|Jim Callis' Quick Take|
|The Astros didn't pick until the third round, a huge handicap that's hard to overcome if your owner doesn't let you exceed slot bonus with your top pick to make up for it. Ohio high school third baseman Derek Dietrich (third round) has a lot of power potential and arm strength, but a lot of area scouts questioned his bat. Lamar outfielder Collin DeLome (fifth round) is an athlete with projection remaining, and at one point this spring he looked like he'd be a sandwich pick.|
HOUSTON--The absence of a selection in the first two rounds of the draft didn't keep the Astros from being enthused about their haul on the first day.
For the second year in a row, the Astros drafted a high school lefthanded power bat with their first pick, selecting infielder Derek Dietrich from Cleveland's St. Ignatius High in the third round.
"I'm thrilled," Dietrich said. "Wow. It's an amazing feeling. I knew as soon as I stepped in the ballpark last week at the workout it was the right place for me. I knew it was such a first-class organization by the way they conducted the workout and the great people there."
The Astros lost their first- and second-round picks for signing Type A free agents Carlos Lee and Woody Williams.
Dietrich, 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, hit .435 with 10 homers, 11 doubles and 43 RBIs in 27 games this season. He was named Gatorade's baseball player of the year in Ohio, as well as being named an Aflac All-American last year.
"He's a very polished-looking high school hitter," Astros scouting director Paul Ricciarini said. "He's got a good feel for the offensive part of the game. We project power out of the kid. He has a good swing, a very good concept of the strike zone. We've got a very good bat here. He's an excellent athlete."
The Astros foresee the strong-armed Dietrich, 17, playing third base in the majors, but will start him out at his natural position at shortstop to begin his career.
"I just want to play," Dietrich said. "They told me I would have an opportunity to play some shortstop.
Although he's a third-round pick, Dietrich said being the No. 1 choice of the Astros is special.
"It's such an honor to be the first pick in the organization," he said. "It means a lot to me knowing they like me the best and the really wanted me, too.
Dietrich said although he was committed to Georgia Tech, he wants to get his professional career underway and doesn't see any signability issues. Last year's 111th pick, Ricky Orta, was given a $270,000 signing bonus by Seattle.
"I don't see any problems," Dietrich said.
Dietrich's grandfather is Steve Demeter, who played briefly in the major leagues with the Tigers in 1959 and Indians in 1960. He was a minor league manager for the Pirates from 1972-1980 and a Pirates coach in 1985. He won the 1987 Carolina League as manager of the Salem Buccaneers.
Demeter, who recently retired after more than 50 seasons in baseball, was perhaps best known for being traded to Cleveland from Detroit in exchange for four-time all-star Norm Cash.
"He was here the whole time," Dietrich said. "He's been here throughout the process. He's been one of the most valuable tools. I'm so glad he was able to help us. He's very happy for me. He's told me all the stories about minor league baseball and I'm so excited to get ready to get there."