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On Point: First-Rounders Find Home with Hooks

June 11, 2013

Post-draft attention is focused on new additions to the Astros organization and their future contributions. Sky-high projections and expectations of success all begin with former Houston Little Leaguer Mark Appel, the Stanford All-American pitcher taken with the first overall pick of the 2013 draft. The future is indeed bright, but it's still to come.

In the present, it's worth mentioning 2013 is the first time the Hooks have had three Astros first-round picks on their roster simultaneously for an extended period of time. Shortstop Jiovanni Mier (2009), pitcher Mike Foltynewicz (2010) and outfielder George Springer (2011) provide evidence of the franchise's emphasis on drafting and development, which began a couple of years before people took notice and has established a productive talent pool.

It's not the first time the Hooks have featured three first-rounders. Baylor's Jason Jennings (Colorado Rockies 1999) joined Astros selections Brian Bogusevic (2005) and Brad Lidge (1999) on the 2007 squad. But Houston only drafted two of them and the time spent in Corpus Christi by Lidge and Jennings was minimal.

The Hooks' 2009 roster also included three first-rounders, but only one was originally drafted by the Astros. Catcher Jason Castro, Houston's 2008 pick, was joined by former Rice pitching star Kenny Baugh - drafted in the first by the Detroit Tigers in 2001 - and infielder Drew Meyer, taken by the Texas Rangers in 2002. Neither Baugh, chosen ahead of Joey Votto, Matt Cain and Curtis Granderson, or Meyer, selected before David Wright, Ryan Howard and C.J. Wilson, lived up to their projections.

In similar fashion, last year's group had appearances by four first-round picks, courtesy of a rehab stint by Castro, the late season call-up of Springer, Travis Buck, Oakland's 2005 pick, and Asher Wojciechowski, taken in 2010 by Toronto.

The Astros' top choice in the inaugural year of the franchise ultimately afforded Hooks fans the rare opportunity to see the first-round pick both as a pitcher and position player. Tulane's Bogusevic played in Corpus Christi in 2007 and 2008.

Houston selected Florida high school catcher Max Sapp in the first round in 2006, but he spent three years in Single-A and retired. The Astros had no picks in the first two rounds of 2007 as a result of signing free agents Carlos Lee and Woody Williams. They selected high school infielder Derek Dietrich, who opted to attend Georgia Tech and today is in the big leagues with Miami.

The fourth year was a different matter as the Astros had two first-round selections and drafted players who utilized Corpus Christi as a stepping stone to Minute Maid Park. Castro and pitcher Jordan Lyles were productive Hooks, becoming the precursors of the ongoing build-from-within project. Subsequent first-round selections are either already in Corpus Christi or soon will be.

The Astros' selection of Appel, an experienced college pitcher, creates a strong possibility the Hooks may see three homegrown first-rounders on their roster again in the near future.

With 2010 first-rounder Delino DeShields Jr., the organization's 2012 Minor League Player of the Year, already knocking on the door with his play at Single-A Lancaster and 2012 first pick Carlos Correa seemingly capable of arriving before the end of next season, the development of Appel could result in a 2014 repeat of this year's achievement.