Perspective: BA top 10 Astros’ prospects with 20/20 hindsight


The minor league baseball season is over (playoffs ending this weekend), so I thought I would look back at the Astros’ top 10 prospects as ranked by Baseball America before the season.

There are various rankings available and I picked this one because I feel too lazy to analyze someone else’s top 20 rankings instead of a top 10. Thought I would be honest.

1. Carlos Correa. A former #1 overall pick, Correa at Lancaster was a ballplayer toying with the other guys at the A+ level. In only 62 games he had scored 50 runs, knocked in 57 runs, stole 20 bases in 24 attempts, batted .325, on base .416 and on and on. The problem of course was the “only” 62 games. He went down with the fractured fibula and instead of enjoying a AA promotion in the second half of the season, he is missing out on development time.

Bottom line. When he returns in 2015, he will again be the Astros’ top prospect and should start the season at Corpus.

2. George SpringerSpringer was good enough to start the season in Houston, but he would not sign a club friendly contract so he was sent to the minors for more seasoning. Apparently he was seasoned enough after 16 games and brought up. In 78 games, he struck out a ton, hit for a low average and forgot how to steal bases. However — and this is a big however — he completely changed the direction of the club, making impact plays on offense and defense and putting up 20 HR and 51 RBIs in less than half a season. The fans can only pray that his injury problems the last half of the season are a one-time fluke.

Bottom line. He has earned his way off the top prospect list and now will attempt to earn his way on to the top players in the majors list.

3. Mark AppelThe Astros skipped drafting Appel #1 overall in 2012, then after he did not sign with the Pirates, they did pick him as the first overall in 2013, signed him and had him pitch OK in a cameo at Tri-City and Quad Cities. His appendectomy in the off-season threw him off kilter or going to hitter’s paradise Lancaster threw him off kilter or working in the tandem system threw him off kilter (you get to pick). His Lancaster numbers were laughably bad — 9.74 ERA and 1.917 WHIP — and so the Astros did the only thing they could think of (after having tried extended spring training for him). They promoted him to AA Corpus where he pitched better and had some good starts down the stretch.

Bottom line. My best guess is that Appel may still be in the top 3 or 4 on next season’s prospect list, but I have no idea whether he will start at AA Corpus or AAA (this space for lease) next season.

4. Michael FoltynewiczI’ve already told you that I’m lazy, so he is Folty from now on. It is rarely discussed but Folty is also a former first rounder like the folks above him on this list. He is probably the hardest throwing prospect in the organization, hitting 99 and 100 mph on the gun. After starting in the minors, he has been used inconsistently out of the bullpen since his call-up with mixed results. But he is only 22 years old and not fully refined.

Bottom line. He will likely have graduated off this list when 2015 rolls around, but now the key is how will they use him. Is he a starter? Future closer? Trade chip? I hope not the last. I hope he refines his pitching process and gives us many years of hard throwing fun.

5. Lance McCullers Jr. After good performances in 2012 and 2013, this supplemental first round pick in 2012 hit that pitching speed bump called Lancaster this season. The plus side is that he gave up about four earned runs per 9 IP less than Mark Appel at A+. The negative side was a 5.47 ERA. Pessimists can hoist the flag of 18 home runs in 97 innings and more than 5 walks per 9 IP. Optimists can hang their hat on his very young age (20), the Lancaster effect and his great 10.9 Ks per 9 IP.

Bottom line. Some may de-rate him as a prospect next season, but there is nothing wrong here that a little more maturity and a shot of sea level won’t cure.

6. Vincent Velasquez. Two months on the injured list with a groin injury really shortened his season. But he put up a 3.74 ERA at Lancaster which surely must be like a 2.20 at Corpus even in only 55 innings. After missing a whole year in 2011 injured, he had been on a strong roll up the organization.

Bottom line. The Astros need to find a spot on the 40 man roster or he could be a possible Rule 5 loss. He will probably hang around this spot in the top 10 going into 2015, but good early season work could get him to AAA in a hurry.

7. Jonathan Singleton. Well he may have been only seventh on this list headed into 2014 (mostly because of struggles in 2013 with a drug suspension and a slow roll at AAA), but he was the 2nd of these prospects to make it to the majors. His audition has been a mixed bag of strikeouts, low batting average, along with power and runs batted in.

Bottom line. The Astros have to be suspect of his low numbers but intrigued by run producing ability even with a sub-.180 BA. One would imagine they will give him more time (he turns 23 next Thursday) to show himself and if they give up, will try and package him in a trade.

8. Domingo SantanaSantana had consistently shown an ability to put up good numbers at a very young age as he was promoted year after year up the minor league chain. Yes, he struck out too much but he always seemed to be putting up .850+ OPS’s everywhere he went. So the Astros had a OF need and they promoted the 21-year-old to the majors (and most of us fans were all for it). But 17 ABs, 14 strikeouts and no hits later he was sent back down and not brought back up at the September call up.

Bottom line. You have to wonder what the Astros are thinking about this young man, but hey he was in the majors when a lot of these guys were still in school or in the lower minors age-wise. Hopefully, he has learned and he will grow.

9. Michael FelizSpeaking of 21 years old, Feliz is only slightly younger than Santana and pitching at A ball this season. He had one of the strongest seasons in the Astros’ system last season but after a promotion to Quad Cities had some struggles, especially with his control this year. His 9.7 Ks per 9 IP is still promising, but he needs to walk fewer and give up fewer hits per 9 IP.

Bottom line. Feliz is another potential Rule 5 loss, and if it comes down to protecting him or Velasquez you would think they might take a chance and expose him.

10. Asher WojciechowskiWojo looked like he was lined up to contend for the fifth spot in the Astros’ rotation headed into this spring training. He ended up missing a big chunk of the season with an injury. He pitched poorly at OKC as he worked himself into game shape, but ended up throwing a few gems towards the end of the season.

Bottom line. Asher will be 26 when the next spring training comes around. He will probably not be on the top 10 prospect list, but he could be ready to finally do something next season. But will it be here?

So where are you with this analysis – and who is on your top 10 prospect list heading into 2015?

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72 comments on “Perspective: BA top 10 Astros’ prospects with 20/20 hindsight

  1. Dan, good rundown. I think Appel could be in Houston this time next year if not sooner. I’d hope the Astros don’t give up on Santana (like J.D. Martinez) since he is so young and I’ve long be an Asher Wojalphabet fan, but something is going to have to give on the 40-man this winter. That could mean as many as 3-4 of these guys aren’t in the organization next year. Possibilities: Santana, Asher, Singleton…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Luhnow’s computer is going to be working OT this off season to figure out who to protect, who to expose, who to release, who to promote and who to trade.

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  2. -Correa was ready for AA before he got hurt, according to his manager. He will be bigger and stronger in April. He wasn’t a speedster and his injury won’t affect his speed, his arm, his bat or his power or his glove. When he gets to Houston he will hit more home runs than he ever will in the minors. He will be one of the greatest Astros ever.
    -Springer will be better next year. the game will slow down for him.
    -Appel will pitch better next year.
    -I think Folty will drop off the prospects list next year. He’ll be in the majors.
    -McCullers earned a promotion last night.
    -Velasquez is ready for AA. Some guys from AA are gonna be moved.
    -Singleton is our 1B next year. He improves.
    -Santana isn’t ready. He moves up the list or gets moved in a trade.
    -If Feliz is protected, he ought to move to AA fast.
    -Wojo’s injury hurt him. He has to make this team in April or he will be passed up by others.
    That’s my take on this year’s list. Next year’s list is next.

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      • Dan, Rio Ruiz just led off the bottom of the tenth with a walkoff home run. Lancaster leads Visalia 2 games to one in the best of five championship series.
        Could you just imagine Corpus Christi next April with a rotation of Appel, Hader, McCullers, Velasquez and Feliz? They also have Devenski, Kyle Smith, Hauschild, Lambson, Tyson Perez, Aaron West and Weiland on their roster. Wow!

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  3. OK here is my top 10 prospects for next spring
    1. Correa
    2. Appel
    3. Santana
    4. Moran
    5. Velasquez
    6. Feliz
    7 Ruiz
    8. McCullers
    9. Hader
    10. Kemp

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  4. Wish we had a topflight catcher in the system. Captain Useless was hitting cleanup tonight and , well, you know.

    I wouldn’t give up on Singleton just yet, but next year is vital.
    Not worried about McCullers…Lancaster is a launching pad.

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  5. Luhnow has a very good problem. He now has to dump “probably marginal” MLB talent in order to keep “probably good” future MLB talent. There will be a JD Martinez in the group. And there will be several Wallace, Boggy, Greene, Cedeno, etc in the group. Possibly the Astros will be forced into being Rule 5 “givers” and not “takers.” This Winter there will be a lot of upheaval on the 40 man. This time 3 short years ago (2011), Altuve & Corporan were the only current Astros that played for the team.

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  6. We talked about this a few weeks ago – there would seem to be two sets of sacrificial lambs – as in sure things to go and question marks. And there assuredly will be more lambs from the pitching side than the everyday side (not tough prediction since they have 24 pitchers on the 40 man plus four 60 day dl folks).

    Sure things to be waived, traded, options not picked up or exposed to Rule 5 – Guzman, Albers, Crain, Owens, White, Bass, Krauss
    Some folks likely to go or on the cusp – Cisnero, Hoes, Downs, Veras, Deduno, Buchanan, Cruz, Zeid, Petit

    I’m sure y’all might think differently

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  7. old pro – what do you think happens to Delino Deshields Jr? He did not tear up AA – his BA was .236 / his OPS .706, but he did score 75 runs and steal 54 bases and he just turned 22. Will they protect him? Trade him? Let him be cherry picked?
    Just do not know how toxic he is as a prima donna.

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    • Initially, I thought the same. Then, I thought about it a little more. The age and speed work in his favor. More to the point, his OBP was .346 despite a .236 AVG … And he is not a slap hitter. Also, he took a nastry pitch to the face early in the year. I think you keep him at least one more year. My only real concern is his lack of interest in playing defense.

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    • I honestly think the closer he gets to the majors, the more valuable he gets. If I was the GM I would keep him and then start him in LF in CC with the understanding that if he has the second year jump there that he had in Greeneville and Lancaster, that I will get him to AAA by mid year and if he produces there I will call him to the bigs in September. That puts everything in his lap. He’s 22 now and still two years younger than AA age so I think he has a chance to show his stuff at a level he’s familiar with.
      He is easily a top 10 prospect in any system but ours.

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  8. And here is a question tied to Billy C’s comment above – we’ve talked about how unlikely it is to pick up a really good catcher already at the mlb level. If there were a stud minor league catcher trapped behind a strong major league catcher – how much of a package would you put together to get him? One of the young pitching studs and a couple position guys?

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    • That’s why it’s so important to play Stassi the rest of the way. We need to see what he can do against MLB competition. Find out if we can go with him or Corporan next year, or have him replace Corporan and find somebody else to start. Let Castro sit on the end of the bench the rest of the season reading his comic books, playing with dolls, rubbing his knees with Ben-Gay, or whatever he does other than working on improving his game. He’s on my all-time least favorite Astros-others on the list include Carlos Lee,Mitch Williams, Dan Miceli, Greg Swindell, Mitch Meluskey, and especially Pete Harnisch (was a good pitcher here, but a complete a-hole and made Roger Clemens look like Mr Rogers…one day I’ll share my story)

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      • I’m with you Billy C, but I have this feeling that the only way that Stassi plays every game down the stretch is if Tropeano starts every game down the stretch.
        But it would be nice to figure out who he is.

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      • Me either. In the case of Harnisch…,in 1993 he’d just pitched a one-hitter. After the game, I saw a kid about 6 or 7 ask him for an autograph. This was outside the Dome. Harnisch actually took the kid’s ball and kept walking. My dad said something to him (‘Hey why did you take the kid’s ball away’, or something along those lines), and Harnisch actually flung the ball behind him without looking, and laughed when it hit a girl in the face. My dad and I were getting our programs signed by Luis Gonzalez at the time, and Gonzo actually apologized to us for having to see that and that was why nobody on the team really cared for him.

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  9. There’s no way I would trade 2 or three good prospects for a catching prospect. Now I would trade them for a good major league catcher, but we already have catching prospects.

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    • Do we have good catching prospects or prospects that peter out when they get towards the top of the minor league pile?
      Just asking your opinion because you do watch the minors closely.
      Who do you think has a chance of being “the guy”

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      • Stassi has a good chance of being the guy, in my opinion. That’s why I’m willing to put up with Castro for another year, to give Stassi another AAA year. He’s real young and has tools. I just don’t want to see both Castro and Dominguez strolling to the plate and then back to the dugout next year. One of them needs to go.

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  10. I’m not so sure the 40 man decisions are going to be that tough. The weight that can be trimmed is pretty significant and I’m certain Velazquez and Feliz are not going to be plucked from A ball and placed on a MLB roster for a full year and miss out completely on a season of development. Since Velazquez was drafted in 2010 is he even Rule V eligible? Same goes for DeShields even if he is eligible. How many teams have excess roster spots to spare for what one could say is still a long shot prospect?
    Here’s my list of potential DFA candidates off the 40 man
    1. Bass
    2.Cisnero
    3 Crain
    4. DeLeon
    5. Deduno
    6. Downs
    7. Owens
    8. White
    9.Zeid
    10. Guzman
    11.Hoes
    12. Krauss
    If you DFA all of them it puts your roster at 32 so not all will be jettisoned but expect 8-10 to go to the waiver wire. Santana last year was a potential very high talent loss so he was protected but I don’t really see anyone else in the system with that kind of upside who isn’t already on the 40 man or isn’t even Rule V eligible.

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    • Guzman and Castro should be playing cards in the clubhouse or something. Actually they should be sitting at home collecting TANF rather than playing pro ball, but that’s neither here nor there lol

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      • If I was being REAL harsh, I’d have thrown in Jesse Crain in there too, but that’d be just wrong… Crain’s like the chupacabra, or bigfoot, or an honest politician…rumors of their existence abound, but nobody’s actually *seen* them…

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      • Jesse Crain – a legend in his own mind. I mean this was not like a Tommy John surgery situation – where is he and why could he never come back? Maybe we should not have signed him instead of not signing Aiken

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      • Crain was probably ready to come back a couple of months ago, but had no interest in playing here. Hey, if you could get a few million for sitting at home watching Honey Boo Boo, would you do it?

        Actually, I’d be watching something a bit better, but you get the point…

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  11. Corporan with 3 walks in 3 plate appearances, and led to him scoring twice. If they don’t want to start Stassi every day the rest of the way, let Corporan start.

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  12. Don’t want to jinx, but Keuchel has yet to allow a hit through 6. Of course, the other day Obi-Wan Kenobi held them hitless through the first few innings before Villar forgot he was playing baseball rather than hot potato.

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  13. Dallas Keuchel is your *ace* now, and since I couldn’t watch this game, he must have been AWESOME!! Give the job @ SS to Petit, or Marwin. Those two guys can play the heck out of SS. Good win all around!
    FIRE VILLAR!!

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    • Billy C and Becky – good win for the good guys.
      The only thing Keuchel struggled with was 3 ball counts.
      I’m going to tomorrow’s game – so will report back Tuesday

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      • Hey Devin, noticed that on MLB as well. He hit 93 twice in that inning against the first batter. After that, he was 90-91 with a couple of 89s mixed in and he even dropped to 88 a couple of times in the 8th. Learned this from a college coach: Sometimes when your pitcher hits his top velocity late in the game, it’s actually an indication he’s tiring and is overthrowing.

        All-in-all, though, what a gem from Keuchel! Whoever manages the team in 2015 may have a tough time determining who the opening day pitcher will be.

        Like

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