There will be a lot of work done in this off-season to set and hopefully upgrade the Astros’ major league roster. But just as important to the long term health of the organization is the quality and depth of the minor league prospects. Here is a summary of the top 15 prospects from mlb pipeline (more or less) and highlights of their recent performances.
1) Francis Martes (20 years old) RHP – Playing way above his age group at AA, his 9-6 record with a 3.30 ERA and 9.4 K / 9 IP opened eyes. He got hit around a bit at the Arizona Fall League – big deal, he’s 20 years old and reportedly working on a changeup. This could be the crown jewel of the Jarred Cosart trade.
Prospect. Expect him to arrive in Houston in 2018.
2) Kyle Tucker (19) OF (1st rd – 5th overall pick in 2015) – The teenager had a very solid 2016 in A ball with a hot cup of coffee for 16 games at Lancaster (A+). He put up a combined .286/.360/.798 line, 25 doubles, 7 triples, 9 HRs and 69 RBIs with 32 SBs, which bodes very well for the future.
Prospect. Considering the lack of OF depth in the organization he could make the majors by the end of 2018.
3) Forrest Whitley (19) RHP (1st rd – 17th overall pick in 2016) – Sure he had a 4.82 ERA in 18.2 IP, but that 26 Ks looked pretty strong for the young man in rookie ball.
Prospect. It will be a while – maybe 2020?
4) David Paulino (22) RHP (Part of the Jose Veras trade) – His short stay at AAA and his one start in the majors were OK. The core of his success was 64 innings at AA where he put up a 5-2 record, 1.86 ERA, and an impressive 10.1 Ks/9 IP and 1.5 BB/9 IP.
Prospect. A good performance in 2016 could give him a shot at more than one start in the majors by the end of the season.
5) Derek Fisher (23) OF (1st round supplemental 2014) – The left handed hitter had a solid year split between AA and AAA with a .255 / .367 / .815 split. His 21 HRs 76 RBIs and 28 SBs make him one of the next men up for the Astros in a year they may be looking for some young outfield help.
Prospect. They probably want to give him a little more experience at AAA, but if he does well and if they are hurting…. look for his debut this season.
6) Daz Cameron (19) OF (1st round supplemental 2015) – After a good start at A- (.278/.352/.770) he crashed and burned in 21 games at A ball (.143/.221/.442). Again he is only 19, but of course he has the pressure of Tucker’s success weighing on his mind.
Prospect. That bridge is too far to see….
7) Albert Abreu (21) (Free agent out of the Dominican) – Pitching mostly at A ball and 3 games at A+, his 3-8 record does not match his 3.50 ERA. His 10.2 Ks/9 IP are great; his 5.1 BB/9 IP are a work in progress.
Prospect. If….he can improve that control he could be ready by 2019.
8) Colin Moran (23) 3B (Also part of the Cosart trade) – He looked totally overmatched in 9 games with the Astros, but was it any worse than Alex Bregman‘s career start? He had a decent season at AAA with his BA (.259) and OBP (.325) but he continues to be light on power for a corner infielder. Maybe a repeat at AAA will help him hit his stride.
Prospect. It is hard to picture where he fits with Bregman and Yulieski Gurriel standing between him and 3B in Houston. Maybe he will be part of a trade.
Note: Teoscar Hernandez‘s 100 mlb at bats moved him from the 9th spot.
9) Franklin Perez (18) RHP (Free agent out of VZ) – Very impressive season at A ball. 3-3 record with a 2.84 ERA and an eye popping 10.1 K/9 IP to go along with 2.6 BB/9 IP. Great season at that level and that age.
Prospect. He could be in the bigs in 2 or 3 years.
10) Miguelangel Sierra (18) SS (Free agent out of VZ) – In 2016 he had a very strong start at rookie ball (11 HR with a 1.006 OPS in 31 games) and then was totally overmatched at A- ball. What were you doing at 18 years old?
Prospect. Way way too early to speculate.
11) J.D. Davis (23) 3B (3rd round in 2014) – After all these 18 and 18 y.o., Davis feels like a much older brother. His 23 HR and 81 RBIs at AA may not see the light of day with all the 3B depth ahead of him.
Prospect. Maybe he can leap over Moran with his bigger bat and end up as a bench bat for the Astros. Maybe.
Note: Cionel Perez was in the next spot until his deal was voided.
Prospect. No telling
13) Gilberto Celestino (17) OF (Free agent out of the Dominican) – Seventeen? Maybe we should be reporting on whether he is shaving or not. He had good combined numbers in rookie ball – his 15 steals in 18 attempts stand out in 56 games.
Prospect. He will be 18 next season….
Note – Skipping 30 year old James Hoyt and his 22 appearances….
14) Riley Ferrell (23) RHP (3rd round in 2015) – His 12.6 K/9 IP and 1.8 BB/9 IP rocked at A+ Lancaster until he went down with shoulder surgery last May.
Prospect. There is room for relievers with great stuff and control in the organization, but health will be the primary focus.
15) Ronnie Dawson (21) OF (2nd rd in 2016) – His OBP (.351) impressed more than his BA (.225)/ He showed some power (7 HR and 36 RBIs) and speed (12 SBs) in 70 games at A- ball.
Prospect. Mr. Dawson looks to be three years away, if ever.
Honorable mention – Freudys Nova, Anibal Sierra, Brendan McCurry, Brady Rodgers, Guadalupe Chavez, Jake Rogers, Stephen Wrenn, Jandel Gustave, Yordan Alvarez, Reymin Guduan, Ramon Laureano, Jason Martin