Friends, Family Root On Mier

In our 2009 Draft Preview issue, our scouting report of Bonita HS, La Verne, Calif. shortstop Jiovanni Mier made mention of his large and enthusiastic support group, which consists of 36 first cousins and nearly 200 extended family members.

So one could have imagined the scene at the Mier household when Commissioner Bud Selig announced (in the bumbling fashion that persisted throughout the first round) that the Astros had tabbed Mier with the 21st overall pick.

“Sitting here watching it at my house, when I saw the 21st pick come up, I said, ‘This could be it,’" Mier said.

And it was. All told – family members, friends, high school coaches and an old travel ball coach included—about 40 people were on hand to celebrate with Mier.

Minutes after he was selected, I texted my congratulations to Mier, who responded, "I’m feeling great. It’s overwhelming."

And even after a full day to absorb the moment, the excitement hadn’t worn off.

"Still overwhelmed," Mier said, who confessed that he knew the Astros (along with the Angels and Rays) had their sights on him. "It’s awesome though."

The celebration had to be put on temporary hold, however. Mier was drafted shortly before 5 p.m. PST, but then had to race over to his high school graduation, which was scheduled for 6 p.m. PST.

Mier and the Astros haven’t officially begun contract negotiations yet, but Mier has been in consistent contact with area scout Doug Deutsch.

"He called me on Monday night and then called me on Tuesday morning, wishing me the best," Mier said. "He’s kind of done that with me all year – he’s not only been a scout, but a helper (throughout the process)."

With range and arm strength to spare, Mier is a rare breed – a high school shortstop who projects to stay at the position in the pro ranks. Although his timing at the plate is occasionally off-kilter, scouts expect him to develop into a line-drive hitter as he grows into his 6-foot-2, 170-pound frame.

And given Astros scouting director Bobby Heck’s track record of developing hitters, Mier stands a good chance to realize his potential. 

Before Heck was hired by the Astros in 2007, he served as the Brewers Eastern scouting director for the previous nine seasons. During that time, Heck helped turned the Brewers’ farm system into one of the best in the game, with Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, J.J. Hardy and Rickie Weeks all signed during his tenure.