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Draft  | Story  | 9/28/2011

Astros to pick 1st in 2012 MLB Draft

Patrick Ebert     
Photo: Perfect Game

For the third time in the organization's 50-year history, the Houston Astros will have the dubious honor of selecting first in next June's first-year player draft. Their two previous first overall picks, Floyd Bannister (1976) and Phil Nevin (1992), enjoyed productive big-league careers, although neither spent much time with the Astros after being traded to other organizations early in their careers.

Unlike the past several years in which one or two near-unanimous top prospects have been identified the summer prior to the draft itself, next year's talent pool suggests that the eventual player selected first overall may not be among the players currently discussed for that pick.

At this time last year Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole were considered the top two players available for last June's draft. Bryce Harper's legacy started the moment he announced he would be foregoing both his junior and senior years in high school to attend junior college, thus making him draft eligible a year early in 2010. Stephen Strasburg became a legend far before he was the first overall pick in 2009.

Next year's talent pool has already been labeled as weak, although that has to do with a lackluster college crop. The high school talent currently emerging is viewed as very strong, with a long list of both power arms and bats that could help make up for the perceived college weakness.

And that also could prompt the Astros to make history.

No high school right-handed pitcher has ever been selected first overall, and the way draft boards currently stack up, Lucas Giolito could change that.

The 6-foot-6, 230-pound right-hander has been clocked as high as 98 and easily works in the low-to-mid-90s deep into games.  He shows very good command of his fastball and tight, sharp-breaking slider, giving him the perfect combination of size, stuff and control while throwing on a downhill plane, making him that much more difficult to hit.

Of course high school pitchers are generalized as risky commodities, and teams that are selecting first overall are doing so because they were the worst team in baseball the previous season. Teams in that position typically don't have the luxury of taking chances with high-risk propositions, particularly given the financial investment required.

Because of that, the Astros may turn to one of the top college players. Arizona State shortstop Deven Marrero and Stanford right-handed pitcher Mark Appel are the names currently associated with the top picks.

Both are incredibly talented players, as Marrero is a potential five-tool shortstop and Appel's profile is somewhat similar to Giolito's.  However, the talent at the top of the draft causes some debate as to where either would have been selected had they been eligible for this past year's draft. The talent pool for this past year's draft was considered one of the strongest ever, with very good depth at both the college and high school levels.

Regardless of who the Astros pick, it is important that they continue to inject as much talent into their system as possible. The Rays, who had the first overall pick four times in 10 years, have proven how quickly a team's fortune can turnaround with an ample supply of talent.

Following the Astros in the draft order are the Minnesota Twins, who haven't had a pick in the top 10 since they took Joe Mauer with the first overall selection in 2001.

After drafting second last year, the Mariners will pick third next June. Typically not considered one of the perennially worst teams in the game, the 2012 draft will mark the fifth time in eight years that Seattle has had a pick among the top five overall selections.

Drafting early hasn't helped the Orioles, as next year will mark the 11th
 time in 12 years that they have had a pick among the top 10 overall selections.

The Royals with the fifth overall selection are in a similar situation to the Orioles when it comes to the draft, with a top 10 pick in 12 of the last 16 years. Unlike the Orioles, most seem to think the Royals are on a path similar to the Rays given the incredible talent they have collected in recent years.

After the Twins, the Padres had the second biggest slide from 2010 to this past year, and will have the seventh overall pick in next year's draft.

Two teams that had multiple first-round picks this past year, the Diamondbacks and the Brewers, enjoyed the two biggest jumps in the win-loss column from 2010 to this year. The Diamondbacks in particular went from owning the third-worse record in 2010 to having the sixth-best in 2011.

For the second year in a row, the Philadelphia Phillies finish the season with the best record in baseball.

With the current collective bargaining agreement scheduled to expire on December 11, rumors have been swirling for over a year about Commissioner Bud Selig's desire to add hard monetary slot values. While many seem to grow more and more skeptical of this happening, it does seem likely that the signing deadline will be bumped up from its current date of August 15.

This change would be beneficial for everyone involved, as the players would be able to begin their professional careers with over a month left in the minor league season that ends on Labor Day, and teams can put the draft behind them while focusing on the next year's crop of talent during the busy summer showcase and tournament season.

2012 Draft Order

After having three unsigned players from the 2010 draft effect the order of the first-round of the 2011 draft, only one first-round pick from this past year went unsigned, the 21st
 overall pick of the Toronto Blue Jays, Tyler Beede. The 2010 PG All-American has already began his college career at Vanderbilt, and projects as a likely premium pick for the 2014 draft.  The Blue Jays will receive the 22nd overall pick in 2012 as compensation.

Here is how the order of the first-round of next year's draft stacks up, also showing each team's first pick from the past three drafts. Unless more drastic changes are implemented prior to the beginning of the offseason, it should be expected that free agent compensation will remain in 2012, meaning the draft order will look significantly different by the end of the upcoming offseason.

Tie-breakers for teams that finished with the exact same record/winning percentage are awarded to the team that finished with the worse record the previous season.

PK Team Record Win % 1st Pick 2011 (pick) 1st Pick 2010 (pick) 1st Pick 2009 (pick)
1 Houston Astros 56-106 .346 George Springer (11) Delino DeShields (8) Jiovanni Mier (21)
2 Minnesota Twins 63-99 .389 Levi Michael (30) Alex Wimmers (21) Kyle Gibson (22)
3 Seattle Mariners 67-95 .414 Danny Hultzen (2) Taijuan Walker (43) Dustin Ackley (2)
4 Baltimore Orioles 69-93 .426 Dylan Bundy (4) Manny Machado (3) Matt Hobgood (5)
5 Kansas City Royals 71-91 .438 Bubba Starling (5) Christian Colon (4) Aaron Crow (12)
6 Chicago Cubs 71-91 .438 Javier Baez (9) Hayden Simpson (16) Brett Jackson (31)
7 San Diego Padres 71-91 .438 Cory Spangenberg (10) Karsten Whitson (9) Donovan Tate (3)
8 Pittsburgh Pirates 72-90 .444 Gerrit Cole (1) Jameson Taillon (2) Tony Sanchez (4)
9 Florida Marlins 72-90 .444 Jose Fernandez (14) Christian Yelich (23) Chad James (18)
10 Colorado Rockies 73-89 .451 Tyler Anderson (20) Kyle Parker (26) Tyler Matzek (11)
11 Oakland Athletics 74-88 .457 Sonny Gray (18) Michael Choice (10) Grant Green (13)
12 New York Mets 77-85 .475 Brandon Nimmo (13) Matt Harvey (7) Steve Matz (72)
13 Chicago White Sox 79-83 .488 Keenyn Walker (47) Chris Sale (13) Jared Mitchell (23)
14 Cincinnati Reds 79-83 .488 Robert Stephenson (27) Yasmani Grandal (12) Mike Leake (8)
15 Cleveland Indians 80-82 .494 Francisco Lindor (8) Drew Pomeranz (5) Alex White (15)
16 Washington Nationals 80-81 .497 Anthony Rendon (6) Bryce Harper (1) Stephen Strasburg (1)
17 Toronto Blue Jays 81-81 .500 Tyler Beede (21) Deck McGuire (11) Chad Jenkins (20)
18 Los Angeles Dodgers 82-79 .509 Chris Reed (16) Zach Lee (28) Aaron Miller (36)
19 Los Angeles Angels 86-76 .531 C.J. Cron (17) Kaleb Cowart (18) Randal Grichuk (24)
20 San Francisco Giants 86-76 .531 Joe Panik (29) Gary Brown (24) Zack Wheeler (6)
21 Atlanta Braves 89-73 .549 Sean Gilmartin (28) Matt Lipka (35) Mike Minor (7)
22 Toronto Blue Jays* NA  NA Compensatory pick NA NA
23 St. Louis Cardinals 90-72 .556 Kolten Wong (22) Zack Cox (25) Shelby Miller (19)
24 Boston Red Sox 90-72 .556 Matthew Barnes (19) Kolbrin Vitek (20) Reymond Fuentes (28)
25 Tampa Bays Rays 91-71 .562 Taylor Guerrieri (24) Josh Sale (17) LeVon Washington (30)
26 Arizona Diamondbacks 94-68 .580 Trevor Bauer (3) Barret Loux (6) Bobby Borchering (16)
27 Detroit Tigers 95-67 .586 James McCann (76) Nick Castellanos (44) Jacob Turner (9)
28 Milwaukee Brewers 96-66 .593 Taylor Jungmann (12) Dylan Covey (14) Eric Arnett (26)
29 Texas Rangers 96-66 .593 Kevin Matthews (33) Jake Skole (15) Matt Purke (14)
30 New York Yankees 97-65 .599 Dante Bichette (51) Cito Culver (32) Slade Heathcott (29)
31 Philadelphia Phillies 102-60 .630 Larry Greene (39) Jesse Biddle (27) Kelly Dugan (75)

*Compensation for unsigned 2011 first-round pick Tyler Beede

Here is a list of the other unsigned players from this past year's draft that will affect next year's order after the first round due to compensatory picks:
  • Brett Austin, 54th overall selection (supplemental 1st round) - the Padres will be awarded the 55th overall pick in the 2012 draft
  • Sam Stafford, 88th overall selection (2nd round) - the Yankees will be awarded the 89th overall pick in the 2012 draft
  • Kevin Cron, 92nd overall selection (3rd round) - the Mariners will be awarded the 1st pick in the supplemental 3rd round, overall pick TBD
  • Connor Barron, 102nd overall selection (3rd round) - the Marlins will be awarded the 2nd pick in the supplemental 3rd round, overall pick TBD
  • Peter O'Brien, 107th overall selection (3rd round) - the Rockies will be awarded the 3rd pick in the supplemental 3rd round, overall pick TBD
Be sure to check back early next week for our list of the top 300 2012 draft-eligible players.