Top 5 Draft picks in Astros history

February 15th, 2021

HOUSTON -- Only one player in Astros history was drafted and developed by the club and made the Hall of Fame wearing an Astros cap on his plaque: Craig Biggio.

Biggio is clearly the best homegrown MLB Draft pick in club history, having set the franchise record for games played, hits, doubles and many other categories in his 20 years in Houston. He was the first player with an Astros cap on his plaque to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Longtime teammate Jeff Bagwell, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017, came to Houston via a lopsided trade with Boston in 1990.

Here’s a look at the top five Draft picks in club history:

1) Craig Biggio, 1987
65.5 bWAR with Astros

Taken by the Astros out of Seton Hall University with the 22nd overall pick in the 1987 Draft, Biggio was in the Major Leagues a year later and stayed there for the next 20 seasons -- all with the Astros. He made the National League All-Star team as a catcher before moving to second base in 1992 and became one of the best players in baseball in the late '90s.

The hard-nosed Biggio helped the Astros win four division titles in a five-year span (1997–99, 2001) and helped them reach the NL Championship Series in 2004 and the World Series in ’05. Biggio wound up hitting 291 home runs with 1,175 RBIs, 414 stolen bases and a .281 average. He became the 27th player in Major League history to reach the 3,000-hit plateau in 2007 en route to finshing with 3,060 hits.

“More than anything, it was an attitude,” said former Astros shortstop Adam Everett. “It was an attitude of how to come to work every day and how to play the game. You can tell kids all the time, ‘Hey, play the game hard,’ but until you see a guy literally run until his last game he played, and he hits a popup and runs it out under 4.5 [seconds to first] and he tries to stretch a single into a double for his 3,000th, that was Biggio. That was the way he played.”

Biggio made seven All-Star teams, won five Silver Slugger Awards and four Gold Gloves on his way to being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015.

2) Lance Berkman, 1997
48.1 bWAR with Astros

One of the game’s most feared sluggers in his time -- and one of the best switch-hitters in history -- Berkman was selected by the Astros with the 16th overall pick after leading Houston’s Rice University to the College World Series in 1997. He joined fellow Killer B’s, Bagwell and Biggio, to help take the franchise to new heights in the 2000s.

Berkman blasted 326 home runs and drove in 1,090 runs in his 12 seasons (1999–2010) with the Astros and was a fan favorite. When he was drafted, Berkman—a first baseman at Rice—figured he was headed to the outfield because Bagwell held that position, but he otherwise didn’t know much about the Astros. They hadn’t scouted him or talked to him, even though he had played college ball in the same city.

“It was totally out of left field -- pardon the pun -- to be drafted by the Astros,” he said. “My first reaction was kind of like, ‘Oh, I didn’t expect that at all.’ And then, as I started to realize I was getting to stay close to home and having the opportunity to be a part of an organization that’s in the same town where I went to college -- and knowing after having talked to them I was expected to play left field -- you get your head around that, and it was very exciting.”

Berkman quickly became an All-Star, hitting .331 with 55 doubles, 34 homers, and 126 RBIs in 2001. He finished third in NL Most Valuable Player Award voting in '02 by hitting .292 with 42 homers and 128 RBIs. Berkman hit 45 homers and set a club record for RBIs (136) in '06 before earning his fifth All-Star honor with the Astros in '08 by hitting .312 with 29 homers and 106 RBIs. By this time, the “Big Puma” -- the self-deprecating name he gave himself for his lack of quickness -- had moved back to first base to replace Bagwell, who had retired.

3) George Springer, 2011
27.5 bWAR with Astros

When Springer was called up from Triple-A in April 2014, it was considered a watershed moment in franchise history. After three consecutive 100-loss seasons -- and bottoming out at 111 losses in '13 -- the Astros began bringing up young talent with an eye on becoming contenders. And Springer was leading the way.

Springer, taken with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2011 Draft out of UConn, spent seven seasons as a star with the Astros, making three All-Star teams and winning the '17 World Series Most Valuable Player Award. He hit .270 with 174 home runs and 458 RBIs in 795 regular-season games in an Astros uniform and he is considered one of this generation's best clutch postseason performers.

After shaking off an 0-for-4, four-strikeout performance in Game 1 of the 2017 World Series against the Dodgers, Springer slugged five homers in the next six games to lift the Astros to their first World Series title. He hit 19 postseason home runs in his Astros career, which is tied with Albert Pujols for fourth all-time (one behind Derek Jeter).

4) Roy Oswalt, 1996
46.0 bWAR with Astros

Oswalt was pitching well at Class A Advanced Kissimmee in the Florida State League in 2000 when he was called up to Double-A Round Rock to make a spot start. But Oswalt, a hard thrower despite his smaller stature, made the most of what was supposed to be a one-time opportunity. He struck out 15 batters and dazzled Express manager Jackie Moore, as well as Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, who owned the Round Rock club and was at the game.

“That night, I’m thinking, 'I might just be able to stay up here,'” Oswalt said.

Indeed. Oswalt went 11–4 with a 1.94 ERA that year for Round Rock and was pitching in the big leagues a year later at 23 years old, going 14–3 with a 2.73 ERA for the Astros. Oswalt had a sharp, high-arcing curveball and worked fast. He won 19 games in 2002, beginning a seven-year run in which he was one of the best starting pitchers in baseball. Not bad for a kid who was drafted in the 23rd round out of Holmes Community College in 1996.

Oswalt won 20 games in 2004 and '05 in a rotation that included Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, and he won one of the biggest games in club history by beating the Cardinals in Game 6 of the 2005 NLCS in St. Louis to clinch Houston’s first pennant. Oswalt won 143 games in 10 years with the Astros and he was one win shy of Joe Niekro's club record before he asked to be traded during the '10 season.

5) Carlos Correa, 2012
26.3 bWAR with Astros

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft out of Puerto Rico, Correa made his Major League debut on June 8, 2015, at 20 years old -- and he instantly became a force in the Astros’ lineup. He set the franchise record for home runs as a shortstop and by a rookie en route to joining Bagwell (1991) as the only Astros to be named Rookie of the Year. He was just getting started.

Over the next six years, Correa hit .276 with 107 homers, 397 RBIs and an .833 OPS in 604 games and he was the starting shortstop for the American League in the 2017 All-Star Game. The Astros won the World Series that year, with Correa hitting a key homer in Game 2 and another in Game 5 of the Fall Classic. His 17 postseason homers are tied for ninth-most all-time with David Ortiz, Jim Thome and Nelson Cruz -- and Correa is yet to turn 27 years old.