In the draft’s first day, the Astros picked up a pair of late rising college players who project to premium defensive positions in Korey Lee and Grae Kessinger. Throughout the afternoon, Luhnow and Co. will be making eight more selections- will they find the next Abraham Toro on the draft’s most impactful day? Keep your eyes on this post for notes on the club’s selections as they roll in, and feel free to drop questions in the comments.
Round 3 (106th overall) - Jordan Brewer, CF, Michigan
If you’d like to compare Brewer to a recent Astros draft pick, the obvious choice is George Springer. Brewer is incredibly toolsy with easy plus speed, and above average raw power to boot. He keeps the bat in the zone a long time from the right side and has a chance to max out as an average hitter, and has an extremely high ceiling if it all comes together. On his way to pro ball, Brewer played just one year of four-year college ball after transferring from JUCO Lincoln Trail Community College, and put together an electric .349/.409/.612 line with 12 home runs and 23 steals in 27 attempts. His hit tool and approach will need polish, but the other four tools are incredibly strong and he’s a better present hitter than you might expect. Brewer should comfortably slot into the organizational top 30 prospects upon signing.
Round 4 (136th overall) - Colin Barber, CF, Pleasant Valley HS (CA)
Rated as the 133th best prospect in the class by FanGraphs, Barber is a 6’1” lefty outfielder with plus wheels. Lauded for his advanced outfield play, Barber is kind of a CF/RF tweener, and may fit better in RF depending on how much strength he adds. Barber hits with a wide base and has some good juice in his bat, with the potential for at least average power. He had been ticketed to a strong college program at Oregon, but this draft position indicates that he plans to sign. Barber missed a season during high school due to injury and has a lot of polish still to add to his game, but has average or better potential in every tool, and could be a plus runner or above average speed and power type outfielder with a regular ceiling. Had he gone to college, Barber would’ve had a chance to be a significantly higher selection in the 2022 class, and represents an upside play in round 4 for the Astros.
Round 5 (166th overall) - Hunter Brown, RHP, Wayne State
A 6’2” righty who can run his fastball into the upper 90s, Brown comes to the Astros by way of Division II Wayne State, where he struck out 114 hitters in 85.1 frames to go with a 2.21 ERA in 2019. A junior who is still under 21, Brown has a slider that flashes above average to go with his strong heater, and the combination should generate swings and misses for him at the next level. Brown has a starter’s frame, but his command and third offering may make a long term bullpen role more likely. The Astros, however, allow more or less all of their pitching prospects to throw a starter’s workload until they reach the upper minors, so that should be the initial plan for Brown, as well. To me Brown looks like a potential #4 starter who could take very nicely to a bullpen role, potentially even a late-inning one, if starting doesn’t work out.
Round 6 (196th overall) - Matthew Barefoot, OF, Campbell
Blessed with a plus to plus-plus name, Matthew Barefoot likely benefited from the scouting heat that came out to see his teammate Seth Johnson, who was a comp selection by the Rays. A three year starter in the Big South, Barefoot was a consistent performer on offense, posting OPSes north of .900 in each of his collegiate campaigns, and walked more than he struck out by a significant margin in 2019. Additionally, he starred in the 2018 Cape season, mashing to the tune of a .379/.474/.521 line with thirteen extra-base hits. Like third rounder Jordan Brewer, Barefoot has the odd distinction of batting righty, but throwing the ball lefty, and did do a bit of pitching in his college days, even garnering pro interest. Barefoot also stands out because of his odd setup at the plate, in which he sets up open then comes closed as he loads his hands. It’s not a swing that you’d teach, but it’s evident that it really works for Barefoot, who has mashed consistently in D1 NCAA play and high-level offseason ball. With decent speed, some have floated Barefoot as a possibility in CF, but he fits better in an outfield corner long term. This is a player who was drafted for his offensive ability, and he could be an above average hitter in the long term despite the funky swing.
Round 7 (226th Overall) - Blair Henley, RHP, Texas
A product of Arlington Heights HS, Henley was a 22nd round selection of the Yankees in the 2016 draft, but honored his commitment to the Longhorns. In Austin, he started 39 games over his three year career, totalling 173 strikeouts and 96 walks in 220.0 total innings. Unlike some of the Astros’ college selections, it doesn’t appear that Henley was drafted for his performance in NCAA play, though he was a dependable starter for the Horns. As pointed out by Dustin McComas of Orangebloods, Henley is known for his extremely spinny breaking ball:
With a 6’3” frame and high level feel to spin it, Henley checks some organizational boxes for the Astros who likely feel they can unlock some yet untapped potential in the Texan righthander.
Round 8 (256th overall) - Luis Guerrero, CF, Miami Dade CC Kendall (FL)
There is limited information on Guerrero, who drew interest as a prep shortstop from the Bronx in the 2017 class known for his defensive ability. Drawn to Miami Dade CC for its rich baseball tradition, he transitioned to outfield work in JUCO play, where his speed is an asset. Guerrero was excellent as a freshman, hitting .348 with six bombs and ten steals, but saw his performance take a big step back during the most recent season, hitting just .266/.333/.456 with 28 strikeouts in 90 plate appearances- though he missed a long stretch of games, presumably with an injury, which could have contributed to the weaker showing. While injured, he appeared in a handful of games as a pinch runner, which suggests that he may have been dealing with an upper body injury of some kind that impacted his hitting. Best known for his loud contact and fundamentals, Guerrero has potential for some above average tools between his hit, field and run, and could profile at multiple positions if the Astros want to try him out on the dirt again. He excelled in the SCBFL, an off-season wood bat league, in 2017, earning an all-star nod. At 5’11”, 185., he has a good balance of strength and agility and could be a utility candidate.
Round 9 (286th overall) - Peyton Battenfield, RHRP, Oklahoma State
Despite the name, Peyton is unlikely to bat in pro ball, though he will need to field. A pure reliever for three seasons with the Cowboys, Battenfield has been a lights-out stopper in 2019 across his 27 appearances. In 58.2 innings pitched, the 6’4” righty has struck out 71 hitters against 21 walks, while allowing just 39 hits. As evidenced by his line, Battenfield typically threw in multi-inning stints in college, typically 2-3 innings. In the limited clips I was able to find of Battenfield, he appeared to favor a changeup as his go-to secondary offering. It’s possible that the Astros will want to stretch Battenfield, who has a starter’s frame and doesn’t throw with too much effort, back out as a starter, similar to their handling of Parker Mushinski, who has excelled as a starter after serving primarily as a relief weapon for Texas Tech.
Round 10 (316th overall) - C.J. Stubbs, RHP, USC
A two-way player for USC, C.J. Stubbs is indeed the brother of current Astros backstop Garrett Stubbs. Like his older sibling, C.J. has played a lot of catcher, and performed well as the primary backstop for the Trojans this season hitting .285/.378/.466, showing some solid pop with six home runs and twenty total extra-base hits. However, the Astros appear to have announced Stubbs as a pitcher, a role he hasn’t filled since 2017. Stubbs made eleven starts as a right handed pitcher that year, and largely struggled to the tune of a 5.04 ERA with 78 hits allowed and a 35/29 K/BB mark. He had Tommy John surgery after that season, and was shut down for all of 2018. While the younger Stubbs hasn’t excelled as a pitcher in college and appeared to have greater interest from teams as a catcher, the Astros likely feel that he has the raw ability to excel in their development system if they do indeed plan to use him as a hurler. This is the second time that Jeff Luhnow has completed a pair of brothers in the draft- he has also drafted Preston (7th round, 2012) and Kyle (1st round, 2016) Tucker during his tenure as Astros GM.