Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Astros select shortstop Mier

With the 21st pick in the first round of the 2009 draft, the Astros selected high school shortstop Jiovanni Mier out of Bonita High School in La Verne, California. Mier, 18, is listed at 6-foot-3, 170 pounds and has committed to Southern California. His brother Jessie is a catcher in the Dodgers organization. Here is some video of Mier's hitting and fielding.

All of the scouting reports rave about Mier's defense. He was rated the best high school defensive player by Baseball America and compared to Nomar Garciaparra by MLB.com. He profiles as a line drive hitter and isn't done developing physically. He's "wiry strong," according to his MLB scouting report. One thing that all the reports agree on is that he is as advanced a high school prospect at short as you will find and though he needs to polish a few things, he should be able to stick at the position.

His footwork and his relays both need work, but are definitely fixable. In the video, you can see he does have a quick release when getting the ball to second or trying to turn the double play. Mier also needs to work on his throws, as they can sometimes have too much movement on them and provide problems for first basemen.

The most consistent praise is given to his make-up. In this article, Baseball America goes in-depth on the shortstop, talking with him and his coach about how he deals with pressure. In this Q&A with the blog Baseball Beginnings, Mier talks about a wide variety of things and has a pretty mature approach to hitting. I like that he's aware of how he needs to hit to all fields and, though he acknowledges the doubters don't think he'll hit, he hasn't tried to yank a bunch of homers.

The Astros do not have much depth at shortstop in the minors right now. The starting shortstops in Lexington (Low A) are both international signings who are a ways away. Lancaster (High A) have Chris Jackson and Gabriel Suarez, one who was a mid-round draft pick last season and one who's played independant ball the past two years. The only legitimate prospect currently in the minors is Wladimir Sutil and, at 24, he's a little old for his level (Double-A). Suffice it to say there's no depth here. I'd imagine Mier will start out in Rookie ball and then be the everyday guy at Lexington in 2010.

There doesn't seem to be any signability issues with Mier, so the Astros should be able to get him for the slot price, but I'm a little concerned that as a Calfornia native, he may want to honor his commitment to USC and be their starting shortstop for the next three years.

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