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Astros Make 3 Picks on Draft’s First Night

James Click and co. used the franchise’s first top two rounds picks since 2019 to add a pair of center fielders and a righthanded pitcher, all from the college ranks.

NCAA Baseball: Corvallis Super Regional-Auburn at Oregon State Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Finally free from their sign stealing related draft pick penalties, the Astros added three new players to the organization Sunday night at 28th, 64th and 80th overall. Their farm continues to sit near the bottom of most rankings, so tonight represented a key opportunity to begin a turnaround. Here’s a quick look at each of their selections from day one:

Drew Gilbert, CF, Tennessee

A 5’9”, 185 lb. spark plug, Gilbert has been a vocal leader of a dominant Vols club since arriving on campus. While his speed and defense were what got him on the field initially, Gilbert has deceptive raw power with strong max EVs, and improved in various offensive areas in 2022. His swing decisions took a big step forward, helping him to improvements in both contact rate and contact quality. While his homer rate was relatively static, he drove the ball with more consistency (SLG improved from .437 to .673) and he’s demonstrated potential for bigger homer totals in the future as he continues to tune his approach.

While the home run power requires a bit of projection, not much else about his game does. He should be an above average hitter- it’s a short, explosive swing with a nimble barrel and mature approach- and already plays a strong center field. Coaches and teammates rave about his makeup, so most evaluators comfortable betting on him to come close to his ceiling, which is considerable. I had him rated as a top 15 overall player in the class and feel that he has a high likelihood of becoming an everyday player relative to the class.

Jacob Melton, CF, Oregon State

The Astros went back to the college CF well with their second round pick, going with a more prototypical athlete for the position in the form of Pac-12 player of the year Jacob Melton. There’s some funk to his setup in the box, but it’s difficult to argue with the results it has produced (.360/.424/.670 in 2022 w/ 17 HR), and he may be able to handle center all the way up the ladder thanks to what is currently borderline plus speed. There is swing and miss in his offensive profile including some light chase tendencies and he didn’t take all that many walks in 2022, but I expect that he’ll naturally become more selective at the pro level as he sees more breaking stuff and keep the strikeouts to reasonable levels. He may not be the biggest OBP threat in the long term unless he develops significantly in that regard, but his contact quality is bankable, so he represents potential pop toward the bottom of the order, with some solid defensive and baserunning value.

Andrew Taylor, RHP, Central Michigan

A projectable college arm, Taylor has a fairly lanky 6’5”, 190 lb build and could have room to add velocity to his 90-92 MPH fastball. If that happens, the pitch could be fairly dominant, as it was already a highly effective thanks to its significant life from a unique, high slot. Taylor’s feel for spin is limited and he has really leaned on his heater thus far, but the changeup may be good enough to represent a go-to secondary and take pressure off of the breaking stuff. It’s a long arm action, but he already throws strikes at a solid clip and could improve further with some mechanical tweaking. It looks like a back of the rotation kind of profile, but there are some intriguing avenues for improvement here and he likely agreed to an underslot deal here, so the Astros should have plenty of maneuverability on day 2 after taking slot options in the first two rounds.