Things have changed round here. It turns out that being good also has its disadvantages. Remember the days when we had one of the highest, if not the highest, pick in the draft? Yeah, they're gone. For the first time in years, the Houston Astros will be drafting alongside the good teams. Having to watch, painfully, as the bad teams select all the finest talent available.
A far cry from the number one or two overall pick in the draft, the Astros first pick in the coming draft will be number 18 overall (barring any free-agent signings who have draft pick compensation attached to them, which seems highly unlikely at the moment). Following that, their next highest pick is in the second round, number sixty overall, and, then, in the third round of the draft, the 97th overall pick.
The consequences of being good also manifest themselves in the Astros' signing pool. Going by Baseball America estimates, the Astros will have just under $6-million to invest in their draftees. To put that into context, the Astros had a signing pool of over $17-million last year, allowing them to snag three of Baseball America's top eight prospects.
If it makes you feel any better, rebuild rivals, the Chicago Cubs, have the smallest signing pool in all of baseball. Currently, (Dexter Fowler has draft-pick compensation attached to him, and he is yet to sign) the Cubs' first pick won't be until the third round, with the 104th overall pick.
Pitching, once more, highlights the talent available. Several arms headline the class. High schoolers; Jason Groome and Riley Pint and college arms; Alec Hansen and A.J. Puk. But fear not, there will still be plenty of talent and plenty of ceiling available when the Astros make their first choice of the draft.
Outfielder Will Benson (who is drawing Jason Heyward comparisons), may be available. The same goes for third baseman Bobby Dalbec (who probably has the most power in the draft, and, of course, plenty of strikeouts to go along with it). Similar to last year, there are plenty of talented outfielders, but it's highly unlikely that either Corey Ray or Buddy Reed, the pick of the crop in that area, would fall to the Astros.
If pitching is where the Astros are swaying, somebody like Austin Bergner (who is very similar to Pint, and has one of the more interesting deliveries in the draft) may be an option. Or, Kevin Gowdy, who is probably the most polished/projectable high school arm available in the draft. The Astros won't be adding any farm changing players this year, but they, given their ridiculous success of late in the draft, don't really need to.
With the College baseball season returning in February, and the remaining free agents finding their new homes, the draft will start to become clearer. We can then approach the topic with a little more clarity. It may be a long while away, but it's never too soon to start thinking about it, and, in particular, who the next Houston Astros may be.