell while San Francisco signed Kevin Bass, so the Astros moved from No. 15 back to No. 21. They also got a supplemental pick at No. 31 for the loss of Bass.

Chipper Jones went first overall to the Braves in this draft, which I’d say worked out pretty well. Carl Everett, Mike Lieberthal, Alex Fernandez and current MLBPA head Tony Clark all went before the Giants picked at 15. San Francisco then used that former Astros pick on outfielder Adam Hyzdu, who hit .229 with 19 homers in seven major league seasons.

Interestingly, the Astros missed out on the chance to draft a couple of notable players by moving back six spots. Slugging outfielder Jeromy Burnitz and Hall of Fame pitcher Mike Mussina were both drafted between the 15th and 21st picks, so that’s 315 homers and 270 wins the team wouldn’t have a chance at. In exchange for losing the 15th pick, Oberkfell hit .214/.307/.282 in two seasons in Houston.

The First Rounders

With their first pick at No. 21, the Astros selected high school shortstop Tom Nevers. He played 13 seasons in the minor leagues, with the vast majority of those games coming at Double-A, but he never reached the majors. Players going after this pick included Rondell White, Steve Karsay and Gabe White.

With their compensatory pick at No. 31 overall, the Astros went with South Carolina pitcher Brian Williams. He pitched nine seasons in the majors, with five of those coming in Houston. He worked to a 4.66 ERA with the Astros, mostly in relief, and a 5.37 ERA for his career. Players going after this pick included Bob Wickman and Scott Sanders.

Second Through Fifth Rounds

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In the second round, the team went with outfielder Gary Mota out of Fullerton College in California. He spent eight seasons in the minors but never played above Double-A. Players selected after this included Rich Becker, Dave Fleming and Aaron Ledesma.

With their third round pick, the Astros selected Iowa outfielder Chris Hatcher. His major league career consisted of 16 plate appearances with the Royals in 1998, during which he notched one hit. Players going after this included Felipe Crespo and James Baldwin.

In the fourth round, the team took Louisiana-Lafayette second baseman Perry Berry. He played four seasons in the team’s farm system, never advancing past High-A ball. Players selected after him included Garret Anderson, Bret Boone, Ray Durham and Mike Myers.

The Astros went with high school outfielder Quentin Harley in the fifth round. He never advanced beyond Double-A in six minor league seasons. Players drafted after this included Mike Lansing, Troy Percival, David Bell and future Astro Mike Hampton.

Notable Later Picks

There weren’t many notable players signed by the Astros in this class. Their 12th round pick, third baseman Jeff Ball, and their 13th round pick, outfielder Ray Montgomery, had very brief major league careers. But there are several players they didn’t sign who would eventually make the majors as well.

The most notable was their 23rd round pick, catcher Jason Varitek. He would go on to play at Georgia Tech and have a distinguished career with the Red Sox. Their 10th round pick, pitcher Brian Boehringer, would pitch to a 4.36 ERA in 10 major league seasons.

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Outfielder Chris Singleton, their 30th round pick, would hit .273 in six big league campaigns. There are a few other players they didn’t sign who would have brief major league careers as well. But it’s notable that the best players they drafted were guys they didn’t even sign.

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