June 21, 2024

As June approaches, the MLB Draft is on the horizon, and with it come numerous mock drafts. Although the draft is unpredictable, fans enjoy seeing which players their team might target and monitoring these prospects during the college baseball postseason or examining their regular season stats. In the latest mock draft from Bleacher Report, the Houston Astros are projected to select a college hitter.

With the 28th overall pick, Bleacher Report’s Joel Reuter predicts the Astros will choose Sam Houston State catcher Walker Jenek.

Houston Astros Take Catcher In Recent MLB Mock Draft

Sam Houston State missed the college baseball tournament, but Janek’s breakout season at the plate was impressive. The 21-year-old had a solid 2023 season, hitting 13 home runs with a .926 OPS in his sophomore year. In 2024, he significantly improved.

In 58 games, Janek ranked top five in his conference in batting average (.364), home runs (17), and RBIs (58), and led the conference with a 1.185 OPS, making him one of the top players in Conference USA in 2024.

As a draft prospect, Janek is widely regarded as a first-round pick. MLB Pipeline ranks him as the best catching prospect in the draft, placing him 23rd in their top 200 prospects.

While Janek’s offensive performance was strong, his standout skill is his defense. He won the Defensive Player of the Year award in his conference as a catcher. According to MLB Pipeline, his arm is his best tool, rated a 60 on the 20-80 scale, which indicates a plus tool.

Despite his solid stats, Janek’s scouting report notes “below average” bat speed and a tendency to be pull-happy. However, he has improved his plate discipline, increasing his walks from 26 in 2023 to 40 in 2024.

Overall, Janek appears to be a reliable defender with offensive potential, a valuable asset for the Astros. Yainer Diaz has struggled with a .645 OPS and 85 OPS+.

While Janek wouldn’t necessarily replace Diaz immediately if drafted, his presence would bolster the team’s catching depth. It often takes time for MLB draftees to reach the majors, unlike the NFL. Nonetheless, the Astros could use additional catching depth, as backup Victor Caratini is also struggling.

College hitters typically advance faster than other draft picks, as evidenced by players like Adley Rutschman, Wyatt Langford, and Zach Neto. Catching depth is a need for the Astros, making it logical to draft a college catcher in the first round. Janek may not ultimately be the pick, but his selection would reflect the type of player Houston might target on Draft Day.

Walker Janek Stats & Scouting Report

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