Draft task turns to inking college-committed pitchers

Draft task turns to inking college-committed pitchers

MINNEAPOLIS -- The 2014 First-Year Player Draft is behind Astros scouting director Mike Elias, but he was back at work Sunday in Houston trying to sign some of the 41 players the club drafted over three days. Two of his most challenging players to sign will be pitchers Jacob Nix (fifth round) and Mac Marshall (21st), both of whom are firmly committed to college.

Nix, a 6-foot-3 right-handed pitcher from Los Alamitos (Calif.) High School, has committed to attend UCLA. Marshall is a 6-foot-2 left-hander from suburban Atlanta who has committed to LSU. Both would have been drafted higher had they not been so firm in their college commitments.

Still, Elias believes the Astros have a shot to sign both. They were two of only four high school players the Astros took among their 41 picks.

"Mac Marshall has a very strong commitment to LSU," Elias said. "It was somebody that we saw on the board that late and drafted him on the off chance that we would be able to sign him. We're certainly going to make an attempt to do everything within our power and within our financial capabilities. I don't think it's going to be a real easy sign for us."

Nix is a good friend of No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken, whom the Astros hope will sway Nix away from UCLA.

"The kid is a really tantalizing high school right-hander," Elias said. "He's huge. Our scouts compare him physically to Mark Prior. He's got a really good arm, and we see a lot of potential in him -- especially with our pitching coach and the way they like to teach. We feel he would be a good fit for our system.

"We knew going into the Draft he was going to be an expensive sign. Being we took him in the fifth round, we wouldn't have taken him that early if we weren't confident in the fact we were going to sign him. I am optimistic about that one."

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.