The Astros are on the clock, at least unofficially.
They will pick first in the 2012 draft.
When the Minnesota Twins won their 60th game Thursday afternoon, it ensured the Astros would make the initial selection on June 4. If Houston wins the remainder of its games and Minnesota loses the rest of its games, the teams would finish with the same record, but the Astros "win" the tiebreaker because they had a worse record the previous year.
"It's a great opportunity, but it's the only time I ever want to have it," Astros scouting director Bobby Heck said. "You always want to be picking in the late 20s or 30, but when you have a chance at the caliber of a No. 1 pick, those are the players who help you replenish your system."
It will be the third time in franchise history that the Astros have the No. 1 pick. The Astros took left-hander Floyd Bannister No. 1 overall in 1976 and catcher/third baseman Phil Nevin first in 1992.
Though Bannister went only 11-18 in two seasons with the Astros, he won 134 games in the majors.
Nevin played just 18 of his 1,217 major league games for the Astros. He was chosen five spots before the Yankees took shortstop Derek Jeter.
"Our approach right now is get the best talent pool and get it in the right order," Heck said. "Right now, it's just going to be talent-driven in evaluating players. Also, be mindful that the best player on draft day is not always the best big-league player or the best long-term big-leaguer. You look at a lot of drafts, and a few (years) later, a lot of those orders would be reversed. The idea is the guy who has the most impact in the major leagues for a long time."
Heck said there is no consensus can't-miss No. 1 pick along the lines of Stephen Strasburg (2009) or Bryce Harper (2010). Of course, the draft is more than eight months away.
"We'll walk into it open-minded," Heck said. "At this point, we've got a handful of names of guys who are targets. That group will probably grow throughout the fall as we begin scouting and seeing high school players at showcases as well as visiting four-year colleges on scout days. Hopefully as we get closer to the draft, we'll start zeroing in on a couple of guys."
The current Astros snapped a two-game losing streak Thursday, winning 9-6 in the series opener against the Rockies.
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