Collegiate talent a big part of Astros' Draft

Although club's top pick, Whitley, is a high school pitcher

Collegiate talent a big part of Astros' Draft

HOUSTON -- After picking atop the Draft three years in a row and second last year, the Astros didn't have the luxury of having a large bonus pool to manipulate, selecting at No. 17 overall this year, which meant some of the more expensive high school players on the board were off limits in the later rounds.

An organization that already places a high value on college players because of the amount of information that's available on them wound up taking 35 collegians among its 40 picks in this year's 2016 Draft, which came to an end Saturday with Rounds 11-40.

"We have a lot of information on them in terms of their statistics and the years we put in scouting them and their performance in the summer leagues and on the Cape [Cod League]," Astros scouting director Mike Elias said. "We like taking college players, we like taking high school players, too, as we did in the first round this year [pitcher Forrest Whitley at No. 17 overall] and as we have several times in the last few years. It just depends on the Draft class."

The Astros wound up with 13 right-handed pitchers, including Whitley, five left-handed pitchers (led by fourth-round pick Brett Adcock of Michigan), four catchers (third-round pick Jake Rogers of Tulane), six outfielders (second-round pick Ronnie Dawson of Ohio State) and 12 infielders.

The next challenge for Elias and his scouts is to try to sign as many picks as they can by the July 15 deadline.

"Our group of guys did a great job picking out players they had a passion for," Elias said. "They put a lot of work into guys that we think have a chance to help this organization and potentially make the big leagues. Even on Day 3, that's our primary goal. I thought we did a good job today. I'm sure there's a few players that will end up reaching the Major League level here in Houston."

As a way to infuse some youth despite a lack of high school picks, the Astros drafted six junior college players, including three from Seminole State in Oklahoma -- fifth-round pick Abraham Toro-Hernandez (third baseman), 20th-round pick Louis-Philippe Pelletier (second baseman) and 36th-rounder Ian Hardman (right-hander). Elias credited Midwest scout Jim Stevenson.

"He's very good at identifying some sleeper talents, some off-the-radar talent, getting them signed, convincing some of these kids to sign," Elias said. "He's very aggressive and very good at it."

Elias on Whitley selection

The Astros took a risk on 26th-round pick Avery Tuck, a left-handed-hitting outfielder from Steele Canyon High School in California. Elias admitted he could be difficult to sign away from his commitment to San Diego State. He said 11th-round pick, right-handed pitcher Chad Donato of West Virginia, is a Top 5-round talent, but could possibly be facing Tommy John surgery.

"We have a good medical team, and with the confidence our medical people have in Tommy John surgery these days, it's a good way of getting Day 2 [talent] on Day 3," he said. "That should be a fun one to follow."

After taking Whitley, who's from San Antonio, and University of Houston pitcher Nick Hernandez in the eighth round, the Astros stocked up on more local talent, such as Texas A&M second baseman Ryne Birk in the 13th round and TCU right-hander Brian Howard in the 17th round.

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.