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Astros Draft Report Card

Best Pro Debut: RHP Daniel Freeman (17) went 9-1, 2.96 to lead the Rookie-level Appalachian League in victories. He also had six saves. His curveball is his best pitch, and he does a nice job of spotting his 87-88 mph sinker.

Best Athlete: 3B/OF Nick Covarrubias (13) doesn’t have a standout tool, but he doesn’t have a below-average one either. SS Andy Topham (9) and OF Dustin Hawkins (37) are also good athletes.

Best Pure Hitter: The Astros weren’t able to sign 1B/OF Scott Robinson (7), but they control his rights because he decided to attend Palomar (Calif.) JC rather than San Diego State. Covarrubias and 3B Pat Peavey (33) are the best hitters Houston signed, though neither did much in short-season ball.

Best Raw Power: OF Jason Reuss (11) has plus-plus power to all fields but needs refinement after striking out 41 times in his first 93 pro at-bats.

Fastest Runner: Hawkins gets from the left side to first base in 4.1 seconds.

Best Defensive Player: Topham or C Randy McGarvey (26).

Best Fastball: RHP Derick Grigsby (1), the first junior college player drafted, is all power. He pitches at 93-94 mph and reaches 96 with his fastball, and his slider peaks at 86 mph. The Astros focused on hard throwers. RHPs Mitch Talbot (2) and J.P. Duran (6) can touch 95 and and RHPs Rory Shortell (3) and Chance Douglass (12) are right behind them.

Best Breaking Ball: Duran’s curveball is slightly nastier than the sliders of Grigsby and RHP Jared Gothreaux (16).

Most Intriguing Background: Unsigned OF Shawn Williams’ (35) father Jimy manages the Astros. Unsigned 1B Freddie Thon’s (43) father Frankie scouts Puerto Rico for the club, while his uncle Dickie was an all-star shortstop for Houston. Reuss’ father Jerry won 220 games in the majors, while Robinson’s dad Bruce was a big league catcher. Peavey’s brother Bill signed with the Angels as an 11th-round pick. Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman, their great-grandmother, was a six-time U.S. tennis champion.

Closest To The Majors: Shortell reminds the Astros of Shane Reynolds. He’s advanced, with two legitimate pitches (fastball, curveball), and just needs fine-tuning.

Best Late-Round Pick: Douglass dropped in the draft because he came down with shoulder tendinitis and was committed to attending Rice. A 6-foot righthander with a plus fastball and plus slider, Gothreaux is reminiscent of Jeff Brantley. The Astros have had a lot of success with short righties.

The One Who Got Away: RHP Brad Chester (10) has a strong 6-foot-4, 210-pound build and hit 97 mph during a workout for the Astros. He ended up at Louisiana Tech.

Assessment: Because owner Drayton McLane declared a temporary embargo on signing draft picks, the top three choices–Grigsby, Talbot and Shortell–have yet to make their pro debuts. Houston, which has done a fine job of developing pitchers, took pitchers with its first six picks and now has more quality arms to work with.

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