Astros in new territory with two Top 5 picks
HOUSTON -- After having the No. 1 overall pick in the MLB Draft for three years in a row (2012-14), the Astros find themselves in unchartered waters. They won't pick first this year, but they're still preparing for something that's never been done before.
The Astros are the first team to pick twice within the first five picks, selecting No. 2 and No. 5 overall on Monday. The second pick is compensation for not signing 2014 No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken, and they're picking fifth based on their 70-92 record of a year ago. They also pick 37th and 46th overall.
"It's a tremendous opportunity to get two of the top five players in this year's Draft," general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "We're spending a lot of time talking about it, looking at the players and trying to figure it out. Everybody has slightly different opinions and we're trying to figure out what our organizational [preference] list is, but it's really a unique position.
"I don't think any team has been in that position before. We can inject a lot of talent into our system, which is already pretty filled with talent, and that bodes well for the future of the Astros."
Having two of the first five picks won't change much about how the Astros approach the Draft, Luhnow said. They're still targeting the best player available for both slots regardless of position or age, but having two picks in the top five has changed how they're preparing.
"It is unprecedented, but in a way that's kind of nice, because the players we're scouting for [pick] two are the same players we're scouting for five, and vice versa," scouting director Mike Elias said. "We're able to concentrate on the same pool of players. Even when you're picking No. 1 or No. 2, you're watching seven, eight, nine guys throughout the year. It's really not much more of a time investment from that perspective. We like a lot of these players, so it's nice to be able to come away with two of them instead of one this year."
Houston, which will have the largest signing bonus pool ($17,289,200) to split among picks in the first 10 rounds, could wind up taking a shortstop because of the depth at that position. Though they drafted three high school players they didn't sign, the Astros went heavy on college players last year, and some of those -- Derek Fisher, A.J. Reed and J.D. Davis -- have been fast movers.
Now that their Minor League system is regarded as one of the best in the game, the Astros have the luxury of drafting more high schoolers because they can afford to give them more time to develop.
"We don't view it that way," Elias said. "I think we want to make the best pick that we can, regardless of what our perceived needs or timetable or stockpiles are in the Minor Leagues. We have depth in the system for a reason, because a lot of these guys are going to fail, and the more you have across the ranks at each position, the better your odds of success are with one or two of the players panning out. We're not going to worry too much about that, but we do feel we have the time to develop a high school prospect if we feel he's a true talent."