HOUSTON -- Although the Astros selected a left-handed high school hitter (Derek Dietrich) with their first selection for the second consecutive year, their 2007 First-Year Player Draft as a whole might be remembered for the team's emphasis on experience.

Houston used 23 of its first 30 selections on players from the collegiate ranks, a course of action that could result in having those players progress through the Minor Leagues at a faster rate. But they also took several notable "calculated risks" in the form of junior college and high school players -- particularly early in the Draft -- in an effort to look for more upside.

"This particular draft was deep with nice balance," Astros senior director of player personnel and scouting Paul Ricciarini said. "The depth allowed us to be very smart as to what we did. We took kids with more upside -- power arms and power bats."

Astros general manager Tim Purpura said he issued Ricciarini a challenge before the Draft.

"The one challenge I gave to our staff was to diversify the portfolio," he said. "I wanted them to look at some high-ceiling high school players and some junior college players, in addition to the college players. The goal was to get younger, more athletic and diversify [the system] with regard to the players' ages and abilities. I think we've accomplished that pretty well."

One of Houston's calculated risks on the Draft's second day was 13th-round selection Chad Jones of the Southern University Lab School in Baton Rouge, La. Jones is most known for his football skills, where he's one of the top defensive back recruits in the country and has signed to play football at LSU in the fall. But he's also a dynamic left-handed center fielder, and a potential steal for the Astros should he choose to play baseball.

"He's an incredible athlete," Ricciarini said. "His physical talent is impeccable, and he's a quality individual from a quality family. He's very mature, very physical and has very strong baseball ability. There's a lot of upside."

Houston has until Aug. 15 to sign Jones as well as its other selections before losing its rights.

From an offensive standpoint, the Astros selected four catchers and three third basemen among their first 25 choices, a priority on two positions where the organization has been thin in recent years at both the Major and Minor League levels.

All four of those catchers -- Jonathan Fixler (19th round), Kyle Miller (21st), Kevin Carkeek (25th) and Sal Iacono (26th) -- played at the college level.

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"I think that's an area that the last two years we've put some emphasis on," Purpura said of the catchers. "If you look in the game, there's not that many all-around, good catchers and hopefully we can develop some in the organizations. One of our philosophies is to hone in on the premium positions -- catcher, shortstop and center field -- and that up-the-middle strategy is something we've tried to stick to."

Though the team stressed left-handed pitchers as a priority before the Draft, it stayed away from them for a majority of the Draft, and didn't select one until Kyle Erdman in the 40th round. The Astros did, however, give significant emphasis to pitching, selecting 18 among their first 40 new draftees.

"I don't think we can ever have enough pitching," Ricciarini said. "Our game plan was to go players early, but if it was a pitcher, that's fine. We can trade pitching for anything. The left-handed pitching wasn't there that we thought might be at times, but independent of that I thought we did a nice job with the balance."

While many fans were concerned about the team lacking a first- or second-round selection, Ricciarini said that may have helped the team in some ways.

"By not having a one or two, we spent more time on the depth of the draft, which allowed us to see more kids more often, and have more conviction on our choices," he said.

Here's a rundown of the team's Draft picks, with observations from the Astros' war room on the first-day selections:

Round 3: Derek Dietrich, 3B, St. Ignatius HS (Ohio)
"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."

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, and 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."

Day 2
No. 201: David Dinelli, RHP, Sierra (Calif.) JC
No. 231: David Dixon, 2B, Auburn U.
No. 261: Chad Bettis, RHP, Monterey (Texas) HS
No. 291: Luis Pardo, RHP, Florida Gulf Coast U
No. 321: Matthew Cusick, 2B, U Southern California
No. 351: Robert Bono, RHP, Waterford (Conn.) HS
No. 381: Brian Pellegrini, 3B, St. Bonaventure (N.Y.) U
No. 411: Chad Jones, CF, Southern University (La.) Lab School
No. 441: Craig Corrado, RF, U Tampa
No. 471: Matthew Fitts, RHP, Lewis & Clark (Idaho) St Col
No. 501: Devon Torrence, CF, Canton South (Ohio) HS
No. 531: Mason Roberts, RHP, Cisco (Texas) JC
No. 561: Brian Esperson, RHP, Mercyhurst (Pa.) Col
No. 591: Jonathan Fixler, C, Indiana U
No. 621: Jeffrey Greenwalt, RHP, Souderton Area (Pa.) Sr HS
No. 651: Kyle Miller, C, Central Florida CC
No. 681: Bernard Anderson, RF, U New Orleans
No. 711: Charles Gamble, 3B, North Carolina A&T St U
No. 741: Philip Stringer, SS, Auburn U
No. 771: Kevin Carkeek, C, Oakland U
No. 801: Sal Iacono, C, Princeton U
No. 831: Brett Robinson, RHP, Florida Southern Col
No. 861: Jared Pitts, RF, Stephen F. Austin St U
No. 891: Travis Sweet, OF, U Iowa
No. 921: Danny Gil, RHP, U Miami
No. 951: Jason Dominguez, RHP, Pepperdine U
No. 980: David Miller, RHP, Stephen F. Austin St U
No. 1009: Cody Phipps, CF, Vauxhall (Canada) HS
No. 1038: Brian Wabick, RHP, Oakton (Ill.) CC
No. 1067: Jordan Powell, RHP, Southern Illinois U Carbondale
No. 1096: Albert Cartwright, CF, Polk (Fla.) CC
No. 1124: Robert Leonhardt, RHP, Stephen F. Austin St U
No. 1152: Robert Weinhardt, RHP, Oklahoma St U
No. 1180: Scott Fletcher, SS, Starrs Mill (Ga.) HS
No. 1208: Kyle Erdman, LHP, Oakton (Ill.) CC
No. 1234: Jim Pitkin, LHP, Ross S Sterling (Texas) HS
No. 1260: Christopher Turner, OF, Brandon (Fla.) HS
No. 1286: Marques Williams, RF, Compton (Ca.) CC
No. 1312: Cat Everett, SS, Tulane U