Astros Draft Preview - Part Six: The Texas Connection

It's hard enough to pick who is going to go in the top 10 draft picks, much less at the Astros' #21 slot. But since half the fun of the draft is wild speculation, I thought I'd go whole hog and try to name some guys who might land in the Astros' laps after the first round. One thing we saw last year was that two of our prize draftees were Texas kids: Ross Seaton and Brad Dydalewicz. In that vein, here are three guys with Texas/local roots that the Astros might grab with pick #69 or beyond.

Randal Grichuk, OF, Lamar Consolidated HS -- BaseballAmerica has linked us to him. He's a kid from Lamar HS who plays left field and hits with a lot of power. BA did a profile on him (unfortunately behind a subscriber wall) and it appears he modeled his playing style and batting stance after Jeff Bagwell. Now, I've looked at some youtube video of this kid, and it looks like someone has talked him out of actually using Bagwell's stance. But still, some of Grichuk's favorite baseball memories were when his Little League team was being shown around Minute Maid Park and he got to meet and speak with his heroes, Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio.

The reason I suggest keeping an eye on him is because of his commitment to college. He's got a scholarship to Arizona and he's mentioned that one of his goals is to go to the College World Series. His mom seems to be big on him going to college, too. So it's possible that signability could drop him into later rounds.

But he's suggested he's open to skipping college if he goes high enough in the draft and if the money is right. Perhaps the possibility of playing for his hometown team could be the edge that Houston needs to get him drafted and signed at a point in the draft where others might not risk it (think Ross Seaton). If I had to guess, I'd say maybe look for it in the 2nd round, because if Astros fail to sign him, they could get a supplemental 2nd round pick in the 2010 draft as compensation.

A. J. Morris, RHP, Kansas State - Though he went to K-State to play college ball, this right-hander went to Humble High School, just a half-hour's drive from Minute Maid Park. He flipped a light switch this year, going from a 4W-4L season and a 6.00+ ERA in 2008 to an 14W-1L season with a 2.28 ERA this season. This stellar performance earned him the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Award for 2009.

He's got a 91+mph fastball and a solid slider and has great command of both. Bobby Heck, in a recent interview, mentioned the Big 12 as a place that is particularly stocked with college pitching. Like Grichuk, Morris is a possibility for the ‘stros in the second round (though it's entirely possible he's off the board by the time our pick rolls around).

Slade Heathcott, CF/LHP, Texas HS - BA has us connected with Heathcott, too. He's been out much of his senior season with various injuries, but he's a potential 5-tool guy, with speed and power as his calling cards. Most everybody who does a write-up of him mentions his "makeup" and suggests that he might have some off-the-field character issues. Thankfully, the baseball media gives the kid a break and doesn't ever mention what those issues are, so we can't really evaluate them ourselves. His arm strength is so good that he's begun throwing off the mound and throws in the low-90's with a good curveball. Rumor has it that he'll require $1mil to break his commitment to LSU, which would be above slot if the Astros took him in the second round. However, last year, the ‘stros showed that they were willing to go above slot when the talent warrants it with Ross Seaton (3Supp Round) and Brad Dydalewicz (8th round). He is, however, a Red Sox fan, so who knows.

Other Potential 2nd or 3rd Round Texans: Alex Wilson (RHP, Texas A&M), Brooks Raley (LHP, Texas A&M), Victor Black (RHP, Dallas Baptist), Aaron Miller (LHP, Baylor), Todd Glaesman (OF, Midway HS in Waco), Colton Cain (LHP/1B Waxahachie HS), Ryan Berry (RHP, Rice...also a HS teammate of A.J. Morris), and just because Louisiana doesn't have a major league ballclub, Zack Von Rosenberg (RHP, Zachary HS in Zachary Louisiana)