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Florida kid's command grabs Astros' attention

Florida kid's command grabs Astros' attention

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Florida kid's command grabs Astros' attention

HOUSTON -- Good hitting or good pitching? Judging by the Astros' continued commitment to pitching in the First-Year Player Draft, they're going with the latter over the former.

Houston took University of North Florida senior Kyle Westwood with the first pick of the 13th round on Saturday (377th overall), making it six pitchers in the first 13 selections for the Astros.

Westwood was a 44th-round pick of the Orioles in 2009, but he decided to attend school near his hometown of Tarpon Springs, Fla. He went 4-1 with a 3.75 ERA in 62 1/3 innings in his senior season.

"Scouts raved about his control around the plate, and he has a plus breaking ball that helps him get hitters out," said Astros director of amateur scouting Mike Elias.

Command is the right-hander's strong point, as he nearly posted a six-to-one strike-to-walkout ratio this year, with 71 strikeouts and only 12 walks. Westwood also posted a 10.75 K's/9 IP ratio on the season.

His stuff isn't considered electric, and his fastball barely touches 92 mph. However, scouts love his consistency and command of the plate, something that likely won't make him a dominant big leaguer but suits him for long-relief work.

"There's a bright future for him as a power reliever," Elias said. "We saw a lot of ground-ball movement on his fastball, and it'll occasionally even blow right by you."

Chris Abshire is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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