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The Houston Astros Draft J.B. Bukauskas With The 15th Pick

J.B. Bukauskas Chatham Anglers via


The Houston Astros Draft J.B. Bukauskas With The 15th Pick

Right-handed junior out of North Carolina University J.B. Bukauskas was selected 15th overall to the Houston Astros.

College Years

As a junior with the Tar Heels, Bukauskas had a tremendous year compared to his freshman and sophomore years

Though his sophomore year was outstanding – posted a 3.10 ERA in 13 starts, 7-2, 111 strikeouts with a K/9 ratio ranked third nationally (12.75) – he would top that with an even better junior year.

With a 9-1 record in 92.2 innings, Bukauskas struck out 116, walking 37. He also posted a career best, and by a wide margin, 2.53 ERA. He also had a career low in hits given up (62), earned runs given up (26), hits per 9 ratio (6.02) and home runs per 9 ratio (0.68).

In 2016, Bukauskas earned himself a spot on the USA Collegiate National Team. To say he was unhittable would be an understatement. He allowed just seven hits and three walks, striking out 21 in 21.2 innings. But that’s not the impressive part. In those 21.2 innings he did not give up one single earned run. One unearned run, but no earned runs. This shows that, among the best of his peers, he can rise up and dominate.

Bukauskas’s stuff

His fastball sits at 93-94 but can touch 98 mph. Along with a hard-breaking slider that can sit around 86.

On the 20-80 scouting scale, he scored the following: Fastball – 70; Slider – 60; Changeup – 50; Control – 50; Overall – 55.

His two plus pitches, fastball and slider, turned heads and helped him to be drafted 15th overall. If he wishes to be a starting pitcher, however, he will need to develop that changeup so it can score higher than 50. His control will also need to be improved, but that is a given, even if he works out of the bullpen.

What the pick means for the Astros

With a team that currently has five starting pitchers on the DL, including their ace Dallas Keuchel, it’s clear the Astros wanted to beef up their starting pitching core. Of course Bukauskas will not make a definitive impact before Keuchel, Lance McCullers or Charlie Morton are reinstated. Having him available in case this happens again later down the road will be helpful.


The six foot, 195 pound 20-year-old has drawn quite a few comparisons from some pretty big names in the game.

Bukauskas was first compared to Oakland Athletics ace Sonny Gray. The two both are hard-throwing righties who stand about six foot and share similar deliveries.

He’s also been seen as a Craig Kimbrel. The both are hard throwing righties and have a plus breaking ball to set down hitters. The only difference between the two would be Bukauskas’s ability to go longer into games.

To get an idea of where he is at currently, he’s been seen as the Astros version of Carson Fulmer. Fulmer made his debut with the Chicago White Sox in 2016 and worked out of the bullpen after being drafted eighth overall in 2015. Fulmer slashed his way through the minor leagues.

He currently plays for Triple-A Charlotte because the White Sox are rebuilding and wish to have him develop his skills a bit more in the minors. The difference is the Astros might keep Bukauskas up after his debut.


Making a solid pick, the Astros seem to be locked and loaded to compete for their first World Series championship in franchise history, and who knows, maybe J.B. Bukauskas could help lead the way.

“It’s kind of an indescribable moment, something you dream about your entire life, to hear your named called on the MLB Draft,” Bukauskas said. “It’s been a whirlwind. Me and my family were reminiscing on all the hard work I put in, and we’re really excited to be here and we’re super excited with what has happened.”