June 2010

Draft day is upon us. Check back early and often for updates.

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Scouting director Bobby Heck and club president Tal Smith on draft day last year.

We’re only a few hours from the beginning of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, which begins with round one at 6 p.m. CT.

The first round of the Draft will be televised on MLB.com and MLB Network, beginning with the Draft preview show at 5 p.m. CT.

The Astros will pick three times today. They have the eighth, 19th and 33rd overall selections.

Be sure to check back to this blog often tonight, as we’ll be posting pictures and videos that will capture the more poignant moments of draft day, including the moment the Astros make their first pick. You can also follow along on Twitter, where we will post the selections as soon as they’re made public and any other interesting news and notes we pick up in the Draft room.

Happy Draft Day!

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Impact a hero weekend at Minute Maid Park salutes our bravest.

The Astros dedicate at least one day per homestand to recognizing our men and and women who are serving, or have served, in the Armed Forces, and that trend continued on Saturday with the sixth annual Impact a Hero weekend.

The goal of the weekend is to bring a message of appreciation to the troops, and the Astros gave more than 40 wounded heroes and their guests tickets to Saturday’s game in addition to hosting a meet and greet with the Astros players.

Impact A Hero was created to provide a simple mechanism for individuals and corporations to help provide emotional and financial support for severely wounded and disabled War on Terror veterans and their families.

Here are some images from the pregame meeting with the players:

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Signability an issue? Not this year.

The Astros are in some ways still stuck with the reputation that they don’t sign their draft picks — a stigma attached to them three years ago when they had a disastrous couple of months after making their selections.

That was a tough time for the organization, but since then, a new regime has taken over and the very capable Bobby Heck, the club’s Assistant GM in charge of scouting, has changed a lot about how the Astros go about their business once the Draft is over. Last year, they signed all but one pick — their 12th rounder — and they did so in record time. The signing process began immediately after the picks where announced, and within a few weeks, it was done.

Three members from the front office — Heck, GM Ed Wade and national cross-checker David Post –  hosted a media briefing before Friday’s game to answer any last-minute questions reporters might have regarding the upcoming Draft. The one statement from Wade that stood out to me more than any other was in reference to the issue of signability.

Or, more to the point: Signability. Is it an issue?

According to Wade, no.

“We have the budget capability to take the best player available with each of our picks,” Wade said. “We’re not drafting the most signable player. We’re drafting the best players available.”

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Other Draft news and notes:

From Brian McTaggart’s notes:

Heck said former Draft picks Derek Dietrich, Brett Eibner and Chad Bettis have all signed consent forms to be drafted by the Astros again. All three were drafted in 2007 but didn’t sign with the club and attended college instead.

“We’ve reached out and re-established a relationship with the three players,” Heck said. “They’re all players who we do have interest in, and we’ve continued the evaluation process. They have signed consent to re-select [forms] if we decide to select them. We’ve done the work there, and they would like to be Astros.”

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Jeff Bagwell will represent the Astros on Monday at the MLB Network’s Studio 42 in Secaucus, NJ, where the first-round selections will be announced. Bagwell will be joined by Astros amateur scout Everett Stull at the Draft.

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Beginning at 6 p.m. CT, Commissioner Bud Selig will announce each club’s first-round selection. The intervals between each selection will be five minutes during the first round and one minute in the compensation round.

After Monday, the Draft will resume on both Tuesday and Wednesday at 11 a.m. CT via conference call from the MLB headquarters in New York City. The Draft will have a total of 50 rounds.

Is it time to expand instant replay?

Just about everyone on the planet is weighing in on the perfect game controversy that took place in Detroit on Wednesday, so I thought I’d put my two cents in as well.

A lot of you have asked if I think the Commissioner should overturn umpire Jim Joyce’s safe (and incorrect) call that ended Armando Gallaraga’s bid for a perfect game. The Commissioner has already said that he’s not going to overturn it, and I agree with him, wholeheartedly.

Whether you agree or disagree that instant replay should be expanded to include examination of close plays on the bases and at and home plate, the fact is, at this point, reviewing plays and overturning calls after the fact is only allowed with home run calls.

Making an exception this time would certainly give Gallaraga his rightful place in the history books, and it wouldn’t bother me terribly if this wrong was made right. It was a bad call, as the replays have shown and Joyce had admitted time and again. But rules are rules, and right now, there is no rule that allows umpire calls to be overturned unless it’s a home run in question.

I’m not completely siding with the Commish, however. I have long felt that instant replay should be expanded to include close plays on the bases. It absolutely infuriated me that select writers and fans shrugged off the horrendous mistakes several umpires made during the last postseason. This isn’t to pick on the umpires; quite the contrary. I’ve always felt that everyone would benefit from using the technology that we have at our fingertips in today’s age to get things right. We’re at a point now where you can add instant replay without adding unwanted time onto the games.

In today’s ballparks, there are monitors everywhere. When you’re standing in line at the concession stands, you can watch the game, and the replays, on the dozens of TVs that saturate every concourse in every corner of every ballpark. It’s unfair to the umpires that their mistakes are exposed within 15 seconds of the calls that they make. Why can’t the umpiring crew have the same luxury?

The “human element” to baseball has been overblown and over-romanticized. The integrity of the game is all that matters, and getting the calls right should be priority No. 1. We’re in the age of split-second technology, and it’s time to use it.

I felt horrible for Joyce. He’s highly-regarded as one of the game’s better umpires and it’s sad that his legacy will always be tied to this one call. There are ways to make sure this never happens again, and the time to make sure it’s doesn’t is now. Why wait?

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