All Things Astros and a whole lot more
For Thanksgiving this year, we’re going over to our friend Paula’s house. There will be multiple varieties of stuffing, more than 3.1415 kinds of pie, turkey, casseroles, side dishes, salads. I’m bringing my famous apricot and pomegranate stuffing plus two pies.
I’ve been eating extra each night just training for the event.
My point? Sometimes, there are just so many good options you can’t fit them all in.
Which brings me to Baseball America’s just-released list of the Astros’ top-10 prospects. Like my upcoming Turkey Day Feast, it’s not that there’s anything bad on the plate, it’s just that there’s too many good options for BA to list them all.
For those who haven’t seen the list yet, it runs thus:
1. Carlos Correa, SS, A+
2. Mark Appel, RHP, AA
3. Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, MLB
4. Vincent Velasquez, RHP, A+
5. Michael Feliz, RHP, A
6. Brett Phillips, CF, A
7. Colin Moran, 3B, AA
8. Rio Ruiz, 3B, A+
9. Teoscar Hernandez, CF, AA
10. Josh Hader, LHP, AA
Not a bad list. It’d be tough to say one of those players is undeserving of being a “Top 10” farmhand. Hader was the Cal League’s Pitcher of the Year. Not every ballpark out west is a launching pad, so getting someone who pitches half his games at The Hanger to make Pitcher of the Year is pretty incredible. It’s like having a Rockies pitcher win the Cy Young. Hernandez seems to consistently put up OPS numbers over .750 … when he’s not notching .923 OPS in Lancaster. Phillips, the new “top prospect” name has recorded a career .828 OPS while never striking out 100 times in a season.
Heck, the guy who made me cringe was Appel, until I remembered what he’d done in Arizona this fall.
Of course, this all begs the question, who did they leave off this list?
Well, I’m here to tell you.
Domingo Santana, OF, MLB
OK, as a 21-year-old (he’s 22 now) his MLB debut left something to be desired. But the kid’s probably worth another look or two. After all, his .858 OPS in AAA was pretty amazing despite whiffing about a third of the time.
Lance McCullers Jr., RHP, A+
In most places, a 5.47 ERA would rightfully get you dropped from a top-10 list, but like Hader, McCullers pitched in The Hanger last season. His ERA aside, he struck out 115 batters in 97 innings. And his BAA was .255, while the league average was .266. Ranked by MLB as the Astros’ sixth and 76th overall prospect, it would stand to reason 2015 is a make-or-break season for McCullers.
A.J. Reed, 1B, A
Maybe when a guy wins the Golden Spikes Award we shouldn’t be so surprised when he puts up a nearly .900 combined OPS and ends up in full-season A. But to do so in his first year in the pros, well that’s kind of amazing. Ranked as the Astros 14th prospect by MLB, Reed is projected to arrive in Houston in 2017. If he keeps hitting like last year, taking two levels in a season, and if Singleton flames out, he’ll be in Houston easily in 2016.
Tony Kemp, 2B, AA
He’s small, he’s got no real power, he could stand to walk a bit more, but he strikes out very little. Hmm, where have I heard that before. For the record, he put up a combined .859 OPS with 8 HRs and a .316 BA. OK, so he’s not quite Jose Altuve, but there’s a quality ballplayer there.
Preston Tucker, OF, AAA
A .785 OPS, 24 HRs, 120 Ks and half that many walks. The guy most of us want to see in Houston sooner rather than later didn’t make the top 10. In fact, MLB lists him as only Houston’s 19th best prospect. If he’s No. 19, this is one deep system.
Andrew Aplin, OF, AAA
His .717 OPS between AA and AAA was not exactly inspiring, but his play in the AFL was pretty great.
Joe Sclafani, IF, AAA
Matt Dominguez‘s top competition this spring hit .339 in 192 AAA at bats last season. There’s not a lot of power there, just a guy who hits the ball. If his defense can get up to snuff, he might be an answer at third. Him and …
Matt Duffy, 3B, AAA
Power, 18 combined AA and AAA homers. Average, .283 between the PCL and Texas League. And reportedly a good glove. If he’s not in the mix at third, we’ve signed someone amazing.
So, do you agree with Baseball America’s list? Are these the top 10 prospects in the Astros’ system?
1. Who does not deserve to be on this list? Appel? Hader?
3. Who are you most excited to see in Houston in 2015? The return of Santana? The emergence of Tucker? Aplin or Sclafani? Appel or more of Folty?
4. BA has yet to make its complete list of top 10s. Is Houston’s stocked system still a top five farm?
5. Is there enough of this talent making its way to the top levels? Are there still plenty of great prospects at the A level and below to keep this pipeline going?