Astros' No. 1 pick Bukauskas visits club

Astros' No. 1 pick Bukauskas visits club

HOUSTON -- The Astros' No. 1 Draft pick this year, J.B. Bukauskas, was at Minute Maid Park on Saturday, getting a first-hand look and feel for the organization that selected him 15th overall.

The University of North Carolina right-hander soaked up the atmosphere and met several Astros, who are on the verge of clinching their first division title since 2001.

"I've never been down this far on a professional field like this, so it's cool taking it all in," said Bukauskas, the Atlantic Coast Conference pitcher of the year, who as a junior this season went 9-0 with a 2.02 ERA. "It's a big deal for me to experience it this year as opposed to going into next year, like completely having not seen it. It's going to benefit me."

Bukauskas has spent time this summer with fellow Houston draftees Corbin Martin, Mike Papierski, Kyle Serrano and J.J. Matijevic.

"I'm here for the weekend," Bukauskas said. "I've never seen an Astros game, so my family and I definitely wanted to come down, at least see what it was going to be like."

Bukauskas signs with Astros

The 6-foot, 196-pound Bukauskas is back at North Carolina, working toward a degree in communications. He's also on a strength program.

"I'm going to be working hard this offseason, making sure I'm ready for next year," he said.

There's no timetable for when the 20-year-old, who has a devastating slider in the mid-80s, will be progressing to the Major Leagues. His fastball is in the low to mid-90s, and this summer he has worked on his changeup. He said the changeup has gotten better.

"I'm just going to go where they tell me to go and do the best I can and let the cards fall where they may," said Bukauskas, who struck out 116 in 92 2/3 innings this season.

"I got my plan, my program to work on and develop the way I can, the best I can, and move up when they tell me to move up," he added. "I'm just going to do what I can where I am.

"Everybody wants to move up as fast as they can, but I also want to develop as best as I can, too, to make sure I am ready where they put me and do whatever they want me to do."

Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.