Picking first, Astros know talent can be found later
A round-by-round look at the club's most significant picks as 2014 Draft approaches
HOUSTON -- George Springer, who was drafted in the first round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, is off to a terrific start in his young career. But no matter what he does going forward, he would be hard-pressed to become the club's all-time best first-round pick.
Not with 3,000-hit club member and 20-year Astros legend Craig Biggio having gone in the first round in 1987 out of Seton Hall. Lance Berkman was taken in the first round out of Rice in 1997, but Biggio gets the nod as the Astros' best all-time first-round pick because of his great numbers for two decades.
The Astros pick first overall for the third year in a row, having taken Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa with the first pick in 2012 and Stanford pitcher Mark Appel with the top pick in 2013. The Draft, of course, runs 40 rounds deep, and there are gems to be had in each of those rounds.
The 2014 Draft will take place on June 5-7, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday, June 5, at 5 p.m. CT. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 6 p.m., with the top 74 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 11:30 a.m. CT on June 6.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Here's a look at the best player the Astros have taken in each round of the Draft in Rounds 1-15 through the years:
Round 1: Craig Biggio, 1987
The Astros took the Seton Hall catcher with the No. 22 overall pick, and he went on to become arguably the greatest player in franchise history, falling two votes shy of being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this year.
An All-Star at catcher and later at second base, Biggio ranks 20th all-time in hits (3,060) and has more doubles (668) than any right-handed hitter in Major League history. He's 14th all-time in runs scored (1,844), 10th in plate appearances (12,504) and first in hit by pitch (285) in the modern era.
He also hit 291 home runs with 1,175 RBIs and had a .281 career average in 2,850 games played.
Round 2: Hunter Pence, 2004
Pence was taken with the No. 64 overall pick, but he was the Astros' first selection that year because they didn't have a first-rounder. Pence made his debut in 2007 and played the first 4 1/2 seasons of his career in Houston, finishing third in Rookie of the Year voting in '07 and making the All-Star team in 2009.
The Astros traded him to the Phillies halfway through the 2011 season in a deal that netted them starting pitcher Jarred Cosart, first baseman Jonathan Singleton, relief pitcher Josh Zeid and outfielder Domingo Santana. Cosart is one of the Astros' top starters, and Singleton and Santana are having big years at Triple-A. Zeid has been up and down between the Astros and Triple-A.
Round 3: Ken Caminiti, 1984
The hard-nosed third baseman made his debut in 1987, but he became a regular in '89 and teamed with Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Daryl Kile and Luis Gonzalez to form the Astros' young core of the early 1990s. He was traded to the Padres after the 1994 season and won the National League MVP Award in 1996 with 40 homers and 130 RBIs.
Round 4: Luis Gonzalez, 1988
Gonzalez was a good player during the first six years of his career with the Astros, hitting .300 with 15 homers and 72 RBIs in 1993. He was traded to the Cubs in 1995 and later became a superstar with the D-backs, making five All-Star teams, hitting 57 homers in 2001 and getting the game-winning hit in Game 7 of the World Series that year.
Round 5: Cliff Johnson, 1966
The catcher played the first six seasons of his 15-year career with the Astros. He was a member of the 1977 and '78 Yankees World Series championship teams. In 1979, he was traded to Cleveland shortly after a clubhouse fight with Goose Gossage that put Gossage on the disabled list for two months.
Round 6: Bill Doran, 1979
The hard-nosed second baseman was one of the backbones of the Astros in the 1980s, playing 1982-90 in Houston. He got NL MVP votes from 1985-87 and was named the Astros' Most Valuable Player in 1985 and '87 by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Round 7: John Buck, 1998
The catcher came up through the Astros' system before being dealt to Kansas City as part of the blockbuster deal that landed Carlos Beltran in Houston in 2004.
Round 8: Dave Smith, 1976
One of the best closers in Astros history, Smith saved 199 games for Houston between 1980 and 1990 and was a two-time All-Star ('86, '90). He ranks second on the club's all-time saves list, trailing Billy Wagner (225).
Round 9: Morgan Ensberg, 1998
The starting third baseman on the Astros' 2005 NL championship team, Ensberg hit 105 home runs over seven years in Houston, including 36 homers to go along with 101 RBIs in his All-Star season of '05.
Round 10: Jamie Walker, 1992
The left-handed pitcher was taken by the Braves from the Astros in the Rule 5 Draft in 1996 and pitched 10 seasons in the big leagues, leading the league in appearances with 81 for Baltimore in 2007.
Round 11: Jack Lazorko, 1978
Lazorko didn't pitch long in the Astros' organization and wound up playing for four Major League teams in his five-year career.
Round 12: Johnny Ray, 1979
Ray had a solid Major League career for 10 seasons and was an All-Star with the Angels in 1988, but he's best known to Houston fans for being part of the deal to the Pirates that brought Phil Garner in '81.
Round 13: Ray Montgomery, 1990
The outfielder appeared in 47 games for the Astros from 1996-98, hitting .241 with one homer.
Round 14: Mike Easler, 1969
The outfielder appeared in only 26 games in three years for the Astros in his Major League debut before starring with the Pirates, winning a World Series in 1979 and reaching the All-Star Game in 1981.
Round 15: Drew Sutton, 2004
The infielder/outfielder came up with the Astros, who dealt him to Cincinnati to get Jeff Keppinger in 2009. Sutton played four years in the Major Leagues.