MINNEAPOLIS -- The Astros don't mind playing the waiting game for 17th-round pick Ben Smith, a junior left-hander from Coastal Carolina who had Tommy John surgery in April. He's probably out of action until next summer, but the Astros plan to sign him and oversee his rehab.
Smith struck out 181 in 178 1/3 innings in his college career. He had 39 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings this year before he was injured. National crosschecker David Post and area scout Tim Bittner saw Smith in the first week of the season.
"They had him rated as a sixth-round talent," scouting director Mike Elias said. "He's a lefty with a real good arm. He's going to be shut down rehabbing for another year or so, but we thought it was a really good value pick. We're going to oversee his rehab, get him down at our facility [in Kissimmee, Fla.] and our doctors and medical staff are some of the best. It will be a good rehab environment for him."
The Astros took another pitcher who's had Tommy John surgery in the past -- Oklahoma A&M right-hander Dean Deetz -- with the first pick of the 11th round. He's healthy now and came to the pre-Draft workout in Houston a week ago and was clocked as high as 98 mph.
"He really impressed Nolan Ryan during the workout, and Jim Stevenson, the scout who drafted him, has compared him to a kind of Trevor Rosenthal kind of arm," Elias said. "Just power, upper 90s guy. He thinks he's got a chance to be a 100-mph guy, and his slider is a plus weapon."