Pair of prep picks highlight Astros' Day 2
Club excited about shortstop Jones, right-hander Velasquez
HOUSTON -- The name of Mississippi high school shortstop Jacoby Jones had been on the board so long that the Astros couldn't take it anymore. Jones, considered the top prep player in the state, slipped to the 19th round because of signability concerns before the Astros nabbed him.
Jones was one of 28 players the Astros took Tuesday on the second day of the First-Year Player Draft, which began with second-round pick Vincent Velasquez, a high school pitcher from Pomona, Calif., and ended with 30th-round pick Kellen Kiilsgaard, an outfielder from Stanford.
Rounds 31 through 50 will be held Wednesday.
In the first two days of the Draft, the Astros chose 32 players, including 12 high school players and 20 college players. They drafted 10 right-handers, four left-handers, four catchers, eight infielders and six outfielders. The Astros have until Aug. 16 to sign their picks.
"We got through a lot of different-looking players -- high school, college pitchers, left-handed pitchers and a lot of positions," Astros assistant general manager in charge of scouting Bobby Heck said. "We took a couple of fliers on some players who were deemed signability guys, and hopefully, we can bridge the gap from their end to our end as well. Deeper in the day, we were able to start filling out the short-season rosters. We felt good about what we were able to accomplish."
One of those fliers was Jones, who hit .425 with 10 doubles, eight homers and 36 RBIs in his senior year at Richton High School. The 6-foot-3 right-hander, who's being advised by Scott Boras, has a baseball scholarship at LSU, which drove many teams away from him in the earlier rounds.
"He was staring at us long enough on there, and if someone wanted to go through the summer with him, I wanted it to be us," Heck said. "If he changed his demands or his commitment to LSU, I thought it would be wise for us to have a chance to talk to him about it."
After taking second baseman Delino DeShields (No. 8), right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (No. 19) and third baseman Mike Kvasnicka (No. 33) on the first day of the Draft, the Astros began Tuesday by selecting Velasquez, a 6-foot-3 right-hander who throws in the mid-90s.
Velasquez played shortstop and pitcher at Garey High School, but he had turned his attention to pitching in recent months.
"He wasn't going to last another round," Heck said. "We had our shot at him there and we had some intel of a couple of clubs he was in play with, so he wasn't a guy that was scouted from beginning to end this spring. We had seen him in the past on the mound and saw his last four to five outings, so were comfortable to do that there."
Houston selected Virginia Tech outfielder Austin Wates in the third round, right-hander Robert Doran of Texas Tech in the fourth round and catcher Ben Heath of Penn State in the fifth round. Heck said Doran has a chance to be a mid- to back-of-the-rotation starter.
DeShields Jr., Foltynewicz, Kvasnicka and Velasquez all went on record after being picked by Houston and said they would like to sign with the Astros and begin their professional careers.
"I'm enthused by it," Astros general manager Ed Wade said. "A lot of it has to do with the relationships the scouts have built with these kids, but also I think they understand the message, either directly or indirectly through their representatives, that this is the land of opportunity.
"We're going to give our kids a chance to move through the system and establish a core nucleus at the big league level. If anybody is wondering what the philosophy is of the organization, the word is getting out to the kids, because this is a chance to get in and prove what they're capable of doing and get to the big leagues as soon as possible."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.