Happy Fourth of July, everyone!
We're at the second installment of this series on the top All-Star moments in Astros history. This is one of two on the list that didn't take place in the All-Star Game proper. This one is from a year earlier than Sunday's post, as Jason Castro made his presence felt in the 2009 Futures Game. Castro was selected to the game a year after being drafted out of Stanford and had made it to Double-A Corpus Christi by midseason.
He was also the top prospect in a barren system, since he was drafted the season after Houston's draft apocalypse in 2007. That season, they failed to sign their first two picks (after already losing the first and second rounders to signing free agents Carlos Lee and Woody Williams), leaving fifth-rounder Collin DeLome as the highest drafted player to enter the system.
So, there were some rightful reasons to be excited about the first view of Castro the Astro on a big stage. He didn't disappoint, either. The book on Castro was that he'd be an elite defensive catcher, but it was hard to judge that on minor league numbers. Luckily, Castro showed off for everyone, throwing out two baserunners, including an absolute gunning at third.
My expectations for Castro weren't very high at the plate, but I think he drew a walk in this game, a precursor to his most valuable offensive skill. For some reason I can't recall, I couldn't watch the game live, so I recorded it and spent one whole afternoon breaking down how Castro did.
Castro meant so much to fans who follow prospects. He was the first sign of what Bobby Heck's scouting regime could do. He was hope that rebuilding could be accomplished quickly. More importantly, he provided proof that the Astros hadn't overdrafted him after they took a heaping helping of criticism over taking him where they did.
In retrospect, this game was also really talented, which Houston scouts seemed to like. With Castro and reliever Chia-jen Lo already in the organization, Houston added two more players from this game in Brett Wallace and Luis Durango. Other big names and current major leaguers who played in this game include Madison Bumgarner, Kyle Drabek, Mat Latos, Brian Matusz, Pedro Alvarez, Danny Espinosa, Eric Young, Jr, Jason Heyward, Desmond Jennings, Mike Stanton, Manny Banuelos, Jhoulys Chacin, Neftali Feliz, Junichi Tazawa, Carlos Santana, Jesus Montero, Starlin Castro, Alcides Escobar and Brett Lawrie. Imagine if this year's game produces even half those names (*fingers crossed for Altuve*).
Tuesday, we'll get to Moment No. 8, a look at a little bit of controversy. I know some of you might have put Jordan Lyles' Futures Game appearance here, but I think Castro's wins out in the end, exactly for the overarching reasons I laid out here. Feel free to disagree with me.