Astros’ top prospects: A quick makeover


There has been so much focus on the Astros’ rise from the depths of despair and the total makeover of the major league roster over the last few years that it has over-shadowed a rather remarkable makeover at the minor league level for the franchise.  The change in the Top 10 prospects lists since the team entered last year’s off-season has been extremely dynamic and a bit anxiety-raising for true fans of the team.

Here is the Astros Baseball America Top 10 published in November of 2014:

  1. Carlos Correa – Promoted to majors – never to return
  2. Mark Appel – Traded to the Phillies for Ken Giles
  3. Mike Foltyniewicz – Traded to the Braves for Evan Gattis
  4. Vincent Velasquez – Traded to the Phillies for Ken Giles
  5. Michael Feliz – Had a very impressive year in AA punctuated by a cup of coffee at the major league level
  6. Brett Phillips – Traded to the Brewers for Carlos Gomez
  7. Colin Moran – Started off slowly and was injured, but ended up with a very good year in AA.
  8. Rio Ruiz – Traded to the Braves for Evan Gattis
  9. Teoscar Hernandez – Good power (17 HR) and speed stats (33 SB) in AA with high K’s (126) and low BA (.219).
  10. Josh Hader – Traded to the Brewers for Carlos Gomez

So, based on this list, the Astros top 10 list promoted one up to the majors and traded six away. And that does not include other top 20 prospects promoted to the majors (Lance McCullers, Preston Tucker) and traded away (Domingo Santana).

What does the current top 10 list look like? Since Baseball America has not issued a list, this list is taken from mlb.com.

  1. Alex Bregman
  2. Daz Cameron
  3. Kyle Tucker
  4. A.J. Reed
  5. Michael Felix
  6. Francis Martes
  7. Derek Fisher
  8. Joseph Musgrove
  9. Colin Moran
  10. Tony Kemp

Last season’s list had five pitchers, this one after a series of trades has only three. It is topped by three players from the 2015 draft (Bregman, Cameron and Tucker) who have barely gotten their feet wet in pro ball, including two teenagers and two from the 2014 draft (Reed and Fisher),who are just barely more experienced.

Looking at the two lists:

  • Do you think there has been a significant down shift in prospect quality from 2014 to 2015?
  • Is there anyone from the list of those traded that most concerns you?
  • Are you concerned that there are less pitchers on this top prospects list than before?
  • Are you concerned that so few players on this list are within sight of the majors?
  • Does a top 10 list mean anything anyways with players like Tyler White, Matt Duffy, Jandel Gustave, Chris Devenski, Akeem Bostick, J.D. Davis, Reymin Guduan, David Paulino and Teoscar Hernandez waiting in the wings (on the list of prospects 11 through 30)?
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134 comments on “Astros’ top prospects: A quick makeover

  1. ◾Do you think there has been a significant down shift in prospect quality from 2014 to 2015? Not really, because the 3 added from the draft last year are very good prospects, albeit young prospects. Folty and Ruiz don’t worry me at all as I don’t see them becoming top MLB players, and Ruiz may never even make it.

    ◾Is there anyone from the list of those traded that most concerns you? I don’t have PAS so no one traded away concerns me, but of the players traded away the two I think could be very good MLB players is Brett Phillips and Domingo Santana. I don’t see any of the rest amounting to much.

    ◾Are you concerned that there are less pitchers on this top prospects list than before? Not really, because 4 of the 5 guys in our rotation are team-controlled for several years and if they re-sign Kazmir that would mean our entire rotation is team-controlled for, at least, 3 years. In addition, we have some guys that can fill in such as Feliz, Wojo and Straily in addition to possible bullpen help in Hoyt and Ferrell.

    ◾Are you concerned that so few players on this list are within sight of the majors? I am a bit concerned that we will probably lose 2/3’s of our OF after this year and we don’t have viable replacements ready. I would expect the Astros to dip into FA next offseason to help in this area. Otherwise, we have White, Reed and Moran near ready at positions we may need help soon so I’m not overly concerned.

    ◾Does a top 10 list mean anything anyways with players like Tyler White, Matt Duffy, Jandel Gustave, Chris Devenski, Akeem Bostick, J.D. Davis, Reymin Guduan, David Paulino and Teoscar Hernandez waiting in the wings (on the list of prospects 11 through 30)?
    For me, top 10 prospects lists are based upon ability only and does not account for the mental aspect of the game or ability to adjust at higher levels. Luhnow and his staff have had some success finding gems in the later rounds (Phillips, White, Kemmer, etc.) and as throw-ins in trades. I feel comfortable they will be able to add to our depth in future drafts and trades.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh Hader could be a real loss from this list. He’s a lefty, who at 21 was posting a 3.03 ERA / 1.173 WHIP / 10.3 K per 9 IP (and better than that after the trade) at AA. I’ve never seen the young man pitch, but I am assuming he could be even better if he put a bit more weight on that 6′-3″ 160 lb frame.

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      • Hader could be a decent pitcher. Some projections have him being a LOOGY in MLB and, if this is the case, then he won’t be a big loss, but if he turns into a #3 or 4 SP then he could hurt some.

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  2. * Do you think there has been a significant down shift in prospect quality from 2014 to 2015? *

    Absolutely. There is no one in the new top 10 list that projects anywhere as high as Correa or McCullers – or for that matter as high as Appel.

    * Does a top 10 list mean anything anyways *

    How much a top 10 list means to a club depends on a. how good, b. how young, c. how deep, and d.how much under team control the players on the major league team are, position by position. The Astros are going to need to do an extremely good job of drafting high-quality pitchers, catchers, third basemen, and outfielders the next two years. Right now the top 10 list’s reduction in value just means we had better get some help at the big league level very soon from guys like T. White, A.J. Reed, Joe Musgrove, Chris Devenski, and Micheal Feliz, not to mention either Matt Duffy or Colin Moran at 3rd.

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  3. My first thought is – I wonder if this would be the ranking provided by the FO? That aside, “IF” Gattis and Gomez play better in 2016, then No. (And lets not forget Fiers) But if they fizzle, then I want the prospects back. And as to the quality, prospects have to be considered marginal MLB players no matter what rank. They have to continue to improve each step up the ladder. So again, I hedge my answer with “as long as they continue to improve after each promotion” – then No.

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    • Tim, mine was in the spam folder along with numerous IMPORTANT messages from Match dot com, hot singles over 50 in my area, Wal-Mart sales with free delivery, best pizza in Houston (I live 250 miles to the Northeast), year end clearance ads from Target and Home Depot, etc. After deleting 35 emails, I finally found the link to Chipalatta. Good luck on your search. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. If we look at the current Fresno roster, the oldest pitcher is Buchanan at 26. All the position players are at least 25 or younger. The Hooks roster is 25 or younger. The Astros did not fill out their minor league teams with 30+ year olds. The Astros have players that can still get better.

    Here is an interesting story about “prospects.” Please note that White signed for a whopping $1,000 bonus.

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/minors/longshot-white-ready-pay-astros/

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  5. Answering my own questions:
    – Yes the quality of the top 10 seems to be down a bit, but let’s face it – if 3 of the 10 become legitimate / solid Astros – that would be fine.
    – Who I think we might regret trading – Weird that I don’t think it will be Appel. I go with Phillips, Santana and Hader.
    – I am a bit concerned about the lack of pitching at the top, because not that many of the top pitching prospects pan out anyway and it also means we don’t have as many attractive chips there either.
    – Not too concerned about there not being that many close to the majors off the top 10 list because there are a number of folks in the next 20 that are close.
    – I think you have to look at the depth of the talent – not just the top 10. Maybe Akeem Bostick or someone from down the list will be the ace of the bunch. Prospects are just suspects until they make it.

    Other thoughts
    – When I look at the top 30 prospects – there are 0 catchers there. Need to address this over time.
    – Man I love guys like Tyler White. Not the right body shape. Not the big college pedigree. But just hits like a son of a gun. That stat of more BBs than Ks just makes me smile. Give him a shot and lets see what the man can do.

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    • thats something that stuck out for me as well dan, no catchers in the top 30. with castro sometimes suspect and stassi unproven, that certainly needs to be addressed.

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      • That’s because every high school and college has a #1 catcher and so few of them are any good. It is so hard to draw water from a nearly empty well.

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  6. Just for fun:
    Here is the Baseball America Astros Top 10 from 2005.

    1. Chris Burke, 2b
    2. Ezequiel Astacio, rhp
    3. Willy Taveras, of
    4. Mitch Einertson, of
    5. Troy Patton, lhp
    6. Matt Albers, rhp
    7. Taylor Buchholz, rhp
    8. Fernando Nieve, rhp
    9. Josh Anderson, of
    10. Hunter Pence, of

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  7. The only part of the 2015 prospect list that concerns me is that there is no A player in the system. That the A player who was on the list in 2014 won ROY honors in 2015 is encouraging.
    The 2014 list was full of players with flaws and issues and I see one player on the 2015 list with those types of things and that is Fisher.
    The 2015 list has more position players who can hit for BA and OBP and pitchers who look to me to have better heads and more command.
    The loss of Brett Phillips hurts for the future, whereas Gomez is the now factor that Phillips could not give.
    I absolutely like the pitchers on the 2015 list better because they are more complete pitchers.
    I like the Astros 2015 prospect list better because there are major league ready players on it from the #4 spot back. But #28 on the list is the most major league ready player in our minors. That alone makes the prospects list suspect in value.

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    • i think thats exactly so diane. catching used to have a stigma attached to it. with the equipment referred to as ‘the tools of ignorance’. but thats far from accurate, and as you pointed out its a very hard position, physically and mentally. there are few that can stand up to both at a level of excellence. and the fact that so many major league managers are ex-catchers nowadays, shows that really they are at the top of baseball smarts.

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    • A lot of decent high school catchers are lost due to overwork at the high school level by coaches who use them too much while their body is not fully strong enough. They ride the horse until he can’t run any more.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t take a whole lot of stock in those prospect lists. As an example, I just looked back at half a dozen lists from 2011 and Jose Altuve was not to be found in any top 10 list, he even missed a couple of the top 20 lists.

    And as OP notes, we’ve got a guy, our favorite 33rd rounder, who will hit anywhere he is sent on the planet. Too bad Mike Scott has the number in his closet, because I think Tyler White should wear number 33 when he gets up here.

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  9. I wonder what the front office’s long view and short view is on the catching position.
    – Are they going to settle on a 1 year with Castro before arbitration – maybe at $6 million?
    – Would they consider signing him to a multi year – like 3 years $25+ million?
    – Do they think Heineman can fill the bill in 2017 – letting Castro go FA then?
    – Is the backup Stassi? Heineman? Someone they will pick up elsewhere?
    – Is there a C in the organization they think is the next big thing?
    – Will they pick up a C early in the next draft?
    – Do they see the C’s defense and game calling as much more important than their offense?

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    • i’d like to see a 3yr with castro at a reasonable rate. he does pretty well defensively, has potential for some decent offense and apparently (looking at our starters he catches) calls a pretty good game. I’m not real sold on him but there are few around the league worth giving a big contract or trading multiple prospects for.
      if there is one that has enough talent to justify a high pick, i think they definitely will take him.
      i think they want offense out of the catching position, but would be satisfied with an ausmus-like catcher.

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  10. So, our rotation [barring another signing or trade] would be:
    Keuchel
    McCullers
    McHugh
    Feldman
    Fiers

    Personally, I’ll take that – especially with Devenski almost ready and Musgrove waiting in the wings. I just want improvement in 2016 at 1B, 3B, DH, and CF, with no drop off in LF just because Colby doubled his salary. We have to find some way to reverse the record of our intra-division war with the Rangers.

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    • We were 4-5 vs the Rangers at home and 2-8 vs the Rangers in Arlington. The top of our lineup was pretty much terrible in Arlington with Springer NEVER hitting, and Gattis, Correa, Carter and Altuve hitting around .200 there. Our top 2 pitchers held their own against the Rangers and the rest of our pitchers got drummed by the Rangers.
      The secret to beating the Rangers is put a lineup of hitters out there rather than a lineup of swingers, and to stop facing them with pitchers who can’t hit their spots and, instead, blowing their hitters away with power arms.
      Also, we need to fill our stadium with our fans, not half full of theirs. It’s damn embarrassing.
      The Astros let the Rangers push them around last year. So, we need to change from being party animals to meat-eating animals when facing them. We don’t need to be nice because they’re not nice. They are nasty and we need to beat them like a drum and then beat them some more.

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      • Absolutely, OP1. The Rangers were significantly better than us last year in head-to-head competition. Give them credit – they took us to the woodshed. Our inability to beat that one team – especially late in the season – is 90% of why we did not win the division. A new and harder-throwing closer, however, will not beat them by himself. Their line-up is a murderers’ row. They will get to our starters sometimes – no matter who they are. We have to get our top and middle of the order guys to show up and wear big boys pants against them. We have to understand that we need to score 6 or more runs every time we play against them – and wear out their starters with patience and plate discipline in the process.

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      • Seems we let the Rangers under our skin. Maybe the guys on the field were also victimized. Those two guys at the top of the Oder reacked havoc on us.

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    • Kind of ironic since we built a good bit of our 2014 improvement on beating the Rangers 11-8. Of course the Rangers were a hurt team bottoming out in 2014.

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  11. Just goes to show you….the organization wasn’t THAT high on resigning Kazmir.
    Personally, I think Luhnow is going to wait until end of Jan….or even Spring training to sign another pitcher. Right now I think JL is sitting in his office trying to think if White can handle the job at 1st base, or if he’s going to go after a high $$ free agent.
    NOTHING….Luhnow does shocks me anymore. The two guys we are gonna be sorry he traded, are Maverick, and Pena. Maybe Heineman will turn out to be a serviceable catcher…..but long term I gotta think Castro is getting a 3yr ??
    Dianne**** OH yes…Ausmus like- would be -like AWESOME!!

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  12. If I am reading the terms of Scott’s contract correct, he did quite well. If he does great, he can opt out and try the FA market again. If he stinks, the Dodgers owe him $48 Million. I don’t think the Astros would give away that type of contract.

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  13. I personally don’t think we lost anything by not signing Kazmir. Hope I’m not wrong. Interesting way the deal was structured but 48MM is a lot for pitching three years. If it goes the distance that 16MM a year. Not worth it in my estimation.

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  14. Kazmir and Feldman have almost identical career WHIP. Feldman is 1 year older with a higher ERA. Next Winter he will be two years older by comparison. Would anyone here want to resign Feldman for the same contract as Kazmir? Not I quacked the noisy yellow duck.

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  15. Happy New Years to all Chip bloggers wherever you may be!

    When you see these contracts you understand the value of Grow Your Own and understand my concern about trading away so much young pitching the last few years. I know we can only use 5 starters at a time but I also know we will need more than 5 to get through a season. Just sayin’.

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  16. Come on Coogs!
    When I look at the value of the Astros prospects, I tend to include their value in the positions the Astros are notoriously terrible at, like SS, 1B, DH and LF. This makes prospects who can hit and play those positions stand out. Correa was more valuable to the Astros because of who they have had playing shortstop since forever. He is the answer we have been looking for since Thon got hit in the face.
    White and Reed more valuable because of our horrid 1B situation since Berkman left. Same thing with the DH. We have been terrible there since we went to the AL.
    Others may not value Preston Tucker and Tyler White as much as I do because they forget how barren our team has been in those positions and they see Singleton and Carter as major league 1B and I don’t. I do not see .200 hitters as major league 1B.
    I also don’t see catchers who are older and earning millions of dollars the year before they walk as valuable as a young catcher who could easily hit .200 for one tenth the money and have him become the catcher of the future, especially when the young catcher’s reputation is as a good defensive catcher who walks more than he strikes out and the old guy can’t hit or walk.

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    • What is weird and it is a testimony to the black hole catching has been over the years, but Castro may be in the top 3 of our catchers all time.

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    • Chris Carter had a higher OPS, batting average and nearly 100 more HRs in the minors than Singleton. Why anyone thinks Singleton will ever be a serviceable 1B in the majors is beyond me. I don’t want either player, but if I had to take one of them I would rather have Chris Carter. The Astros will probably give him the start of this season to figure it out, but A.J. Reed might want to be ready for that call to the show by May 1st. I don’t think Singleton is going to take advantage of his last opportunity with the Astros.

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      • Tim, Jon Singleton is a perfect example of why any prospect list is suspect. A guy hits a 450 foot HR in the minors and everyone goes ooh and aah. I see nothing in his minor league stats that convince me he is going to be great in MLB. That is not a knock on the guy, just think sometimes players get a hype advantage that others do not receive. If he were making the minimum, he would be with the Skeeters come ST.

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      • I agree Tim, the problem with that is, by the time they decide he can’t cut it we could be several games back in the division. I don’t expect another miracle April two years in a row.

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  17. One thing to think about concerning “growing your own.” It is difficult to project a 20 year old or younger as to what will be their better position at age 25. So the prospects will always have a hole or two. That requires either a trade or FA signing at top money. So if you keep enough in the pipeline like the Astros have today, you can plug some of the MLB holes with your own prospects, and then trade other prospects for a filler. Perhaps (and perhaps only) Bregman (or Moran) may have more value as a trade chip. If he improves, I doubt anyone would want his career spent watching Correa play SS. Also, the tandem pitching has not produced an improvement in RPs. I would expect the next catcher prospect to come from Latin American or Cuba (Redundant, I know).

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    • First and foremost, Bregman’s best tool is at the plate. Then it is his baseball !Q, which is very high. Then, he is considered to have a good arm and adequate range.
      A guy like that can play in the outfield. He can. I have never seen a guy who was an All-American college SS who couldn’t go out and play the outfield. It is in their genes. So, if you have Correa as an All-Star SS and Moran as a good LH hitting 3B, and Altuve as an All -Star caliber 2B and Reed at 1B, you have your infield. If Bregman hits the majors as a top of the order hitter and an athlete to boot, there is absolutely no reason you can’t put him in LF. His savvy will carry his defense and you don’t want to get rid of a terrific hitter, just because you have Correa already at SS.
      In the AL, the idea is to have nine good hitters in your lineup and have them balanced from both sides of the plate. With Bregman’s credentials, there is no way you want him to get to the majors and then trade him. You want his great young inexpensive years on your team, because you already gave him over $5million to sign. So when he is ready you use him wherever you need him and get that great value on your team!
      Moving forward, the absolute dream for this team in the next five years would be to have Moran turn into the hitter everyone foresaw and Kemmer to keep doing what he did in AA that nobody foresaw, but actually happened! Then you have a high average/high OBP hitter at every position, including Tucker/White at DH and Bregman in LF. Four lefties, four righties and your catcher. And you choose two catchers from the four prospects you have at the high minors right now and go with them because they provide you the defense you need and hit for low average for low salaries, instead of low average for high salary. You don’t need Castro because your top pitchers are vets and your young pitchers have been throwing to your young catching prospects for years and already trust them!

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  18. Additional reasons I do not think we need to trade for or sign a MOR or BOR pitcher for 2016 – even with the loss of Vince Velasquez by trade and Scott Kazmir to free agency:

    In addition to five high-quality MLB starters [Keuchel, McCullers, McHugh, Feldman and Fiers] we also have Dan Straily, Asher Wojchichowski and Brad Peacock to fill in a rotation spot if needed due to an injury or special situation. And if none of those do the job we also have available for a trial by fire:

    Michael Feliz – 22 y/o; last year went 7-4, mostly at Corpus Christi, with a 2.83 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP. In 111.1 IP he struck out 103 and walked 32.

    Chris Devenski – 25 y/o; last year went 7-4 at Corpus Christi with a 3.01 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. In 119 IP he struck out 104 and walked 33.

    Joe Musgrove – 23 y/o; last year went 12-1 between A and AA, with an overall 1.88 ERA and an overall 0.92 WHIP. In 100.2 IP he struck out 99 and walked 8 [yes, you read that correctly!].

    We should also have Tommy Shirley [lefty], age 27, who was injured last year but has a career 2.68 milb ERA and a career 1.13 WHIP. In 306 total milb innings he has struck out 297, walked 99, and only given up 19 HRs.

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    • If they sign someone like Doug Fister on a one-year contract I’m fine with it as it gives us another veteran pitcher for depth purposes. Otherwise, I agree there is no need to sign a pitcher to a multi-year contract as those that are left appear to be BORs. I think Maeda is the only pitcher I would like as he looks to be more of a #2-3 and won’t cost the Astros a draft pick.

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      • I’m not – it’s wasted money. Is Fister and his 88 mph fastball going to get better results than anyone Mr. Bill mentioned? My prediction is that he would not.

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      • Fister’s always getting hurt and missing time. He’s only had 2 seasons (2011 and 2013) where this wasn’t an issue. I’d pass.

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      • I understand what you are saying, but my point is you will need some veteran leadership and someone who can deal with the pressure of a pennant race. Do I think Fister is better than Feliz or Straily? No, but if someone like Feldman can’t stay healthy I would feel more comfortable with a veteran who has been in a pennant race. If it’s only a 1-year deal it won’t stop the progression of our prospects. He is a groundball pitcher that fits well with our shifting defense. It’s not wasted money if it’s only for 1-year.

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      • You may be selling our milb system’s recent success and giving a little more credit to a guy who has never been “the guy” than he deserves. Pete Munro started a big game against the Cardinals. Should we have given him a big extension based on that experience?

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      • Tim, our bullpen is already pretty full. Also, my math says
        Kazmir > Feldman > Fister. In terms of expense they go
        Kazmir – Fister – Feldman. In this scenario, we have already won by not signing Fister.

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      • My concern is with Feldman’s injury. I’m not comfortable that he can be counted on to be in the rotation the entire season. Putting him in the bullpen will provide less wear on his shoulder. With all things being equal I would agree that Feldman is a bit better than Fister, but all things are not equal. I understand Fister has injury issues as well, but this gives us some protection if either he or Feldman aren’t able to pitch in the rotation. The other can be slotted in to pitch. I’m fine if they don’t sign Fister, but I’m fine if they can get him on a one year contract as well. The Astros are in ‘win now’ mode and I am not always comfortable trusting a spot in the rotation to a young, unproven pitcher. Feliz, who I am high on, did not look good in his limited opportunities last year. Yes, eventually, the young pitcher will get some opportunities, but it wouldn’t hurt to add some veteran depth, if it’s the right contract terms.

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  19. One thing to keep in mind is that the Astros could get up to 3 supplemental draft picks in the 2017 draft for Rasmus, Gomez and Castro. If they keep all 3 players the entire season I am 99% certain they will offer Gomez a QO. If Rasmus performs close to how he did at the end of the season and into the playoffs he will probably get a QO. Castro is debatable at this point, but considering his very good defense and pitch-framing ability he may receive one as well.

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    • Tim, I could be wrong, but I don’t think we will get a supplemental pick next year for Rasmus because he took the QO this year and can’t be offered another one next year.

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      • It is my understanding a player can receive a 2nd QO if he is with his team the entire season and is so ranked by Elias. This is the first year any player has ever accepted a QO, but I believe, assuming Rasmus performs as expected, could get another QO from the Astros next offseason.

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  20. My only New Years resolution is to beat the cancer that is growing in my body.
    Happy New Year to each and every one of you! With the new year, it won’t be long before our pitchers and catchers report…..and it’s all down hill from there! My wish for 2016, is to have a GREAT year for baseball, and our guys to stay healthy!
    Been with all my grandchildren since Christmas…..the second wave goes home on Saturday, and my home will seem sooo empty😢😢 Life is indeed wonderful!!

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  21. i guess the F.O. has begun the process of replacing departing AAAA outfielders Presley, Hoes, and Grossman. Fresno’s outfield just added fleet-footed, light-hitting y/o outfielder Eury Perez, formerly of the Nationals, Mets, and Braves’ systems to try to take at bats away from Aplin, Kemmer, Teoscar, and perhaps Fisher. Eury signed on with the ‘Stros today as a minor league free agent.

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      • Absolutely. He has some MLB experience, and if one of our MLB guys goes down to injury [Heaven forbid, but we have some unfortunate history in that regard], he can handle the call-up immediately, while Aplin, Kemmer, or whoever else they station at Fresno adds a little more seasoning.

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      • I know nothing about him except his name and age. That makes him more desirable to me than Ankiel or Carlos Pena. Probably just a place holder to see how some of the youngsters do at A and AA.

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  22. Some non-roster invitees for ST have been announced. They include: Alex Bregman, Derek Fisher, A.J. Reed, Tony Kemp, Colin Moran, and J.D. Davis.

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  23. 48 more days before pitchers and catchers report……but whose counting!!!
    Thank you for the good wishes…..with the help of my doctors and my own body, and all my prayer warriors….this will be a bad memory this time next year!!

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  24. Somebody pinch me. Dave B, can you believe it? Joe Sclafani got another NRI invite to ST! He’ll be in some pretty good company, not just with the MLB guys but with top prospects like Tyler White, A.J Reed, Alex Bregman, Derek Fisher, and Tony Kemp.

    We will also get our first look at recent acquisition Brendan McMurry, who we got from the A’s for Jed Lowrie.

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    • You know Bill, I still don’t think there is a place for Joe in this organization. There was not even a place for him in Fresno in 2015 after he hit .339 with a .420 OBP in 2014. Nolan Fontana hit .249 and played every day. Joe still managed to hit .300 in spite of having no position and getting only 256 plate appearances, a couple of hundred less than Fontana. I hope Sclafani plays good ball in ST and gets some other club interested in him. There must be some organization that has a weakness at second base.

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  25. For those who are talking about us picking up draft picks by offering QO after next season, that sort of thing may be gone. Rasmus’s acceptance of the QO is going to change that market, because the high salaries being awarded this offseason is going to raise the QO well above the current $15.8m of this year to the $16.5m level next season. There are going to be a lot more guys accepting that kind of money and do the Astros want to be stuck tying up $50m on three 30 year old players?
    This is the reason I think we will see more deadline deals of pending free agents, because suddenly, the QO money is too much for some of the free agents to resist and teams aren’t going to be able to count on those supplementary picks anymore.
    The Astros are going to have to look carefully at the value of these players in July and try to decide if that guy is going to be worth $16.5 m next year.
    That is why I said the Astros need to seriously consider trading Castro this winter and get something of value for him now and choose the best two of their four catching prospects. If they have a problem they can call up another one from AAA.
    Is Castro the kind of catcher you want to pay $16.5m for one year? Do you want to offer an expensive extension contract to a guy who can’t hit more than .215 and who could go down to a knee injury anytime?
    My question should also include ” If you were Gomez, Rasmus and Castro, are you going to turn down $16.5m for 2017″? I don’t think so.
    If I were the Astros, I would seriously plan on moving those guys. Trade Castro for a good young outfielder. Then you have an outfielder to replace Gomez and Rasmus when they get traded.

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    • That may be why they ditched Conger. Need to see what Stassi can do, cause I think by some point it’ll be him and Heineman this season.

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    • I agree with you. I was just saying, theoretically, they could give up to 3 QOs next offseason. I think Gomez will reject it as Boras is his agent and I think he will have a very good 2016. Rasmus is borderline, depending on how he performs in 2016. The same for Castro. He won’t get an AAV of $16.5M, but I could see him getting a 3/$36M contract, which may give him reason to reject the QO. Good defensive catchers with double digit HR power are nice to have.

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    • I tend to agree with the consensus on this topic. I don’t think we will do a QA to any of these guys. Gomez will be looking for a big # like 16-18MM a year for 3 – 4 years (if he has a good year 2016), Castro probably 10-12MM a year for 3-4, and Rasmus about the same. Just my SWAG. If we have guys who can fill their shoes for less, do it. Concentrate on buying out the arbitration years with Keuchel and crew. Got to think about the future (Springer, Correa, Altuve). These guys are going to get expensive in the coming years. We could easily have a 150MM payroll by 2018. Of course there is a price for winning so all things considered it’s going to get interesting to say the least.
      I’m ready for ST like I’m sure others here are too.

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      • Your statement gives reasons to give a QO to these players. If you feel Castro and Rasmus will get a 3-4 year contract at $10-12m/year on the open market then they are likely to reject the QO giving the Astros draft pick consideration. Gomez, to me, is a no-brainer. He will. almost assuredly, reject a QO from the Astros. Keep in mind that if Gomez, Castro or Rasmus have down years in 2016 then the Astros probably won’t give them a QO, but if they have decent years, and in Castro’s case his defense makes up for his lack of offense, then giving them a QO is worth the risk, in my opinion. The Astros just have to be comfortable that the possibility exists they may accept it. It is highly unlikely that all 3 accept, and very likely only 0-1 accept, based upon prior history.

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      • Tim, not saying Castro and Rasmus will be getting 10-12MM a year for 3-4 years but I suspect that them and their agents will be trying to get that. If I understand the QA for 2016 it is supposed to be around 16.8MM. At this point they aren’t worth that either. I’m sure when the time comes they will have a pretty good idea of their worth so we shall see. I just hope we have others who can fill their shoes at a lesser price and not be forced into a deal we don’t particularly cotton to.

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  26. One other thing to remember is that next year is shaping up to be a weak free agency class, providing more incentive for free agents to decline any qualifying offer given to them.

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  27. Jason Castro’s 2015 stats w/ 2 outs and RISP were .114/.204/.182/.386.
    He was awful at the plate! His strikeout rate for the year was 30.7%. It is time to let somebody else pay him. He sucks.

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    • I don’t think Castro is the worst defensive catcher in the league. However, the reason that Astros fans rate his defense so high is, when he didn’t play, Conger did. That is not complaining about Castro, but how poorly his replacement played.

      If you use PAs of 150 or more, his OPS ranked 19th in the AL at .648. # 20 at .645 is Carlos Perez.

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      • I assume that you are referring to Castro with a .648 OPS, right? And that ops was nineteenth in the AL among all catchers with 150 PAs? That’s miserable!
        Is that a guy anybody wants to pay millions of dollars to? Much less the team with the lowest revenue in all of baseball. That’s a dumb move.

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      • I’m not a huge Castro fan although in contrast to Conger he seemed otherworldly. I believe it was OP1 who pointed out that the team winning percentage was markedly higher with Castro behind the plate. Perhaps he was just less of a negative than Conger but that’s a stat that makes Castro look better to the Astros.

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    • I would be interested in where the front office falls on Castro’s role in the success of the AL’s best pitching staff (lowest ERA). He is a smart guy, who knows the hitters pretty well after a few years in the league. Do they consider it a plug and play situation with any other catcher doing as well?
      I think they will work out a one year salary outside of arbitration and then look to deal him at the deadline.

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      • The Astros, obviously, value pitch framing and Castro was rated very high in this area. Yes, he is not a good offensive catcher. In fact, OP is correct, in that he has been lousy the past 2 years. I am not sure if 2013 was an aberration or if he can improve on his offensive skills. Also, based upon defensive metrics, other than caught stealing percentage, Conger was a better defensive catcher than Castro. Maybe the numbers don’t always tell the entire story.

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  28. I have a feeling Castro would welcome getting traded. Show me the money, or let me go…..and we all know how Crane likes his money.

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