2017 MLB Draft Grades: Houston Astros
Best Pure Hitter: OF J.J. Matijevic (2s) blossomed in his junior year at Arizona hitting .383 after hitting .376 the summer before in the Cape Cod League. His emergence came after he simplified his swing, taking away a big leg kick and emphasizing an uphill bat path to develop loft. He impressed Astros scouts with his bat to ball skills and developing power. He got off to a slow start as a pro, but he has the potential to be a plus hitter.
Best Power Hitter: 1B Jake Adams (6) hit 10 home runs for short-season Tri-City after hitting 29 with Iowa last spring. Adams has 70 raw power on the 20-to-80 scouting scale, but he didn’t alleviate the concerns about his athleticism by hitting .170 in his pro debut.
Fastest Runner: The Astros valued bats over speed and athleticism, but OF Jake Meyers (13) is a plus runner and an efficient basestealer whose speed carries over to center field.
Best Defensive Player: C Mike Papierski (9) impressed Astros coaches with his ability to frame pitches, receive with a soft left hand and handle pitchers. He also has a solid arm.
Best Fastball: RHP Kyle Serrano (10) showed a 97-98 mph fastball in short stints, although his command and control needs refinement. RHP Corbin Martin (2) does a better job of locating his 90-96 mph fastball.
Best Secondary Pitch: RHP J.B. Bukauskas (1) had arguably the best breaking ball in this year draft, as his slider generates consistent 70 grades and was effective against lefties and righthanded hitters.
Best Pro Debut: RHP Brandon Bielak (11) went 1-0, 0.92 as a piggyback starter with short-season Tri-City striking out 37 and walking only four batters in 29.2 innings. He’s a strong-bodied 6-foot-1, 210-pounder with three average pitches.
Best Athlete: 3B Joe Perez (2) was a legitimate two-way star in high school, and many times preferred him on the mound than at the plate. He had Tommy John surgery prior to the draft. OF Corey Julks (8) is a 6-foot, 200-pound outfielder with average speed, above-average raw power and present strength.
Most Intriguing Background: LHP Cole Watts (31) went to San Diego State as a student, but after two years, he opted to give baseball another try. He transferred to Skyline (Calif.) JC and led the conference in strikeout rate while showing a 92 mph fastball and funk and deception. Serrano played for his father Dave at Tennessee; the elder Serrano is now pitching coach at West Virginia.
Astros Scouting And Player Development Is Extending Team's Contention Window
Houston's window of contention will be longer than most because it continues to find players in the later rounds of the draft and develop them into prospects other teams desire.
Closest To The Majors: Bukauskas’ collegiate experience and fastball/slider combo should allow him to make a quick trip through the minors.
Best Late-Round Pick: Senior-sign INF Josh Rojas (26) showed an ability to play third base, shortstop and second base while showing surprising pop. The Astros were impressed enough to give him a three-game emergency stint in Triple-A in his draft year.
The One Who Got Away: Maryland OF Marty Costes (25) was going to be a difficult signing as an eligible sophomore, but he has a good, strong body with solid power. He hit .322 with 13 home runs at Maryland last spring.