Ferrell among Astros' Day 2 college picks

Catcher Hermelyn, right-hander Thornton follow TCU righty off board

Ferrell among Astros' Day 2 college picks

HOUSTON -- The Astros tapped into the college ranks in the early rounds of the MLB Draft's second day on Tuesday, selecting Texas Christian University right-hander Riley Ferrell as their third-round selection (No. 79 overall) and University of Oklahoma catcher Anthony Hermelyn in the fourth round (No. 109 overall).

In the fifth round, the club drafted right-hander Trent Thornton, a junior from the University of North Carolina.

Round 3:
Ferrell, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound junior from College Station, Texas, has logged 14 saves for TCU in 2015 while posting a 2.83 ERA over 28 2/3 innings. The Horned Frogs are headed to the College World Series after topping Texas A&M in a 16-inning thriller that ended at 1 a.m. ET early Tuesday.

Astros Draft Tracker

According to scouting reports from MLBPipeline.com, which ranks Ferrell as the Draft's No. 45 prospect, the right-hander throws a 94- to 96-mph fastball and sports a mid-80s slider.

2015 Draft Recap: Astros

Astros amateur scouting director Mike Elias acknowledged that while the club probably views Ferrell as a power arm in the back end of the bullpen, some scouts within the organization believe he may be able to start.

"What development route we have with him with be a conversation between us and Riley, ultimately," Elias said. "If he ends up remaining in the bullpen, he's still going to be an impact talent for us."

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Round 4:
Hermelyn split time between first base and catcher for OU in 2015 but was identified by the Astros as a catcher when they selected him. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder was named to the All-Big 12 First Team as a utility man after hitting .321 (78-for-243) with 12 doubles, six homers and a team-leading 49 RBIs in 2015. Hermelyn slugged .453 and had an on-base percentage of .360.

"He's a very good catcher," Elias said. "He's a plus receiver, he's got a solid arm, he can hit. He's an All-Big 12 selection, a Cape Cod League All-Star. Pitchers rave about him. He does a little bit of everything. When you see that in a catcher, it makes it a good prospect and good value. He's a good find."

Round 5:
Thornton, a 6-foot, 175-pound reliever, is coming off a season in which he posted a 5.08 ERA, a number that didn't reflect his ability over his first two seasons (1.37 ERA in 2013; 2.73 in '14; 2.82 average). Thornton appeared in 28 games in '15, making four starts and compiling 62 innings.

'15 Draft: Trent Thornton, RHP

Elias said the Astros look mostly at strikeouts when evaluating college pitchers, and Thornton's numbers in that area -- 81 strikeouts in 2015 and an average of the same over three years -- appealed to them.

"He's got a plus curveball, and he throws hard," Elias said. "He's got a fastball that generates swings and misses. The strikeout ratio is one of the things we look at for college pitchers. He could be a fast-moving reliever as well, but if we choose to put him a starter's role, he can do that, too."

The Draft concludes on Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 on MLB.com beginning at 11 a.m. CT.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.