Long Time Coming
The Astros spent their first rounder on shortstop Jiovanni Mier
to see the complete Astros draft class of 2009 and track signings
HOUSTON—For the first time in 15 years, the Astros used their first-round pick on a shortstop whom they intend to keep there.
They called the name of Jiovanni Mier, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound, righthanded
hitting shortstop out of Bonita High in La Verne, Calif., with
the 21st overall pick in the 2009 Draft.
|First-round SS Jiovanni Mier was a consensus choice as the draft's top defensive infielder. The Astros have their own board and relied on workouts last year to separate some players, and appear to have done so again with RHP Tanner Bushue (second round), slugging OF/1B Telvin Nash (third) and 3B/C Jonathan Meyer (supplemental third). Perhaps the most intriguing pick is RHP Brandt Walker (eighth), reputed to have Stanford's top raw arm, though he has thrown just 27 games and 37 innings in three seasons.
"This is a true shortstop who stays at shortstop," said assistant
general manager of scouting Bobby Heck, joining GM Ed Wade in their
second draft with the organization. "He has defensive ability and
offensive ability as well. We think he's going to grow into some power
The Astros saw him more than 40 times in high school and had him for a
workout at Minute Maid Park in the week leading up to the draft.
The 18-year-old Mier hit .394 for Bonita this year with 10 doubles and
five home runs, as well as 22 walks that contributed to a .545 on-base
His defense and intangibles are widely thought to be ahead of his
offense. Mier models himself after Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and
was given praise that would have fit Jeter as a young player.
"He has field awareness," Heck said. "He looks like a major league
shortstop and plays like one and carries himself beyond his years."
Neither side is forecasting any signability issues with the Southern California commitment, who is represented by Legacy Sports.
"My ultimate goal is to get out there and play, so the quicker the
better," Mier said. "I know we'll definitely come up with something."
The last time the Astros took a shortstop in the first round was 1994,
when Russ Johnson was taken in the supplemental picks. Only two of the
seven they have taken in the first round ever reached the majors with
none putting together 1,000 career at-bats.
• Houston's lone pitching selection on the first day was Tanner Bushue, a
tall, slender righthander out of South Central High in Farina, Ill. Bushue is unlikely to be a particularly hard thrower at the next level,
but a highly-regarded curve was part of the repertoire that earned him
an invitation to participate in the Astros' pre-draft workouts in
Houston and ultimately, their second-round selection.
• The Astros had a round to themselves at the close of Tuesday's session
as the only team with a Compensation B pick, which they received for
the failure to sign third-round pick Chase Davidson in 2008. They used the pick, No. 111 overall, to choose versatile position
player Jonathan Meyer, listed as a third baseman, out of Simi Valley,
Calif. That pick wrapped up a day with four high schoolers chosen in