HOUSTON. The ability to find pitchers who can miss bats proved fruitful on the second day of the MLB draft for the Astros, who took college pitchers with six of their eight teams and continued their trend of staying in the middle of the draft. diamond.
The Astros selected 11 players – all from college – in the first 10 rounds of the draft, and they all play in the middle – seven pitchers, three center fielders and a catcher. And the ability to control the strike zone was a key thread not only for pitchers, but also for the position players they chose.
“Strikes are always good to get the guys who fill the zone,” said Astros scouting director Chris Gross. “I think over the last few years we’ve shown an ability to improve things guys.”
Right. At the Major League level, the use of Astros analytics has helped Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, Dallas Koichel, Collin McHugh and Justin Verlander take their careers to the next level. Of these, only the Keuhel was designed and developed by the Astros, but the club is hoping it will have the next wave of promising weapons.
The Astros have done better in developing Major League rookies internationally — Framber Valdez, Christian Javier, Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidi — all in this year’s rotation — than they did in the draft with Keschel (2009 draft) and Lance McCullers Jr. (2012) Rare recent success stories. However, top prospect Hunter Brown (fifth round in 2019) is knocking on Triple-A’s door.
Houston’s first three picks on the second day of the MLB Draft were pitchers: right-hander Michael Knorr of Coastal Carolina in the third round (103), left-hander Trey Dombroski of Monmouth in the fourth round (133), and right-hander Nolan DeVos. Davidson in the fifth round (163).
Knorr is 6ft 5in and played three years in California State Fullerton, posting a 7.16 ERA before moving to Coastal Carolina and flourishing.
“I happened to see him right at the gate,” Gross said. “Our local scout Andrew Johnson saw a bunch of him. He fills the area and has two breakable balls. He’s a five serve guy who throws a ton of punches. It was a tempting package.”
Dombroski is also 6ft 5in and hits from the left side, while the smaller DeVos (6ft) has a fastball that can play well with two decent break balls. He also has a chance to become a starter.
Knorr (11.2 strikeouts in nine innings), Dombroski (11.4) and DeVos (12.1) were college hitting machines, along with eighth-round pick Tyler Guilfoyle (14.1), a Kentucky right hand pitcher, and Brett Gillis (12.3). , a right-handed starter taken in the ninth round from the University of Portland.
Gross said Drew Pearson, an Astros scout in Wisconsin, used to coach in Wisconsin-Milwaukee and helped sell Houston to right-hander AJ Blau, a seventh-round pick who has a good fastball-changeup combination and is very athletic.
“We kind of had a target on some of those college strike pitchers,” Gross said. “Michael Knorr from Coastal Carolina throws a ton of punches the same way all over the board. It worked great and we are thrilled with the guns we received today as well as the bats.”
Gross said the Astros’ penchant for taking pitchers came about when so many college bats—draft strength—were off the board early.
The Astros took a pair of center fielders to start the draft on Sunday, taking with them Tennessee center fielder Drew Gilbert in the first round (28th overall) and Oregon State center fielder Jacob Melton in the second round (No. 64), and also took another central one. fielder in round 10 with Zach Cole Jr. of Ball State.
Then there’s Collin Price, selected in the sixth round, a 6ft 6in catcher who will be asked to put more weight on his 205lb body to tap into his strength. Price, who hit .315 with 18 homers and 58 RBIs at Mercer this year, has walked 52 times and only hit 34 times in 203 at-bats. Gilbert also had more walks (33) than strikeouts (32) in his college season, and Melton struck out just 51 times in 261 bats last season at Oregon while drawing 26 walks.
Mature college players who have a good understanding of the strike zone can move quickly through the system.
“You definitely have a few senior college players throughout the game,” Gross said. “I think it’s just the climate we’re in with this extra [COVID] year. However, there was some quality depth in the middle of the Majors and we hope to capitalize on that this year.”
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