Astros sign all 2020 Draft picks, plus 6 others

June 19th, 2020

HOUSTON -- The Astros announced Friday they had signed 10 players, including all four picks taken in last week’s 2020 MLB Draft: right-handed pitchers (No. 72 overall), right-handed pitcher (third round), outfielder Zach Daniels (fourth round) and shortstop Shay Whitcomb (fifth round).

The team did not disclose the terms of the deals.

Santos, taken with the pick the Astros received for losing Gerrit Cole in free agency, grew up a few blocks away from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, N.Y., and pitched for Mount Saint Michael Academy. He was ranked No. 56 on MLB Pipeline's Top 200 Draft Prospects. Santos signed for an overslot deal of $1.25 million, according to’s Jim Callis.

Brown, taken with the No. 101 pick, was the closer on Vanderbilt’s 2019 national championship team, saving 17 games with a 2.19 ERA and 65 strikeouts for the Commodores last year. He signed for the slot value of $577,000, according to Callis.

Daniels, who wowed the Astros with his speed and raw power at the University of Tennessee, was taken with the 131st pick. He struggled to make consistent contact his first two years with the Vols before hitting .357 with four homers and 18 RBIs in 56 at-bats before this season was shortened due to the coronavirus pandemic. Callis reported he signed for $400,000, which was under the slot value of $430,800.

Whitcomb, taken with the Draft’s final pick at No. 160, put up impressive numbers for two-plus years at Division II UC San Diego, hitting .333 with a 1.008 OPS in only 81 at-bats this year. But what increased his stock was his performance in the 2019 Cape Code League, where he hit .303 with eight homers and 27 RBIs with a wood bat. Whitcomb signed for $56,000, according to Callis, which is far below the slot value of his spot ($324,100).

In all, the Astros spent $2,283,000 in signing bonuses, which is over their bonus pool of $2,202,600. Because it was over by less than 5 percent, they’ll pay a 75 percent average tax of $80,400.

Here are the six undrafted free agents signed by the Astros on Friday:

JC Correa, 2B, Lamar University
The younger brother of Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, JC hit .245 with a .321 slugging percentage and .317 on-base percentage in the abbreviated 2020 season. He played in 53 games last year and led the team in in batting average (.332), hits (74), doubles (14), home runs (10), and RBIs (44). Prior to his time at Lamar, he hit .364 in 80 career games at Alvin Junior College with a .432 OBP and a .491 slugging percentage.

Justin Dirden, OF, Southeast Missouri State University
Dirden, a 6-foot-4 left-handed hitter, hit .414 with nine home runs, 26 RBIs and 20 runs scored in only 17 games for the Redhawks, slugging .900 before the shutdown. Dirden ranked second in the nation in home runs and led the Ohio Valley Conference in hits (29), home runs, RBIs, total bases (63), and stolen bases (nine).

Cesar Gomez, RHP, University of Texas-Arlington
A two-way player who transferred following two years at North Central Texas College, Gomez appeared in eight games in relief this year, saving four. He threw 8 2/3 innings and struck out six batters while holding opponents to a .214 batting average. Gomez struck out the side against Dallas Baptist on Feb. 25.

As a junior last year, Gomez struck out 33 hitters and walked 24 in 52 2/3 innings, mostly in relief, and posted a 5.13 ERA as a pitcher, while appearing in 31 games as a utility player. His fastball sits around 94-97 mph, and he features a changeup and curveball.

Kyle Gruller, RHP, Houston Baptist University
Gruller was 1-2 with a 2.70 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings in four starts this year. A Houston-area native, he was a preseason All-Southland Conference first team selection after going 3-3 with a 2.18 ERA and .207 opponents’ batting average as a junior.

Zack Matthews, RHP, University of Oklahoma
Matthews, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, touches 98 mph with his fastball. He pitched in only four games this year before the elbow surgery. Prior to that, the 5-foot-11 Matthews appeared in 35 games in relief over his first two seasons with the Sooners, with 43 strikeouts in 33 2/3 innings.

Peter Zimmermann, LF/1B, University of Missouri
A transfer from San Jacinto College in east Houston, Zimmermann hit .333 with four homers, 17 RBIs and a .433 on-base percentage in 16 games for Missouri this year. As a junior, he hit .287 with 10 doubles, seven homers and 34 RBIs as the Tigers’ designated hitter.