HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros see Brian Bogusevic as a potential five-tool position player, but they're going to develop him as a pitcher when the left-hander begins his professional career as early as this summer.
The Astros selected Bogusevic as their first-round selection (No. 24 overall) of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday, and the 6-foot-3, 211-pound junior from Tulane University had already informed Astros senior director of player personnel Paul Ricciarini that he wants to concentrate solely on pitching.
A hamstring pull earlier this year set the wheels in motion on that eventual decision.
"I had a little bit of a hamstring injury earlier in the season and had to focus more on pitching, because I couldn't run much, so I couldn't play in the field," said Bogusevic, a native of general manager Tim Purpura's home town of Oak Lawn, Ill. "Looking at it now, I think it's going to be something that I can really benefit from, not having been able to concentrate on just pitching, pretty much ever. I think it's something that's going to be pretty helpful."
Bogusevic was 13-1 with a 2.72 ERA over 17 starts during the 2005 regular season for Tulane. He allowed 36 earned runs over 119 1/3 innings, walking 38 and striking out 119. Opponents batted .239 against the left-hander.
As a hitter, Bogusevic batted .324 (36-for-111) with no homers and 21 RBIs over 36 games.
"He's going to challenge Brandon Backe as to who's the better hitter on this club eventually," Ricciarini said. "He's very talented as a legit two-way player, but Brian has taken the decsion upon himself to want to go out as a pitcher.
"He's a big, strong durable left-handed starter that can give us innings. He's very competitive, has winner-type makeup. We're just really excited at this point."
Bogusevic is expected to start Tulane's first game of the Super Regional round in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, and coincidentally will face Houston's Rice University. The winner of this round advances to the College World Series.
Purpura said obtaining a player from one of the top college programs in the country is "huge," in terms of having a firm grasp of what it takes to play baseball at the highest level.
"Look at (Morgan) Ensberg and (Jason) Lane coming from USC and (Eric) Bruntlett coming from Stanford," Purpura said. "You know they've been taught the game the right way. Those are programs that don't just win, but they play good baseball too. It's a real fit for us."
Along those lines, there is usually an advantage to drafting college players over high school players.
"Certainly with high school players, as far as the amount of teaching and instruction they get, the volume is nowhere near what you get in the college program," Purpura said. "A good college program like Tulane, they know how to teach the game and they know how to win. It's a real positive."
Bogusevic has three pitches: fastball, slider and changeup, and he'll throw an offspeed curveball at times. Ricciarini described Bogusevic as having a great imagination, a good feel for pitching and a terrific competitive nature.
Ricciarini said the scouting staff's expectations of Bogusevic being available when it was the Astros' turn to pick were no better than 50-50, and there was considerable elation when the first 23 clubs passed on him.
In 2005, Bogusevic earned first-team All-Conference USA honors as a pitcher. A legal studies major, he was also named to the College Baseball Foundation National Honors Team, the NCAA New Orleans Regional All-Tournament Team and the Conference USA All-Tournament Team as a pitcher.
The left-hander is one of seven draft eligible semifinalists for the Roger Clemens Award, honoring the top pitcher in college baseball. The winner will be announced on July 14 during a banquet at the Marriott Westchase in Houston.
Bogusevic is also a semifinalist for the Xanthus-Dick Howser Trophy and the Brooks Wallace Award.
Houston had not selected a left-handed pitcher in the first round since taking Billy Wagner in 1993. The last pitcher selected by the club in the first round was right-hander Derick Grigsby in 2002. Bogusevic becomes the second Tulane player drafted by the Astros, joining former Green Wave infielder Mickey McKee, who went to the Astros in the 32nd round of the 2000 draft.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.