With the 2012 Houston Astros starting to approach the level of futility of such memorably bad teams like the 1962 New York Mets, fans can only hope that the future has better things in store. Their new GM, Jeff Luhnow, acquired some excellent prospects in his first draft this year and through some trades of veterans. One of the best youngsters brought in by Luhnow is outfielder Andrew Aplin, a high draft pick and polished player who is being counted on to develop into an integral part of the Astros’ future.
Aplin, who throws and bats from the left side, was a stand-out player for Arizona State University. He was taken by the Yankees out of high school in the 33rd round of the 2009 draft, but elected to play collegiately in order to further hone his skills.
Aplin improved each season with the Sun Devils, finishing with a .313 batting average, 6 home runs, 27 RBI, and 8 stolen bases in 56 games as a junior this season. He has an advanced batting eye and approach, evidenced by the 66 walks he drew during his college career against a total of just 39 strikeouts. His growth and development was rewarded when the Astros took him in the 5th round (159th overall selection) in this year’s draft.
The Astros assigned Aplin to Tri-City of the New York-Penn League after he signed, and have to be immensely pleased with how he has played. In 38 games he has hit .367 with 4 home runs, 19 RBI, 17 steals, and a 22/18 strikeout to walk ratio. Players with such discipline this early in their professional career is rare, so Aplin is more than living up to his draft status.
I was recently able to chat with Aplin prior to a game in Vermont. His multi-tool skill set is exactly what the Astros need, so keep an eye on this fast-rising prospect.
Andrew Aplin Interview:
How did you first get interested in baseball?: When I was little my dad always played baseball and my older brother played too, so I just grew up in a baseball household. As soon as I could walk and pick up a baseball, pretty much I loved it.
Who was your favorite team and player when you were growing up?: The Oakland A’s, and Ken Griffey, Jr. was my favorite player. Just his work ethic and talent and how he played the game. He always played hard and made good plays. He was the young talent at the time and I just idolized him.
You had a baseball card in the 2008 Upper Deck set when you were still in high school; what was that like?: It was really cool. I had never had anything like that before, so having a card like that made me feel really good. Growing up collecting cards of other players; I finally had one, so my parents and I, we loved it.
What led to you forgoing signing with the Yankees when they drafted you in 2009 (33rd round)?: Arizona State. I just always wanted to go there as a kid and grew up watching them play in Omaha. Their tradition is what I had my mind set on. I made a good decision. I’m here now and I love it.
How did you find out that the Astros were going to draft you?: I got a call right before the pick that said, “Hey, we’re thinking of taking you, is this something you want to do?” I said yes, so I saw my name get called and me and my parents were just so excited.
After you signed did you do anything special to celebrate?: No. I came right out here a couple of days later. Actually, I went out to Florida first and then came out here, so I didn’t have much time. We’ll probably do something in the off-season.
How difficult is it to elevate your game now that you are playing professionally and against a higher caliber of competition?: I just continue to play hard and be competitive. I just try to go out there and win and not do too much. Player-wise, it’s a lot like making the team out of ASU. It’s very, very competitive with good players all around you. You’ve just got to come out and play hard.