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Houston Astros 2018 MLB Draft Grades

Image credit: Seth Beer (Photo by Tom DiPace)

Best Pure Hitter: OF/1B Seth Beer (1) was one of the most productive hitters in college baseball over the past three seasons, and he lived up to the billing in his pro debut as well. He has a very advanced approach and draws plenty of walks. He has a chance to be a middle-of-the-order bat with high on-base percentages.

Best Power: Beer has 70 raw power and hit 12 home runs in just 67 games in his pro debut. He has the strength to hit 25 or more home runs in the future, although he had a pretty poor wood bat record while he was in college. His excellent pro debut helped allay fears about how well his power would transfer to wood bats. OF Chandler Taylor (10) has 70 raw power as well although he will have to improve his hitting ability to get it to translate consistently to pro ball. OF Marty Costes (22) doesn’t hit the ball in the air as easily or consistently as Taylor or Beer but he matches then in exit velocity.

Fastest Runner: The Astros rarely draft players based on their speed. SS Jeremy Pena (3) is an above-average runner whose speed plays well on the basepaths. OF Austin Dennis (20) also has above-average speed and he stole 16 bags in 20 attempts in his pro debut.

Best Defensive Player: Pena came into pro ball with a solid defensive reputation and he showed that with short-season Tri-City. He did commit 10 errors in 36 games, as he struggled with fielding errors, but he has the range and hands to remain at the position and develop into at least an above-average defender at short. C Cesar Salazar (7) is an advanced receiver who is an excellent leader behind the plate. His arm is his weakness as a defender, but a quick release allows him to make up for an average arm.

Best Athlete: Pena is a twitchy, athlete with an excellent first step. He has some impressive strength and speed. OF Alex McKenna (4) isn’t as twitchy but he has a diversified set of athletic tools. He has average speed, excellent strength and good body control.

Best Fastball: RHP Mark Moclair (12) sat 94-96 mph pretty much every time out, but the quality of his fastball is even better than his velocity as his four-seam fastball has excellent, explosive late-life.

Best Secondary Pitch: RHP R.J. Freure (6) has a high-spin rate, low 80s curveball with excellent 12-to-6 shape. It’s a plus pitch.

Best Pro Debut: Beer hit 12 home runs while slashing .304/.389/.496 in stops at short-season, low Class and high Class A. McKenna hit .311/.394/.512 between short-season and low Class A. RHP Austin Hansen (8) went 2-3, 1.76 with 45 strikeouts in 31 innings.

Most Intriguing Background: The Astros drafted Carlos Correa’s younger brother 2B J.C. Correa (33) and Alex Bregman’s younger brother LHP A.J. Bregman (35). The Astros actually had Alex tell A.J. that the Astros had drafted him.

Closest To The Majors: Beer finished last year in high Class A and could spend much of 2019 in Double-A in his first full pro season.

Best Late-Round Pick: RHP J.P. France (14) saw his stuff pick up as a senior at Mississippi State. He could be a useful reliever. Costes was a 25th-round pick of the Astros in 2017 before signing this year as a 20th-round pick. The Astros has long believed in Costes’ power-speed combination and they’ll see if he can handle center field. RHP Brett Conine (11) has a quality fastball and impressed in a 1-1, 1.99 debut with short-season Tri-City.

The One Who Got Away: The Astros signed everyone they drafted in the top 20 rounds and 30 of their top 32 picks. Righthander Brandon Birdsell (39) could develop into a useful starting pitcher at Texas A&M.

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