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06/08/10 12:14 AM ET

Astros find unique talent in Kvasnicka

Minnesota's switch-hitting third baseman taken at No. 33

HOUSTON -- Considering switch-hitting third basemen with some power are a rare commodity, the Astros didn't want to pass up a chance to take University of Minnesota junior Mike Kvasnicka.

Draft Central

The Astros selected Kvasnicka, a catcher whom the Astros will move to third base, with their third pick, No. 33 overall, on the first day of the First-Year Player Draft on Monday. He was drafted about an hour before the Golden Gophers played Cal State Fullerton in an NCAA Super Regional championship game.

"His name was anywhere in front of us at eight until all the way down to that pick," said Bobby Heck, Astros assistant general manager in charge of scouting. "That was a pleasant surprise that he was still sitting there where we selected him."

Kvasnicka entered Monday's game hitting .350 with eight homers and 48 RBIs in 61 games for the Golden Gophers. General manager Ed Wade said Kvasnicka could wind up playing a number of positions, but will remain at third base.

"We selected him as a third baseman, but we know he can play the outfield, we know that he can catch and he's a switch-hitter and can remain a switch-hitter," Wade said. "If he can play a corner-infield spot or catch or play the outfield, all would be a plus."

The Astros selected a pair of high school players with their first two picks Monday -- second baseman Delino DeShields from Georgia at No. 8 and pitcher Mike Foltynewicz from Illinois at No. 19. The Astros have until Aug. 16 to sign their picks.

"Our scout, Troy Hoerner, was very high on him going into this year and he's a self-made player, a good baseball player," Heck said. "He does have versatility. He's got the capability to play the outfield and goes back to high school days playing the infield. We've seen him take ground balls and feel comfortable just because of his makeup and worth ethic and athleticism. He's a productive college performer."

Kvasnicka is the highest-drafted Minnesota player since pitcher Glen Perkins was taken No. 22 overall in 2004. Kvasnicka was taken in the 31st round by the Twins in 2007, but chose to attend college. His father, Jay, was also drafted by the Twins in 1988 and played four seasons in the Minor Leagues.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.