Astros agree to deals with 3 Draft picks

Pitchers Hernandez, Hartman and Hunt ready to begin pro careers

Astros agree to deals with 3 Draft picks

HOUSTON -- The Astros have reached contract agreements with eighth-round pick Nick Hernandez (right-handed pitcher), ninth-round pick Ryan Hartman (left-handed pitcher) and 10th-round pick Dustin Hunt (right-handed pitcher).

All three told MLB.com Saturday they've agreed to sign with Houston and begin their professional careers. The Astros have not announced any deals with Draft picks.

Hernandez, a Houston-area product, spent one year at the University of Houston, where he was the Cougars' closer. He finished the season with a 3-0 record, 11 saves and a 1.40 ERA in a team-high 29 appearances. He struck out 67 batters in 51 1/3 innings

"Right when I was drafted, I was pretty much ready to go," said Hernandez, who took a little lower than slot value for the 247th overall pick.

Hartman, out of Tennessee Wesleyan College, appeared in 17 games this season, making 13 starts, and was 10-1 with a 0.64 ERA, which led the NAIA. He struck out 129 batters and walked only 12 in 98 innings. He was named a Perfect Game/Rawlings Pitcher of the Year following this season. His only loss came in the NAIA World Series.

"It was like an unbelievable feeling," Hartman said. "I've been waiting my whole life to play professional baseball. It was a surreal feeling."

Hunt, a three-year starter at Northeastern, went 6-3 with a 2.72 ERA this year. In 86 innings, he allowed 68 hits, 27 walks and struck out a career-high 93 batters while holding opponents to a .219 batting average.

"I was just ready to go out and play," Hunt said. "I knew I wanted to sign and start my professional career. When I got the call, I knew I was ready."

Hunt started focusing on pitching when he was a sophomore in high school and had a strong year as a freshman at Northeastern. Last year, he played in the Cape Cod Summer League, where he owned a 3.17 ERA in eight games and struck out 33 in 22 2/3 innings.

"Obviously, it's a great organization with great history, great fans," said Hunt, who is from Andover, Mass. "I'm pretty excited to be part of the team over there. It's a great team to develop in, which was a big thing on my mind. I wanted to go to a good team and develop and be a better pitcher."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.