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Active Astros scouting in preparation for Draft

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros scouting director Mike Elias spent a couple of days in camp Monday and Tuesday in between scouting trips. He had spent a few days on the West Coast and is scouting in Florida this week as the Astros ramp up preparations for the Draft.

"It's the third week of the college season, and in terms of that, it's still pretty early," he said. "We're getting our first look at college players, particularly college pitchers around the country that only throw on Friday or Saturday."

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Teams have had a month of scouting high school players in warm-weather states, and the Astros are active. National crosschecker David Post has been out West, and other crosscheckers have been in different regions.

The Astros, of course, have the No. 1 pick for the third year in a row, and most believe they'll pick North Carolina State left-hander Carlos Rodon, assuming he's healthy. Houston will look at a variety of candidates regardless.

"The Draft looks like it's going to be a good class," Elias said. "We thought it was pretty good coming in, but our early reports the first couple of weeks of the season, players all seem to have stepped up and maybe gotten a little better and showed really well in their first outing and confirmed to us they're guys [to watch]. We're really excited about the way the Draft class as a whole is shaping up right now."

Elias said he has yet to see any of the candidates the Astros are considering with the No. 1 pick, but they plan to have a presence at nearly every game college pitchers who are potential top picks are pitching. Special assistants like Enos Cabell, Craig Biggio and Roger Clemens will get out and see picks, as well. Ultimately, general manager Jeff Luhnow will get an up-close look.

"Sometimes we'll be scouting the guy early in the season for the No. 1 pick and he sort of works his way out of the group a month or two into the season, and we stopped having someone at every game," Elias said. "We expected to be in the ballpark for 90 percent, if not 100 percent, of the games for these college pitchers we're considering.

"We like to see how they look early, how they in the middle of the season and like to see how they look late in the season, when they're tired. There's a lot of people that need to see them. ... We're careful not to form opinions too early in the process and be close-minded about players."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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