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Astros' draft all wrapped up
06/08/2004  9:51 PM ET
The Houston Astros completed the 2004 First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday and for the first time in years, they finished with more position players than pitchers.

The club's philosophy to draft the best players available remained intact, but the Astros also wanted to use this draft to address some holes in the organization. As a result, they were able to take the first step toward replenishing the system with several outfielders who have potential for speed and power, qualities the organization has lacked in the last few years.

In the first 18 rounds of the draft, the Astros, who did not have a first-round pick, selected 12 position players and five pitchers. During Day Two, they picked 15 position players and 17 pitchers. In all, the Astros drafted 27 position players and 22 pitchers.

The breakdown: 19 right-handers, three left-handers, six catchers, 10 infielders and 11 outfielders.

Scouting director David Lakey was pleased with how the Astros fared in this year's draft.

"There were guys we would have liked to have that didn't fall for us, but we were happy with who we have," he said, adding that they used Day Two of the draft to fill out the rosters of the Short-Season Class A Tri-City and Rookie League Greenville clubs.


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Lakey indicated that 34 of the 49 players were drafted with the club's intention to sign them. Of those 34, three were high school players, two were junior college and the rest were from four-year schools.

Leaning heavily toward the college player is not unusual for the Astros. They tend to shy away from taking on "kids" who are barely out of high school, for a couple of reasons.

"(College players) have less leverage," Lakey said. "Their only bargaining chip is if they return for their senior year, where high school kids can always go to college and re-enter the draft."

Maturity issues are the other factor.

"The three years between 18 and 21 (years old) is a big gap," Lakey said. "These guys have to make adjustments, not only in professional baseball but in everyday life. It's a pretty big step.

"College is like being an adult without the responsibility. But when you play professional baseball, you have responsibilities. Maturity is a big factor."

Houston's draft selections included 15 players with Texas ties, beginning with Hunter Pence, the club's first pick (64th overall), who is from Arlington.

Other Texas natives include: IF Benjamin Zobrist, Dallas Baptist University (sixth); LHP Troy Patton, Tomball High School (ninth); IF Drew Sutton, Baylor University (15th); RHP Garrett Murdy, Texas A&M-Kingsville (16th); C J.R. Towles, North Central Texas College (20th); LHP Jeffrey Wigdahl, San Antonio and St. Mary's University (23rd); RHP Brad James, North Central Texas College (29th); OF Luke Barganier, Temple Junior College (30th); LHP Nick Cobler, Missouri City and Strake Jesuit HS (34th); OF Casey McCleskey, Burkburnett HS (41st); OF Thomas Rafferty, Temple JC (43rd); RHP Anthony Adler, University of Texas-Dallas (46th); OF Eric Epperson, Arlington Heights HS (48th) and and C Matthew Gardner, Andrews HS (49th).

Another noteworthy draftee is right-handed pitcher Jared Brite, the club's 26th-round pick. In addition to playing baseball for Kansas State University, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound native of Bakersfield, Calif., was also a kicker and punter for the Wildcat football team.

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


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