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Astros ink deal with 10th-round pick Nicely

Astros ink deal with 10th-round pick Nicely

Astros ink deal with 10th-round pick Nicely

HOUSTON -- The Astros locked down another high pick from the 2013 First-Year Player Draft on Thursday, as high school pitcher Austin Nicely signed a deal with the team in Houston.

Nicely, a left-handed starter out of Spotswood High School in Virginia, was the club's 10th-round pick. A lanky two-sport athlete at Spotswood, Nicely turned down a commitment to the University of Virginia to pursue a pro career.

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"I'm happy it's finally a done deal," Nicely said. "It's definitely the toughest decision I've had to make in my life. It's a dream becoming reality for me, and I couldn't pass that up."

The Astros have now signed 24 of their 40 Draft picks, including eight of the top 10.

Nicely wrapped up the deal while on the final leg of a vacation with his family, and Astros director of amateur scouting Mike Elias gave them the tour of the locker room and had a custom-made jersey ready for Nicely.

Typically, Draft picks beyond the second or third round are signed remotely, but Nicely wanted to be in Houston for the occasion.

"It just happened to work out that it was easier for me to get out here than it was for them to get to me," Nicely said. "It's a special feeling, signing and being here to take the moment in."

It just so happens Nicely's favorite player growing up was former Astros All-Star closer Billy, who is also a Virginia native. Though Nicely said he doesn't emulate Wagner in style, it still made him eager to join his idol's former team.

"He was a lefty, threw way harder than I do and was from Virginia, a local boy," Nicely said of Wagner. "I like the way he came at people and challenged people. Just a bulldog out there. If I could pick my career to be like his, I'd take it right now."

Elias said the Astros aren't going the closer route with Nicely, and they will assign him to the club's Gulf Coast League rookie squad in the coming weeks.

"We're going to develop Austin as a starting pitcher," Elias said. "He's got a number of pitches already, including a changeup that's rare to see from a high schooler, that he can throw with great delivery. He's got pro potential."

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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