Astros beat clock, sign third-rounder Wates

Astros beat clock, sign third-rounder Wates

HOUSTON -- The Astros signed Virginia Tech outfielder Austin Wates just minutes before Monday night's deadline to sign players from the First-Year Player Draft, inking him to a signing bonus worth $550,000, according to a person close to the negotiations.

Wates, who hit .382 with eight homers, 54 RBIs and 18 stolen bases in his junior season at Virginia Tech, was picked in the third round, the 90th overall player taken in June's Draft. The Astros wound up signing 35 of their 52 picks, leaving sixth-rounder Adam Plutko as the highest unsigned pick. He'll attend UCLA instead.

Plutko was one of three high school Draft picks the Astros were hoping would accept their offers to sign Monday.

"We exhausted all avenues with the players that we believed were ready to begin their respective professional careers," Astros assistant general manager/director of scouting Bobby Heck said. "There were a handful of offers on the table up until the signing deadline that would be viewed as significant, but those players chose college as the next step in their baseball development."

Wates, who took a physical in Houston earlier this month, was a standout soccer player in high school and once earned regional All-America honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. He will work out for a few days with the Astros' Gulf Coast League affiliate in Florida before heading to short-season Tri-City.

"We feel very good about the 35 new players that we were able to add to the Astros organization throughout this summer," Heck said. "A great number of these players have gotten off to good starts as they have put their best foot forward with the opportunity that was put in front of them.

"The work of this scouting staff can not be understated as they have not only identified the talent, signed the players but our scouts also recognized and valued the character, work ethic, and desire of these prospects. Today was another step forward for the Houston Astros organization, and I cannot say enough about the continued support of our front office leadership and our owner Drayton McLane."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.