Top picks hope to sign with 'Stros
Foltynewicz, Kvasnicka look to jump-start pro career
HOUSTON -- Mike Foltynewicz, the hard-throwing right-handed pitcher the Astros selected with the 19th overall pick Monday in the First-Year Player Draft, said Tuesday he's more likely to sign with the Astros than go to the University of Texas.
"I want to get my professional career headed out in the right way and right now I'm definitely going to considering starting my professional career," said Foltynewicz, who had signed to play for the Longhorns.
Foltynewicz, 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, sits in the low 90s mph with his fastball and has touched 96 with a good changeup. He's the first pitcher taken in the first round by the Astros since left-hander Brian Bogusevic in 2005, but Bogusevic has since been moved to the outfield.
"My goals are to try to get to the pros as soon as I can, within two or three years," he said. "I feel real confident about that. I'm a real hard worker and I'm going to listen to everything that everyone has to say. I'll take criticism the right way, learn from it and I want to try to get up soon."
Meanwhile, University of Minnesota switch-hitting third baseman Mike Kvasnicka, taken by the Astros with their third pick (33rd overall), said he's likely going to sign with Houston, too, and forgo his senior year with the Golden Gophers.
"It's a pretty safe bet," he said. "For where I started the year and where I thought I was going to go, this way exceeds that. I went way higher than I planned five or six months ago, even two or three months ago. That mixed with what a great organization the Astros are, it's a great fit. I can't say for sure I'll sign because there's a lot of work to be done the next couple of days."
Kvansicka hit .355 with eight homers, 50 RBIs, a slugging percentage of .571 and an on-base percentage of .459 this year for Minnesota, which lost to Cal State Fullerton on Monday for a spot in the NCAA Super Regional. Most teams saw him as a catcher, but the Astros want him to play third base with an eye on versatility. He can also play the corner outfield spots.
"Whatever works for the organization, that's where they'll have me," Kvasnicka said. "I'm going to take that identity and run with it."
Foltynewicz went 9-1 with a 0.38 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 72 2/3 innings this year for Minooka Community High School in the Chicago area.
He throws a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, slider, curveball and a changeup. His can get up to 96 mph with his four-seam fastball in early innings, and will sit at 91-94 mph. His two-seamer is 88-91 with good movement, and he has a 12-to-6 curveball that ranges from 71-74 mph. His changeup is 84 mph with some movement.
"I've had a curveball all my life and last summer I started working on the slider more, just another pitch to get in there," he said. "That's been working great for me. It looks like my fastball coming in, but just has that break to the left. Both those pitches are really great for me. I can throw them for strikes."
Foltynewicz said the Astros scout Troy Hoerner had been talking to him a few times a week leading up to the draft, but that the Braves, Rangers and Mariners were also showing a lot of interested. He expected to be taken in the supplemental round.
"It's been pretty hectic," he said. "I had a good idea the Astros would take me sometime, but I wasn't expecting that early. Finally hearing my name called in the draft is a pretty great feeling."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.