With the 2014 draft about to commence, it might be appropriate to remember Drafts of the Past.
Specifically, how does Houston's 2013 haul look a year later? Who's performing well? Who signed and who didn't? Here's a quick trip through Jeff Luhnow and Mike Elias' first draft together as GM and Scouting Director.
Top 10 rounds
1) Mark Appel, RHP - That surprise appendectomy (is an appendectomy never NOT a surprise?) set him back quite a bit. Got rocked in his last start, but his peripherals are not bad. Still has elite velocity.
2) Andrew Thurman, RHP - Anteater. Bad ERA. Good strikeout rate. Too many walks. But, his velocity has remained up, so that's good.
3) Kent Emanuel, LHP - His arm may snap off at the elbow any day because of pitching abuse at UNC. But, you can't tell it from his results this year. He's got 35 strikeouts in 45 innings between Lancaster and Quad Cities. He's only walked eight batters all season and only walked 10 in his professional career.
4) Conrad Gregor, 1B - Good hitter, great on-base skill. Not much power this year, but he did hit a home run to his dad while at Quad Cities. So, that's cool.
5) Tony Kemp, 2B - Recently signed the deed to officially take over the California League. Hitting. 341/.430/.470. Has seven triples in 600 career minor league plate appearances. Is gritty/scrappy.
6) Jacob Nottingham, C - Young catcher hasn't played in 2014, likely headed to Greeneville once short-season ball starts up.
7) James Ramsay, CF - How can you complain about a .374 on-base percentage from a player with as sterling a defensive reputation as Ramsay? Think of him as Andrew Aplin 2.0. Little power, great glove, hope the bat holds up.
8) Jason Martin, CF - Anthony's official Baseball Best Friend. In the same situation as Nottingham, still in extended spring training. Likely will join him in Greeneville.
9) Brian Holberton, C - Maybe the most under-the-radar draft pick in this class. Hitting .344 in Quad Cities with 17 extra-base hits. Oh, and unlike some of the guys mentioned later on, he's about league appropriate age-wise. Seems like another catching find for this front office. It's surprising, but there was a time a few years ago when there was no catching depth in this system at all. Luhnow and Co. fixed that in a big way.
10) Austin Nicely, LHP - Our third EST Musketeer.
Best of the rest
Not a lot to choose from here, since many of these players are still in extended spring training. But, here's some of the best performances so far in 2014:
33rd round pick Tyler White leads the pack here. He's not exactly age-appropriate for the Midwest League, but he's hitting the cover off the ball. In 180 plate appearances, White has hit .303/.394/.474. With Rio Ruiz in Lancaster, don't expect a promotion soon, but White is providing some value in the season's first two months. .. 21st round pick Jon Kemmer is about a year older than his competition at Quad Cities, but has hit well. In 116 plate appearances for the RIver Bandits, he's hit .295/.362/.505 with four home runs and 10 doubles. ... 32nd round pick Zach Morton made it to Lancaster this year. He wasn't particularly good there, but he made it. And, he had 17 strikeouts in 22 innings in Quad Cities. ... 34th round pick Brett Booth may be older than the rest of the Midwest League, but he's mashing. In 56 plate appearances for Quad Cities, Booth has hit .286/.375/.449 with one home run.
Ones that got away
15th round pick James Farris chose to go back to Arizona for his senior season. He posted a 3.40 ERA in 113 innings for the Wildcats with 100 strikeouts and 19 walks. ... Dillon Newman was picked in the 16th round, but chose to go back to Baylor. He posted a 3.67 ERA in 76 innings for the Bears with 56 strikeouts and 23 walks. ... Alex Schick was picked in the 17th round out of high school, but chose to go to Cal instead. He threw 17 innings as a true freshman, posting a 3.18 ERA with 10 strikeouts and 16 walks. ... 20th round pick Daniel Pinero eschewed signing with the Astros and instead attended the University of Virginia. He started 59 games for the Cavaliers at shortstop, hitting .252 with a .368 on-base percentage and five doubles in 202 at-bats. ... 24th round pick Nathan Thornhill made a terrible decision, going back to Texas for his senior season. He did some baseball-related things in Austin this year. ... 31st round pick Scott Burke was drafted out of high school. He chose to go to UCLA instead, where he posted a 5.31 ERA with 16 strikeouts in 20 innings. ... 35th round pick Kacy Clemens also chose not to sign, going to Austin instead. He also did baseball-related things there this year.