Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Looking Back at the Astros 2007 Draft Class

Last offseason, I started (but admittedly didn't finish) a series on Astros draft classes from the last several years that proved to be highly popular with my readers so I'm updating and/or finishing those posts and will be posting those over the next few weeks. Naturally, I have to go back to the disastrous 2007 draft. (I called it "the holy grail of bad draft classes" in the original post.) The good news is that is gets (much) better from here. The bad news is that reliving the 2007 draft is not for the faint of heart. With that said, enjoy!

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The 2007 draft class was a bad thing and a good thing (for me). The negative impact of that class, the repercussions of which are only now starting to fade into the past, is one of the main reasons that I started this blog. I was so desperate for positive news from the farm that I started to really look at the system in-depth and thought that I would share my findings. The rest is, as they say, history.

Well, I was game to look at the 2007 class for the first time in a very long while. I planned to post my findings last week, but about halfway through my research, I found myself curled up in the dark in the fetal position calling for my mommy due to bad farm system flashbacks. (Actually, I just ran out of time, but the other makes for a better story.)

In any event, it was an amazingly poor class and time has not softened the wounds. Here is how it all played out. Keep tissues and antacid on hand (and perhaps a shot of the best whiskey available). I have indicated in parentheses whether the player was drafted out of college (C), junior college (JC) or high school (HS). Those who signed with the Astros are in bold.

[UPDATE: I've been asked by a few people how many players out of a draft can generally be expected to make it to the major leagues. This excellent post from Baseball America's Matt Eddy analyzed 22 drafts from 1987 through 2008 and found that approximately one in six drafted players who sign are expected to make it to the majors. Naturally, some will only make it for a cup of coffee, but it at least gives you an idea of what has happened in the past.]

1. The Astros lost the first round pick for signing Carlos Lee to a 6-year $100 million contract. Lee was an All-Star in 2007 and gave the team three 100+ RBI seasons before the descent in his skills (and his hustle) bottomed out in 2012. He was traded to Miami that season for 3B Matt Dominguez and LHP Rob Rasmussen in July of that year. Rasmussen was later traded to the Dodgers for RHP John Ely who never threw a pitch for the Astros and was released in November 2013. Dominguez hit .233/.274/.376 in 340 games for the Astros from 2012 through 2014; he started the 2015 season at AAA and was claimed off waivers by the Brewers in June 2015 (and subsequently was claimed from the Brewers by the Blue Jays in September 2015).

2. The Astros also lost their second round pick for signing RHP Woody Williams to a 2-year $12.5 million contract. For the first six million, Astros fans got eight wins (to 15 losses) and a league-leader in allowing home runs in 2007. When Williams was released in March 2008, he received a 6.5 million parting gift and the fans got bupkes.

3. 3B Derek Dietrich (HS) - Did not sign

Dietrich went on to be drafted by Tampa Bay in 2010 and was traded to Miami for Yunel Escobar. Dietrich made his MLB debut for Miami in 2013. In 2015, he split his time between AAA and the majors, hitting .256/.346/.456 in 90 games for the big league club (career line of .234/.317/.421 in 196 games).

4. RHP Brett Eibner (HS) - Did not sign

Eibner was drafted (as an outfielder) by the Royals out of the University of Arkansas in the second round in 2010. In 2015, he played for the Royals AAA affiliate, hitting .303/.364/.514 in 103 games.

5. OF Collin DeLome (C) - Released in 2012

DeLome played in the organization from 2007 until his release after playing in 10 games in 2012. He went on to play in the Braves organization and in independent ball in 2012 and 2013 and has a lifetime batting line of .256/.321/.467.

6. RHP David Dinelli (JC) - Released in 2008

Dinelli played in the system for two seasons and has subsequently spent seven years playing independent ball. He has a career ERA of 4.82 and WHIP of 1.652.

7. 2B Russell Dixon (C) - Released in 2010

Dixon played in the Astros system from 2007 through 2009 as an outfielder and was released prior to the 2010 season. His batting line was .238/.308/.329.

8. RHP Chad Bettis (HS) - Did not sign

Bettis was drafted by the Rockies in the second round in 2010 out of Texas Tech and made his major league debut August 1, 2013. In 2015, he was 8-6 with a 4.23 ERA and 1.409 WHIP in 20 starts at the major league level.

9. RHP Luis Pardo (C) - Released in 2008

Pardo played two seasons with the Astros, was briefly signed and then released by the Reds in early 2009, and then played in independent ball in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015. He has a lifetime ERA of 5.89 and WHIP of 1.705.

10. 2B/3B Matt Cusick (C) - Traded in 2008

Cusick was traded to the Yankees in July of 2008 for LaTroy Hawkins and played with the Yankees and Angels organizations through 2011 and in independent ball in 2012. He has a lifetime batting line of .280/.366/.411. Hawkins was with the Astros for the remainder of 2008 and 2009 and had a 1.71 ERA and 1.091 WHIP in 89 games.

11. C/RHP Roberto Bono (HS) - Traded in 2009

Bono played in the Astros system from 2007 through 2009 before being included in a trade to the Marlins for RHP Matt Lindstrom in December 2009. He then played in the Marlins organization in 2010 and in independent ball in 2011, and ended his career with a 5.04 ERA and a 1.510 WHIP. Lindstrom pitched in 58 games for Houston in 2010 with a 4.39 ERA, 1.650 WHIP and 23 saves.

12. 1B Brian Pellegrini (C) - Released in 2011

Pellegrini played in the Astros system 2007 through 2010 and started the 2011 season on the DL before being released in May of that year. He had a .254/.358/.377 batting line.

13. LHP Chad Jones (HS) - Did not sign

This is one of the more remarkable stories associated with the players from the 2007 draft class. Jones was drafted again in the 50th round in 2010 by the Brewers and did not sign. Fast-forward to the 2013 draft and Jones was drafted by and signed with the Reds. What happened in between is a helluva story. He pitched in 16 games in 2013 (8.76 ERA and 2.757 WHIP) but did not pitch in 2014, spending the bulk of the season on the 60-day DL. He was placed on the restricted list in June 2015, but I wasn't able to find any details on his apparent suspension.

14. 3B Craig Corrado (C) - Released in 2010

Corrado played from 2007 to 2009, transitioning to a second baseman, before being released in March 2010. He had a .260/.292/.333 batting line.

15. RHP Matt Fitts (C) - Did not sign.

Fitts was drafted by Oakland in the 16th round in 2008 and played for them for two seasons, putting up a 4.92 ERA and a 1.580 WHIP.

[Are you still with me? Grab another shot of your best whiskey because, overall, it gets worse from here.]

16. OF Devon Torrence (HS) - Released in 2012

Torrence only played in the Houston system in 2007 and 2008, but did not receive his technical release until 2012. In the interim, he pursued a football career. In 2014, he played in one game in the Royals organization before being released and also played in two games in independent ball. His lifetime batting line is .152/.294/.171.

17. RHP Mason Roberts (JC) - Released in 2008

Roberts had a 10.50 ERA and a 2.611 WHIP in 12 games in 2007.

18. RHP Brian Espersen (C) - Released in 2008

Esperson had a 9.00 ERA and a 2.409 WHIP in 12 games in 2007.

19. C John Fixler (C) - Voluntary retirement in 2011

In five seasons in the Astros system, from 2007 through 2011, Fixler had a .229/.308/.402 batting line and a 26% caught stealing rate.

20. RHP Kyle Greenwalt (HS) - Released in 2012

Greenwalt pitched in the Astros system from 2007 through 2011 and then in independent ball in 2012 and 2013 and ended with a career 5.00 ERA and 1.470 WHIP.

21. C Kyle Miller (JC) - Released in 2009

Miller played from 2007 through 2009 as a corner infielder and put up a .234/.289/.376 batting line.

22. OF Drew Anderson (C) - Released in 2008

Anderson played in 2007 at second base with a .222/.294/.380 batting line.

23. 3B Charlie Gamble (C) - Released in 2008

Gamble had a .237/.305/.347 batting line in 2007.

24. SS Philip Stringer (C) - Released in 2008

Stringer played at second base and third base in 2007, hitting .166/.246/.205.

25. C Kevin Carkeek (C) - Released in 2008

Carkeek played in the Astros system for two seasons, hitting .215/.299/.296 with a 41% caught stealing percentage.

26. C Sal Iacono (C) - Released in 2008

Iacono played for two seasons, hitting .190/.312/.250 with a 34% caught stealing percentage.

27. RHP Brett Robinson (C) - Released in 2009

Robinson pitched in 61 games in 2007 and 2008 with a 5.19 ERA and 1.548 WHIP.

28. OF Jared Pitts (C) - Released in 2008

Pitts had a .181/.278/.262 batting line in his one season in 2007.

29. 2B Travis Sweet (C) - Released in 2008

Sweet played the outfield for the Astros in 2007 and 2008, hitting .210/.289/.359.

30. RHP Danny Gil (C) - Released in 2008

Gil played one season in the Astros system and had a 10.94 ERA and a 1.975 WHIP in 15 games. After his release, he was signed by the Nationals in 2008 and had a 2.12 ERA and 1.118 WHIP in 12 games before being released in 2009.

31. RHP Jason Dominguez (C) - Released in 2009

Dominguez pitched in the Astros system from 2007 through the early part of 2009 and had a 3.70 ERA and a 1.131 WHIP.

32. RHP David Miller (C) - Released in 2008

Miller pitched in the Astros system in 2007 and 2008, the Blue Jays and Marlins in 2009 and in independent ball in 2010 and 2011, compiling a career 5.27 ERA and 1.748 WHIP.

33. OF Cody Phipps (HS) - Released in 2008

Phipps hit .200/.273/.200 in his one season in 2007.

34. RHP Brian Wabick (JC) - Released in 2011

Wabick had a 4.50 ERA and 1.401 WHIP in 128 games from 2007 through 2010.

35. RHP Jordan Powell (C) - Released in 2010

Powell pitched in the Astros system from 2007 through 2009 and had a 4.33 ERA and a 1.565 WHIP in 108 games.

36. OF Albert Cartwright (JC) - Traded in 2011

Cartwright played in the Astros system in 2007 through 2010 before being traded to the Phillies in January of 2011 for LHP Sergio Escalona. Escalona appeared in 49 games for Houston that year with a 2.93 ERA and 1.265 WHIP and looked to be a lock for the 2012 bullpen until a fluke injury derailed his career. Cartwright sat out 2011 with an injury, but then played in the Phillies system from 2012 through 2014. He was signed by the Dodgers as a minor league free agent in January 2015, was subsequently released in May 2015 and went on to play independent league ball. He has a career batting line of .264/.333/.382.

37. RHP Jake Leonhardt (C) - Released 2008

Leonhardt pitched for two seasons for the Astros and two more seasons in independent ball and had a lifetime 4.38 ERA and 1.502 WHIP.

38. RHP Robbie Weinhardt (C) - Did not sign

Weinhardt was drafted by the Tigers in the 10th round in 2008 and played in their minor league system from 2008 through 2013 with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.270 WHIP. He made his major league debut in July 2010 and pitched in 30 games in 2010 and 2011 with a 6.39 ERA and 1.677 WHIP. He was released by the Tigers in October 2013. In 2015, he played for the Sugar Land Skeeters.

39. 3B/OF Brian Fletcher (HS) - Did not sign

Fletcher was drafted by the Royals in the 18th round in 2010 and played outfield in that system from 2010 through 2014. He was released by the Royals and picked up by the White Sox in April 2015 and now has a minor league career .279/.342/.457 batting line.

40. LHP Kyle Erdman (JC) - Did not sign

It does not appear that Erdman ever played professionally.

41. LHP Colton Pitkin (HS) - Released in 2012

Pitkin pitched in the Astros system from 2007 through 2011 and had a lifetime ERA of 4.82 and WHIP of 1.565.

42. OF Chris Turner (HS) - Released in 2009

Turner played for two seasons, 2007 and 2008, and hit .147/.211/.169.

43. OF Marques Williams (JC) - Released in 2009

Williams played from 2007 through 2009 with a .228/.285/.293 batting line.

44. SS Cat Everett (C) - Released in 2009

Everett toiled for the Astros from 2007 to 2008 and managed a .214/.320/.239 batting line during that time.

IN REVIEW ~
  • The Astros signed 34 players: 8 out of the top 15, and 26 out of the bottom 29. The highest pick to sign was at #5.
  • Of the 34 signed players, 30 were released, 3 were traded and 1 chose voluntary retirement.
  • Of the 30 released, 19 did not play in the Astros system beyond 2008 and 6 did not play beyond 2009. The final player to be released out of the final 5 was released on April 18, 2012. Only 2 out of the 30 players who were released appear to still be active in independent ball.
  • Of the 8 players who did not sign, 7 were re-drafted, 4 appear to still be active in organized baseball (and one is a question mark), 1 played independent ball in 2015, and 3 have made MLB debuts.
  • Of the 3 players who were traded, only 1 was active in 2015, playing in independent baseball.
  • GM Tim Purpura was fired approximately two months after the 2007 draft.
Some may be questioning why this is worth looking at after all these years. To you I would say, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

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