The other day one of the many excellent commenters on this blog asked for a re-ranking of the prospects after the recent call-ups. This request from “Tony Eusabio” seemed reasonable, and who could deny the former Astro his request even though he seems to have forgotten how to spell his own name.
The self-imposed rules are that the recent call-ups (Carlos Correa, Preston Tucker, Lance McCullers Jr and Vincent Velasquez) are not included. Neither is Jon Singleton, who spent about half a season with the big team. Domingo Santana, who has only had brief cups of coffee and is likely headed down after Colby Rasmus returns, is still on the list. Age and level are taken into consideration, but the research time for this piece is measured in minutes, not hours. This is meant for fun and discussion.
The Fine Fifteen
1) Brett Phillips. This 21-year-old center fielder was taken in the sixth round of 2012. He has been ripping up Lancaster (.336 BA/.392 OBP/1.004 OPS with 14 home runs and 51 RBIs) as many do, but not at his young age.
2) Domingo Santana. He is not yet 23, but in his second go-round at AAA he has earned his recent call-up by posting .320/.444/1.028 OPS with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs. Can we forget 14 Ks in 17 ABs last season? Can this product of the Hunter Pence trade forget?
4) Joseph Musgrove. This righty came over from the Blue Jays in the J.A. Happ trade. The 22-year-old was excellent at tough Lancaster this year (2.40 ERA) and excellent in one game at Corpus (1.29 ERA).
5) Derek Fisher. The 21 year old OF has been climbing quickly up the organization since being the forgotten competitive balance first round pick in 2014. After lighting up Quad Cities (.305/.386/.896) he has been almost as good after his promotion to A+ Lancaster with 11 home runs and 49 RBIs between the two stops.
6) A.J. Reed. Chosen five players after Fisher, this big first baseman is eating up the high altitude at Lancaster .323/.424/1.021 with 16 home runs and 59 RBIs in 63 games. He should be in Corpus soon.
7) Jacob Nottingham. A 20-year-old catcher, who has batted .342/.400/.987 with 10 home runs and 43 RBIs who is also gunning down more than half the base stealers he faces, will not stay in A ball long. Nottingham was a sixth rounder in 2013.
8) Tony Kemp. This future super-sub, who plays the infield and the outfield with equal agility was chosen in the fifth round in 2013. His .358/.457/.876 at CC has led to a .360/.467/.987 at Fresno. He has yet to show power, but he is an on base and scoring madman.
9) Mark Appel. Yes the overall #1 pick of the 2013 draft has struggled this season at AA though his prospects have been looking up a little lately. His 4-1 record is fine, but his 4.79 ERA and 1.544 WHIP are not. Will the nearly 24-year-old fall off the prospect list or move up after 2015. He is only on this list at this point as wishful thinking.
11) Francis Martes. An under the radar return from the Jarred Cosart trade, this 19-year-old is killing A ball with a 1.08 ERA and 1.000 WHIP at Quad Cities. At his age, he will likely not get thrown to the wolves at Lancaster until the very end of the season at best.
12) Michael Feliz. His okay 4.41 ERA and 1.286 WHIP at A+ earned him a promotion to AA where he has been struggling in a short stay with a 6.75 ERA. Was his short call-up to Houston the only time he sees the big time?
13) Tyler Heineman. With the steady fall-off of Max Stassi, Heineman, an eighth round pick in 2012 has taken advantage of the catching vacuum at the higher levels. His .318/.383/.783 at AA has morphed into .313/.333/. 697 at AAA. Not massive, but probably good enough to put him in line for Jason Castro’s job.
14) Brian Holmes. A 13th rounder out of the 2012 draft, Holmes tore up Lancaster to start the season with 13.4 K/9 IP!!!! and a 2.37 ERA. These numbers were outstanding enough to get him promoted. The lefty has been steady at AA so far with a 3.47 ERA and 8.9 K/9 IP. He may be knocking on the door soon.
15) Thomas Shirley. Can a 26-year-old be a prospect? He is a lefty. He has pitched well at every level as he has oozed all the way to AAA. He is putting up a 3.00 ERA and a 1.049 WHIP. Maybe he will never be a starter for the Astros. Maybe he will be a cheaper version of Tony Sipp.
There are lots of other players considered. Daniel Mengden and Danry Vasquez played well, then were promoted and then did not play well. Asher Wojciechowski probably scared the front office with his fly ball propensity in his cup of coffee with the Astros this season. Colin Moran continues to be a 3B with the power of a backup middle infielder. Teoscar Hernandez has the post-Lancaster blues as he struggles mightily at Corpus. Certainly some of this season’s draftees will appear on the end of the season prospect list. But for now this is the Fine Fifteen.
What does your list look like?