Long Time Coming

The Astros spent their first rounder on shortstop Jiovanni Mier

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HOUSTONFor 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 as well."

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 percentage.

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.

Space Shots

• 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 four picks.