Making Sense — Or Nonsense — About the Houston Astros’ No. 1 Draft Pick

Mark Appel Stanford University

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

For the second year in a row, the Houston Astros have the number one draft pick in MLB‘s first-year player draft. There are many different theories about who the Astros will draft, and the reasons why they will draft said player.

Some people believe the Astros will draft the third baseman from University of North Carolina, Collin Moran. More believe they could draft Kris Bryant from San Diego. Others think the no. 1 draft pick could be a high school player like Austin Meadows or Clint Frazier.

But, for the most part, people believe the Astros should draft Jonathan Gray or Mark Appel.

Before I go into detail about who I believe the Astros will draft and why, let me explain to you what I believe the Astros did in last season’s draft.

Last year, the Astros had the no. 1 pick. For the most part, the pick came down to three people: Mark Appel, Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa. The Astros passed on both Appel and Buxton, and they went on to draft Correa, a 17-year-old shortstop from Puerto Rico.

For some, Correa was a good pick because he took a big discount and allowed the Astros to draft and sign big-time prospects. For others, however, he was the best player available, and that is exactly how I feel.

Correa has gotten comparisons to Alex Rodriguez before the whole steroid debacle, and he was also compared to Cal Ripken Jr. I’m no scout, but I believe those are some pretty hefty expectations.

If Correa does indeed turn into Ripken Jr, he could be a once-in-a-life time type player. A shortstop like him doesn’t come around often, and I believe the Astros had to draft him. In their mind, and mine, he was the best player available in the draft.

The fact still remains that Correa signed well below the slot amount for the no. 1 draft pick. I don’t believe that he would have fallen very far below no. 1, certainly not below the top five picks. Correa signed for 4.8 million dollars and he the reason he signed for that amount wasn’t because he knew he would fall to no. 10.

He signed because he wasn’t sure if he could ever be the no. 1 draft pick again. He was committed to the University of Miami, but he passed up a possible payday for the sure thing that was right in front of him. That is the reason he signed below slot, that is why he is in the Astros organization and not at “The U.”

Now, for what we’ve all been waiting for. Who will the Astros draft? The truth is, no one really knows. It is the day before the draft, and there is still no consensus no. 1 pick. However, I have an idea of who might be drafted.

The Astros need a pitcher, and I think their guy is in this draft. Whether that guy is Gray or Appel, no one really knows. I believe Appel is the best pitcher in this draft, and I know I am not the only one. However, Gray has the highest ceiling. Even with Gray failing a drug test for Adderall, he could still wind up being the no. 1 draft pick.

If the Astros do in fact go with Gray, which is a strong possibility, he will need a little seasoning in the minor leagues before making his debut. However, if the Astros go the more expensive route and go with Appel, he could easily be in the majors by September, granted he signs quickly.

The more I think about this draft, the more I believe the Astros will go with Gray. They will be able to negotiate with Gray and may be able to use his failed drug test as leverage for a cheaper sign. Gray has some nasty pitches, one of them being is his overpowering fastball that has hit triple digits on radar guns. He certainly has major upside and the potential to become a no. 1 pick.

With the draft literally right around the corner, the Astros have to make their decision fast. No matter who the Astros draft, I’m sure Jeff Luhnow will make the right decision.

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