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Houston Astros Draft Report Card

By David Rawnsley

Best Debut: With 13 homers and 59 RBIs, 1B Jason Lane (6) was among the top sluggers in the short-season New York-Penn League and showed no problems converting from the outfield to first base.

Best Athlete: Six-foot-5, 220-pound OF Mike Rosamond (1) has four plus tools and the ability to play center field, but must improve his hitting skills to take advantage of his athleticism. He went 1-for-10 in the Class A Midwest League after hitting .265-6-24 in 230 at-bats at short-season Auburn.

Best Hitter: SS Jon Helquist (9) showed above-average bat speed out of high school and could develop power as he fills out.

Best Power: Rosamond generates outstanding power and bat speed from his long arms. Lane doesn’t have Rosamond’s bat speed, but he’s strong and has more polish at the plate.

Fastest Runner: Rosamond is an above-average runner, but isn’t in the class of OF Gavin Wright, a draft-and-follow sign from the 33rd round of the 1998 draft who runs the 60-yard dash in 6.4 seconds. Wright stole 32 bases at Rookie-level Martinsville and was caught only once.

Best Defensive Player: If the Astros ever decide to put someone in center field instead of Rosamond, he can become an even better defensive right fielder with his range and arm strength.

Best Fastball: RHP Jim Barrett (3) tops out at 95 mph, but he is raw and doesn’t always throw that hard. RHP Travis Anderson (2) is consistently clocked at 91-93 mph.

Most Intriguing Background: 3B Royce Huffman (12) was an all-America candidate as a punter at Texas Christian. His family already had Astros season tickets. Rosamond, Houston’s top selection, was picked in the 71st round by the Astros out of high school in 1996.

Closest to the Majors: Anderson has a sinker/slider combination that could send him to the upper minors quickly if he masters his control. RHP Nick Roberts (7), also is on the fast track. The 23-year-old went 4-2, 1.90 in 47 innings at Martinsville.

The One That Got Away: The Astros failed to sign RHP Bryan Edwards (15) and his 96 mph fastball as a draft-and-follow from the 38th round of the ‘98 draft, but they drafted him one more time and will try again.

Best Non-Draft Sign: Wright gives the organization a pure centerfield prospect, and at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, he has a chance to add strength.

Summary: The Astros drafted a large number of college seniors in the upper rounds, but still managed to find a good mix of talent and experience. Their Martinsville affiliate, featuring mostly 1999 picks, won the Rookie-level Appalachian League title.

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