Astros draft 53rd pick to be 3B, not pitcher

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HOUSTON — Despite having an upper-90s fastball that was one of the best in the Draft, two-way high school player Joe Perez of Archbishop McCarthy High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will be developed by the Astros as a third baseman.

Astros director of scouting and player development Mike Elias said Perez — taken Monday with the No. 53 overall pick in the second round of the 2017 MLB Draft — will undergo Tommy John surgery on Tuesday, but that wasn’t the reason the Astros chose to draft him as a third baseman rather than a pitcher.

“We appreciate his talent both ways and viewed him as a top pick in either direction, but we want to try the bat first, for sure,” Elias said.

The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The preview show begins at 11:30 a.m. CT, with exclusive coverage beginning at noon CT.

The Astros had four selections Monday. They took University of North Carolina right-hander J.B. Bukauskas with the No. 15 overall pick in the first round, Texas A&M right-hander Corbin Martin with the No. 56 overall pick in the second round and Arizona first baseman J.J. Matijevic with the No. 75 overall pick in the Competitive Balance Round B. Both Martin and Matijevic came from picks the Astros gained from the Cardinals in the wake of the data breach scandal.

Perez, the No. 92 prospect on MLB Pipeline’s Draft Top 200 Prospects list, had been shut down earlier in the spring with a tired arm and some soreness, but he returned to show the same explosive stuff, including his slider, which flashes plus at times.

“But we prefer his talent as a hitter and we’re going to send him out as a third baseman,” Elias said. “He’s got a plus arm, he’s huge power. He can hit. He had a tremendous season in some of the best high school baseball you’ll find in the country down there in Broward County in South Florida.”

Perez, 17, hit .526 (40-for-76) with 14 doubles, nine home runs, three triples and a 1.726 OPS during his senior year. The right-handed-hitting infielder was named a 2017 Rawlings-Perfect Game first-team All-American, as well as a 2016 underclass first team and 2015 underclass second team selection by Perfect Game.

Perez will undergo surgery Tuesday in Pensacola, Fla., to be performed by renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews. The Astros hope to sign him and supervise his rehabilitation.

“It’s a bit of an usual situation given that there’s a Tommy John surgery,” Elias said.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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