The Houston Astros had the honor of the first pick in this year’s draft, and they had more to deal with than just the normal pressure of a team trying not to miss on the first overall selection. Not only are the Astros changing leagues, but also the new collective bargaining agreement changed the rules for the first year player draft. The new rules cut down the rounds from 50 to 40 and added a makeshift slotting system that limits what teams can pay their draft picks, including prohibiting giving draft picks major league deals.
As for the draft itself, the Astros started things off with a bit of a surprise when they took Carlos Correa, a 17-year-old shortstop from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. Most analysts theorized just minutes before they would go with Mark Appel, a right-handed pitcher from Stanford, or Byron Buxton, a speedy outfielder from Appling County HS in Georgia. Correa has shot up draft boards in the last month and drawn serious comparisons to Alex Rodriguez. Correa is 6’3” 190 pounds, which led some scouts to believe he would have to move to third in the future. However, after seeing him at private workouts the Astros believe his great hands and decent speed can keep him at shortstop.
There are always a few players in any draft who drop and this one is no different. Appel was many scouts’ and analysts’ clear cut number one. When Correa was taken number one, the idea was that Appel would still be the first pitcher taken, but teams seemed to be more apt to pick a pitcher with more upside rather than the polished pitcher from Stanford. Appel ended up going 8th to the Pirates after Kevin Gausman (4th), Kyle Zimmer (5th), and Max Fried (7th) were all taken. Appel took the consensus “Top Pitcher” tag from Lucas Giolito, a right-hander from Harvard-Westlake HS in California. Giolito is 6’6” 230 pounds with an upper 90’s fastball. The only reason he fell from the top spot was because of sprained ulnar collateral ligament. Even with the red flag of early elbow trouble, the Washington Nationals took him with the 16th overall pick. If the elbow holds, the Nationals could have added another tremendous young arm to their already young and talented rotation.
The viral moment of the first night came when Courtney Hawkins, a 6’3” 210 pound outfielder from Carroll HS in Texas, was drafted 13th overall by the Chicago White Sox. Hawkins was there at the draft and accepted his jersey and hat on stage. While being interviewed by the MLB Network he was asked about a clip circulating the internet of him doing a backflip in full uniform. Hawkins volunteered to do one right there in his shirt and tie and new White Sox cap and jersey. As the White Sox organization and fan base as a whole held its collective breath, Hawkins gave his phone to the reporter, took one hard step backwards and stuck a backflip. His first call from his future ML manager, Robin Ventura, was surely a congratulatory call with a note to never do that again.
First Round Facts:
- 17 of the first round picks were high school players.
- James Ramsey, an outfielder from Florida State, was the only college senior taken in the first round.
- 13 of the first round picks were pitchers.
- There was not a 1B or 2B taken in the first round. (Although, some picks may end up there.)
- The only 3B taken in the first round was Richie Schaffer, Clemson, by the Rays (25th Overall)
To see Hawkins original backflip video:
To see Hawkins backflip at the draft:
By: Tim Kaiser, DraftNasty Magazine