Ma­jor­ity of draftees from first 10 rounds inked

Houston Chronicle - - BASEBALL - Chan­dler Rome

OAK­LAND, Calif. — Seth Beer wasn’t alone.

Five other Astros se­lec­tions from the first 10 rounds of the MLB draft signed with the club Wed­nes­day, the same day it inked and in­tro­duced Beer, the No. 28 over­all pick.

Third-round short­stop Jeremy Pena and 10th-round out­fielder Chan­dler Tay­lor joined two righthanded pitch­ers — fifth-round pick Cody Dea­son and eighth-round pick Austin Hansen — in Wed­nes­day’s bunch of sign­ings.

Dea­son’s Ari­zona bat­tery­mate, sev­enth-round catcher Ce­sar Salazar, also signed.

Dea­son will re­port to the Astros’ Gulf Coast League af­fil­i­ate in West Palm Beach, Fla., to work with coaches — com­mon for col­lege pitch­ers who un­der­took a large work­load dur­ing their sea­sons — while the other four signees will all re­port to the short sea­son TriC­ity Val­leyCats.

As a fresh­man, Dea­son pitched out of the bullpen dur­ing Ari­zona’s Col­lege World Series run in Omaha. He as­cended to the club’s Fri­day night starter this sea­son, pitch­ing to a 2.87 ERA in 91 in­nings. Op­po­nents hit .216 against him.

Dea­son has a curve­ball and four-seam fast­ball Astros as­sis­tant gen­eral man­ager Mike Elias called “le­git­i­mate ma­jor league weapons.” He’s work­ing on a changeup, too. If it con­tin­ues to de­velop, Elias said “we’ll have a very at­trac­tive start­ing pitcher prospect on our hands in short order.”

For all three years, Dea­son threw to Salazar, a bilin­gual catcher with whom he built a quick bond. It’s Salazar’s most defin­ing qual­ity, his col­lege coach said, along with a re­fined of­fen­sive ap­proach. Salazar hit .339 as a ju­nior at Ari­zona.

“His re­ceiv­ing skills are the best I’ve ever seen in terms of cre­at­ing strikes for pitch­ers,” Ari­zona coach Jay John­son said. “His catch-and-throw re­leases are way above av­er­age. But the dif­fer­ence maker is the rap­port he builds with the pitch­ing staff.”

Like Dea­son, Hansen spent most of his col­lege ca­reer in the bullpen. Hansen made 61 ap­pear­ances in three sea­sons at Ok­la­homa, strik­ing out 105 hit­ters in 98 in­nings. He had eight saves this sea­son and low­ered his walk num­bers sig­nif­i­cantly — is­su­ing just 15 free passes in 372⁄3 in­nings to pair with 51 strike­outs.

“We re­ally ad­mired the way that he has been the linch­pin for that Ok­la­homa bullpen,” Elias said. “Any time they need outs, that’s the guy they go to. He’s got very solid weapons. The per­for­mance is there; the track record is there.”

The son of for­mer ma­jor lea­guer Geron­imo Pena, Jeremy Pena started every game in his three-year ca­reer at the Univer­sity of Maine, turn­ing into “the best de­fen­sive short­stop in the draft” who made strides with his bat. Pena had 19 ex­tra-base hits and an .865 OPS as a ju­nior.

“(Pena) ended up go­ing to Maine as sort of a glove-first short­stop with a pro­jec­tion bat,” Elias said last week. “He’s re­ally put to­gether the strength that scouts wanted to see com­ing out of high school. And in our eyes, the best de­fen­sive short­stop in this draft. And the fact that he hit over .300 for his ca­reer showed some power. It showed some big im­prove­ments this year, and (we) had to take him in the third round.”

It was at a pre-draft work­out in At­lanta that Tay­lor — a left­handed-hit­ting out­fielder with a strong arm and de­cent speed — im­pressed Elias and a bevy of Astros scouts. In three sea­sons at Alabama, Tay­lor hit 38 home runs.

At that work­out, Tay­lor showed a strong throw­ing arm from all three out­field po­si­tions, though Elias ac­knowl­edged he’s likely more com­fort­able at both cor­ner spots. Tay­lor also played first base with the Crim­son Tide.

The club also signed 12thround Univer­sity of Tampa righty Mark Mo­clair, 22ndround Mary­land out­fielder Marty Costes, 22nd-round San Diego State short­stop David Hens­ley, 27th-round Western Ok­la­homa State Col­lege catcher Juan Paulino, and 30th-round Azusa Pa­cific Univer­sity righthander Layne Henderson. It may not be the end ei­ther. “I think we’ll have a busy week or so,” Elias said Wed­nes­day. “I’ve still got some work to do get­ting deals made, but we have sev­eral play­ers who are in the process right now of fly­ing to a place get­ting their phys­i­cals. I think we’ll have more sign­ings to an­nounce be­fore this week wraps up.” Seven Hooks among league All-Stars

Seven mem­bers of the Astros’ Class AA Cor­pus Christi Hooks will par­tic­i­pate in the Texas League All-Star Game on June 26, it was an­nounced Wed­nes­day after­noon.

First base­man Tay­lor Jones, third base­man Randy Ce­sar and out­fielder Myles Straw will start the game. Out­fielder Josh Ro­jas and pitch­ers Cionel Perez, Corbin Martin and Ryan Hartman were also se­lected by Texas League front of­fices, field staffs and beat re­porters.

The No. 85 prospect in base­ball ac­cord­ing to Base­ball Amer­ica, Martin makes the team after just more than a month in Class AA.

Pro­moted on May 1, the for­mer Texas A&M stand­out has a 2.97 ERA in his first 331⁄3 in­nings with the Hooks. Since yield­ing six earned runs in a third of an in­ning dur­ing his AA de­but, Martin has per­mit­ted just five in his next 33.

En­ter­ing play Wed­nes­day night, Ce­sar was rid­ing a Hooks-record 34-game hit­ting streak. Straw leads all of the mi­nor leagues with 35 stolen bases in 41 at­tempts.

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