Houston Astros 2019 MLB Draft Report Card
Every year at the conclusion of the regular season, Baseball America revisits each teams' most recent draft class. Each class has its no-doubt, high-profile names to keep an eye on, but our annual draft report cards highlight the best tools, best debuts, late-round steals and more. Here are the names you need to know from every organization's 2019 draft.
Best Pure Hitter: OF Colin Barber (4) was the Astros’ fourth pick, but he received the second-largest signing bonus in the organization's draft class. He has an advanced approach for a high school draftee with solid bat-to-ball skills and developing strength and power. OF Jordan Brewer (3) was one of the best hitters in the Big Ten conference last year, learning how to better use his lower half in his swing while at Michigan.
Best Power: C Korey Lee (1) didn’t have a massive pro debut, but he showed plenty of power last spring, hitting 15 home runs for California (matching the home runs hit by No. 3 overall pick and college teammate Andrew Vaughn). Lee posts excellent exit velocities, but the Astros are working to help him generate more loft with his swing.
Best Defensive Player: OF Preston Pavlica (24) didn’t hit in his pro debut, but he continued to make highlight-reel catches in center field, showing range and an ability to make tough, diving catches.
Best Athlete: Brewer was planning on walking on to play football at Michigan before he injured his shoulder on the football field during his senior year of high school. He decided instead to head to junior college to play baseball at Lincoln Trail (Ill.) JC. Brewer continues to have the strength and speed that helped him as a wide receiver.
Best Fastball: RHP Hunter Brown (5) touched 99 mph and sat at 94-97 mph this summer. His fastball has plenty of backspin and can generate swings and misses up in the strike zone.
Best Secondary Pitch: RHP Blair Henley (7) relied on his plus curveball heavily at Texas, and he’ll continue to do so as a pro. It’s a 3,200-3,300 rpm pitch, putting it in the upper echelons of curveball spin rates.
Best Pro Debut: Henley went 1-1, 1.60 with a 46-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio, largely with short-season Tri-City. He was held to 50 or 60 pitches per outing after a busy spring at Texas, but he was often able to get through three or four innings in that pitch restriction. C/OF C.J. Stubbs (10) didn’t get to play a lot behind the plate because of Lee and others, but he showed versatility, playing around the outfield, first base and catcher while hitting .249/.340/.459 between short-season Tri City and low Class A Quad Cities.
Most Intriguing Background: SS Grae Kessinger’s (2) grandfather, Don Kessinger, was a six-time All-Star and won two Gold Gloves. Stubbs' older brother, Garrett Stubbs, is a catcher who made his major league debut with the Astros this year. The Astros drafted SS J.C. Correa (38), Carlos Correa’s younger brother, for a second consecutive season but did not sign him. 3B Maxwell Dias (37) is the son of Astros media relations director Gene Dias.
The One Who Got Away: The Astros made an attempt to sign RHP Oscar Carvajal (32), but the redshirt sophomore decided to return to Fresno State. His split-changeup is an impressive pitch.
Closest To The Majors: Kessinger’s ability to play multiple infield positions, solid bat-to-ball skills and knack for leadership should help him move quickly.
Best Late-Round Pick: RHP Cole McDonald (15) doesn’t have a plus pitch and he has average velocity, but his feel for pitching and his ability to locate give it a chance to all work. And the Astros have had a knack of helping pitchers add velocity and sharpen their breaking balls.