Foltynewicz, a right-hander from Minooka Community High School in Illinois, is listed at 6-foot-4, 190 pounds and possesses a plus fastball and changeup. He's signed a letter of intent to play at the University of Texas, but the Astros want to add him to their up-and-coming mix of power arms in the Minors.
"Obviously, we all understand pitching is the commodity of our game," Astros assistant general manager in charge of scouting Bobby Heck said. "On Draft day, it's the riskiest thing to take and invest money in, but you need it. With pitching, you can get a lot of things, but to go out on the free-agent market, it's extremely expensive. If we can keep adding those quality starters, it's in the best interest of the Astros to do that."
Foltynewicz, 18, posted a 9-1 record, a 0.38 ERA and struck out 128 hitters in 72 2/3 innings during his senior year. He is the first high school pitcher from Illinois to be drafted in the first round since the White Sox drafted Kris Honel in 2001.
Foltynewicz sits in the low 90s with his fastball and has touched 96, with a good changeup. When asked about reports of sketchy command of his breaking pitches, Heck gave a different point of view.
"We thought we saw a pretty complete package for a high school right-handed pitcher," he said. "He's very physical, he's athletic and he's a good strike-thrower. We've seen him pitch comfortably with a plus fastball, as well as we've seen a plus changeup and a plus breaking ball. We think he's an advanced high school pitcher and not a guy who's a developmental type."
Foltynewicz is first pitcher taken in the first round by the Astros since 2005 when they selected Brian Bogusevic, who has since made the transition to the outfield.
The Astros took Georgia high school shortstop Delino DeShields Jr. with their first pick at No. 8 overall and capped the first day of the Draft by taking University of Minnesota third baseman Mike Kvasnicka at No. 33. They have until Aug. 16 to sign the picks.
"We're confident we're going to get that one done," Heck said of Foltynewicz. "He sent the right message to us where his floor was, so to speak, starting his professional career, and we felt very comfortable taking him there. We're going to get him out and playing this summer."
The Astros would love to add Foltynewicz to a pair of young pitchers they selected early in 2008 who are moving up the ranks. Right-hander Jordan Lyles, 19, is turning heads at Double-A Corpus Christi this year after being drafted No. 38 overall by the Astros in 2008. That was the same year they took right-hander Ross Seaton, 20, with the No. 109 pick and left-hander Brad Dydalewicz, 20, in the eighth round.
"Reading the reports and seeing the video and listening to our guys talk about him firsthand, this is a kid that has a chance to pitch at the top of the rotation," Houston general manager Ed Wade said. "It's going to take some time and we're going to have to be patient, but the toolset is there."