August 16th has come and past, meaning the 2010 draft class for Bobby Heck and the Astros is set in stone. We know who they signed and we know who they didn't. Let's run through what they got one more time to see how they made out overall.
Strengths of the draft
Catching depth -The Astros added three legitimate catching prospects in Ben Heath of Penn State, Puerto Rico high schooler Roberto Pena and University of Houston's Chris Wallace. All three have already been promoted once, with Heath becoming the first player from the class to reach Lexington. Oh yeah, Heath also won the South Atlantic League's Player of the Week award after his first seven days in the league. The sudden surplus of catching talent meant the Astros could move supplemental first round pick Mike Kvasnicka off the position to third base.
Power potential - Heath may have the best raw power of any guy in this class. At least, that's what the guys from Tri-City have said about his batting practice displays. Still, Dan Adamson and Tyler Burnett also have quite a bit of pop, as do Kvasnicka and Wallace. Heck, even undrafted free agent Marcus Nidiffer has put up good power numbers. I'm also convinced DDJ will show good power once the Astros get to work with his swing.
This was an area the Astros sorely lacked in the past two drafts, straight-up mashers. You can count on one finger how many guys they got before now (JD Martinez) and even he isn't a prototypical power guy like Burnett or Heath. I talked about this a little before, but Lexington could have scary-good power next season with these draftees and Telvin Nash all in the mix. As much as I like the well-rounded player like the Astros have been churning out recently, chick still dig the long ball.
High school arms -The Astros managed to land three arms with quite a bit of potential in the first three rounds. Mike Foltynewicz, Vincent Velasquez and Evan Grills are all young guys with a lot of room to grow. Velasquez, in particular, could have much more potential than his status as a second-round pick belies. Further, a guy who's not quite a high school arm like Rodney Quintero, has plenty of upside in his arm that has yet to be tapped. There is always a measure of bust potential in high school arms, but the Astros seem to have tapped into some good ones this year. If two of these guys turn into big leaguers, Houston will be thrilled.
Weaknesses of the draft
Outfield depth -There's talk the Astros want to move Austin Wates to second base, which would be great for that position, but not great for the overall outfield depth of this draft. Outside of Wates and DDJ, the highest drafted outfielder was high school center fielder Jordan Scott, who's hitting .265/.365/.314 with the GCL Astros. Guys like Nebraska's Adam Bailey and Adamson add depth, but only Adamson and maybe Joshua "Pancake King" Magee look like they could move up through the system. Fortunately, the Astros are pretty strong in the outfield throughout the system, but it's still not an area that was really addressed in this draft.
Impact players - Outside of Folty, where is the No. 1 or No. 2 starter potential? Where are the future All-Stars or Rookie of the Year candidates? Who out of this group could truly make an impact on the Astros roster? We've talked before about how the Astros draft for specific purposes, relying more on good players who don't excel overall. The strategy seems to be to populate the team with good, yet not great, players and hope for consistency across the board. That's what this draft was mostly about, consistently good players without any true standouts.*
*Note - this is less how I really feel and more just reaching to play devil's advocate. I do like the potential of a number of these picks to make an impact, but I'm also a bit of an optimist and don't want that to influence my analysis too much.
Bullpen help -Some of the pitchers the Astros took in this draft will stick in the starting rotation for a while, but it looks likely that guys like Robby Doran are headed to the bullpen long-term. There's nothing wrong with that, and certainly the Astros will give each guy all the time in the world to prove themselves as capable starters. I just worry that there isn't enough starting pitching here outside of Vincent Velasquez and Folty.
Top performers so far
Roberto Pena, catcher, seventh round - I couldn't have been more wrong about Pena so far in his development. I thought he was all-defense with no bat, and he's shown where I can stick that lame scouting report by going 20 for 73 in the GCL and 4 for 12 with Greeneville. He's also got six extra-base hits and has only struck out 11 times. As I mentioned before, he looks like he'll be a very solid catching prospect and probably makes the organization's top 30 next year.
Tyler Burnett, third baseman, 17th round -The big right-hander from Middle Tennessee State is a straight-up masher. He was robbed when the organization gave Kike Hernandez the Player of the Month award for July. Kike was good but Burnett was better, as he put up a slash line of .330/.439/.511. An advanced hitter, Burnett shows good power potential and could move through the system quickly. Expect him to be a step ahead of Kvasnicka next year, possibly going to Lancaster right off the bat. Burnett has a chance to stick at third, but could easily be moved to first if needed.
Thomas Shirley, left-handed pitcher, ninth round - The lefty hasn't pitched since July 18th because of an injury, but that doesn't mean he wasn't impressive before then. He did not allow a run in his first 17 professional innings, striking out 28 and walking 10. Shirley definitely cemented himself as a player to watch from this class. If he can get his walks under control, he's a middle-rotation starter. If he struggles with them, he's a solid reliever in the pros.
Ben Heath, catcher, fifth round - Possibly my favorite guy from this draft, Heath has been impressive in the minors. His strikeout rate is a bit too high right now, but that's to be expected from a guy who didn't play regularly for two years at Penn State. I've talked enough about his power, but what I didn't mention is he's also got a very nice eye for the strike zone. Heath walked 20 times in 156 plate appearances at Tri-City. Add to that decent defense behind teh plate and Heath could be a steal in the fifth round.