HOUSTON -- After waiting five hours to make their first pick on Thursday, the Houston Astros named left-handed-hitting infielder Derek Dietrich from St. Ignatius High School in Parma, Ohio, as their first selection in 2007 First-Year Player Draft.

Dietrich, who turns 18 on July 18, hit .435 over 27 games this year, knocking 10 home runs and 11 doubles while recording 43 RBIs. He also drew 25 walks.

"I'm thrilled," an ecstatic Dietrich said on a conference call, about an hour after the Astros announced their selection. "It's an amazing feeling."

Dietrich worked out at Minute Maid Park last week and said he knew this was where he wanted to be.

"It's such a first-class organization, by the way they conducted the workout," he said. "They have great people there."

The Astros envision Dietrich as a third baseman in the future but will have him play his natural position at shortstop when they send him out to the Minor Leagues.

"We want him to get professionalized," said senior director of player personnel and scouting Paul Ricciarini. "We want to keep him at a position where he's accustomed to playing at. We want to get his bat going without having to make a position change and then to compound that with adjusting to the speed of the game at the professional level."

Ricciarini tabbed Dietrich as a potential power hitter in the big leagues.

"He's a very polished-looking high school hitter," Ricciarini said. "He's got a good feel for the offensive part of the game. We project power out of the kid. He has a good swing, a very good concept of the strike zone. We've got a very good bat here. He's an excellent athlete."

The Astros' first pick arrived in Round 3 -- No. 111 overall. Because they signed Type A free agents Carlos Lee and Woody Williams, the Astros did not have picks in the first or second rounds.

Even though he wasn't a traditional "first-rounder," Dietrich said it was still special to be the team's first pick.

"It's such an honor to be the first pick of an organization," he said. "It means a lot to me knowing that they liked me the best and they wanted me. That's what you want to know, that a team wants you. It's a great feeling."

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This is the second year the Astros have selected a high school player as their first pick. Last year, they took catcher Max Sapp out of Bishop Moore High School in Windermere, Fla.

"We've been traditional in taking a lot of college pitching in the past, maybe at the expense of maybe a dearth of [position] players," Ricciarini said. "So we're concentrating more on younger players with upside."

Dietrich had originally committed to play baseball for Georgia Tech, but he said signability won't be an issue for the Astros.

"I don't see it being any problem," he said. "From the beginning, I really wanted to start my professional career. I'm glad I was given the opportunity by the Astros."

Dietrich brings with him Major League pedigree. His grandfather, Steve Demeter, had a brief big-league career, playing 11 games for the Tigers in 1959 and four for the Indians in 1960. Demeter recently retired after spending almost 50 years in the Pirates organization, serving in the Minor Leagues as a player, coach, manager and scout.

"He was here the whole time," Dietrich said of the Draft process. "He's one of the most valuable tools. I'm so glad he was able to help us out. He's glad for me. He's told me all the stories about Minor League baseball, and I'm so excited to get out there."

Round 4
Brett Eibner, RHP, The Woodlands (Texas)

"He throws a fastball, curveball, change," Ricciarini said. "He's been up to 94 [mph] on the speed guns. A real athletic kid. He comes from an athletic background. He's a kid that really wants to play. He's got quality stuff right now, which can only get better. We're really excited about him."

Round 5
Collin DeLome, OF, Lamar University

DeLome is a left-handed-hitting center fielder. "He shows advanced feel for the hitting area of the game he's an instinctive center fielder," Ricciarini said. "He's flexible at all three positions. He runs well, above-average speed on the bases. He's more of a gap/doubles occasional home run-type power guy."