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Potential 2017 Draft Sleepers: Hidden Gems from Day 3

With thirty names to sift through from the last day of the draft, who are the players from rounds 11-40 that you should have the closest eye on?

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Detroit Tigers
Tigers slugger J.D. Martinez was selected by Houston in the 20th round of the 2009 draft out of Nova Southeastern University.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Every draft sees players selected after the 10th round go on to achieve great success at the major league level, and 2017’s will be no different. Under Jeff Luhnow, the Astros have typically targeted JUCO and small-school college players with great statistical performance as well as smaller players who tend to get overlooked. This year they employed a similar strategy and came away with a handful of very intriguing prospects that could charge up lists like J.D. Martinez or Ramon Laureano in the past.

Jonathon Lacroix, OF, Seminole State JC (OK)

The Astros have made a habit out of picking up Oklahoma JUCO guys, with Abraham Toro, Dean Deetz and the aforementioned Laureano also following that same path to pro ball. Their latest such pick is slugger Jon Lacroix, who paced Seminole State with a .447/.504/.829 slash line and 17 home runs. The dominant season earned him his first ever draft selection in the 12th round and he could be an offensive force for one of the Astros short-season clubs in later 2017.

Carlos Diaz, OF, Colegio Angel David HS (PR)

Freshly 18, Diaz is the latest Puerto Rican player drafted by the Astros, following in the footsteps of prospects like Carlos Correa and Nestor Muriel. The lefty-hitting outfielder has explosive athleticism, lots of projection, and displays a nice level cut at the plate. His swing has some moving parts that could be toned down, but he looks the part of a future right fielder with power and could turn into a nice prospect in a couple of years.

Adrian Tovalin, 3B, Azusa Pacific University

APU has produced Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Steven Vogt in recent years, and Tovalin is perhaps their best prospect since the former was on campus. With massive raw power and a big arm, Tovalin is a prototypical third baseman and paced Azusa with 21 home runs and was third on the team with a .352 batting average. He has a bit of a long swing but his bat speed leaves little to be desired. If he can hit for enough contact, he definitely bears watching.

Chas McCormick, OF, Millersville University

The Astros popped McCormick, a senior, in the 21st round after he paced Millersville with a .384 batting average and nine homers. Impressively, McCormick was also 23 of 25 on stolen base attempts and brings a lot on offense that could make him an exciting player at the professional level. Already 22 years old, he’ll need to get off to a fast start after signing to establish himself as a prospect.

Trei Cruz, SS, Episcopal HS (TX)

Prep players don’t often sign when selected in the 35th round, but the Astros will have plenty of motivation to get a deal done with the talented Cruz, and given his Texas roots, they may have a chance to get him signed. The young shortstop is a switch hitter with contact oriented cuts from both sides of the dish and shows some good speed and agility as well. He looks the part on defense, moving well laterally and getting the ball out his glove in a hurry. It’s more likely Cruz moves onto the college game, but he’d be a great addition to a system without a ton at the shortstop position in the lower minor leagues.

Matt Merrill, RHP, Home School (OK)

A rare, but not unheard-of, homeschool prospect, Merrill has a pretty delivery from the right side and shows a strong fastball-curveball combination for a prep arm. Though he was selected in round 37, Merrill is signed with tiny Pittsburg State for college ball and may be open to jumping to pro ball early. There’s not a ton to go off of with a prospect like this, but he’s done everything you could ask of him so far, posting a 1.02 ERA and 73 Ks in 48 IP as a senior for his homeschool squad. He checks all of the boxes for a pitcher of his age and looks to have a strong future.