Drafting two SS could be best bet for Astros
The Houston Astros are in a terrific position right now. Not only are they in first place in the American League West, but they own the No. 2 and No. 5 overall picks in the 2015 Draft, which begins with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Monday at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 75 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network.
No team has ever had two top-five picks in the same Draft, and the only comparable situation was the 2009 Nationals, who used the No. 1 and No. 10 picks to select Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen, respectively.
I took part in the selection of three top-five picks -- Paul Wilson (No. 1 to the Mets in 1994), Philip Humber (No. 3 to the Mets in 2004) and Matt Wieters (No. 5 to the Orioles in '07) -- and there is a ton of pressure on the front office to get it right. In a certain sense, the Astros have twice as much pressure.
In regards to this year's Draft, most scouting directors seem to agree that it lacks the obvious consensus No. 1 pick like Strasburg was, but there is still plenty of elite talent. This means the Astros, who have the No. 5 pick by virtue of their 2014 record and the No. 2 pick as compensation for not signing Brady Aiken with the No. 1 pick last June, have plenty of options.
There are three top-tier shortstops available in the Draft: Florida high schooler Brendan Rodgers (MLB Pipeline's No. 1 Draft prospect), Vanderbilt's Dansby Swanson (No. 2) and LSU's Alex Bregman (No. 4) -- and even if the D-backs take one of them with the top pick (signs point to Swanson), Houston will still have two to choose from at No. 2. While Carlos Correa, the Astros' top prospect, is currently a shortstop, he might "outgrow" the position at some point, and having too many elite shortstop prospects is a problem every GM would love to have.
If I were Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow, I would be pushing for the best position player available at No. 2, likely Swanson or Rodgers. I love their feel for hitting, their ability to play in the middle of the diamond and their overall baseball acumen. Rodgers may have more power, but I would not discount Swanson's ability to drive the ball.
At No. 5, the decision gets a bit trickier. High-end college starters such as Vanderbilt's Carson Fulmer (Pipeline's No. 3 prospect) and UC Santa Barbara's Dillon Tate (No. 5) could help the club out of the bullpen as early as this year, similar to the way Brandon Finnegan fortified the Royals' bullpen last October, just months removed from the Draft.
There are also a pair of high school outfielders who could be available in Daz Cameron (No. 6) and Kyle Tucker (No. 7). Both have MLB bloodlines (Daz is Mike Cameron's son and Kyle is Preston Tucker's brother), but they would obviously be a few years away from helping the Astros.
If Fulmer or Tate is on the board, I would go for one of them, partially because of the chance of them helping down the stretch, but also because Houston's farm system could use high-end pitching talent.
On the outside chance that neither pitcher is available at No. 5 , I would not hesitate to select another shortstop and grab Bregman. Picking two shortstops in the top five may seem unconventional, but having as many middle-of-the-diamond athletes as possible gives a GM plenty of flexibility to have them eventually change positions if necessary. (Look at what the Cubs have done with Addison Russell, Javier Baez and Starlin Castro).
Just think of the potential starting infield in 2018 with Rodgers or Correa moving to third and Bregman switching to second base or center field if Jose Altuve signs a long-term deal to stay with the Astros.
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MLB.com's exclusive coverage of Day 2 begins with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, with exclusive coverage of Day 3 beginning at noon on Wednesday.