Yes, pure hyperbole here in discussing the Astros High A Lancaster Jethawks. But there is a lot to be excited about for this team and it is not just the hitters that may be opening eyes in the baseball world. Some of the best pitching prospects in the organization are here. On at least one list I looked at – 5 of the Astros top 10 and 9 of their top 20 prospects were starting the season at Lancaster.
The Gold Standard –
These are some of the cream of a very rich crop at A+ ball.
Carlos Correa – The youngest player on the Jethawks may have the shortest stay in California. The #1 overall pick in the 2012 draft is the #1 prospect in the system. He already has 10 RBIs in 9 games and probably will spend more time working on his fielding than his hitting here. Yeah, who wants a young 6′-4″ SS who can hit and field?
Lance McCullers Jr. – Forever known as the guy the Astros could sign because Correa took less than the maximum bonus bucks – McCullers has been pitching like a young stud – good ERA and big strikeout numbers. He has started off solid at Lancaster though allowing two solo shots in 7 IP – Hey if he puts up an ERA anywhere on the good side of 4 it will mean a lot at this stop.
Mark Appel – After appendix surgery – the former overall #1 pick is being eased into the tandem rotation. I would expect them to take it easy on him this season and maybe not push for a promotion until late in the year. He is coming off a good start there – so hope it keeps up.
Vincent Velasquez – The 21 year old may have the most impressive and consistent minor league numbers of any Astros farm hand since being picked in the 2nd round in 2010. Yes, he missed all of 2011, but outside of that and outside a cup of coffee (3 starts) in Lancaster last season – we have seen – WHIP ranging from .989 to 1.182, ERA from 3.07 to 3.35 and K / 9 IP of 7.7 to 10.1. He has started 2014 strongly and he could be knocking on the major’s door in a year or so.
Rio Ruiz – like McCullers – Ruiz was supposedly enticed to sign by money left over after the Correa discount. His numbers in 2013 look pedestrian, but as our bloggers have pointed out – he started off horrendously and then improved throughout the season. If he puts up numbers like he trended towards last season – he could be a quick riser as a 3B.
Under the radar
You may not have heard of all these guys – but there is a chance you will hear of some of them.
Mitchell Lambson – A 19th round pick in 2011 – this 23 year old lefty has put up excellent numbers at every stop – cumulative 2.99 ERA, 1.130 WHIP and 10.1 K / 9 IP. Since there always seems to be room for any decent lefty – he could be knocking on the door very soon.
Teoscar Hernandez – 21 year old who has had solid numbers in the minors so far. He showed a bit more power last season at Quad Cities with 13 dingers and 55 RBIs – but his 97 runs scored with 24 SBs in 123 games standout.
Kyle Westwood – He turns 23 on Sunday so he is a bit older than the other kids. He was drafted in the 13th round last season and pitched excellently in a short stint at Tri-City – 0.81 ERA and .761 WHIP in 44 IP. If he pitches well at hitter’s haven Lancaster they may move him to CC quickly.
Danry Vasquez – Just turned 20 in January – he came to the organization from Detroit in the Jose Veras trade. His stats have been slowly building as he has worked his way up the organization – listed at 6′-3″ and 177 lbs this OF probably has power coming as he puts on a bit more weight and muscle. His combined A numbers last year included 9 HR 60 RBI and a .731 OPS in 129 games.
Kyle Smith – Came here in the Justin Maxwell trade with KC – the 21 year old RHP has had good numbers everywhere but Lancaster (at the end of last season and the beginning of this one). That is not unusual – hopefully he will learn how to pitch from adversity.
J.D. Osborne – A 36 rounder from Wofford College last season – he is on the under the radar list for one reason – 13.2 K / 9 IP so far in all relief appearances in the minors. We will see if the 23 year old keeps this up as he picks on kids closer to his own age.
Tony Kemp – If he keeps stroking it in A+ ball this 2B may appear on the radar soon. He played at A- and A ball last season and put up mediocre BA – good OBP and no power. He may be a typical slap hitting infielder, especially since he is only slightly bigger than Jose Altuve.
Nothing wrong with these players, but 23 and 24 year olds at A+ need to get promoted soon.
Brandon Meredith – This 6th round OF from the 2011 draft is already 24 so the very good numbers he has put up the last two seasons including last years .399 OBP and .906 OPS at Lancaster have to be taken with a sack of salt – but a good early performance here could earn him an early promotion.
Mike Hauschild – Another 24 year old – he has risen quickly – 3 levels since being taken in the 33rd round of the 2012 draft. The RHP put up fine numbers until his promotion to Lancaster, where he like many others before him saw his ERA inflate above norms. This is a key year to see if he will keep swimming upstream.
Carlos Perdomo – A typical utility infielder – hits OK with no power and can fill in at multiple positions. At 24 he could slide up and be another Marwin Gonzales type or fade away.
Dan Gulbransen – 16th rounder out of 2012 draft – this is his 3rd season in the system – but he had only 114 games under his belt starting this season. To date in 335 ABs – this OF has 75 R, 13 HR and 76 RBIs – which are decent numbers but again he has been playing against younger players generally.
Jamaine Cotton – This 23 yr old RHP has put up middle of the road numbers since being drafted in 2010. He tends to give up too many hits per 9 IP. A good performance at Lancaster would give his career a shot in the arm.
Chris Devinsky – This 23 yr old RHP was the PTBNL in the Brett Myers trade with the Chi-Sox. He was putting up solid numbers with decent ERAs and good K numbers until… he went to Lancaster last season. He needs to step it up because there is not a lot of space above him in the minors.
Daniel Minor – A 9th rounder in 2012 – the RHP had an excellent start in Asheville, a decent year at Quad Cities – but needs to rise above last year’s numbers to force himself up the pipe.
Filling Time and Space
That is probably a little harsh – but these guys look like they may just be guys.
Justin Gominsky – Looking at this 11th round pick’s stats from his first three seasons (OPSs of .587, .617, and .628) – I have no idea why this OF has been promoted up to A+.
Roberto Pena – He is only 22 and he has thrown out 38% of the runners against him – so he has that going for him as a catcher. But his minor league career OPS under .600 has to change or he is just filling time and space.
Jake Rodriguez – 19th rounder in 2013 – this catcher’s resume is really light – but he has not shown much of a bat yet. Improvement on the offensive side is the only way for him to distinguish himself.
Juan Minaya – Looking at this 23 yr old RHP stats – he looks like he does not belong here – minor league ERA over 5 – but it is possible that it is a matter of control – he is averaging almost 5 walks a game and perhaps fixing that will give him a route up.
Jordan Scott – After 1270+ ABs this OF has 2 HRs in the minors. He stole 25 bases last season and scored 58 runs – he has an OK BA – .268 and solid OBP – .348, but really needs to do more to be more than a guy.