Astros announce signing of 9th-round pick Person
Left-handed reliever taken 259th overall out of LSU
HOUSTON -- The Astros announced the signing of 2015 ninth-round pick Zac Person on Wednesday. MLB.com first reported the signing on Saturday.
Person, a left-handed relief pitcher out of LSU, was drafted in the ninth round (259th overall). He signed at his home in Eunice, La., with his father on Saturday, and plans to fly out to join Houston's Class A affiliate Tri-City ValleyCats on Thursday.
"I was always a fan," Person said of the franchise. "Started keeping up with them once I got to college and started understanding the Minor League system a little bit more. As far as farm talent, they're top of the league, as far as development. And handling their players the right way, they're up there, too. There's not many organizations that would have been a better fit in my eyes."
Person told MLB.com his signing bonus was $10,000. Slot value for his pick was $164,200, per MLB Pipeline.
Person idolized Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell as he grew up two hours away in Eunice, often making the trek to see his favorite players in person.
Now, Person will get to play in that same system with a pronounced first priority -- developing a third pitch.
A setup man and late-inning reliever during his final two seasons, Person sported a 2-0 record in 31 appearances for LSU in 2015, striking out 36 in 31 innings. His 31 appearances were tied for the most on LSU -- which was eliminated from the College World Series on Thursday in an 8-4 loss to TCU.
Person, who throws only a fastball and a curveball, started that game, lasting 1 1/3 innings and surrendering three earned runs on three hits. His downfall in his final start was his inability to command the curveball -- his premier pitch -- for a strike.
"I was fortunate enough that my second pitch, a curveball, was on a lot more times than it was off," Person said. "But there are some days when it isn't there, like it was against TCU the other day. That's actually Plan A for me is developing a changeup. Once I develop a game-ready changeup, it's going to take my game to a different level."
It wasn't Person's first foray into the starting rotation. Before arriving at LSU, Person was a mainstay in the rotation at LSU-Eunice -- a junior college dynasty in his hometown that has won five of the last 13 Division II National Junior College Athletic Association World Series titles, including one this season.
While at the junior college, Person was 17-0 with a 2.35 ERA and 143 strikeouts. LSU-Eunice won a national championship during his freshman season in 2012 and was runner-up in '13.
Person said he will begin as a reliever at Tri-City, and he believes the Astros will keep him in the bullpen.
The day he was drafted, Person's LSU teammates gladly reminded him he'll also be with a familiar face with Tri-City -- LSU shortstop and No. 2 overall pick Alex Bregman, who told MLB.com on Wednesday he also agreed to a deal with the club.
"You're going to be Bregman's teammate still," Person said his teammates told him.
"Yeah, for a week," he shot back. "He'll get shipped up."