Astros hope to land sleepers late in Draft
Ace right-hander Oswalt was a 23rd-round pick in 1996
HOUSTON -- Darin Erstad was the No. 1 overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft in 1995 by the California Angels, and slugger Lance Berkman was taken with the 16th pick in the first round by the Astros two years later.
The rest of the Astros' current 25-man roster is filled with players that didn't get big signing bonuses or were household names when they were picked. The majority were largely unknown players who watched dozens or even hundreds of players get taken before their name was called.
In addition to Erstad and Berkman, outfielder Hunter Pence (No. 64 overall, 2004), outfielder Jason Michaels (No. 104 overall in 1998) and pitcher Russ Ortiz (No. 103 overall in '95) are the only players on the 25-man roster taken within the first 111 picks.
Ace pitcher Roy Oswalt was taken in the 23rd round, making him easily the lowest Draft pick on the roster. Michael Bourn and Jeff Keppinger went in the fourth round, Tim Byrdak in the fifth round and Mike Hampton and Brian Moehler in the sixth round.
Other later Draft picks include Geoff Blum (seventh), LaTroy Hawkins (seventh), Jeff Fulchino (eighth), Chris Sampson (eighth), Matt Kata (ninth), Brandon Backe (18th) and Edwin Maysonet (19th). The only players on the roster drafted by the Astros are Berkman, Maysonet, Oswalt, Pence and Sampson.
Oswalt, taken in the 1996 Draft, was in the Majors within five years. Bourn followed a similar path, getting drafted by Philadelphia in 2000 and reaching the Majors in '06. Ortiz, drafted in '95 by San Francisco, made his Major League debut in '98.
Like Ortiz, Keppinger and Hampton ascended quickly. Taken by the Pirates in 2001, Keppinger reached the Majors with the Mets in '04. Hampton was taken by Seattle in 1990 and pitched in the Majors within three years.
Backe debuted four years after he was drafted, Blum took five years, Hawkins four years and Maysonet, taken by the Astros in 2004, made his Major League debut late last year.
After 111 picks on Day 1 -- including Round One, Compensation Round A, Round Two, Round Three and Compensation Round B -- the Draft will resume with exclusive coverage on MLB.com with the Fourth Round at 11 a.m. CT on Wednesday and will be tentatively scheduled to go through the 30th round. The Draft will conclude on Thursday with the 31st through 50th rounds, beginning at 10:30 a.m. CT.
MLB.com's coverage will include a live pick-by-pick audio stream, expert commentary and the exclusive Draft Tracker, a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player, featuring statistics, scouting reports and video highlights.
Fans will not only be able to follow along every minute of the way online, but they'll be able to interact directly with Draft-eligible players and MLB.com Draft experts, among others.
The Draft Tracker will also feature the addition of Twitter, and the participation of "tweeters" such as MLB.com Draft expert @JonathanMayoB3, who will also be serving as on-air talent for all three days of the Draft; and reporter @LisaWinstonMLB, who will be writing the up-to-the-minute coverage for MLB.com.
In addition, MLB.com has created a Twitter account devoted to the Draft, where you can stay updated on every piece of info as it becomes available (@MLBDraft).
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.