The Astros have been a sorry team for the last few years, but things are starting to look up. The farm has come a long way from where it was, and the big league team is even holding its own behind a moderately okay pitching staff and the hot bat of Jose Altuve. Obviously the Astros pick first, so that's the main thing that will be discussed here, but there are plenty of holes to be filled on the team and in the system, so the first thing I'm going to do is break down the biggest needs in the system.
1. Third Base- This is the one position where the Astros really don't have any legitimate prospects currently. Jimmy Paredes has some upisde and is doing okay at AAA, and Jonathan Meyer is having something of a breakout year in the Cal but he is repeating the league. I think it would be great if Houston could add a nice 3B prospect early in the draft.
2. Shortstop- You can really never have too many shortstops, and even though the Astros do have Jonathan Villar and Jiovanni Mier, we both know the red flags associated with those two. Carlos Correa may be a dark horse candidate for 1.1, but if (as expected) they go another direction, it'd be nice to add a decent SS prospect in the early rounds.
3. Catcher- Mike Zunino is a very real possibility at the top, and even if they don't go his direction the state of the catcher position in the Astros' farm isn't very pretty. Jason Castro doesn't look good as a hitter or good enough as a defender to distract from that, and the Chris Wallaces of the world aren't getting anyone too excited.
4. Pitching- Obviously, every team needs all the pitching they can get. But the Astros are really starved. Cosart and Folty, and to a lesser extent Tropeano, Clemens, Oberholtzer, Velasquez, Armstrong, Houser and company do have their attractive qualities, the farm lacks the big frontline starter upside that we all love to see. If they opt against Gausman, Zimmer or Appel at 1.1, they should look to rack up multiple pitchers in the earlygoing. Preferably some with power stuff, as that's largely missing right now.
Organizational Tendencies- It's tough to tell what this regime will do with all the turnover in the front office, but we do know a bit about new GM Jeff Luhnow, who headed up the drafting with St. Louis before becoming our GM. The Cardinals tended to favor hitters early during the years Luhnow was there- 6 of their 9 first round picks were hitters from 2003-2011, Luhnow's stay. They didn't lean much either way when it came to HS vs. College. More than anything, it just looks like Luhnow took players he liked with no definite trends. Generally, their early round picks have had some level of success- Rasmus, Miller, Wong in recent years. He also took Adam Ottavino, who attended school at Northeastern University, where I'm headed in the fall, so he obviously had something going for him.
First pick- The Astros have the privilege of starting things off this year, and at this point it is pretty wide open. I'm still an Appel guy, but I recognize that he isn't the likely pick. I feel that Appel has a more complete arsenal than does Gausman- he sacrifices a couple ticks on the FB for an elite breaking ball that can be absolutely wicked at times. Gausman has a lot of things going for him too, and I really think that one of these two will be the pick. What are your thoughts on Appel v. Gausman, am I missing the boat? What about Zunino or Buxton, are either of them worth taking this high? I think Zunino may be, but I think his meh performance as a hitter after the early part of the season will ding him too much to go at 1.1. Buxton... I just don't see him as an Upton-esque as some seem to. I don't believe that much in his hit skill, or his power projection. He just looks like a speedster with decent pop and while that's a valuable asset (see Crawford, Carl), I'm not sure he's complete enough to go first. I'm still weighing a lot of things with the first pick, I have no idea who I'll take yet. What does the community think?