Re-ranking the Astros’ prospects after promotions

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?

3) Chris Devenski. The PTBNL in the Brett Myers trade is making a name for himself with a 7-1 record, 1.18 ERA and .951 WHIP at AA. He would be higher if he was not close to turning 25.

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.

10) Josh Hader. This 21-year-old who arrived as part of the Bud Norris trade is pitching well beyond his years at AA. This season his ERA is 3.64 and has shown improved control with a good 8 K/9 IP.

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?

60 comments on “Re-ranking the Astros’ prospects after promotions

  1. Total side step here – but wanted to pass along the following stats.
    – The Astros have won 5 of their last 6
    – In those 5 wins they have scored 18 runs in the first inning.
    – Springer and Correa combined in the first inning of those wins are 6 for 9 with 1 HR, 6 runs scored and 3 RBIs. (In fact the only time Springer has been retired in the first in those games was when he batted twice in the 13-0 game against Seattle and made the last out of the inning.
    – In those 5 wins overall – Springer and Correa are 19 for 45 with 4 HRs, 11 runs scored and 7 RBIs.

    When the Astros score early they have a strangelhold on those games and these two guys are the engine driving this offense right now.


    • Dan, I am very much hoping Springer and Correa have become BFFs and plan to sign deals that keep them in Houston their entire careers. I am betting opposing pitchers wake up frequently in the middle of the night in cold sweats the night before facing them.


    • Dan, you’re not following procedure with this sidestep business. You’re setting a bad example for me. But good points. I would like to see Altuve and Springer flip flopped at some point though. Perhaps putting Altuve in the leadoff role will help him focus more on getting on base rather than swinging for the fence. Heck, this is looking down the road, but maybe one day not so far off in the future, we’ll see Kemp leading off, Altuve, then some combination of Springer, Correa, Tucker, Santana, etc. Yikes!


  2. Thanks for the re-rank!

    The performance of Michael Feliz and Mark Appel continues to be a bit of a bummer, but I’m excited to see Phillips, Fisher and Reed up with the big club some day soon.

    Also, I may have forgotten how to spell my own name, but I do know that Brett PhillipS name has an ‘S’ at the end. 🙂


  3. Moran is still in my top 10, right in front of Kemp. I have Musgrove and Appel ahead of Devenski. Really like your rankings as a whole and think you did a good job.


    • op – Not that I am arguing at all here – but I think it would be interesting to hear your thought process. If I was totally honest I should have had Moran in there instead of Shirley just because of age difference – but wanted to see if I could stir the pot a bit.


      • My thoughts are that Moran started slow and got real hot and got hurt. He was out a month or so and when he came back he got hot and then got hurt. When Moran gets healthy I think he will hit and he is still a valued prospect.
        Appel still has a 97 mph Fastball and a plus curve and two other pitches. When he gets comfortable with himself he is going to pitch well. He has the stuff.
        I’m not convinced yet that Devenski has major league stuff. So far he has shown me that he is a really good AA pitcher with control. But does he have great stuff like LMJ has? I don’t know yet, so I am not going to rank him high for doing what David Martinez did in AA a couple of years ago. I have to see more.


  4. I’m fearful that I am suffering from post-promotion depression right now. Taking Correa from prospect to pro makes me unfairly devalue the remaining milb guys.

    – JD Davis – cooled off and likely not a defensive option at 3B, but looks like a real hitter when I’ve seen him. If he isn’t in too 10 list…

    On Phillips, would he as a 21 yr old Junior in college this year have been in consideration for #1 overall pick? Think on that when/if the post season rankings slot Bregman ahead of him.


  5. What is amazing to me is the top 20 from 2012 that have not made it or not traded are: Wojo, Comer, Musgrove, Fontana, Stassi, & D. Santana. 2013 adds Danry Vazques, Appel, Hader. & Kyle Smith ??. That is hitting on a lot of selections to either bring up or trade for someone that you hope can play. I may have overlooked someone, but when you have 10-15 picks that either make it in a couple years or you can swap for someone else, you have drafted well.


  6. Dan…….what jumps out to me right off, is how many of these guys we acquired in trades we made over the last 2-3yrs.!! Names we had never heard of, or forgot about until this year! Names like Hader, Musgrove, Vazques, Devenski!!! Oh my GOODNESS, these guys are AWESOME!!! Just think, if they aren’t traded Hader
    Devenski, Velasquez, and McCullars would be in our rotation NEXT YEAR!
    I get goose bumps just thinking of how good this team will be for the next few years!
    By the way……Reed hit his 17th. HR in last nights game! Awesome stuff here Dan!!


  7. I am so excited by the kids in the minors. Even after not counting the call-ups look at the talent in that list – heck there is a lot of talent not on the list and there is a bunch of talent in this year’s draft. It is exciting.


  8. The Astros should get Brent Strom to sign a new contract for about 50yrs. because he has done some AMAZING work with McCullars, McHugh and now Oberholtzer.
    Jut think how good Velasquez can be when Strom get’s to work one on one with him. The same goes for Appel! Obie credits him for finding a new release point throwing inside, and getting his cutter to cut inside!


  9. Today’s lineup for the game against Colorado that starts in about 10 minutes.
    1.RF: George Springer
    2.SS: Carlos Correa
    3.LF: Preston Tucker
    4.1B: Chris Carter
    5.3B: Luis Valbuena
    6.C: Jason Castro
    7.CF: Jake Marisnick
    8.2B: Marwin Gonzalez
    9.SP: Collin McHugh


  10. Springer gets a hit to lead off the game, Correa hits into a double play. but Tucker hits a 2 out home run. So they score in the first inning again (and the way McHugh has been pitching they need to do that for a bunch of innings in a row).


  11. Ruh Roh.

    Looks like it might be another short outing for McHugh. Man, it would be so nice if he could get back to where he was last year, but that looks like a distant memory at this point.


    • Seems like he is throwing way more fastballs and way fewer curves than he usually does.

      CarGo’s home run was on a curve. Maybe he’s lost confidence in his go-to pitch?


    • They had a stat the other day showing that he is throwing a smaller percentage of curves lately than he was earlier in the season. So he may have lost confidence or lost control of those curves or….. could he be avoiding throwing as many because of an injury he is not revealing to the club. I can’t see him today, but the last time I watched him he just did not look comfortable.


  12. Well McHugh gave up 3 runs in the first 3 batters and then settled down and now the team has given him a do-over by tying it up (and yes his single and run scored helped big time with that).


  13. I think Gattis would look like Fred Flinstone over at first. Carter is doing a serviceable job there, and actually has not had a bad month with the bat.


  14. McHugh eval: Rockie (sorry) start, but often makes betters look foolish, and is improving over last few games. Velocity excellent, control needs more work. It will happen.


  15. MLB At Bat informs me that Correa is the 2nd youngest player in 100 years (behind Rickey Henderson) to steal 3 bases in a single game


    • The guy is a fluke – he will never amount to a thing. No, seriously that is pretty amazing – power – speed – poise. And I bet he doesn’t talk about himself in the 3rd person like Ricky did.


  16. I read the blog daily but this is my first time commenting. With Altuve having to maybe land on the DL do we think Tony Kemp will get a look? Thanks everyone really enjoy reading everyone’s thoughts!


    • Robert – welcome and glad you joined the conversation.
      That is a great question and if it needs to be answered by the front office (if Altuve has to go on the DL) it will be a telling action.
      My first reaction was that they would stay within the 40 man roster which points to (sigh….) Jonathan Villar.
      However the fact they frog leaped McCullers from AA on to the 40 man and on to the big club tells me they will make leaps of faith judgments based on talent and perfomance.
      I think they pray they don’t have to put Altuve on the DL, but this time they might go in a new direction like Kemp. Of course they could pick an older hand like Duffy but it will be interesting to see if…..


      • Thanks Dan P! Scares me to think that they might have to bring Villar back up. Definitely a great time to be an Astros fan. It’s nice to be talked about in a positive way by the national media again.


  17. A Ranger’s rookie balked in the only run of the game with two outs and a runner on third in the bottom of the ninth and the Dodgers finally beat the Rangers.


  18. A lot going on there –
    – So the Astros finally stretch that 2.5 game lead to 3.5 games. The fans will take that.
    – Yes we want Bregman signed and the question is whether they can shave some off of that signing bonus towards Mr.Cameron or not.
    – If they don’t sign Daz Cameron do they get another supplemental 1st round pick in the 2016 draft?
    – Jordan Schafer – Kind of amazing that a guy who has posted a .228 BA and a .615 OPS over his career has almost 1300 ABs in 6 seasons. He has a -2.2 WAR after all that time and that is due to a -2.8 dWar on the defensive side.
    – And Robert – yes we can hold our heads high as Astro fans. They are the best team in the AL as we head towards the 1/2 way mark and no one would have thought that possible.


    • Technically, K.C. has a better winning percentage, but the Astros do have more wins. I will gladly take 12 games over .500 as we near Father’s Day. I am thankful for Kike enticing a balk from the Rangers pitcher in the bottom of the 9th also.


    • True DanP, but Shafer has an AAR of +7.00. That is “Attitude Above Replacement.” I was going to use ” COSAR” which is Chip on shoulder, but thought better about using that on Chip’s blog. And he got $4.4 Million while producing those negative numbers.


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