Astros sign No. 41 pick Lance McCullers for double slot value at $2.5 million

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Part of the Astros’ strategy in drafting Carlos Correa with the No. 1 overall pick was their ability to sign him to a below-slot bonus and use the savings to snag a tough-to-sign player later.

That player turned out to be high school right-hander Lance McCullers, who was considered a top-20 prospect based on talent alone but fell to the No. 41 pick due to signability issues.

Houston’s strategy worked, as they inked Correa for $4.8 million compared to the $7.2 million slot for the top pick and have now used the savings to sign McCullers for twice the slot amount for the No. 41 pick.

Jim Callis of Baseball America reports that McCullers agreed to a $2.5 million deal, compared to the slot amount of $1.25 million. Obviously the debate over whether the Astros made the right call with Correa will rage on for years to come, but in passing on Byron Buxton and Mark Appel they were able to add McCullers as a second high-upside pick.

Jordan Hicks throws 105 MPH twice against Phillies

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One likely wouldn’t guess it based on his strikeout rate, but Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks is one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in the game. The right-hander hit 105 MPH on the radar gun twice during Sunday’s appearance against the Phillies, according to Statcast.

Hicks was asked if he could throw harder than 105 MPH. He said, “I surprised myself yesterday (when he reached (103.8 MPH), I surprised myself today. We’ll see.”

Hicks got the final four outs of Sunday’s 5-1 victory over the Phillies. He walked two and struck out one. He carries a 2.05 ERA but has only nine strikeouts and 16 walks in 22 innings this season.