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2016 MLB Draft: Astros Draftee Introductions

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Ohio State Athletics

The 2016 MLB Draft is in the books and the Astros have a draft class that has brought a wide range of opinions to the table. This is not one of those opinions. This is simply a run down of each of the 2016 draftees and what they bring to the table.

Round 1: No. 17 Pick -- Forrest Whitley, RHP, Alamo Heights High School, TX

Every season, it seems there is a big fireballer from Texas near the top of most draft boards. This season it was Forrest Whitley. In a switch from most previous seasons, however, the Astros were able to keep the Texas hurler with a franchise based in the state. Whitley led his Alamo Heights High School team in the State 5-A playoffs and posted cartoon statistics in his dominance of other 14-18 year old talent. He has the big fastball one might expect in a pitcher of his (6’ 7”, 225 pound) stature - touching as high as 96-97 miles per hour - with a pair of breaking balls and a (reportedly) good change-up that Whitley himself claims as his best out pitch. - Jason

Round 2: No. 61 Pick -- Ronnie Dawson, Outfielder, Ohio State

Despite a reputation for drafting for high floor, the Astros have shown that they like outfielders with some tools. Derek Fisher had tools beyond his production. George Springer (not a Luhnow a draftee) has loads of tools. Ronnie Dawson fits that same bill. He was the best player on Ohio State’s B1G Tournament Championship team but his numbers weren’t incredibly outstanding. Sure, he slashed .331/.419/.611 with 13 home runs and 21 stolen bases, but he looks like a guy who could do more. He’s built like a running back and looks like there’s more pop to come. He has to clean up his swing a little to limit the strikeouts in order to reach his full potential. But, there is a lot of ceiling there. -Brooks

Round 3: No. 97 Pick -- Jake Rogers, Catcher, Tulane

In a talented college catcher class, you could be forgiven for missing Rogers. Before becoming a three-year starter at Tulane, Rogers was an all-state and all-American at Canyon High School, playing catcher and shortstop. While at Tulane, he set a school record by throwing out 83 runners, and followed that up by nabbing 15 of 21 runners in the Cape Cod League. The bat has lagged behind the defense to this point, but there is definite room for growth offensively. - Anthony

Round 4: No. 127 Pick -- Brett Adcock, LHP, Michigan

Adcock had something of a “mixed” junior season with the Wolverines - he struck out 14.94 batters per nine innings and held opponents to a .190 batting average, but he also walked 8.62 batters per those same nine innings, and in the Cape Cod League, he actually allowed more walks than strikeouts.. Definitely a work in progress, there’s no question that there’s potential there - if he can clean up the control issues. - Anthony

Round 5: No: 157 Pick -- Abraham Toro-Hernandez, 3B, Seminole State

A virtual unknown coming into the draft to all but the most assiduous followers of Oklahoma Junior College baseball, Toro-Hernandez wasn’t even ranked in Baseball America’s Top 500 Draft List, and his statistics are not on his player page at The Baseball Cube. Yet in his lone season at Seminole State, Toro-Hernandez slashed .439/.545/.849 with 20 home runs (in just 55 games) to go with fourteen doubles, five triples, and eight stolen bases. He is a very good athlete with a sharp mind (he’s trilingual - English, French, and Spanish, being of Venezuelan parentage but from Quebec) and a good work ethic according to his college coach, former MLB Scout (Royals and Yankees) Lloyd Simmons. The Astros love the 19-year-old Toro-Hernandez as a third baseman - where his smooth switch-hitting swing (somewhat reminiscent of Carlos Beltran, if you watch it) and strong arm and athleticism play well, but Simmons believes Toro-Hernandez’s future is as a catcher, saying: "Just me talking and nobody else, I think he can catch in the big leagues. He's got great hands, quick feet. He's got that 60 arm [on the 20-80 scouts scale], he's got power on both sides. I've seen a lot of prospects in pro ball. I project him as a big league catcher." - Jason

Round 6: No. 187 Pick -- Stephen Wrenn, CF, Georgia

Stephen Wrenn saw his draft stock this season take a significant hit after breaking three bones in his face in the preseason before his junior year at the University of Georgia and struggling early in the season - perhaps due to the protective mask he was wearing while playing. He ultimately finished with good numbers for the season that were nonetheless a little down from his 2015 (sophomore year) numbers. He performed very well (five home runs, and 38 hits in 39 games) in the wood bat Cape Cod League, always a strong indicator for the Astros, and possesses top shelf speed (rated as highly as a 70 on the 20-80 scale, and he’s been timed at 4.09 seconds from home to first, 3.72 seconds from home to first on a bunt, and 6.56 seconds from second to home according to Jeremy Rochford of Striking Out Looking) to go with excellent defensive ability in center field. The only real question with Wrenn seems to revolve around his ultimate power potential, but it looks like he has the speed, defensive ability, and the chance to hit enough to be a solid Major League regular, making him a potential steal in the sixth round. - Jason

Round 7: No. 217 Pick -- Tyler Buffett, RHP, Oklahoma State

Buffett worked in a number of roles for the Cowboys over his three seasons in Stillwater ending his college career as a starter in the College World Series. Over the course of his time with Oklahoma State, Buffett just seemed to keep getting stronger culminating in an eight inning three hit shutout against Arizona in Omaha. Over the course of his junior season Buffett pitched to a 3.15 ERA and an 8-3 record while striking out nearly a batter an inning. The 6’2” righty works in the low 90s with a four-seamer, two-seamer and a cutter. Buffett also works in an 80 mph curveball and shows decent command of a changeup as another potential offering. - Nathan

Round 8: No. 247 Pick -- Nick Hernandez, RHP, Houston

Hernandez was the Houston Cougars closer this year after transferring from a JuCo. He supported a great 11.57 SO/9 and a very small 1.93 BB/9 all while keeping hits pretty low at 4.73 H/9. Without a doubt, his stats caught the eye of the decision sciences department. He appears to have a very good four seam fastball due to high vertical movement that makes it look like it rises. -Brooks

Round 9: No. 277 Pick -- Ryan Hartman, LHP, Tennessee Wesleyan College

The track record for Div. II players isn’t great, much less from little Tennessee Wesleyan. However, few from that classification have Ryan Hartman’s resume. He’s a lefty with a fastball that goes into the low 90’s consistently. He had impressive strikeout numbers as a senior this season and hardly walked anyone. Despite the minimal competition and age relative to his peers, he fits a prototypical Luhnow draftee that the decision sciences group identify. -Brooks

Round 10: No. 307 pick -- Dustin Hunt, RHP, Northeastern

The teammate of the Indians’ third-round pick Aaron Civale, Hunt made waves of his own over the summer, striking out 13.1 batters per nine innings in the Cape Cod League, and followed that up with a 9.73 K/9 in his junior season at Northeastern. Standing at 6’5”, 180 pounds, Hunt has plenty of room to add to his frame, which could help his already-impressive arsenal: A mid-nineties fastball, plus changeup, and a breaking ball that he’s been shaping into more of a slider. - Anthony

Round 11: No. 337 pick -- Chad Donato, RHP, West Virginia

Astros Scouting Director targeted Donato as a player they had rated much higher than his draft position but that he dropped due to injury concern. He struck out 111 and walked just 20 this season in 96 ⅔ innings for WVU. He tops out a 93 MPH and has a hammer curve ball. Definitely a guy who has top 5 round potential. Problem is that he has UCL sprain that is confirmed by MRI. His plan was to wait and let the drafting team help determine the course of action whether it’s surgery or not. -Brooks

Round 12: No. 367 pick -- Carmen Benedetti, LHP, Michigan

Benedetti’s future may lay on the mound, but for now, he’s manning first base in Tri-City, and for good reason. He carried a .444 on-base percentage as a junior, with nice power potential, and played a nice first base on top of it. The comp you find most-often for him is Brian Johnson, a two-way player at Florida who’s now a full-time pitcher for the Red Sox. It looks like the Astros will bank on the bat first. - Anthony

Round 13: No. 397 pick -- Ryne Birk, 2B, Texas A&M

Birk at times was projected to go as high as the top five rounds, but ultimately fell to the Astros here in the 13th. Offensively Birk showed average power, average speed and a good feel for contact during his time in College Station. His senior saw him slash .310/.378/.478. If Birk’s work to become a competent defender up the middle holds up at the next level he has the potential to be a great get outside of the top ten rounds. - Nathan

Round 14: No. 427 pick -- Carson LaRue, RHP, Cowley County CC

LaRue was able to hit 90 MPH consistently out of HS and was rated as the 7th best prospect out of Oklahoma according to Perfect Game. He went on to Oklahoma State for a year where he pitched in 17 games, including three starts. He then transferred to Cowley County CC mid-season in 2016 where he would lead the staff in innings at 87 and strikeouts at 109. So, there’s some velocity and he also has a slider that he prefers as a strikeout pitch. -Brooks

Round 15: No. 457 pick -- Alex Degoti, SS, Barry U

Degoti only played his senior year at Barry University after mostly being a backup at Long Beach State for three years. After transferring to Division II, he took off with the lower competition and extended playing time. He was a first-team All American and ranked in the top 7 in the conference for batting average, OBP, and SLG. His line for the season was .404/.492/.694 with 14 home runs and 22 stolen bases. -Brooks

Round 16: No. 487 pick -- Spencer Johnson, OF, Missouri State

The Missouri State product enjoyed a strong showing in his senior season as his power blossomed on his way to ALL-MVC honors. Johnson launched 24 home runs in 2016 to lead all of Division I after launching only nine in his first three seasons. At 6’4” and 200 lbs. Johnson brings an easy power bat and the potential positional flexibility to boot to the Astros system.

Round 17: No. 517 pick -- Brian Howard, RHP, TCU

Howard went 10-2 with a 3.19 ERA and had a 2.9/1 strikeout to walk ratio in just under 100 innings for the Horned Frogs in his junior season. Serving as the ace for a young pitching staff in 2016 Howard was instrumental in getting TCU to the College World Series. Getting to the World Series was not enough for the young righty as he has announced that he will be returning to school for his senior season to complete unfinished business. - Nathan

Round 18: No. 547 pick -- Colin McKee, RHP, Mercyhurst College

McKee is a pre-med student and has a 3.7 GPA, so he’s very smart as well as a good athlete. His fastball tops out at 94 MPH and has a four-pitch mix with his slider really coming on over the last year to become his go-to out pitch. He lead the team in innings (94) and strikeouts (141). You read that right. 1-4-1! That’s a 13.5 SO/9. He also had a 3.26 BB/9 so there is some control issues. The Redshirt Junior had a 1.82 ERA. Great season, even if it is Div. II. -Brooks

Round 19: No. 577 pick -- Taylor Jones, 1B, Gonzaga

Drafted by the Cubs in the 35th round in 2015, Jones elected to go back to Gonzaga for his senior season and it appears that that decision paid off. Jones hit .332 to follow up his junior campaign which saw him hit for a strong .358 average. Playing primarily at 1B Jones showed very little home run power, but was able to collect 27 doubles. - Nathan

Round 20: No. 607 pick -- Louis-Philippe Pelletier, 2B, Seminole State

The teammate of 5th Rounder Abraham Toro-Hernandez, Pelletier actually out-performed in a few categories. He hit .445 with 24 home runs while playing second base. He also stole 16 bases. He only struck out 18 times but also only walked 18 times. That’s the big difference between the two as Toro-Hernandez walked 38 times. -Brooks

Round 21: No. 637 pick -- Chuck Robinson, Catcher, Southern Mississippi

Chuckie Robinson is a third-generation minor league catcher - his grandfather spent a season in the White Sox minor league system in the sixties, and his father spent time with both the Royals and the Cubs in their minor leagues. This Robinson brings exactly the defensive profile you’d expect from that pedigree, though not much of a bat yet, slashing just .288/.349/.433 as a junior. Notably, however, he added over a hundred points to his OPS in every single one of his three years as a starter. Here’s hoping the trend continues. - Anthony

Round 22: No. 667 pick -- Raymond Henderson, Catcher, Grayson County College

Another JuCo find. You can also find him as Ray Henderson-Lozano. He hit .452 with a 12 home runs and walked 40 times to just 17 strikeouts. He played some infield as well. He was named First-Team All American in the NJCAA as an infielder. The Astros announced him as a catcher and will start him as one as he has pretty good lateral movement but has an average arm. -Brooks

Round 23: No. 697 pick -- Tyler Britton, RHP, High Point University

Not everyone can be a starter. Britton wasn’t one of them but did pitch better than two of the three starters for High Point. He was fourth in innings but out pitched two of the guys ahead of him. He significantly improved his strikeout rate by about 35% to 9.6 SO/9 and cut his walk-rate by more than half to 1.63 BB/9. Good numbers in Division I. -Brooks

Round 24: No. 727 pick -- Troy Sieber, 1B, St. Leo University

Sure, it was Division-II, but Sieber slashed .447/.553/.873 at St. Leo in 2016, stole nine bases on ten attempts, hit sixteen home runs, and walked more times (31) than he struck out (26) - and that was while playing mostly behind the plate. He’ll play first base as a professional, where his clean swing and bat speed could play up considerably. - Anthony

Round 25: No. 757 pick -- Kevin Hill, RHP, University of South Alabama

Serving as the South Alabama ace in 2016 Hill pitched to an 8-1 record with a 2.53 ERA while racking up 125 strikeouts. A successful senior season on top of a strong college career saw Hill earn the honor of Sun Belt Conference Male Student-Athlete of the Year as well as first-team All-American honors. Hill’s dominant campaign hinged on strong command and the ability to mix and match three offspeed offering with a fastball that sits in the low 90s. - Nathan

Round 26: No. 787 pick -- Avery Tuck, OF, Steele Canyon HS (CA)

This is your typical late round high school pick. He’s the exact reason it’s important to see high schoolers against top talent. He shows flashes of a lot of athleticism but there’s times he hasn’t. He was a participant in the PG All-American Classic so he’s definitely a guy all the scouts knew about. He has high end bat speed and some good pop. He has above average speed and a good arm. Problem is those tools that he showed in the circuit weren’t as evident in the spring. So, what are his real tools? He struggled against breaking balls this spring in his High School games which is a big concern. Mostly due to the fact that questions about his ability to hit were already there. He’s a big project but if the Astros can sign him and tap into his athleticism, he could be a late round steal. -Brooks

Round 27: No. 817 pick -- Nathan Thompson, LHP, Oklahoma Baptist

So, did the Astros like him because Division II has some under-scouted talent? Or was this another case of how much the Astros trust area scout Jim Stevenson? This is another senior starter but the thing that stands out about him is actually what doesn’t stand out. He’s 6’1” and weighs 160 pounds. He’s rail thin. Yet, he piled up the strikeouts with 126 in 96 innings. He had 34 walks as well which isn’t good for that level, but there is some ability to miss bats. -Brooks

Round 28: No. 847 pick -- Johnny Ruiz, 2B, Miami

Ruiz started all 64 games for the Hurricanes in 2016 on his way to second-team All-ACC honors. Ruiz hit .342/.432/.491 in his first year as a regular while picking up 17 doubles and 57 RBIs. Ruiz plays solid defense up the middle and showed strong contact ability at the plate during his junior season and could be a solid signing this late in the draft.

Round 29: No. 877 pick: -- Elliot Barzilli, 3B, TCU

After playing a year at Georgia Tech Barzilli transferred to TCU and worked his way into an everyday role for 2016. Barzilli managed an impressive .339/.418/.518 slash line and was instrumental in getting TCU to the College World Series for a third consecutive year. Overall, Barzilli is an athletic infielder that could provide some versatility on the defensive side if needed. - Nathan

Round 30: No. 907 pick -- Brody Westmoreland, 3B, College of Southern Nevada

Westmoreland actually played 20 games for San Diego State University as a freshman in 2015 and was originally drafted by Colorado in 2014. He transfered for his sophomore year and it worked out quite well. He hit very well to the tune of .366/.466/.726. He did strike out 47 times in 175 at-bats, so there is some issues there. But, he hit 14 home runs this season. That’s not a huge amount in the college game, but this particular JuCo conference uses wood bats. So, it’s a bit more impressive. -Brooks

Round 31: No. 937 pick -- Howie Brey, LHP, Rutgers University New Brunswick

Don’t let the school name confuse you. This is the regular Rutgers. Rutgers is not a big time baseball program. Brey is the first pitcher to receive post-season conference honors and he ranks third all-time in season strikeout total for Rutgers with 84. And that number is less impressive considering he had 100 innings. That said he can limit walks (2.06 BB/9) and he is left-handed. He also went at least six innings in all but one of his starts and went the distance four times. -Brooks

Round 32: No. 967 pick -- Darius Vines, RHP, St. Bonaventure HS (CA)

Vines is a three-sport athlete for St. Bonaventure HS and is more athlete than pitcher at this point. He plays quarterback in football, is a standout player for the basketball team, and plays shortstop. But, the Astros called him as a pitcher so there is something they see in this athlete. He’s 6-1 and weighs 185 pounds, so he doesn’t stand out physically. But, the athleticism is top notch and bodes well for him developmentally. Although, he’s likely a long-term project. -Brooks

Round 33: No. 997 pick -- Toby Handley, CF, SUNY Stony Brook

Handley had a more impressive sophomore campaign than junior. Sound familiar? This year he hit .288/.394/.377. He had just 11 extra-base hits. Last season he hit .330 with 13 extra-base hits. He drew 31 walks to 44 strikeouts so the plate discipline isn’t bad. He also stole 12 bases in 14 attempts so there is some speed there as well. -Brooks

Round 34: No. 1027 pick -- Stijn van derMeer, SS, Lamar University

Van derMeer set a record at Lamar this season by getting on base in 32 straight games, including a 22-game hitting streak (also a school record). He also carried a .376 average, and supplemented it nicely with a .441 slugging percentage. There’s a lot to like in the bat, which helped lead Curacao Neptunus to a championship in the amazingly-named Honkbal Hoofdklasse, the highest level of Dutch professional baseball. - Anthony

Round 35: No. 1057 pick -- Nick Slaughter, Catcher, Klein HS (TX)

The University of Houston signee has some some athleticism in his 6’2, 200 pound frame. He moves well and shows good sub-2.00 pop times behind the plate. But, the arm strength is pretty average and can get focused on the upper body during his swing. -Brooks

Round 36: No. 1087 pick -- Ian Hardman, RHP, Seminole State

The third player selected from Seminole State by the Astros in this one draft. Again, it’s the Jim Stevenson trust factor. He’s a big bodied pitcher at 6’5, 230 pounds. He wasn’t a big time pitcher for the team. He tossed just 25 ⅔ innings across 15 games. But, the impressive part is that he racked up 43 strikeouts. Sure, it came with 18 walks, but there apparently is some stuff there to work with. -Brooks

Round 37: No. 1217 pick -- Anthony DeFrancesco, 3B, Red Mountain HS (AZ)

Most teams will do these novelty selections towards the end of the draft. They draft the kid of a former player or someone who works with the team. We’ve seen them draft a Clemens and a Biggio. We’ve seen a few others here and there. This one is for the Triple-A manager and former interim manager for the Astros Tony DeFrancesco. The younger has already said he won’t sign. He’s grown six inches in the last four years and needs to fill out his frame as he plays JuCo before going pro. -Brooks

Round 38: No. 1247 pick -- Chaz Pal, OF, University of South Carolina Aiken

Can’t get away from Aiken….poor joke. It still stings. Another Div. II find. He .393/.466/.617 this year with 6 home runs and stole 15 bases. He had 25 walks and just 28 strikeouts. He was listed as an infielder and played the infield in college but his .893 fielding percentage is quite bad. Which is probably why the Astros announced him as an outfielder. -Brooks

Round 39: No. 1277 pick -- Tyler Wolfe, IF, Kansas St.

Somewhat of an Iron Man for Kansas State the last two years, Tyler Wolfe has started every single game for the Wildcats. The majority have been at SS or 2B so he’s played the middle infield at a fairly high level. He had a lot more walks than strikeouts as a Junior but that ratio flipped as a senior. He’s not a high average guy or a high power guy, but if the Astros can get back to his junior year plate discipline, he could be a high OBP type. -Brooks

Round 40: No. 1307 pick -- Lucas Williams, RHP, University of Central Missouri

Here’s that Jim Crane Alumni connection. He appeared in 25 games as a senior including one start for the Mules. He struck out 42 in 45 innings and had just 14 walks. He posted a 4.00 ERA. -Brooks