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Crane, Luhnow attend Astros game after scouting trip

PITTSBURGH -- Astros owner Jim Crane and general manager Jeff Luhnow attended Saturday's and Sunday's games against the Pirates at PNC Park in a surprise trip that came about after both men scouted the University of North Carolina's game against Virginia in Chapel Hill, N.C., earlier Saturday.

Luhnow said it was the first time Crane had been out in person this year to watch potential Draft targets. The Astros have the No. 1 overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft on June 6. Luhnow wouldn't say which player they were watching, but North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran is a top prospect.


"We don't comment on Draft-eligible players for obvious reasons, but we continue to put in a lot of time against it, and it was great Jim was willing to go out and see a player with his own eyes," Luhnow said. "We might try another couple before it's all said and done."

Crane was a standout college pitcher at Central Missouri State, so he provides anything but the layman's eye.

"It's a good experience just to understand what scouts go through," Luhnow said. "He's got a great eye. I was impressed. Sitting there at the ballgame and watching his reaction, he's pretty well-calibrated. If he wanted to be a scout, he would be a pretty good one."

The Astros are holding their first of four regional workouts for prospects on Sunday in Los Angeles, with scouting director Mike Elias, national crosschecker David Post and the decision sciences team led by Sig Mejdal looking at about 20 players. The second workout will be held Wednesday in Kissimmee, Fla., at the team's Spring Training complex, the third will be May 26 in Georgia and the final workout will be June 1 at Minute Maid Park. That will also serve as the start of the Astros' pre-Draft meetings, when the front office will begin going over 1,200 players.

Luhnow said he planned to attend the June 1 workout in Houston, and perhaps next week's in Georgia.

"It's more important for Mike and David to be able to see some players they haven't seen, and it's always important for Sig and his group to do an interview process with all the players to get to know them better," Luhnow said. "We also use it as an opportunity for players to ask us questions. They're making a big life decision, and sometimes we forget that. We think we're making all the decisions here, but they've got to decide first if they want to play pro ball and secondly if they want to play pro ball with the Astros.

"They can ask questions to get to know us and ask about life in the Minor Leagues and what happens after the Minor Leagues and what happens when they get to the big leagues. Mike does a great job explaining all of that to them. We have enough people there, they can ask a scout or ask a crosschecker some questions."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.
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