Draft 2014: Astros draft Derek Fisher No. 37

HOUSTON -- Astros scouting director Mike Elias has a long history with University of Virginia outfielder Derek Fisher, whom Elias scouted while working for the Cardinals. Fisher was a first-round talent who turned down substantial offer from the Rangers to attend college, so Elias was thrilled to see Fisher available with the No. 37 overall pick Thursday.

Houston took the left-handed hitter with its second pick of the day, the Competitive Balance Round A pick the club acquired last July in the Bud Norris trade with Baltimore. Fisher's college career isn't over, as he's riding a 12-game hitting streak into this weekend's NCAA Super Regionals.

A speedster who has played primarily left field but can handle either of the corner spots, Fisher is hitting .288 with three homers and 23 RBIs entering the weekend. Elias called him a plus-plus runner whogrades 70 on a scout's 20-80 scale.

2014 Draft Central

"As we compiled our Draft board in the past few days, it became apparent the past few days that there's a very strong likelihood we would get some college bats, corner position guys," Elias said. "We're happy about it, because it does fit into some of our needs in the lower Minors. Some power, some advanced corner bats. I do think, as well, it best complements to taking the best high school pitcher in the country with the first pick."

The Astros took San Diego high school lefty Brady Aiken with the No. 1 overall pick before taking a pair of bats -- Fisher at No. 37 and University of Kentucky slugger A.J. Reed with the first pick of the second round (No. 42 overall).

Fisher was a freshman All-American in 2012, and he is batting .290 with 17 homers and 121 RBIs in his three years at Virginia. He took a step forward in the Cape Cod League last summer, cutting down on his strikeouts and leading the best summer college circuit with a .453 on-base percentage.

Before he got to show how much that would carry over, Fisher went down with a broken hamate bone in his right hand 15 games into this season. He did return after six weeks and homered in his second and third games back. Fisher has shown more pop at Virginia than he did with wood bats on the Cape, and he projects as a plus hitter in terms of both average and raw power.

"This past year, he was off to a great start and broke his hamate in March and had a surgery, and came back abnormally fast from the surgery," said Elias. "And right away, he started hitting home runs and hitting again. There's really no concern about that."

Despite his speed, Elias envisioned keeping Fisher in one of the corner-outfield spots.

"He's played mostly left field throughout his career, wherever he's been," Elias said. "I don't think his value is whether we'll be able to slot him in center field or not. We think the bat is going to play in the corner-outfield spot."

The 2014 First-Year Player Draft runs through Saturday, with MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days beginning with a live Draft show at 11:30 a.m. CT on Friday.

Astros go with prep lefty Aiken at No. 1 in Draft

Brady Aiken on being 2014 MLB Draft's first pick

HOUSTON -- Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow's cellphone rang just as he stepped to the podium to meet the media shortly after drafting high school left-hander Brady Aiken with the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday's 2014 First-Year Player Draft.

On the other end of the line was the man of the hour, or more like the boy wonder. Aiken -- a 17-year-old with so much poise and upside he has been compared to Clayton Kershaw and Andy Pettitte -- and Luhnow exchanged pleasantries before the GM passed on a word from manager Bo Porter.

"Bo asked me if you're available tomorrow in Minneapolis," Luhnow joked.

Aiken, of course, has a long road ahead of him to reach the Major Leagues, but the Astros are confident he'll be a big part of their rotation in the future. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Aiken appears to be the whole package -- size, poise, good feel for pitching and possesses a great makeup, which was a word the Astros used repeatedly.

"The tools are in place to get a front-line starter, a big left-hander in our rotation for a long time," scouting director Mike Elias said. "We think he can log innings, with the way he's thrown the ball and the way he's built."

Aiken, drafted out of Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego, is the second consecutive pitcher that Houston has taken with the No. 1 overall pick, joining Stanford right-hander Mark Appel. It's also the second time in three years the Astros have drafted a 17-year-old with the top pick, joining 2012 top pick Carlos Correa, a shortstop taken out of Puerto Rico.

"It's really a big honor, and I just think I've worked hard enough and I've done everything I could to put myself in the position that the Astros wanted to make the move, so I'm really excited to get the call," Aiken said. "I'm just excited to go out there and start working hard and start helping the team."

Aiken is only the third left-handed high school pitcher to be taken with the first overall pick, joining Brien Taylor (Yankees, 1991) and Houston's David Clyde (Rangers, 1973). Aiken is the fifth lefty selected first overall, and the first since David Price was taken by Tampa Bay in 2007. It's the second time the Astros have selected a lefty with the first selection in the Draft (Floyd Bannister, 1976).

"We've been following this kid for a while, we really like him a lot," Luhnow said. "We feel he adds something to the organization, a young, dynamic, high-upside left-handed pitcher that we haven't had in a while. I couldn't be more excited for the Houston Astros and the Houston Astros' future by adding this player to what already is a very strong system."

Aiken spoke with excitement about where the Astros are headed.

"I know the next few years, the Astros are going to be World Series contenders, and I'm really excited, and hopefully I can start my career here soon and work my way up and help them win a couple of championships," he said. "That's my main goal, to be my best and help lead the team to World Series championships."

The Astros turned to offense with their second two picks Thursday, tabbing University of Virginia outfielder Derek Fisher with their No. 37 overall pick in the Competitive Balance Round A, a pick acquired from the Orioles in the Bud Norris trade. A few minutes later, Houston took University of Kentucky slugger A.J. Reed with the first pick of the second round (No. 42 overall), adding a player who could have the most raw power in the system once he's signed.

Astros scout Brad Budzinski has followed Aiken since the lefty was 14 years old, and Budzinski said as soon as Aiken started pitching on varsity, he knew the southpaw had a chance to be a high Draft pick. Houston entered its offseason meetings in January with Aiken very close to the top of its list for the pick, and he did nothing but continue to impress throughout the season.

"He got the point where you're not only very comfortable with him mechanically and his stuff, but with what I think is phenomenal makeup," Budzinski said. "Really a special player and special person."

Elias said Aiken throws between 89-96 mph with a plus curveball and an advanced feel for using his changeup, which is rare for a high school pitcher. He recently scrapped a cutter he had been working on, citing the recent rash of arm injuries.

Aiken posted a 7-0 record and a 1.06 ERA in 11 starts in his senior season. He was a 2014 Perfect Game first team All-American and an All-Region first team California.

Aiken led Team USA to the gold medal at the 18-and-under World Cup in Taiwan last September by winning both of his starts, including a championship-game performance against Japan in which he struck out 10 and allowed one run in seven innings.

"Obviously, when you select a high school pitcher this high in the Draft, you feel very convicted this pitcher, in particular, is a special one, and a lot of our senior scouts agree this is the best high school left-hander that they've scouted," Elias said. "He has everything going for him in terms of his size, delivery, his repertoire, his pitchability. I think most importantly, what Brady's made of is a big reason why he was our pick today.

"We did a lot to get to know him and his family and how he got to where he is, and where he intends on going, and I think it's going to be a very special addition to this organization."

Elias said Budzinski "pounded the table" for Aiken as much he's seen a scout do so.

"Brad is one of our best area scouts, and we put a lot of faith in him in this process, and certainly his advocacy for Brady was really the difference maker here," Elias said. "We couldn't be more excited to have a left-handed pitcher of his caliber, his upside, in our organization."

There's no reason to believe the Astros won't be able to sign Aiken. The top pick comes with an allotted value of $7,922,100. When Aiken is signed, he'll join a pitching-rich Minor League system that includes Mike Foltynewicz, Vincent Velasquez, Brady Rodgers, Lance McCullers Jr., Andrew Thurman, Josh Hader and Kent Emanuel, among others.

"We feel like we're in a good spot to sign this player," Luhnow said. "When a player gets taken [first round, first overall], he intends to sign. He has options, and he's committed to UCLA, and I'm sure UCLA would love to get him, but we don't think they're going to."

Another plus for Houston is that there's not a lot of mileage on Aiken's arm. Budzinski said he averaged no more than 80 pitches as a senior in high school, though he was extended, at times, toward the end of the season.

"They've done a very good job pacing him," Budzinski said.

Luhnow said the Astros considered six players for the No. 1 pick before turning to Aiken.

"It was a really tough decision, but what separated it for us was not only the talent, but the makeup on this young man," Luhnow said. "We really think that's going to separate him and allow him to achieve his potential. The potential is as high as anybody we've had in the organization."

The 2014 First-Year Player Draft runs through Saturday, with MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days beginning with a live Draft show at 11:30 a.m. CT on Friday.

Astros go for power with Kentucky's Reed in Round 2

Draft 2014: Astros draft 1B A.J. Reed No. 42

HOUSTON -- If there's something the Astros needed in their farm system, it's some power bats. They added one Thursday with the first pick of the second round (42nd overall) of the First-Year Player Draft when they took University of Kentucky slugger A.J. Reed.

Reed, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound left-hander who is a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award for the college player of the year, was a two-way star at Kentucky as a pitcher and a hitter, but Houston drafted him with hopes he'll be hitting home runs at Minute Maid Park one day.

"Getting drafted by the Astros is something I'm very happy about," Reed said. "It's a great organization that I feel is a good fit for myself. I'll be able to add a little bit of power to the organization, and that's a benefit for both of us. I think we're going to be able to see eye to eye on a lot of things, and I'm really excited about that."

After taking San Diego high school left-hander Brady Aiken with the No. 1 overall pick, Houston drafted a pair of left-handed hitters -- University of Virginia outfielder Derek Fisher with the No. 37 pick and Reed, who's coming off one of the most historic seasons in college baseball history.

Reed led the nation in homers (23), slugging (.735) and OPS (1.211), while ranking as the Southeastern Conference leader, and fourth in the NCAA, in pitching victories (12). Reed hit .336 with 18 doubles, one triple, 73 RBIs, 49 walks and a .476 on-base percentage while posting a 2.09 ERA as the Wildcats' Friday night starter.

2014 Draft Central

"A.J. Reed kind of speaks for himself," Astros scouting director Mike Elias said. "He's is the SEC Player of the Year, led the nation in home runs in the toughest college baseball conference in the country. I believe he's probably going to win the Golden Spikes Award for the best college player in the country. If you look back at the list of Golden Spikes winners, it's a pretty impressive list of big league players."

Among the recent winners of the award are the Mariners' Mike Zunino (2012), Bryce Harper ('10) and Stephen Strasburg ('09) of the Nationals, Buster Posey ('08) and Tim Lincecum ('06) of the Giants, and David Price of the Rays ('07).

Elias said Reed has earned the nickname "Babe Ruth" in some circles because of his ability to mash home runs and pitch.

"He's got a real zeal and enthusiasm for the game that's apparent when you watch him play," Elias said. "He had a monster season. He's got a lot of bad speed, tons of power, obviously. We think it's going to play. I think he might have the most raw power in our system once we get him signed."

In his storied three-year career, Reed has a .306 average in 172 games, with 35 doubles, three triples, 40 homers and 168 RBIs, with a .559 slugging percentage and a .415 on-base percentage. On the mound, Reed -- a first-team All-America selection -- has a 19-13 record with a 2.83 ERA in 248 innings, allowing just 53 walks and striking out 174.

"I hadn't talked to the Astros that much," Reed said. "I didn't know they were interested. I'm just really excited and happy that they wanted to take me and let me be a part of their organization."

It's the second year in a row the Astros have tabbed the SEC Player of the Year, taking infielder Tony Kemp in the fifth round last year out of Vanderbilt. He's hitting .336 with a .428 on-base percentage at Class A Lancaster.

"You're pretty good if you win the SEC Player of the Award," Elias said. "I don't think it's a secret we put a lot of stock in what players do during college, especially what they do in the Cape Code League when they're playing with wood and playing against other professional-caliber players. But we also look to make sure they have the tools to make that success resilient once they get into the pro game, and these guys do."

The 2014 First-Year Player Draft runs through Saturday, with MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days beginning with a live Draft show at 11:30 a.m. CT on Friday.