HOUSTON -- This will be an unusual MLB Draft for general manager Jeff Luhnow and assistant general manager Mike Elias, considering the Astros will be picking near the bottom of the first round for the first time in their tenure and will have no extra picks. Still, the MLB Draft represents an important opportunity for Houston to continue stockpiling talent.
The 2018 Draft will take place through Wednesday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com at 5 p.m. CT today. MLB Network will broadcast the first 43 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while MLB.com will stream all 78 picks on Day 1. MLB.com will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, with a preview show beginning at 11:30 a.m. CT. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on MLB.com on Day 3, beginning at 11 a.m. CT.
Go to MLB.com/draft to see the Top 200 Prospects list, projected top picks from MLB Pipeline analysts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft on Twitter to see what Draft hopefuls, clubs and experts are saying.
:: 2018 Draft coverage ::
Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the Astros:
In about 50 words
Coming off a World Series championship, the Astros won't pick until No. 28 overall in the first round. With no extra picks this year, they will have the third-to-last pick in each round, meaning No. 66 overall (second round), No. 102 overall (third round) and every 30 picks after that.
Despite trading away so many Minor Leaguers in recent years in deals to acquire impact players like Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Brian McCann and Ken Giles, the Astros' farm system remains strong thanks to some effective Drafts. This year presents a great opportunity for Houston to add more quality depth without the benefit of extra picks or a high first-round selection.
In his latest Mock Draft, Callis has the Astros taking Chicago high school outfielder Alek Thomas. Florida high school right-hander Mason Denaburg could also be available when the Astros pick, along with a local product: Magnolia (Texas) High School third baseman Jordan Groshans. The Astros, especially picking so low in the first round, will focus more on "best player available" than position early on.
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $125,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to 5 percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
This year, the Astros have a pool of $5,492,900 to spend in the first 10 rounds, including $2,399,400 to spend on their first selection.
Adding quality pitching depth is always a goal, and this year's Draft should give the Astros an opportunity to do that. As usual, Houston will be looking to add some catching depth as well, considering it's been a weakness in the organization for years.
The Astros have leaned towards premium high school talent since Luhnow took over, with Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers, Kyle Tucker and Forrest Whitley among the gems the team has taken high in the Draft. Last season, the Astros went heavy on college picks early, with 19 of their first 22 picks coming out of four-year universities or junior colleges. They did take high school third baseman Joe Perez with their second pick (No. 53 overall) last year even though he was headed for Tommy John surgery.
Last year, the Astros took 11 right-handed pitchers, six left-handed pitchers, five catchers, 11 infielders and nine outfielders. Of the 42 total selections, 35 came out of the collegiate ranks, and seven from high school. It marks the most high schoolers taken in the Draft by Houston since 2015.
Recent Draft history
The 2012 Draft -- Luhnow's first with the Astros -- remains his best so far, though it's too early to judge the last couple of years. The '12 Draft was led by Correa and McCullers. Last year's first-round pick, right-hander J.B. Bukauskas, has pitched in only two games this year at Class A Quad Cities because of an injury, and their first-round pick in '16, Whitley, is almost done serving a 50-game suspension for a failed drug test and should be ready to pitch next month at Double-A Corpus Christi. Right-hander Corbin Martin, the No. 56 overall pick last year, has also been impressive.
A 12th-round pick in 2015 out of St. John's River State College, outfielder Myles Straw has steadily progressed through the Minors and earned a big league Spring Training invite this year. With a high on-base percentage throughout his Minor League career and tons of speed, Straw jumped from Class A Advanced Buies Creek to Double-A last year and had a five-hit game at Corpus Christi on May 26. Through 47 games this year, he is slashing .363/.459/.437 with 31 steals. A right-handed hitter, he possesses little power.
Josh James, a right-handed pitcher drafted in the 34th round in 2014 out of Western Oklahoma State College, made his Triple-A debut on May 10 for Fresno at Las Vegas, allowing three earned runs in five innings. This season at Double-A Corpus Christi, he had 38 strikeouts and had allowed only 17 hits and six earned runs in 21 2/3 innings.
In the show
Correa (first overall pick in 2012) and Alex Bregman (second overall pick in '15) helped anchor the infield on a World Series championship club last year, and outfielder Derek Fisher (No. 37 overall in '14) carved his name in Astros lore when he scored the winning run in Game 5 of the World Series. Other Astros Draft picks currently with the big league club are Tony Kemp (fifth round in '13), infielder J.D. Davis (third round in '14), starting pitchers McCullers (No. 41 overall in '12) and Dallas Keuchel (seventh round in '09) and World Series Most Valuable Player Award winner George Springer (No. 11 overall in '11).
The Astros' recent top picks
2017: J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, Class A Buies Creek
2016: Forrest Whitley, RHP, Double-A Corpus Christi (suspended)
2015: Alex Bregman, IF, Astros
2014: Brady Aiken, LHP, Did not sign (currently in extended spring training with Indians)
2014: Derek Fisher, OF, Astros (disabled list)
2013: Mark Appel, RHP, Out of baseball