Results tagged ‘ Bobby Heck ’

‘Twas a long, eventful day for Carlos Correa. Next up: his high school graduation. And then, baseball.

When Jeff Luhnow mentioned on Tuesday that top Draft pick Carlos Correa would be visiting Houston two days later, the GM indicated he hoped negotiations would move forward quickly once all parties involved — Luhnow, scouting director Bobby Heck, the scouts pursuing him, Correa and his parents — were together, face to face.

As Luhnow continued talking with reporters, however, it became evident he didn’t view Thursday’s visit as a time to simply exchange pleasantries with the family. To Luhnow, Thursday was THE day. Take the physical, sign the contract, officially join the Astros organization.

(Side note: If I’m to understand this correctly, if a team has only “x” dollars to spend on its first 10 or 11 picks, then it behooves the draftees to sign up quickly. If you’re a first-rounder and the other nine or 10 picks sign before you, and there’s only $2 million left over, then you get $2 million and there’s no negotiating, other than an extra five percent a team can pour on top of that without being penalized. If that’s the case, it looks like the absurd nature of the prior parameters that allowed free spending and led to negotiations often going down to the final minute, as was the case with two of the Astros’ top picks last year, are for the most part, over. )

It’s been quite a week for the 17-year-old Correa (featured in the behind-the-scenes footage above), who signed on with the Astros three days before his high school graduation and five days before he’ll head to Kissimmee, Fla., to join the club’s Gulf Coast League affiliate.

The Correa signing: a family affair.

Correa definitely looks like a teenager, but he handled the day’s events with the poise of someone much more experienced. As soon as he stepped off the elevator on the fifth floor of Union Station to sign the contract, all eyes — and recording devices — were on him. This seemingly did not faze him. He shook dozens of hands, met all of the top Astros brass, including owner Jim Crane, and seemed very at ease.

He sounded sincere and answered questions eloquently at the press conference and even managed to ignore the cameras and few dozen reporters who were waiting for him as he made his way to the field. He seemed to mingle well with the Astros players as he took batting practice, and it helped that he crushed a few balls to left-center early in the session.

A few notes:

* Because Correa is a minor, his parents had to co-sign the contract.

* The men front and center of Correa signing are Luhnow and Heck, but two equally important figures shouldn’t be  overlooked. Drafting Correa came on the recommendation of area scouts Larry Pardo and Joey Sola, who ultimately
are responsible for the signing.

* Correa’s entire family was ecstatic with the day’s events, with one exception — Correa’s three-year-old sister, who seems to have figured out this is going to lead to big bro leaving home. Apparently, she has said more than once, “Don’t sign.”

* Correa had a little rock star mojo going during the signing and press conference, but as soon as he stepped into the clubhouse, he was treated like any other teammate who has no Major League experience and is about to put on a big league uniform for the first time. He was greeted with catcalls of, “Your locker’s in the bathroom,” while Chris Snyder told Correa he’d fine him $20 for every ball he hit to the right side of second base.

* Correa picked uniform No. 12 for two reasons: he was honored to be the first pick in the 2012 Draft, and he was paying homage to his baseball hero, fellow Puerto Rican Roberto Alomar.

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Photos from an eventful day:

Correa meets and shakes hands with owner Jim Crane.

Joey Sola, Larry Pardo, Bobby Heck, Correa, Jeff Luhnow

Correa hugs Pardo

Hitting in the cage

Taking ground balls

Correa was introduced on the field to the Minute Maid Park crowd during the Astros-Cardinals game.

Astros think outside the box and pick Carlos Correa as their No. 1 Draft pick.

To the rest of the baseball world, it really came down to two players the Astros would decide between to be their No. 1 pick in the Draft: college pitcher Mark Appel, and high school outfielder Byron Buxton.

GM Jeff Luhnow and scouting director Bobby Heck and a roomful of execs and scouts watched MLB Network with amusement from the Draft room, knowing that the answer was actually c): neither.

As the analysts on Network speculated who the Astros would ultimately take, while surmising Luhnow was likely both nervous and excited to be running his first draft as a GM, Luhnow sat back in his chair looking about as jittery as he would if he was sitting on a lounge chair, on the beach in the Bahamas, holding an umbrella drink.

In other words, Luhnow, as has been the case since he took over as GM last November, was one cool cat throughout the process. Heck was as well, especially when he called the Astros representatives who were at the Network studios in Secaucus, NJ, to tell them who they picked.

Clearly, the Astros surprised some people by picking shortstop Carlos Correa, a 17-year-old high school kid who played amateur baseball at the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy in Gurabo, Puerto Rico.

This wasn’t an open and shut case for the Astros. They’ve spent weeks discussing, dissecting and analyzing all top prospects expected to go in the first round. Their ultimate decision didn’t arrive until just before they were, as Commissioner Bud Selig phrased it, “on the clock.”

“This afternoon,” Luhnow said, asked when he decided Correa was their guy. “We were working on it all day.”

Watch the behind-the-scenes video from the Draft room

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CARLOS CORREA
Position: Shortstop
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Height/Weight: 6-4/190
Age: 17
High School: Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Gurabo, P.R.

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Questions, Answers:
Will Correa stay at shortstop?
Heck:
“He’s 17 years old. He has a big frame, advanced feet, advanced hands. He can really throw. Even if he stays at shortstop, he will be a middle-of-the-order bat.”

Luhnow:
“Carlos has a chance to be a star. Anyone who saw him play recognizes that. He has the type of bat that can produce at the Major League level — a 20, 30-type home run (hitter) playing at a premium position, whether that is shortstop or maybe third base. He will hit in the middle of the order.”

Luhnow, on Correa’s background:
“He had a 4.0 (grade point average) in high school. We asked for the transcripts. He has gotten A’s in every class he’s taken. He’s an overachiever. He’s driven to be successful.”

Is there concern he’ll ultimately decide to attend the University of Miami, where he committed to play baseball?

Luhnow:
“I suspect Miami will not see him, unless he’s visiting friends.”

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Media coverage:

MLB.com

Houston Chronicle

MLB.com Scouting report:

“High school middle infielders who have the tools to stay at shortstop long term aren’t always easy to find. That’s a big reason why Correa is so high on Draft lists at this point. Defensively, Correa is above average across the board — range, arm and actions — leaving no question about his ability to stay at short. He can swing the bat, too, with the potential to be an above-average hitter with outstanding power. He’s a solid baserunner who is better underway and has off-the-charts work ethic and baseball instincts. Correa’s swing can get a little long at times and he will occasionally get out of his game plan at the plate. But that’s just nitpicking and the only thing that could keep Correa from being the highest draftee from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy is his commitment to Miami.”

Baseball America:
“Correa has plenty of tools. He is a quality defender at shortstop with soft hands and a well above-average arm. He’s an above-average runner and also has excellent potential with the bat, profiling to hit for average and power. Correa has drawn comparisons to Troy Tulowitzki and Ryan Zimmerman.

Photos from day one of the Draft:

Scouting director/Asst. GM Bobby Heck watches MLB Network as Draft coverage gets started.

One thing about the first round of the Draft — people are always on their phones. Understandably.

Bobby Heck takes Correa’s name off the board after picking him in the first round.

Happiness? Relief? Satisfaction? Looks like a combination of the three, post-pick.

 

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A day in the life of a high draft pick. Just call him “Folty.”

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This is how Mike Foltynewicz ended his day at Minute Maid Park. But before he could get to this point, he had a flurry of activities waiting for him, including signing his name a few dozen times, thus officially signaling the beginning his Astros career.

Foltynewicz (pronounced Fol-ten-EH-vich), the Astros’ second pick in the first round and the 19th pick overall in this year’s Draft, will head to Greeneville on Saturday to join the club’s Rookie League team.

He spent Friday afternoon at Minute Maid Park with his parents, Gary and Cindy, plowing through several steps every high draft pick goes through once a contract is agreed upon.

The 18-year-old was poised and calm as he went from station to station and met a slew of people, from front office staffers to Astros players to pitching coach Brad Arnsberg to manager Brad Mills. As he toured the clubhouse, Foltynewicz looked impressed but not overwhelmed and appeared to be unfazed by his surroundings as he warmed up in the outfield with Arnsberg in anticipation of throwing his first professional bullpen session.

A pictorial look of Foltynewicz’s day at the yard:

First order of business, of course, was signing on the dotted line. Signing a professional baseball contract is sort of like closing on a house — dozens and dozens of papers to sign.  

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Scouting director/Asst GM Bobby Heck and Foltynewicz sort of look like they’re taking their SAT’s here.

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Before the official press conference, Mike posed for some pictures for his parents’ collection.

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Then it was off to the clubhouse for a tour. Heck showed Mike every part of the lockerroom except for the training room. “You don’t need to even think about going in there,” Heck said. (The training room, obviously, is mostly occupied by guys nursing aches and pains and injuries).

Here Foltynewicz is meeting Mills for the first time.

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Next up, press conference. The kid looked at ease as he answered questions from about a dozen members of the media. Heck is to the right.

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Pround parents Gary and Cindy watch from the front row.

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After the formal part of the presser, reporters like to get one-on-one interviews for a more personal touch.

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Now that the hard part was over, it was time to suit up and head to the field. Mike threw a short side session in the bullpen, where Arnsberg and Mills could get a close up look at him. Here he is stretching and conversing with Arnsberg.

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Last stop…the bullpen. Next stop: Greeneville.

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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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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.

Hurry up…and wait.

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above, l to r: club president/baseball operations Tal Smith; assistant GM/scouting Bobby Heck; GM Ed Wade; Minor League Field Coordinator Dick Scott, Asst. GM Ricky Bennett. The group was reviewing the dry erase boards, consisting of lists of players both inside and outside of the organization.

I just spent a couple of hours in general manager Ed Wade’s suite, where most of the morning and early afternoon were spent making lists of discussion topics for a full staff meeting, due to start around 4.

Right now, the main activity is making lists, lists and more lists. Lists of players outside the organization who might be of interest to the Astros, either via free agency or trade market.

Lists of players within the organization that might be considered as trade bait. Lists of Minor Leaguers considered untouchable.

As Brian McTaggart noted in his Winter Meetings preview, relief pitching, third base and bench help are among the Astros’ needs.

At this point, the Astros are simply waiting to hear what decision Jose Valverde has made regarding the Astros’ offer of arbitration. He has until midnight ET tonight at accept or reject.

The Astros are in a good position on this one — if Valverde accepts, they’ll have arguably the best free agent closer in uniform next year. If he rejects, the Astros can still negotiate with him, and if Valverde signs with another team, they’ll get high draft picks.

A Valverde rejection would also give the Astros some payroll to play with, which is significant considering how little flexibility the Astros have in that area this offseason.

Manager Brad Mills is in town, and I believe he’ll be the only uniformed personnel with Wade this week at the Winter Meetings. Every manager is asked to conduct a 30-minute media session in the press workroom this week, and Mills is scheduled to do so on Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET.

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Tal Smith, Brad Mills, Ricky Bennett

Asst. GM Dave Gottfried

Mier signs on the dotted line…and heads to Greeneville.

Jiovanni Mier didn’t have a lot of time to acclimate himself to Houston on Friday — in fact, it was one of those here today, gone tomorrow trips that involved taking care of business quickly and moving on to the next task.

That’s fine with Mier. Over the course of 36 hours, he will have signed his first professional baseball contract and arrived to the city where he’ll reside for the next several months — Greeneville, Tenn., home of the Rookie League Greeneville Astros.

Mier, the Astros’ first-round Draft pick, will assume the full-time duties at shortstop as early as Sunday. Prior to his departure, the California native spent a little over a day in the Bayou City, where he signed on the dotted line, autographed a handful of baseballs, met with the media, took batting practice on the field with the Astros and waved to the Minute Maid Park crowd as he was introduced by P.A. announcer Bob Ford in between innings.

Not bad for an 18-year-old only three weeks removed from his high school graduation.

Here’s a quick pictoral overview of Mier’s day:

Mier and Doug Deutsch, the scout who signed him, chat with club owner Drayton McLane.

 

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After a brief exchange of pleasantries, it was time to get down to business. I quickly learned signing a professional contract is sort of like closing on a house. Requires lots and lots of signatures, and then when you think you’re done, you sign your name around 10 more times (Scouting GM Bobby Heck on left).

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That’s his brother, Robert, and his mom, Leticia. Mier’s other brother, Jessie, is a catcher in the Dodgers system.  

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Leticia had to sign the contract as well, because Jiovanni is under the age of 21 — the legal age in New York, where Major League Baseball is based. As Heck pointed out, that is why the relationships between the team and the family of the player is important — the parents or guardians have to know the club will take care of their son.

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Group photo — Heck, McLane and Deutsch; Leticia, Jiovanni and Robert Mier; agents Brodie Scoffield  and Greg Genske.

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Mier signed about a dozen baseballs — the first of many, many dozens of baseballs he hopes to sign throughout his career.

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The Mier family brought personalized champagne bottles to the front office as a thank you…each bottle came with a picture, and the words “in appreciation in joining the Houston Astros.”

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Jiovanni suits up in the clubhouse. I have to say he did a phenomenal job of acting natural despite the cameras following him around.

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Now comes the hard part: meeting the team. Everyone was very welcoming (yes, Tejada included).

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Mier takes batting practice, while Wade takes in the scene from behind the cage.  

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Read Jason Grodky’s full report of the signing here.

Other news from Astros camp includes this bit  about Mike Hampton coming off the DL in time to pitch Tuesday.

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Mier’s BP session was fun to watch, but not quite as entertaining as Ed Wade and Carlos Lee’s exchange behind the cage while the young shortstop was hitting. The two had some laughs as Wade sent some pretty funny zingers Lee’s way. My favorite:

Lee (noticing Mier is a good hitter): “He swings like me.”

Wade: “He swings like you. I just hope he doesn’t run like you.”

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For those of you on Facebook (and really, these days, who isn’t?), are you member of the Astros Facebook page? It’s a useful tool — sort of one-stop shopping for information about promotions, ticket specials and player appearances, while also providing links to this blog and the news of the day from Astros.com.  I’m also posting a bunch of photos under the fan photo section at the top.

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