With that said, it occurred to me that if there were any former first round picks available in this week's Rule 5 draft, Mr. Luhnow and company are undoubtedly giving them an extra long look. It turns out there are two such players listed on Jonathan Mayo's Top 20 list of Rule 5 prospects:
Heckathorn was a first round supplemental pick (47th overall) by the Brewers in 2009 out of Kennesaw State University in Georgia. His numbers at AA for the Brewers in 2012 were marginal, but Mayo indicated that he improved slightly when he was moved to the bullpen after having command issues as a starter. His strikeout numbers leave something to be desired, but that is to be expected for someone who has a tendency to pitch to contact and to induce groundball outs with sink on his fastball. Heckathorn is 24 and is listed as 6'6" 225 lbs. (And he has a "Heck"uva great name!)
Granted Fields is a bit old at 27, but the former first round 2008 pick by the Mariners out of the University of Georgia (traded to the Red Sox in July 2011) had great numbers in his time with Boston's AA and AAA affiliates in 2012. In 42 games out of the bullpen, he had a combined 2.01 ERA and a 0.960 WHIP. As Mayo notes, he substantially reduced his walk rate from the prior year while putting up an impressive 12 strikeouts per nine innings.
According to Mayo, both of these players have had command issues in the past, but may be getting past those. Seeing as the easiest area for a Rule 5 player to "stick" is out of the bullpen and seeing as the Astros bullpen for 2013 will be a work in progress and seeing as Jeff Luhnow really, really likes those former first round picks, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if he decides to take a flyer on one of these players.