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12/02/09 10:00 AM EST

Astros quick to get Draft picks playing

Shortstop Mier shows most upside among hitting prospects

For an organization seemingly in the need of talent in a hurry, the Astros certainly didn't cater toward need in the 2009 Draft, at least not in the early going.

Houston went the high-school route with their first four picks, clearly going with who they thought was the best available player in each spot instead of perhaps going with "safer" college players who could conceivably get to the big leagues faster. They did make up for that later on with a slew of college and junior-college picks. The final tally showed 27 of the 36 players signed did come from those ranks.

NL East

AL East

NL Central

AL Central

NL West

AL West

And perhaps most important, the Astros didn't waste any time getting this talent going in the system. With just one exception, every pick who signed did so before June was over. If nothing beats experience, then the Astros are way ahead of the game with this Draft class.

Top five picks

1. Jiovanni Mier, SS: The top high-school shortstop in the Draft class, Mier should actually be able to stay at short thanks to a great arm, smooth actions and good range. He impressed those who saw him in the Appalachian League during his debut on both sides of the ball. He hit .276/.380/.484 over 192 at-bats and looks like the Astros hitting prospect with the highest upside throughout the system.

2. Tanner Bushue, RHP: Bushue didn't get to pitch a ton even though he signed quickly because of a back injury. He did get in 22 1/3 Gulf Coast League innings, posting a 2.42 ERA and .220 batting average against, striking out 19 and walking just five. He's expected to be fine for Spring Training and it should be interesting to see how this projectable right-hander progresses when healthy.

3. Telvin Nash, OF: Coming from the same high school as 2008 No. 1 overall pick Tim Beckham, Nash has some serious raw power. He didn't show much of it during his debut in the GCL, where he hit .218/.280/.324 with 45 strikouts in 40 games. He did show some improvement with a .259/.317/.379 August, but he'll have to tighten up his swing some so he can tap into that power potential.

3s. Jonathan Meyer, 3B: Taken in the compensation round following the third, thanks to not signing 2008 third-rounder Chase Davidson, Meyer was a versatile high schooler who played the infield, caught and pitched. The Astros are developing him as a third baseman and he has the chance to be a good one. He started switch-hitting not long ago and while he's behind from the left side, it looks like it might work. He played 62 games for Rookie League Greeneville alongside Mier and hit .190/.301/.299 with 69 strikeouts in 221 at-bats.

4. B.J. Hyatt, RHP: The Astros love the pre-Draft workout and Hyatt is one who likely got taken and signed because of how he looked in his workout with the team. He's strong-armed and projectable and his stats with Greeneville as a junior-college product might point to his future role: 1.64 ERA, 11 strikeouts in 11 innings as a reliever; 8.36 ERA in 8 1/3 innings, 18 hits allowed, nine walks and four strikeouts in three starts.

Sleeper picks

LHP Dallas Keuchel (seventh round) pitched very well for Tri-City in the NY-Penn League, posting a 2.70 ERA over 56 2/3 innings. He allowed 52 hits (.240 BAA) while walking just nine and striking out 44. ... 20th-rounder J.D Martinez, an outfielder out of Nova Southeastern University, made a brief stop with Greeneville (.403 in 19 games), then moved up to Tri-City, promptly winning the batting title with a .326 average. He topped the league in on-base plus slugging (.920) and was second with his .540 slugging as well. ... OF Grant Hogue (35th round) went from Mississippi State to Greeneville and hit .284/.365/.392 while stealing 17 bases in 22 tries. ... RHP Mike Schurz (44th round) was impressive in relief, albeit in the GCL and NY-Penn League. Still, he had a 1.52 ERA and six saves in 29 2/3 total innings, allowing just 19 hits (.188 BAA) and striking out 37.

Fast risers

Being so young at the top of the Draft leaves few fast trackers to choose from. But Keuchel, out of the University of Arkansas, is a typical "pitchability" college lefty who shouldn't take too long to advance through the system. The Astros used Boston College senior sign James Macdonald (18th round) as a reliever with Tri-City and he pitched well in that role. Should he stay there, he could get there sooner than most.


The Astros were able to sign their first dozen picks and 25 of their first 26 selections (36 were signed in total out of 51 picks). The first selection not to join the organization came in round 12, when Geoff Thomas, a right-hander who instead went to Southern Mississippi. The Astros took a shot when they selected Greg Peavey in the 32nd round. The right-hander, a Draft-eligible sophomore out of Oregon State, had been the top high-school arm in the Northwest two years prior. He's been up and down throughout his college career and he opted to return to OSU for his junior season.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.