Astros Draft Report
HOUSTON--The Astros bucked a recent trend by selecting a high school player in the first round for the first time since 1995, drafting lefthanded-hitting catcher Max Sapp
from Windermere, Fla., with the 23rd pick this year.
Sapp, a thick-chested 6-foot-2, 220-pounder, hit .591-9-48 and was named central Florida player of the year by the Orlando Sentinel for the second consecutive season at Bishop Moore High.
And it appears the Astros won't have any signability issues with Sapp, who was brought in for a workout by the club a few days before the draft.
"I'm definitely going to sign with the Astros," said Sapp, who had committed to Florida State. "I'm going to sign for slot money, and then I'm on my way to becoming a big leaguer."
Sapp is the first high school player taken in the first round by the Astros since pitcher Tony McKnight
. General manager Tim Purpura
said the club wants to be more flexible when considering high school players, and Sapp made it easy.
"He's really well put-together and is a specimen," Purpura said. "I really like the way he swings the bat. We talked a lot about his bat being in the hitting zone for a long time. If you're a young hitter and have that, you have a chance to move up.
"I like the way he threw the bases, but there's no way we'd rely on just a workout to take a No. 1 pick. Our scouts, Jon Bunnell
in particular, had seen him about 20 times. We sat down with him and asked him some questions. He's our kind of player. He's an Astro-type player."
Scouting director Paul Ricciarini
said Sapp's power and position helped the Astros fall in love with Sapp, even though Sapp has been catching for just two years.
"There is such a dearth of talent at that position that when you have an opportunity to grab it, you do it," Ricciarini said. "But we didn't jump talent to take Max Sapp. We took him strictly on his ability. We jumped at the opportunity to take him."SPACE SHOTS
• The Astros were thrilled to get righthander Sergio Perez
of the University of Tampa in the second round. Ricciarini said the club would have picked Perez in the first round had Sapp not been available.
• The Astros believe they've found a sleeper in Fresno State center fielder Nick Moresi
, who was taken in the third round. Ricciarini compared him to Texas outfielder Drew Stubbs, whom the Astros drafted and couldn't sign in 2003.
• Stetson third baseman Chris Johnson
, the Astros' fourth-round pick, is the son of Ron Johnson
, Triple-A manager in the Red Sox system.