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Astros load up on position players
06/07/2004  8:53 PM ET
The Houston Astros are usually pitcher-heavy after the first day of the First-Year Player Draft, but such was not the case Monday.

The Astros, whose first pick did not occur until late in the second round, selected 12 position players and five pitchers during the first 18 rounds of the draft from the war room at Union Station in Houston.

"It went pretty well," scouting director David Lakey said. "We accomplished what we started out to do. We wanted to get position player depth in the system and it seemed to work out OK. There were some players we wanted that we didn't get, but overall, I'm happy with the selections we made today."

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After selecting left fielder Hunter Pence from the University of Texas-Arlington as their first pick, the Astros drafted four more position players before landing their first pitcher in the seventh round.

Their second pick, third-rounder Jordan Parraz, is a center fielder from Community College of Southern Nevada and fits the same bill as Pence -- he's a speedy outfielder with power, qualities that are among the Astros' most pressing needs within their organization.

"He was under the control of the Phillies, and he was drafted as a pitcher," Lakey said. "We liked him as a position player when we saw him. He has an above-average arm and above-average speed. He can move to center field eventually. He definitely has the speed and arm to play there. We hope his bat comes along. If it does, we'll have a pretty good player."

Clemson University catcher Louis Santangelo was selected in the fourth round.

"He's a catch-and-throw guy," Lakey said. "He has raw power, but he's going to have to make adjustments at the plate. To get an advanced catcher like that in this part of the draft is good."

The Astros' next choice was center fielder Mitch Einertson, a center fielder from Rancho Buena Vista High School.

"He's a smaller kid, but he's got a good bat and a good arm," Lakey said. "He can play center field. He has a lot of energy, brings a lot to the field and a lot to the team. We scrutinize high school kids carefully, and this is someone that everybody liked what they saw."

Benjamin Zobrist, a shortstop out of Dallas Baptist University, is a switch-hitter who Lakey said will likely not have to move positions.

"He may have gap power," Lakey said. "To get a true shortstop in this area of the draft, we felt fortunate."

Right-hander Andrew Alvarado from Chabot (Calif.) College was the first pitcher the Astros picked this year. Lakey said they felt it was time to take a pitcher, and Alvarado was the best one available.

"He has an average fastball, good breaking stuff and a good curve and changeup," Lakey said. If you throw strikes and have command on the breaking pitches and the changeup ... he was a pretty inviting package."

Six-foot-eight right-hander Evan Englebrook from Shippensburg (Pa.) University was the Astros' seventh pick in the eighth round.

"He has a good arm, a loose arm," Lakey said. "Some of his secondary pitches are going to have to come along."

Left-hander Troy Patton is a product of local Tomball High School and someone the Astros did not expect to still be available when the ninth round approached.

Lakey is making no guarantees that the club will be able to sign him.

"Our needs were position players, but when he kept falling, we figured we'd take a chance," Lakey said. "We'll see how it goes with him and with his agent. We can't make any promises. He expected to go higher.

"We liked what we saw. Everybody here expected him to be long gone. I'm sure he's disappointed (to not be picked higher), but the hometown team got him, and we'll see where it goes."

The 10th-round selection was catcher Eric Cavers from Franklin Pierce (N.H.) College.

"Our people saw him and they liked what they saw," Lakey said. "They worked him out before the draft and liked what he did in the workout. He has a few home runs, and he can run a little bit."

Plus, Cavers' team was part of a wood bat league, which is always intriguing to Major League teams.

"They don't have to make adjustments from aluminum to wood," Lakey said. "We use that as a factor."

The remainder of the first day of picks is as follows:

  • IF Jonathan Ash, Stanford University
  • IF Bryan Triplett, University of South Carolina
  • RHP Chad Reineke, Miami University (OH)
  • IF Ole Sheldon, University of Oklahoma
  • IF Stephen "Drew" Sutton, Baylor University
  • RHP Garrett Murdy, Texas A&M University
  • OF Wallace "Beau" Torbert, Faulkner (Ala.) University
  • C Robert "Chris" Clark, Eastern Kentucky University

    This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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