Astros director of player development Fred Nelson recently returned from Florida, where he got a chance to see three of the club's top Draft picks from this year -- No. 1 overall pick Carlos Correa, No. 41 overall pick Lance McCullers Jr., and fourth-round pick Rio Ruiz.
Correa, a shortstop from Puerto Rico, got off to a slow start in the Gulf Coast League, but he's starting to come around as he gets adjusted to a new way of life. He was hitting .221 with two homers and five RBIs through 28 games. Ruiz, a third baseman the Astros believe was a first-round talent, was hitting .306 with seven RBIs through 13 games.
"[Ruiz] had been DHing when he came to us, and he was a little bit out of shape because of some of the medical issues he had," Nelson said. "He's worked very hard and is a likeable young man. I saw him play two games at third base and he swung the bat really good. Both those two players are going to be good players in the future."
Meanwhile, McCullers was 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts. He has thrown a total of only eight innings as the Astros keep him to a strict limit of three innings or 45-50 pitches per outing. Nelson said McCullers would make one more start in the Gulf Coast League before being moved to rookie league Greeneville.
"That will give him a chance to pitch at night," he said. "We slated it out, and if he does that, it would be three or four starts. If that club makes the playoffs, he will have a chance to get in there and get another start or two. That would be a pretty good summer for him."