Late-Round Pick Jordan Jankowski Realizes Dream

During the closing rounds of the 2012 draft, righthander Jordan Jankowski stopped following along. He had given up hope he would be selected, but then his father Jake popped into the room.

“You’re kidding, right?,” Jankowski remembers asking his dad. When told it was the Astros who picked him, Jankowski said he told his father: “Now you’re definitely kidding.”

He wasn’t. Not only had the same team that drafted him out of high school in 2008 selected him again, they did so in the same round: the 34th. The joke around the house was his stock worsened by seven selections.

Five years later, the 28-year-old Jankowski reached the big leagues for the first time. When he debuted on May 24, he became the second-latest drafted player to sign from the 2012 class to play in the majors.

“I’ve been waiting a very long time, and I’m just happy to be here,” Jankowski said the day of his callup.

Jankowski figures to serve as a reliever the Astros can shuttle between Triple-A Fresno and the majors in the event of injury or when needing a fresh arm. He throws a heavy dosage of sliders to complement a fastball in the 89-91 mph range. He mixes in the occasional curveball.

This was the third consecutive season Jankowski opened at Triple-A. He recorded a 1.42 ERA in 19 innings when the Astros called him up.

Jankowski took the road less traveled. Drafted as a catcher out of high school in in McMurray, Pa., in 2008, he began his collegiate career at Miami (Ohio) before transferring to Division II Catawba (N.C.).

He became Catawba’s best arm and Friday-night starter, but just before the playoffs of his senior season he was ruled ineligible because he attended a pre-draft workout for the Astros.

A half-decade later, that workout paid off.

— Jake Kaplan covers the Astros for the Houston Chronicle

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