Round 3, 99th Overall - Jake Bloss, RHP, Georgetown
A fourth-year collegiate who threw his first three seasons at low-major Lafayette, Bloss was a pop-up guy this spring thanks to a big stuff jump. He has always missed bats at a solid clip (105 Ks in 97 IP between 2021 and 22) thanks to carry on the fastball and good feel to spin and sequence, but added significant velocity somewhere between then and now, and has touched as high as 97 this spring. His secondary arsenal is all about spin- he makes liberal use of both a slider and a curveball, with the former projecting to be the #2 offering in his kit. In the low 80s, it’s a late breaking offering that he commands well, able to collect both called and swinging strikes. The curveball comes in in the mid-70s and is more of a novelty, but it has enough depth to be viable when located well in the zone. There’s little evidence of changeup feel thus far, but he shouldn’t need one given the variety in the breaking arsenal. As a 22 year old, Bloss is likely to save the Astros some money to go after higher dollar players later in the draft, but has the kind of stuff that could allow him to move up boards with pro performance. He has a mid-rotation ceiling, but could also be a high leverage bullpen piece.
Round 4, 131st Overall - Cam Fisher, OF, UNC-Charlotte
Fisher joined the 49ers in ‘22 by way of Ole Miss, where he redshirted, and Walters State, where he hit .321/.452/.603 in 2021. He performed well in his first season with Charlotte, hitting .288/.412/.607 with 18 HRs in 279 PAs with a 45/64 BB/K, but really blossomed this past season, becoming one of the best hitters in the college game. In his 298 PAs in 2023, Fisher slashed .348/.507/.813 with 30 home runs. Fisher is a big, maxed out body at 6’2”, 210 lbs. and has the easy plus raw power to match, but has very quick hands and was 10 for 10 on stolen base attempts this season, evidencing some good movement ability for his size (fringe average in a vacuum). While the defensive value will be limited, he should be able to avoid dreaded 1B/DH only status as a pro. Like Bloss, Fisher is 22 years old and should be expected to move quickly- don’t be surprised if he sees time in Asheville before the minor league season wraps. If it clicks, Fisher has a chance to be a heart of the order bat at the highest level.
Round 5, 164th Overall - Chase Jaworsky, SS, Rock Canyon HS (CO)
The Astros go off the board a bit with their first prep pick, selecting Chase Jaworsky, who missed the cut for Baseball America’s top 500 prospects in the class. While he’ll have to be enticed away from college, this may not be an especially expensive selection as the commitment is to Utah Valley and he’s being picked ahead of his projected range. A lefty hitter with a projectable 6’2” frame, Jaworsky has an intriguing blend of tools with above average wheels and budding power that started to show up with more frequency this spring, and it comes out of a pretty swing that gets on plane early. Those who have seen him most frequently seem to believe he has a chance to stay at short long term, and even if that doesn’t pan out, he’s simply too athletic to fall too far down the defensive spectrum. Still 18 years old, and coming out of a lesser region, Jaworsky’s development is in its nascent stages, but he shows potential in all facets of the game and could be a rewarding slow burn at this stage of the draft.
Round 6, 194th Overall - Ethan Pecko, RHP, Towson
A bit of a popup guy this spring, Pecko transferred to Towson after redshirting a year at La Salle and pitched out of the bullpen as a 19 year old in his first season with the Tigers. He struggled a bit in that role, walking 12 batters in 17 and 2⁄3 innings en route to a 6.62 ERA, but was able to earn a starting role with his fall and preseason work and ended up performing much better- he wasn’t going deep into games, throwing just 42 frames across 11 appearances (all starts), but was very effective. Still young compared to his competition, Pecko rang up 48 hitters against 21 walks and 4 homers, finishing the season with a 3.21 ERA. He sought to add to his resume in the Northwoods league following the season, where he was outstanding, posting a 1.04 ERA with 36 K/8 BB in 26 innings across five starts.
The results are trending upward, and as a younger college player who won’t turn 21 until late August, there’s reason to believe that could continue. Reports from national outlets describe a two pitch arsenal at present, comprised of two high-spin offerings in a running fastball and mid-to-upper 80s sweeper, with some fringy tertiary offerings occasionally making appearances. The magnitude of movement on the fastball is significant, but it’s not the shape the Astros typically target, so that could be an area of adjustment in the future. Mid-major pitchers are often floor plays, but Pecko fits more into the projectability bucket and could outperform this slot if his upward trajectory continues.
Round 7, 224th Overall - Joey Dixon, RHP, Stanford
A 6’1”, 205 lb. Utah native, Dixon was trusted in big spots during his career with the Cardinal, both as a reliever and starter. He struggled with strikes as a freshman, walking 19 in 35 and 2⁄3 while striking out just 16, but the stuff progressed gradually and he eventually became a bat misser in his draft year, fanning 90 against 43 walks in 83 and 2⁄3 as a junior. There’s some funk to his release and he throws with a lot of effort, so it’s a relievery look aesthetically, but the arsenal is broader than the typical bullpen arm- he already trusts three pitches in his fastball, curveball and changeup, and has mixed in the occasional slider as well. The fastball is in the lower 90s but has trended up gradually, and with the amount of twitch he shows in his operation its easy to imagine him having a bit more in the tank. The changeup is sold well and has good lateral movement, so tinkering with the slider to help the two play off of each other could be a potential developmental avenue. Dixon’s strike throwing has improved gradually, but it’ll need to continue to do so for him to start long term. The results weren’t incredible at the college level, but he’s trending well and offers plenty to work with in terms of athleticism and feel for a wide arsenal.
Round 8, 254th Overall - Ryan Johnson, 2B, Pepperdine
Announced as a second baseman, Johnson has a catching background and a fair amount of experience there at the college level and in offseason play. A senior sign, he’s closer to his 23rd birthday than his 22nd, and will likely be a significant money saver as the Astros continue to set up an overslot play tomorrow. A four year starter for the Waves, Johnson improved incrementally, culminating in a very strong senior campaign during which he hit .290/.416/.647 with 18 HR and 33 walks against 59 Ks. He’s not very physical at 6’0”, 175 lbs. but offers surprising juice and a loft-oriented swing and approach. Johnson has the look of a depth piece with the ability to move around a bit defensively and provide some offensive punch.
Round 9, 284th Overall - Jeron Williams, SS, Toledo
Williams took a circuitous route to pro ball, starting out at Lincoln Trail CC before an MLB Draft League stint where he impressively hit .273/.374/.323 with 16 walks against 19 Ks against older competition. This drew the interest of the Rockets, who brought him in as a 21 year old in 2022. He rewarded them with a breakout .329/.385/.429 slash, 23 steals in 24 attempts, and an impressive 6.6% K rate. He would elect to return as a 22 year old senior and found yet another gear, altering his approach to get to more power, resulting in a gaudy season line of .403/.467/.681, 14 homers, 49 steals in 53 attempts, and 22 walks against 37 Ks. While the contact rate backed off some, the tradeoff was certainly worth it, as he took home MAC player of the year honors. He’ll be 23 at the end of September making him one of the older draftable position players in this crop, but it’s hard to argue with taking a shot on a guy who has at different times shown elite contact rates, top notch baserunning prowess, and even some solid pop this past season. The Astros should be eager to get him signed and out to A-ball given his age.
Round 10, 314th Overall - Austin Deming, 3B/1B, BYU
A Utah native, fifth-year COVID senior who spent his entire collegiate tenure at BYU, Deming’s career was pretty nondescript until a big stretch run last year followed by a massive 2023 breakout that saw him hit .418/.484/.915 with 23 doubles and 19 HR in just 192 PA, giving him one of the best homer rates and ISO figures in the country. The 6’0”, 200 pounder has some sparing pitching experience and a pretty athletic build, so the baseline physical traits for him to stick at the hot corner are there. Even in a draft class loaded with seniors, Deming is the oldest by a wide margin and will turn 24 before the start of next season. Players of this age are not high probability bets, but Deming made himself impossible to ignore with his production this spring and will likely be rushed into action in the low minors as soon as possible.