Mier drafted by Astros on graduation day
Club thinks shortstop is 'the best baseball player in this Draft'
HOUSTON -- Jiovanni Mier barely had time to digest the excitement of being selected by the Astros with the 21st overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft before he had to put on his cap and gown and prepare for another landmark event on a milestone day.
Mier found out he had been drafted by the Astros on Tuesday only hours before graduating from Bonita High School in Laverne, Calif., where he blossomed into arguably the top high school shortstop in the nation. The Astros had an even higher opinion of Mier.
"We thought he was the best baseball player in this Draft," said Astros general manager in charge of scouting Bobby Heck. "This is a true shortstop who stays at shortstop and has defensive ability and some offensive ability as well, and we think he's going to grow into some power."
The Astros also drafted high school players with their remaining three picks Tuesday -- right-hander Tanner Bushue of South Central High School (Ill.) in the second round, left fielder Telvin Nash of Griffin High School (Ga.) in the third round and switch-hitting infielder Jonathan Meyer of Simi Valley High School (Calif.) with their supplemental third-round pick.
Mier, 18, is a 6-foot-2, 175-pound right-handed hitter with a power arm and the potential to blossom into a good Major League hitter. He hit .394 with 10 doubles, five home runs, 18 RBIs and 22 walks and had a .545 on-base percentage in his senior season in high school.
"We were elated he was still there," Heck said. "Picking where we did, a lot of it you had to wait for some stuff to fall to us, but it was an excited room when he did."
Mier said the thought of being drafted by the Astros was "overwhelming."
"It's a good organization, and I'm glad I got picked," Mier said. "I like what they had to offer, from the people to the general manager to the way they run the farm system. I was really happy with it."
Mier was in Houston on Friday for a predraft workout and had a chance to visit with Astros general manager Ed Wade, who was taken with the way Mier carries himself.
"I was really impressed with the kid's poise," Wade said. "I walked up to him and talked to him during infield, and you could see the presence Bobby was talking about and the skill set that came from just listening to the guys talk the last couple of weeks and just reading reports. You can see why they're excited about the prospect of getting him here and having a front-line everyday shortstop for a long time."
Mier, whose brother Jessie is a catcher in the Dodgers' system, is committed to USC, but he said he wants to sign with the Astros and begin his professional career. The Astros are hoping to get him signed in time to begin his career at one of their short-season clubs later this month.
"My goal is to get out there and play, the quicker the better," Mier said. "I know we'll definitely come up with something."
Scouting reports say Mier is a bit of a free swinger who compares favorably to Nomar Garciaparra, though he grew up trying to emulate Derek Jeter. But Mier's intangibles help make up for any baseball deficiencies he might have. Heck is confident he will be able to hit at the Major League level.
"I would use my track record on hitters," said Heck, who was with Milwaukee when the Brewers scouted and drafted Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and Corey Hart. "He can hit. He'll just grow into his power. It's a guy we think can be a plus defender, and he's going to hit and grow into some power."
From talking to area scout Doug Deutsch and West Coast regional supervisor Mark Ross, Wade is thrilled with Mier's potential.
"He's a really smooth and gifted player, and we just need to be patient now," Wade said. "We have three first-year players at Double-A. We've got [Daniel] Meszaros and [Jason] Castro out of last year's Draft, and [Chia-Jen] Lo, the Taiwanese pitcher, is there.
"Players will dictate the speed in which you can move through the system, and we'll be the land of opportunity if guys show they're capable of doing what we think they're capable of doing at the proper pace."
Round 2 -- Tanner Bushue, RHP, South Central HS (Ill.): Bushue, a 6-foot-4, 180-pound athlete who was a good high school basketball player, isn't overpowering. His fastball sits between 88-90 mph, but he has a good curveball. He signed with John L. Logan Community College, so he should be signable.
Round 3 -- Telvin Nash, LF, Griffin HS (Ga.): A right-handed hitter, Nash has above-average power potential and a plus arm. The Astros like his athleticism and foot speed, which should make it easy for him to play a corner-outfield spot. He has signed with Kennesaw State.
Round 3 (supplemental) -- Jonathan Meyer, 3B, Simi Valley HS (Calif.): Meyer is a versatile player who played shortstop and caught while acting as his high school team's closer. He learned to switch-hit during his senior season to increase his versatility. He has a plus arm, good hands and raw power.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.