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Nottingham can give Astros catching depth

The Houston Astros addressed a weakness on Friday, nabbing standout high school catcher Jacob Nottingham with the first pick in the sixth round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.

A two-sport star for Redlands High School in California, Nottingham chose baseball over a scholarship offer to play tight end at Arizona. He has committed to play baseball for Oklahoma if he doesn't sign with the Astros.

Projected by most as a third-round pick, Nottingham could be tougher to sign because he slipped. He shot up Draft boards this season after missing much of his junior season with a knee injury.

"We think he's a steal," said Astros director of amateur scouting Mike Elias. "We evaluated Jacob as a top-five-round talent, at minimum."

Nottingham's best asset is his power, which has the potential to develop into a plus tool. His swing has a tendency to get long, but he doesn't get cheated at the plate. Defensively, he has the tools necessary to become a steady receiver, and he has a good arm.

"He's not a polished catcher, but there's a big arm and we hope [Astros] Player Development can take care of the rest with those tools," Elias said.

For a catcher, he has excellent speed, having stolen 16 bases in 18 attempts during his senior season. That kind of variety makes him an intriguing prospect, especially at a position as demanding as catcher.

"Any time you can get a power-hitting catcher who is really athletic with a strong frame, you're happy," Elias said.

Chris Abshire is an associate reporter for

Houston Astros