With a bunch of free agents hitting the market over the last few days, there is probably no shortage of possible hole fillers out there to help the Astros improve for 2016.
But that’s not what I’m talking about.
Nope, the phone calls I’m talking about are ones Jeff Luhnow should have on speed dial: Fresno and Corpus Christi.
In case you hadn’t heard, the Astros have the top farm system in baseball. Two champions (Fresno and Greenville), a bunch more playoff teams, and the MiLB Player of the Year in A.J. Reed.
Yep, despite several promotions this year — Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers, Preston Tucker, Vincent Velasquez — the cupboard is far from bare. Here are the top prospects that you’ll likely see in Houston next summer.
1. Matt Duffy: Primarily a third baseman — but a guy who took quite a few reps at first base in 2015 — Duffy has been incredibly consistent in the minors, season after season. In 2015, Duffy’s .850 OPS came with 20 HRs, 104 RBIs and just 90 Ks (48 BBs) in 490 ABs. He earned a sip of coffee in Houston and seemed to be no worse at the next level.
2. A.J. Reed: Not to be outdone, Reed led the minors with 34 homers, drove in 127 runs and tallied a 1.044 OPS between Lancaster and Corpus. His 122 Ks (86 BBs) are a bit troubling, since it’s about 25 percent. That said, that much power and a .432 OPS are worth a look.
3. Colin Moran: If Duffy doesn’t work out — or becomes a DH — there’s a better defensive option in Colin Moran. His range is not huge, but he’s got good hands and a good arm. Plus, his .840 OPS with 9 HRs, 67 RBIs in just 366 ABs (injuries have slowed him) from Corpus are fairly impressive, especially since he started slowly due to getting beaned.
4. Joe Musgrove: A mid-90s fastball from this big right hander, Musgrove flew through three levels, topping out in Corpus in 2015. Overall, in 100 innings he posted a 1.88 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. Oh, and 99 Ks with only 8 — EIGHT — walks. Yeah, I’m impressed.
5. Michael Feliz: Yes, he had a cup o’ Joe in Houston, but he’s still a prospect. Feliz approaches 100 on his fastball. His 103 Ks in 111 innings pitched with 32 Ks was pretty good with a 1.02 WHIP and 2.83 ERA. Most of that ERA came from Lancaster, where ERAs tend to rise.
6. Mark Appel: Hey, you remember him, right? His combined 2015 ERA (Corpus and Fresno) was 4.37. His BAA was 2.66, and he had a 1.41 WHIP. But he shows moments of brilliance.
Honorable Mentions: Frances Martes, Derek Fisher, Tony Kemp, Tyler White, Chris Devenski.
So, which farmhand do you most want to see?
The Astros will need to bring in a veteran or two. But should that keep them from promoting these kids?
Houston has some talent about ready to burst onto the scene at first and third base. Should they trust those kids — and maybe Jon Singleton gets another short-leash chance — and concentrate on relievers, a starter and maybe an outfielder on the free agent market?