Results tagged ‘ Draft ’

Astros reach deal with third-round pick Emanuel

The Astros have reached an agreement with third-round pick Kent Emanuel, a left-handed pitcher from North Carolina, for $747,700, a source confirmed for MLB.com. The deal is pending a physical.

Emanuel’s signing will mean the Astros have inked all of their Top 10 picks less than a month following the First-Year Player Draft. Emanuel went 11-5 with a 3.14 ERA and five complete games en route to being named ACC Pitcher of the Year and helping the Tar Heels to the College World Series.

Emanuel, who’s in Houston for a physical, said he will get on a throwing program in Florida later this week before reporting to Tri-City.

“I’m extremely excited,” he said. “It’s pretty cool knowing I get to turn baseball into a career. It’s pretty special.”

Plenty was written about Emanuel’s workload and pitch count in the NCAA regionals and College World Series, but he says he feels fine.

“My arm feels great,” he said. “Believe it or not, I just got done getting an MRI and the doctor said my shoulder and elbow look as good as any he’s seen in this Drat class. I’m good to go.”

Emanuel’s fastball tops out around 91 mph, his breaking stuff is fringy and he has a solid changeup. The lefty said that’s his main area of focus for improvement, whether he signs or not.

Yet what he lacks in pure stuff, Emanuel makes up for with pitchability. He has excellent command and knows how to mix his pitches extremely well.

Originally drafted out of high school in the 19th round by the Pirates in 2010, the Woodstock, Ga., native instead honored his commitment to UNC, where he’s had a stellar college career. He went 9-1 with a team-best 2.33 ERA as a freshman in 2011 and followed that season up by posting an 8-4 record and a 1.96 ERA in ’12.

A lack of a true out pitch seems to be Emanuel’s key limitation, but at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, he’s big and strong and understands his craft, giving the Astros hope he’ll be a workhorse at the back end of their big league rotation in the future.

Astros sign 9th-round pick Holberton

The Astros have signed ninth-round pick Brian Holberton, a catcher from the University of North Carolina.

Holberton’s mother, Tobie, told MLB.com on Friday her son signed with Houston on Thursday night in Charlotte, N.C. He will take a physical in the next few days before reporting to rookie-league Tri-City next week.

The signing of Holberton means the Astros have only one unsigned top 10 pick — third-round pick Kent Emanuel, a left-handed pitcher who was a teammate of Holberton at North Carolina.

Holberton hit .308 with 12 homers and 58 RBIs while helping the Tar Heels to the College World Series this year.

Boras in town to wrap up Appel negotiations

Scott Boras, who represents No. 1 overall Draft pick Mark Appel, arrived in Houston on Tuesday afternoon and was scheduled to meet with Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow later in the evening in an effort to wrap up negotiations.

The Astros took Appel, a right-handed pitcher and Houston native who didn’t sign with the Pirates after being taken in the first round last year, with hopes they could sign him quickly. Boras told MLB.com no agreement has been reached, but the agent’s presence in Houston is a clear sign a deal is imminent.

“Jeff and I are going to talk about things tonight and we’ll see,” Boras said. “We’re certainly close enough for me to come here and talk, that’s for sure.”

When asked if a deal could be announced as early as Wednesday, Boras said he didn’t want to put a timetable on negotiations.

“Obviously, we’re in a position we think we can work something out,” he said.

The Astros have signed six of their top 10 picks, including second-round pick Andrew Thurman from UC-Irvine, who officially signed on Monday. The assigned slot value for the No. 1 pick is $7.8 million, but several reports late last week indicated Appel could sign for somewhere around $6.5 million.

Regardless, Boras doesn’t see money as a stumbling block.

“I’m here because I think there’s obviously enough fruit on the tree to think you’re going to get something done,” Boras told MLB.com.

Appel’s decision to return to Stanford after being picked No. 8 overall by Pittsburgh last year, bypassing a $3.8 million bonus, has paid off. He was actually better than he was as a junior at Stanford, finishing 10-4 with a 2.12 ERA, a .203 batting average against, 130 strikeouts and just 23 walks in 106 1/3 innings this year.

And being drafted by the Astros, the team he cheered for as a kid, has been a dream come true, Boras said.

“I don’t think there’s any question from the start that if Houston was an option, he wanted to pursue it, being able to have his family near and being raised an Astros fan,” Boras said. “Mark Appel got to go to a great college and his work ethic and perseverance and confidence in himself says a lot about the character that he takes the path he takes.

“Whenever you’re able to get better and go through the process he went through in the last year, it says a lot about why Houston took him and a lot about why he chose Houston.”

Astros have signed 17 Draft picks

The Astros announced Friday the signing of four selections from the 2013 MLB First Year Player Draft: first baseman Conrad Gregor (fourth round), catcher Jacob Nottingham (sixth round), outfielder Jon Kemmer (21st round) and outfielder Ronnie Mitchell (38th round). Contract terms were not disclosed. The announcement was made by Astros director of scouting Mike Elias.

The team has yet to announce it, but second-round pick Andrew Thurman told MLB.com earlier Friday he had agreed to terms and would be in Houston on Monday for a physical and to put pen to paper.

Gregor, 21, becomes the Astros highest selection to officially sign since last weekend’s Draft. The first baseman/outfielder out of Vanderbilt hit .308 this season with 48 RBIs and a .440 on-base percentage, while finishing tied for sixth in the country with 54 walks. A Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American, Gregor was named to the SEC All-Tournament Team this summer while Vanderbilt advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals. Gregor was signed by Astros area scout Nick Venuto.

“Conrad is an advanced, skilled hitter with a chance to be a dangerous middle-of-the-order bat,” Elias said. “He has a sweet left-handed swing and a very disciplined approach that has worn out opposing pitchers in the SEC and the Cape Cod League.  He has big raw power that we expect will continue to emerge as he develops, and with his speed, he could see time in the outfield as well as first base.”

Nottingham, 18, hit .543 with seven homers and 31 RBIs for Redlands High School in California this season. He was named the 2013 Citrus Belt League MVP, while leading his club to a share of the league title, and also earned 2013 California All-Region Second Team honors. Nottingham was signed by Astros area scout Brad Budzinski.

“Jacob is a very promising young catching prospect,” Elias said. “He was a multi-sport athlete in high school and has shown us big game power along with a plus throwing arm. We are thrilled to get a catcher with his tools and leadership qualities into our system.”

 The Astros have signed 17 of their 40 draft picks this season, including five of their top 10 (not including Thurman). The players agreeing to terms on contracts are listed below.

Rnd (Pick), Player,  School, Ht.-Wt , Assigned to, Date Signed

4 (107), 1B Conrad Gregor, Vanderbilt, 6-2, 220, Tri-City, June 13

5 (137), 2B Tony Kemp, Vanderbilt, 5-7, 165, Tri-City, June 12

6 (167), C Jacob Nottingham, Redlands HS (Calif.), 6-3, 200, GCL Astros, June 13

7 (197), OF James Ramsay, South Florida, 5-11, 180, Tri-City, June 10

8 (227), CF Jason Martin, Orange Lutheran HS (Calif.), 5-10, 175, GCL Astros, June 12

13 (377), RHP Kyle Westwood, North Florida, 6-3, 190, Tri-City, June 10

21 (617), OF Jon Kemme, Brewton-Parker College, 6-2, 215, Tri-City, June 13

22 (647), LHP Sebastian Kessay, Scottsdale CC, 6-2, 200, Greeneville, June 10

23 (677), SS Thomas Lindauer, Illinois, 6-2, 175, Tri-City, June 12

25 (737), LHP Albert Minnis, Wichita State, 6-0, 190, Tri-City, June 12

26 (767), RHP William Chrismon, Christopher Newport U., 6-2, 227, Greeneville, June 12

27 (797), RHP Pat Christensen, La Salle, 6-3, 200, Tri-City, June 12

29 (857), LHP Randall Fant, Arkansas, 6-4, 190, Tri-City, June 12

32 (947), RHP Zach Morton, Northwestern, 6-2, 180, Tri-City, June 12

34 (1007), C Brett Booth, Alabama, 5-10, 205, GCL Astros, June 10

38 (1127), OF Ronnie Mitchel, Dallas Baptist, 5-11, 200, Tri-City, June 13

40 (1187), RHP Tyler Brunnemann, Hardin Simmons, 6-2, 225, Greeneville, June 12

Thurman set to sign with Astros, Appel far behind?

Right-handed pitcher Andrew Thurman, taken by the Astros with the first pick of the second round in last week’s First-Year Player Draft out UC-Irvine, told MLB.com on Friday he had agreed to a contract with the Astros and was set to sign early next week.

Thurman, taken with the No. 40 overall pick, is scheduled to fly to Houston on Sunday and take a physical and sign his contract on Monday. He said he plans to report to the Astros’ short-season Tri-City affiliate.

“I’m just very excited,” he said. “I feel honored and very blessed to have this opportunity.”

Meanwhile, the Astros will soon their attention to No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel, a right-handed pitcher from Stanford. A report by Jeff Passan of Yahoo on Friday indicated the Astros and Appel were “nearing a deal” and could have an agreement by next week.

In a text message to MLB.com, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow wrote the club plans to engage Appel next week. He graduates from Stanford on Sunday. The prescribed slot bonus for the No. 1 pick is $7.8 million.

“I’m hopeful we can move quickly once we start [the] dialogue, but there is no timeframe yet,” Luhnow wrote.

The Astros announced the signing of nine additional draft picks Thursday, bringing the total number signed to 14. That doesn’t include fourth-round pick Conrad Gregor of Vanderbilt, who has signed, or Thurman, who the Astros envision of a middle-of-the-rotation starter.

“It’s what I’ve always been working towards,” Thurman said. “It’s been my dream since I was a little kid to play professional baseball. It’s kind of a surreal feeling, but I still have to work hard. That part of me hasn’t gone anywhere.”

Terms of the Thurman deal aren’t known, but the slot bonus for that pick is $1,397,200.

When asked about Thurman on Friday, Astros scouting director Mike Elias said: “We feel talks are going very smoothly and we expect he will sign at some point, too. Both sides are making progress, everybody’s on the same page. He hasn’t signed a contract yet, so nothing is finalized. We anticipate getting him into an Astros uniform sooner or later.”

Thurman’s fastball could be a plus pitch in the future — he can reach back for a mid-90s heater when he needs to. He throws a curve and a slider, with the former a bit better than the latter, and his changeup is a deceptive offspeed offering.

Thurman’s good command lets his stuff play up and he can move his fastball in and out, going right after hitters with his very strong feel for pitching. That was on full display in the Cape Cod League last summer, when he struck out 49 hitters over 39 innings in seven starts.

“He was somebody we viewed as late first-round talent, and to get him at 40, we were a little surprised he was there,” Elias said when Thurman was drafted. “We’re very comfortable calling him a mid-rotation starter in the future.”

Astros face roster decisions

Here are the players the Astros must place on the 40-man roster by Tuesday or be eligible to be take in next month’s Rule 5 Draft:

Alvarez, Luis H
Castro, Erik B
Cisnero, Jose L
Cosart, Jarred L
Cruz, Luis L
De La Rosa, Luis A
Fick, Charles J
Garcia, Rene F
Genoves, Ernesto E
Goebbert, Jacob D
Gonzalez, Alfredo R
Gouvea, Murilo
Grimmett, Zachary
Grossman, Robert E
Hamburger, Mark J
Heredia, Angel L
Hogue, Jackson G
Krauss, Marc S
Lo, Chia-Jen
Martinez, David J
Martinez, Jose G
Meszaros, Daniel J
Monzon, Jose A
Moronta, Cristian M
Musick, Thomas W
Oberholtzer, Brett R
Orloff, Ben
Perez, Juri E
Quevedo, Carlos E
Quezada, Euris F
Rivera, Darwin J
Seaton, Ross A
Simunic, Andrew
Stoffel, Jason A
Tiburcio, Frederick
Urckfitz, Patrick
Villar, Jonathan R
Weiland, Kyle E
Wikoff, Brandon W
Zeid, Joshua A

Astros to sign second-round pick Fontana

Shortstop Nolan Fontana, taken by the Astros in the second round out of the University of Florida in the First-Year Player Draft, will be introduced to the media Tuesday afternoon at Minute Maid Park after he signs his deal with Houston.

Fontana was in Houston for a physical Monday morning, which was the last step before he signed. Fontana, taken with the No. 61 overall pick, was the Astros’ highest remaining unsigned pick.

Fontana hit .284 with nine homers and 30 RBIs his junior season for the Gators, helping them reach the College World Series. He had an on-base percentage of .406 in 66 games. The assigned slot value of Fontana’s spot in the Draft is $844,100.

The Astros signed No. 1 overall pick Carlos Correa, a shortstop from Puerto Rico, within hours after he was drafted to a $4.8 million bonus, and on Monday signed fourth-round pick Rio Ruiz, a high school shortstop from La Puente, Calif., for $1.85 million. Pitcher Lance McCullers Jr., taken No. 41 overall out of Tampa, Fla., was signed earlier this month for $2.5 million.

Houston signed Correa for $1.3 million less than the prescribed bonus of $7.2 million for the top pick. The money the Astros saved enabled them to pay more to McCullers and Ruiz and steal them away from their college commitments.

When Fontana signs, the Astros will have signed 30 of their 41 picks, including 19 players selected in first 21 rounds. Houston still hasn’t signed seventh-round pick Preston Tucker, an outfielder from Florida, and 11th-round pick Hunter Virant, a left-handed pitcher from Camarillo, Calif., who’s committed to UCLA.

Astros’ Minor League player killed

Dustin Kellogg, a right-handed pitcher who signed with the Astros after being selected by his hometown team in the 34th round of this year’s First-Year Player Draft, was killed early Tuesday in a traffic accident, a team official confirmed.

“It’s extremely tragic news,” Astros assistant general manager/director of scouting Bobby Heck said. “Not even from an Astros standpoint, but just from a young person starting his life and starting his career, whether it’s baseball or anything else.”

According to the Conroe Courier, Kellogg, 18, was killed when his pickup truck was struck head-on by an 18-wheeler around 1 a.m. CT on Tuesday in Montgomery County, Texas. The Astros selected Kellogg out of Caney Creek High School in Conroe, which is in about 45 miles north of Houston in Montgomery County.

“He’s a good kid full of life with lots of athletic ability and a baseball future ahead of him,” said former Astros scout Rusty Pendergrass, who signed Kellogg.

The Astros invited Kellogg, 6-foot-4, to their pre-Draft workout and monitored him throughout the summer before sending him to the Gulf Coast League in Kissimmee, Fla. He pitched in six games, going 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA.

“He made it known all along he wanted to go out and play and wanted to be an Astro,” Heck said. “When he signed, we pulled the pen of his hand and he said, ‘Let’s go.’”

Heck discusses challenges of top pick

For only the third time in their 50-year history, the Astros will have the overall No. 1 pick in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. The Astros earned that distinction when Minnesota won its 60th game on Thursday, ensuring the Astros would have the worst record in baseball.

The last time the Astros had the No. 1 overall pick was in 1992, when they selected Phil Nevin, whose career took off after he left Houston. They also had the top pick in 1976 and chose left-handed pitcher Floyd Bannister.

“You better get it right picking No. 1,” Astros assistant general manager/director of scouting Bobby Heck said. “Obviously, it’s an opportunity. I hope it’s the only opportunity I ever have to pick one. The idea is to pick in the late 20s and even better, pick 30.

“These are the types of players you need to get you back to that point. As far as our approach, we walk into every year taking about candidates for the first pick, and I suspect we’ll have a smaller number going into the year. We’re still going to be open-minded and do our do diligence and select the best player.”

Unlike in recent years when phenoms Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper were the clear-cut no. 1 overall picks, Heck said there is a pack of players who have separated themselves. Stanford right-hander Mark Appel, Arizona State shortstop Deven Marrero, Florida catcher Mike Zunino and high school pitcher Lucas Giolito of California and outfielder Byron Buxton of Georgia are among the players who could go No. 1.

“That group will grow as we walk through the fall and enter the spring,” Heck said. “It’s just a matter of getting a group and expanding on it as you get towards the end and then shrinking it down.”

With the No. 1 pick comes a healthy financial commitment. The Astros this year paid a $2.525 million signing bonus when they took University of Connecticut outfielder George Springer with the 11th pick, and they could have to shell out about three times as much. This year’s No. 1 pick, pitcher Gerrit Cole, got an $8 million bonus from the Pirates.

“The precedent says you’re going to pay a lot of money for that first pick,” Heck said. “First and foremost, we better put the talent in the right order and deal with the money factors at a later time.”

Springer headed to Houston, but talks to MLB.com first

Astros first-round draft pick George Springer, who signed with the club late Monday for a $2.525 million bonus, will meet the Houston media as a group for the first time Friday when he has a press conference at Minute Maid Park before taking batting practice on the field.

This will be Springer’s second visit to Houston – the first coming earlier this month when he was in town for a few hours to undergo his physical. Prior to meeting with the media as a whole, Springer was gracious enough to grant his third interview with MLB.com since being drafted.

“I’m extremely excited to get going and move forward and 100 percent relieved that’s it’s done,” Springer said of the signing. “I can just strictly focus on playing baseball.”

Springer, 22, was drafted with the No. 11 overall pick out of the University of Connecticut, where he hit .343 with 12 homers, 77 RBIs, 31 stolen bases and a .450 on-base percentage during his junior season. The center fielder will begin his career at Tri-City, but not before spending a few days at the Astros’ Spring Training facility in Kissimmee, Fla.

“I’m just looking forward to getting in and getting started and to compete for a job,” he said.

Considering his age, his tools and the Astros’ track record of moving players quickly through the system, it’s not a stretch to think Springer could be getting his feet wet at the Major League level late next year. The Astros’ center field position has opened up substantially since the team traded Michael Bourn last month.

Instead of competing with a two-time Gold Glove winner and an All-Star, he’ll eventually be in the mix with Jason Bourgeois, Jordan Schafer, Jay Austin and Austin Wates. Springer isn’t putting any kind of timetable on his path to the Majors, but he did make one promise.

“I’m a player that will play as hard as I can possibly play day in and day out,” he said. “I like to have fun, but I will play hard and do whatever I have to do to win.”

Springer instantly becomes one of the top Minor League prospects in an Astros’ Minor League system that has been infused with young talent in the last month with the trades of Jeff Keppinger, Hunter Pence and Bourn. With talent like Springer, Jared Cosart and Jonathan Singleton leading the way, the next crop of young talent could be hitting Houston soon.

“Hopefully down the road some of these young players will hopefully be in their primes and propel the Astros to where they want to be, which is on top of the division and competitive for the foreseeable future,” Springer said.

Before Springer hung up the phone, I jokingly reminded him he wouldn’t need a jacket for his trip to Houston, which has seen 100-degree-plus temperatures for 19 consecutive days.

“That’s unbelievable,” he said.

Thank goodness for the roof.

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