Amateur Signing Bonuses: Astros

Next up in our series looking at each team's amateur spending, the Houston Astros…

  1. Ariel Ovando, $2.6-2.8MM (2010)
  2. Delino DeShields Jr., $2.15MM (2010)
  3. Chris Burke, $2.125MM (2001)
  4. Jason Castro, $2.07MM (2008)
  5. Max Sapp, $1.4MM (2006)

The Astros made a major splash on the Latin American market this summer by signing Ovando, a 16-year-old Dominican outfielder. The exact amount of the bonus isn't known, but it's easily enough to set the franchise record. Ovando's playing career will begin next season.

The son of the man once traded straight up for Pedro Martinez, DeShields was the eighth overall pick in this June's draft and signed for a bonus roughly $100K over slot. He started his career as an 18-year-old down in rookie ball, hitting .289/.337/.395 in just 83 plate appearances. Like Ovando, DeShields' career will begin in earnest next year.

Castro was a bit of a surprise with the tenth overall pick in 2008, but he has more than justified the selection by reaching the majors this June. He hit an unimpressive .205/.286/.287 in 217 plate appearances with the big league club, but that's not out of the ordinary for a 23-year-old rookie backstop. Castro is clearly Houston's catcher of the present and future.

Burke, the tenth overall pick in 2001, reached the big leagues in 2004 and spent the next three full seasons playing all over the field as a super-sub, getting over 350 plate appearances each year. A career .249/.319/.377 hitter with the Astros, Burke was shipped to the Diamondbacks in the Jose Valverde trade in December 2007.

Sapp, the 23rd overall pick in 2006, had his career derailed by a life-threatening battle with viral meningitis, chronic sinus disease, and seizures. He was released earlier this year after hitting .224/.310/.313 in 839 minor league plate appearances. Sapp hasn't played in a game since 2008.

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