What excites Astros about 2022 MLB Draft

July 13th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Brian McTaggart’s Astros Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The 2022 MLB Draft takes place from July 17-19 in Los Angeles, beginning at 6 p.m. CT on July 17 with the first 80 picks. Astros amateur scouting director Kris Gross chatted with MLB.com about Houston’s Draft prep.

MLB.com: The Astros have their first- and second-round picks back for the Draft this year after losing them the previous two years as punishment for the sign-stealing scandal. What’s the significance of getting those high picks, and how are you going to be able to utilize those?

Gross: Obviously, we’re excited by that. The player pool is a little different, picking back in the first round. You still have to be able to pick and get the right guy, but we’re optimistic with the players in the Draft this year that we can find us a good one there at pick 28.

First pick and bonus slot: No. 28 ($2,620,400 million)
Additional first-day picks: No. 64 ($1,103,600 million) and No. 80 ($806,800)
Total bonus pool: $6,837,000 [more]
Last three first picks: OF Tyler Whitaker (87th overall, 2021), RHP Alex Santos II (72nd overall, 2020), C Korey Lee (32nd overall, 2019)
Best pick of the last 10 years, per MLB Pipeline: SS Carlos Correa (No. 1 overall, 2012) [more]

MLB.com: This was the second year of MLB’s Scouting Combine, and you attended it last month in San Diego along with several members of the player development staff and medical staff. How beneficial was it?

Gross: Having it in San Diego is never a bad idea. I’m not sure if that is a main driver, but the player attendance was much better this year. I think there was close to 150 to 200 kids, so we utilized that. A big part of that was getting to meet some of the kids we had more interest in, so sitting down and having discussions with them for 25, 30 minutes and getting to know them. Our medical team, Dr. [David] Lintner, a few others, were also present, going through the physicals and getting the medical data for that is always beneficial. The athletic testing MLB put on was nice. We got to see some players that we might not have had a ton of looks on during the spring participate in the on-field sessions, too. It’s pretty well-rounded, and we had enough personnel to cover everything.

MLB.com: What do you categorize the strengths of this year’s Draft are going to be?

Gross: The 2022 Draft, I think the strength is definitely with the bats, whether it be high school or college. There’s solid depth with the bats this year. Pitchers might be a little on the thin side, but having said that, I do think there’s a couple of good ones to be had. Whenever the opportunity arises, we’ll be looking to capitalize, whether it be a hitter or a pitcher.

MLB.com: How did not having a first- or second-round pick the past two years set back the organization in terms of overall player development?

Gross: It definitely posed a challenge, but having said that, we’ve had success in the later rounds previous years of finding some diamonds in the rough. I think our scouts took the challenge the last two years. The COVID Draft (2020) was obviously a little difficult, only having five rounds, but the non-drafted free agents we signed out of there are doing well. Last year, we had a couple of guys -- [right-handed pitcher Adrian] Chaidez is up in Double-A [Corpus Christi] already -- so a couple of guys were good in the later rounds. As the years progress, I think we’ll see some notable guys coming from previous Drafts where we didn’t have those picks, but it will be great to be back picking up near the top again, for sure.