It is pure folly to try and figure out the MLB draft ahead of time. It's worse than trying to predict the NFL draft, because teams play things so close to the vest and there's such a vast population of players to choose from. The top pick or two is usually pretty secure, but go any further down than that and things tend to get murky.
However, being the fool that I am, I wanted to see where the Astros stood in some of the mock drafts around the interwebs. Which players do they have Houston taking and, more importantly, where do they have players Houston might be interested in going.
First up, the players mentioned as going to Houston:
Matthew Purke, LHP, TCU (2)
Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, North Augusta High School (SC) (1)
Bubba Starling, RHP/OF, Gardner Edgerton High School (KS) (1)
Dillon Howard, RHP, Searcy High School (AR) (1)
And that's it. There just aren't that many mock drafts out there right now. I'm sure they'll get rolling as May heats up, but for now, that's the list of Houston's picks. After the jump, we'll look at who's falling, who was taken before Houston picked and who might still be on the board that we're forgetting about.
In both of the Matt Purke mocks, Bubba Starling was already taken. Taylor Guerrieri was already taken in one of them but was still there in all the rest (and wasn't even in the first round of one of the mocks, but that was from January). In fact, the only mock where Starling fell to Houston was from Bleacher Report, so we can immediately discredit it (I kid, I kid). Howard was listed in the first round on all of the mocks, but never as high as 11th.
What's pretty obvious is all the mocks think Houston is going with a pitcher at that spot. If they do, there is a chance Taylor Jungmann from Texas will be available, as he lasts to 11th in two of the mocks. There's also hope for timmy, because Jackie Bradley, Jr. only went before 11th in two of the mocks, so if the Astros want to go with a hitter, he's likely to be there.
Back in February, Stephen Goff over at the Houston Examiner caught up with Bobby Heck and found out some guys who the Astros are interested in. The names he mentioned were Kentucky's Alex Meyer, UConn's Matt Barnes, Hawaii's Kolten Wang and Indiana's John Dickerson.
Those four were mentioned in the first round of all the mocks, with only Barnes getting a nod in the top 10 twice. The rest look to be available when Houston picks at 11.
This season at Kentucky, Meyer has started 11 times, striking out 91 in 78 2/3 innings while walking 38. He's only given up 61 hits this season for a .225 batting average against and just 11 extra-base hits. He's also got three complete games and one shutout. Meyer is a 6-foot-9 junior righthander from Greensburg, Indiana. If there's a worry with Meyer, it's with his arm. Not because of any issues, but because I cringe at college arms who might get overused. Meyer certainly fits that bill, having only one start this season where he threw less than 100 pitches and routinely topping 120 pitches down the stretch. Reading this scouting report of Meyer from Baseball Beginnings, I really see Meyer as the next Bud Norris for Houston, if he's selected.
Matt Barnes has been more unhittable at UConn than Meyer, but with a couple of caveats. He hasn't struck out as many batters (69 in 78 innings) and he's allowed the same number of extra-base hits. But, Barnes does have better control than Meyer at this point. He's walked just 17 in those innings and has a comparable number of wild pitches. Oh, and Barnes has allowed 21 less hits than Meyer. However, before we go crazy for college numbers, remember that those cold weather teams in the Big East don't play as well as the SEC. Competition level matters. In this report from Baseball Beginnings, John Klima makes the point that Barnes is a good, projectible arm who needs a better breaking ball. That coupled with his control may get the Astros to bite on him at 11.
Hawaii second baseman Kolten Wang is another interesting name. Wang won the Cape Cod MVP award in 2010 and shows an intriguing speed-power combination that reminds me a bunch of Bobby Heck's MO. Wang currently leads his team in hitting with a .400/.497/.600 line, which is with these new bats that better simulate wood performance. We don't know what it means comparison-wise, but it does show Wang isn't an aluminum bat wonder. He's also hit five home runs this season, which is half of his entire team's total. Wang has also struck out just 13 times in 140 at-bats and has stolen 16 of 21 bases this season. He also had a really fascinating Q-and-A with John Klima here. After doing a little research, I really like the prospect of Wang in Houston, even if he does overlap DDJ.
Indiana's Alex (not John) Dickerson has a lot of the same characteristics as Wang, just not quite as good. He's hitting for a pretty high average, he's hard to strike out and is showing some nice pop with the bat. He's just not stealing bases or walking at the same rate as Wang. Overall, I think Dickerson would be a nice choice in the second round, but I'd be disappointed with him at 11.
Okay, so there you have it. That's a rundown of the guys Heck liked, the guys the mock drafts like and who might be available. Who do you have going to the Astros at this point? Is there anyone that we're all missing here?