Astros go high school route on Day 2
Half of club's selections used on youngsters Wednesday
HOUSTON -- Sometimes, one player can change the entire alignment of a team's draft.
Fortunately for the Astros, nobody snagged their gotta-have guy and sent them off in another direction during the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.
"What I liked about this [draft] is that it fell pretty much true to form for us the way we had it lined up," said Paul Ricciarini, the club's senior director of player personnel and scouting.
On Tuesday, the Astros loaded up on college pitchers, using 10 of their first 18 picks of Day 1 in that pool. The Astros only selected two high school players Tuesday, including first-round pick Max Sapp.
"The way this draft was set up initially was that it was really top-heavy from the college side," Ricciarini said. "Somebody did a study that said about 28 percent high school was taken [Tuesday], which sends a message."
The Astros switched gears Wednesday and balanced the ranks. Sixteen of their 32 selections on Day 2 were used on high school players. Only three of the 16 high school players chosen were pitchers, though.
"It seemed to be a little more dispersed, a little younger the second day," Ricciarini said.
Right-hander William Kline, taken in the 39th round, is one such exception. He played four years at the University of Mississippi and lost interest in the game.
Still, Kline has great upside, and he's the type of late-round pick Ricciarini sees blossoming.
"This kid has a great arm," Ricciarini said. "He kind of backed off wanting to be drafted, but we took him and we're going to watch him and evaluate him this summer."
The Astros chose along bloodlines Wednesday as well. In the 24th round, they selected left-hander Jonathan Wiedenbauer, son of Tom Wiedenbauer, the club's Minor League field coordinator who was also drafted 30 years ago.
And in the 27th round, the Astros chose first baseman Cirilo Cruz, who's the nephew of Astros first base coach Jose Cruz and cousin of Dodgers outfielder Jose Cruz Jr.
By Wednesday afternoon, the Astros had six of their 50 picks already signed. James Van Ostrand, an outfielder taken in the eighth round, was the highest pick signed.
Catcher Justin Tellam (14th round), right-hander Justin Stiver (17th), right-hander Colt Adams (18th), third baseman Eric Taylor (30th) and right-hander Adam Hale (32nd) are now under contract as well.
Ricciarini talked contract with Sapp's agent Wednesday, too.
"He can't wait to get started," Ricciarini said. [We'll] let them have a little unwinding period. We're basically in the same ballpark in terms of the contract."
Here's a rundown of each player selected after Sapp, including some observations from the Astros war room:
Round 2 (67): Sergio Perez, RHP, U. of Tampa
Perez, considered the top Division II pitcher in the draft, used a hard, sinking fastball and slider to lead Tampa into the College World Series. His fastball can reach 96-97 mph, but Perez needs to work on the consistency of his release point and his mechanics. His maturity and ability to battle through rough spots gives him a chance to move through the system quickly. Perez might emerge as a reliever, though.
Round 3 (99th overall): Nick Moresi, OF, Fresno State University
His stats in '06 weren't terrific, but injury was mostly to blame. Moresi had a hamate bone problem, which required surgery and kept him in rehab mode all winter. He started the season and began to experience the pain again, and doctors discovered the entire hamate bone had a fracture. Moresi had another surgical procedure, missed most of the spring and played the last four or five weeks of the season. Moresi is considered an outstanding defensive center fielder, he runs above average and he has good power.
Round 4 (129): Chris Johnson, IF, Stetson University
Son of Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox manager Ron Johnson, he's a big, strong player who is considered to have good power and speed. He'll play third base, although he's played a lot of first base and shortstop.
Round 5 (159): Casey Hudspeth, RHP, U. of South Florida
Hudspeth has four pitches, three of which he uses on a frequent basis. He has a good feel for pitching and throws above average at times. His niche is his ability to throw a lot of strikes with three pitches. He can use his fourth pitch, a slider or curveball, to show to lefties.
Round 6 (189): David "Bud" Norris, RHP, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Norris is a starter who probably will end up in the bullpen because of his bulldog mentality. The key is for him to throw his offspeed pitches for strikes. He's a kid that has a 'Give me the ball, let's get out there quick and get it over quick' approach. His velocity ranges from 91-93 mph and he's been above that at times in a relief role.
Round 7 (219): David Qualben, LHP, Pace U.
Qualben comes from a small but good baseball progam. He's a big, strong lefty who throws a lot of strikes. He has good movement on his fastball and has a sharp curveball. Ricciarini was surprised personally that he was there in the seventh round. He was inconsistent early in the year, which is often the case during the cold-weather months in the northeast. He has good makeup and a good feel for pitching.
Round 8 (249): James Van Ostrand, OF, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
A strong, raw power guy, Van Ostrand projects out as a right fielder. He has an above-average arm and is an average runner. He's a little short on pure speed. His niche will be his ability to drive in runs. He swings the bat pretty well. He's got upside for a college player.
Round 9 (279): Greg Buchanan, IF, Rice U.
Described as a feisty "gamer," Buchanan is a compact-bodied kid who has surprising strength. He can put the ball in play. He's an on-base percentage type player and a No. 2 type hitter. He projects out as a good defensive player that can bat in that No. 2 role or leadoff.
Round 10 (309): Nathan Karns, RHP, James Martin HS (Arlington TX)
Director of pitching development Dewey Robinson watched Karns work out and liked his delivery. Karns can throw upward of 93 or 94 mph at times. Robinson watched Karns in an effort to detect any glaring flaws in his mechanics, and the general consensus was there was nothing that couldn't be corrected. Karns has a good curveball and a good live fastball.
Round 11 (339): Tom Vessella, LHP, Whittier College
He's going to be a pitcher who gets people out with his breaking stuff, but he also has a good, active fastball. He can touch 90, 91 mph on occasion, but he's not overly focused on velocity. He works on command rather than worrying about how hard he throws. He can change speeds and can pitch inside.
Round 12 (369): Bryan Hallberg, RHP, Pace U.
Hallberg has good arm strength, but his delivery's going to have to come together more consistently. He's a little bit raw. The Astros like his competitiveness. His secondary pitches need to come further, but he shows signs of having a bright future.
Round 13 (399): Chris Salamida, LHP, Oneota State U.
Salamida has a lot of upside, throwing 90, 91, 92 mph. He has good arm strength for a lefty. Described as one who "can't wait to get started," Salamida comes from a small program and will probably be brought along slowly through the system. He has a fastball, curveball and changeup and the Astros will work with him to develop a cutter.
Round 14 (429): Justin Tellam, C, Pepperdine U.
Playing behind front-line catcher Chad Tracy, Tellum was somewhat pushed to the background in terms of attention. But the Astros feel Tellam is a much better catcher and they're hoping that he continues to develop his defensive skills once he begins to play on an everyday basis.
Round 15 (459): Kevin Fox, LHP, Biola U.
A Mike Gallo type pitcher, Fox has a similar breaking ball but has to learn how to use the changeup more. Fox has a lot of upside as a middle reliever -- someone who can be stretched out for that role or possibly as a fifth starter.
Round 16 (489): Drew Holder, OF, Dallas Baptist U.
Holder's a little older than the other draftees, 23, which may have caused clubs to shy away. Ricciarini watched Holder work out and said he looks like Chris Burke's twin -- the same definition, same walk, same penchant for shooting balls to the gaps. His tools are superb, and he'll likely start in Lexington.
Round 17 (519): Justin Stiver, RHP, Florida Gulf Coast U.
Stiver has good arm strength and probably could have an average to above-average fastball and a good, quick slider. He's extremely competitive. He has to learn how to change speeds. He may stack up as a bullpen pitcher.
Round 18 (549): Colt Adams, RHP, Dixie State College
Similar to Stiver, Adams is an unpolished pitcher who needs that third pitch. He needs to use his pitches. He likes to pitch off his fastball a little too much, where he doesn't show his breaking pitch. He probably projects out as a reliever.
No. 579: Orlando Rosales, CF, U. of Tampa
No. 609: Robert Soblolewski, SS, Sarasota (Fla.) HS
No. 639: Anthony Bello, LHP, Nova Southeastern (Fla.) U.
No. 669: Chad Wagler, RHP, Kent State (Ohio) U.
No. 699: Tim Torres, SS, Oral Roberts (Okla.) U.
No. 729: Jonathan Wiedenbauer, LHP, Seabreeze (Fla.) HS
No. 759: Jamaal Hollis, RHP, Whitney-Young (Ill.) HS
No. 789: Lenell McGee, 3B, Mount Carmel (Ill.)HS
No. 819: Cirilo Cruz, 1B, Cumberland (Tenn.) U.
No. 849: Brandon Caipen, 3B, Youngstown State (Ohio) U.
No. 879: Rafeal Parks, RF, Greenbrier (Ga.) HS
No. 909: Eric Taylor, 3B, UC Los Angeles
No. 939: Kyle Deyoung, RHP, Florida Southern College
No. 969: Adam Hale, RHP, Texas A&M U.
No. 999: Codi Harshman, CF, Sabino (Ariz.) HS
No. 1029: John Anderson, RHP, Captain Shreve (La.) HS
No. 1059: Patrick Allen, RF, Everett (Wash.) CC
No. 1089: Jonathan Moore, C, Arlington Lamar (Texas) HS
No. 1119: Trent Henderson, SS, Newport (Wash.) HS
No. 1149: Casey Anderson, C, West Ouacita (La.) HS
No. 1179: William Kline, RHP, U. Mississippi
No. 1209: Steven Detwiler, SS, San Rafael (Calif.) HS
No. 1239: Axel Gonzalez, CF, Rosalina C. Martinez School
No. 1268: Kevin Sullivan, C, York Community (Ill.) HS
No. 1297: Greg Joseph, LF, Mt. San Jacinto (Calif.) JC
No. 1326: Adam Pilate, CF, Sylacauga (Ala.) HS
No. 1355: Cody Madison, CF, Vista Del Lago (Calif.) HS
No. 1383: Joey Wong, SS, Sprague (Ore.) HS
No. 1411: Michael Pericht, C, Providence Catholic (Ill). HS
No. 1439: Jerry Quinones, LHP, Compton (Calif.) CC
No. 1467: Andy Launier, 1B, Sierra (Calif.) JC
No. 1495: Paul Henley, CF, Rice U.
Kevin Yanik is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.