Astros: Revisiting the 1981 MLB amateur draft misses

3 Mar 1998: Outfielder Paul O''Neill of the New York Yankees in action during a spring training game against the Houston Astros at the Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, Florida. The Astros defeated the Yankees 8-7. Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons /Allspo
3 Mar 1998: Outfielder Paul O''Neill of the New York Yankees in action during a spring training game against the Houston Astros at the Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, Florida. The Astros defeated the Yankees 8-7. Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons /Allspo /
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We take a look back at the Houston Astros picks in the 1981 MLB amateur draft.

If you read this series regularly, you may notice the headline to this article is a little different. Normally we discuss the hits and misses in each Astros draft class, but we’re just discussing the misses here because there simply were no hits. It was a big swing and miss for Houston in the 1981 draft.

It started by virtue of the team losing its first and second round picks as compensation for free agent signings. Couple that with the fact that not a single one of their selections ever reached the major leagues, and you have a perfect storm of draft ineptitude.

Some notable players were off the board in the first round before the Astros even would have had a chance to make a pick. Mike Moore, Joe Carter, Dick Schofield, Kevin McReynolds and Ron Darling were all taken in the first nine selections. But better players would soon come.

First Five Rounds

The Astros’ first round pick (No. 25 overall) went to the Rangers as compensation for Houston’s signing of utility player Dave Roberts, who put up a meager .623 OPS in 27 games for the team. The Rangers took pitcher Al Lachowicz, who made a total of two major league appearances. Players going after this included Frank Viola, Mark Langston and Mark Gubicza.

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The team’s second round pick went to the Dodgers as compensation for the signing of future Hall of Famer Don Sutton, who would go 24-17 with a 2.82 ERA in two seasons. With the pick, the Dodgers took outfielder Lemmie Miller, who played in just eight major league games. Players taken after this included Tony Gwynn, David Cone and Sid Fernandez.

With their third round pick, the Astros took Tennessee State outfielder Curtis Burke. He played five minor league seasons, only making it as far as Double-A. Players they missed here included Paul O’Neill and Shane Mack.

In the fourth round, the team drafted pitcher Benny Snyder out of Saint Mary’s College of California. He pitched in four minor league seasons, stalling out at Double-A. Players they missed here included John Franco, Mickey Tettleton and Bip Roberts.

Then in the fifth round, the Astros selected Bradley University shortstop Steve McAllister. He played in six minor league seasons but maxed out at Double-A where he posted just a .517 OPS. Players the team missed here included Devon White and Alvin Davis.

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Notable Later Picks

There aren’t any notable later picks, at least among the Astros draft class. None of the players they drafted would play in the major leagues, so it was a pretty barren year for them. Players drafted in later rounds by other teams included Fred McGriff, Lenny Dykstra and Bob Tewksbury. Those who were drafted but did not sign included Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Cecil Fielder and Lance Johnson.

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