Sure, we know the Astros’ prospects are good for 2018 and beyond, but how are their “prospects”? You know the guys who can rise up and be cheap major league help in a few years or can even be packaged with others to bring in a Justin Verlander.
Well, prospect lists are liquid things. From the 2016 list, fine young players like Franklin Perez, Daz Cameron, Jake Rogers and Teoscar Hernandez have been traded off to bring back the aforementioned JV and Francisco Liriano. Players like James Hoyt, Derek Fisher and Francis Martes spent enough time in the majors to fall off the lists. Also, folks can fall off the list due to injury or performance or age like Brady Rodgers, Riley Ferrell, Brendan McCurry and others.
The chore for today is to put the 30 prospects from the mlb.com Prospect Watch list into reasonable categories.
Cream of the Crop. The two top rated prospects are the two top prospects in the system.
- #1 Kyle Tucker OF. 20 years old, first round (#5) 2015. Kyle was terrific at A+ Buise Creek (.288 BA/.379 OBP/.932 OPS/9 HR/43 RBIs/13 SB) where he was 2 1/2 years younger than the average player and solid at AA Corpus (.265/.325/.837/16 HR/47 RBIs/8 SBs) where he was four years younger than the average in the league. Can’t wait for this kid to hit the bigs.
- #2 Forrest Whitley RHP. 20, first round (#17) 2016. Between A+ and AA ball he was 5-4. 2.83 ERA, 1.213 WHIP in 92.1 IP with a terrific 13.9 K/9 IP and a decent 3.3 BB/9 IP. He looks like the real deal so far.
Rule 5 Eligible. These four players could be lost if they are not placed on the 40 man by this Monday ahead of the Rule 5 draft.
- #7 Cionel Perez LHP. 21 years old Cuban FA. He played at three levels in 2017 from A (Quad Cities) thru A+ to AA ball with his stint at A+ Buies Creek being the best. Overall he was 6-4 with a 4.61 ERA and a 1.292 WHIP. With the bonus they paid him and his quick rise he would seem to be a natural fit for the 40 man. What does the front office think of him striking out less than 7/9 IP at A+ and AA ball?
- #11 Ramon Laureano OF. 23 years old, 16th round 2014. He had terrific numbers at the Lancaster wind tunnel in 2016, but at CC sea level in 2017 his .227 BA/.298 OBP/.668 OPS slash would seem to keep him from the 40 man even with his 11 HR/55 RBIs and 24 SBs.
- #16 Jason Martin OF. 22 years old eighth round 2013. He had very good numbers at A+ ball and after promotion had almost as good numbers at AA Corpus. His overall slash was .278/.332/.819 with 72 R/18 HR/66 RBIs/ 16 SBs and if a 40 man spot came down between him and Laureano, you would think he would take it.
- #26 Dean Deetz RHP. 23 years old, 11th round 2014. As good as he was at AA (4-2, 1.82 ERA, .908 WHIP, in 39.2 IP), he was that bad at AAA (3-4, 6.40 ERA, 1.933 WHIP in 45.1 IP). His God awful 8.2 BB/9 IP at Fresno makes you hope he was working on a new pitch. Would seem to be a light risk if the F.O. exposes him to the draft.
Ones to Watch
- #22 Rogelio Armenteros RHP. 23 years old, Cuban FA. Of the younger pitchers that made it to AAA for the Astros last year, this young man would seem to be the closest to make the leap to the big club. At AA & AAA combined he put up sparkling numbers – 10-4, 2.04 ERA, 1.043 WHIP, 10.6 K/9 IP, 2.8 BB/9 IP in 123.2 IP.
- #4 Yordan Alvarez 1B. 20 years old, (Trade from Dodgers for Josh Fields, the gift who just keeps giving) Not sure why he suddenly disappeared from the AFL roster, but he had a strong 2017 at both A and A+ – .314/.379/.859 with 12 HR and 69 RBIs.
- #3 J.B. Bukaukas RHP. 21 years old, first round 2017. Small sample, but nice start between rookie and A- with a 2.70 ERA and 1.200 WHIP in 10 IP.
- #15 Corbin Martin RHP. 21 years old, second round 2016. Between Rookie and A- the Aggie was excellent with a 2.20 ERA, 0.888 WHIP, 11.8 K/9 IP, 2.5 BB/9 IP.
- #21 Jorge Alcala RHP 22 years old, Dominican FA. His combined numbers at A and A+ were solid (7-6, 3.05 ERA, 1.061 WHIP in 109.1 IP) and he could be a real climber in the next couple of years.
- #30 Cristian Javier RHP. 20 years old, Dominican FA. He had excellent numbers while rising thru 3 levels in 2017 (3-0, 2.25 ERA, 1.083 WHIP, and 12 K/9 IP). Best bet is he is a lot higher in the rankings the next time this list is updated.
At the Crossroads – Players sometimes reach that point where based on age, performance or other things (read David Paulino) they are either going to make it or fall by the wayside or move on.
- #5 Colin Moran 3B/1B. 25 years old, (Traded for Jarred Cosart). One of the saddest images in the Astros’ happiest season was when Mr. Moran went down in a freak incident where he fouled a ball off his own face. Outside of that he had easily his best season at AAA with a .304/.369/.901 slash and 18 HR and 65 RBIs in only 82 games.
- #6 David Paulino RHP. 23 years old, Dominican FA. He has to overcome his 80 game suspension for PEDs, the fact that he let his team and his organization down and a bad 29 innings at the MLB level. His 6.52 ERA, 1.483 WHIP were poor, while his 10.6 K/9 IP and 2.2 BB/9 IP were actually quite good. His 8 HRs in 29 innings is the stat he needs to work on the most along with his off-field issue.
- #10 J. D. Davis 3B. 24 years old, third round 2014. He showed power, little speed and a lot of Ks in his short stint in Houston. But he had a very good season between AA and AAA with a .282/.345/.872 slash and 26 HRs and 78 RBIs in only 103 games. Will he develop into a DH, or a big bat off the bench, because he is blocked-blocked-blocked by Alex Bregman at the MLB level? Or will he turn into a trading chip?
- #25 Jandel Gustave RHP. 25 years old, Dominican FA. He was good (not great) at AAA with a 3.79 ERA and 1.211 WHIP. He had trouble finding the plate in a short call-up with the big club. He needs to improve or be passed.
- #28 Drew Ferguson OF. 25 years old, 19th Rd 2015. He was solid at AA ball, but after his promotion to AAA (.223/.304/.625 with 1 HR and 9 RBIs) he needs to show something quickly in 2018 to have a shot at the top.
- #29 Trent Thornton RHP. 24 years old, fifth round 2015. He was a bit better at AAA than AA, but overall he was quite below average his 9-6 record not matching his 5.21 ERA, 1.409 WHIP and especially 11.1 hits/9 IP. He needs to step it up in 2018.
Check Back in a Few Years – It is really hard to judge teen and near teen age prospects…..
- #12 Freudis Nova SS/3B. 17 years old, Dominican FA. For a guy who is barely shaving his year in the Dominican rookie league, his .247/.342/.698 and 4 HR/ 16 RBIs was good. His 12 errors in 31 games – not so much.
- #13 Elian Rodriguez RHP. 20 years old, Cuba FA. In 9 appearances with the same Dom. rookie league team, his 0-3, 7.46 ERA, 2.211 WHIP in 25.1 IP were a bit disappointing.
- #17 Miguelangel Sierra SS. 19 years old, VZ FA. His .178/.260/.557 slash needs to improve big time.
- #18 Gilberto Celestino OF. 18 years old, Dominican FA. Good numbers over 59 games – .268/.331/.789 with 38 runs/4 HRs/24 RBIs and 10 SBs in the rookie league.
- #24 Jonathan Arauz SS. 19 years old, who came over in the Ken Giles trade. At A- and A ball he continued to show a backup middle infield bat – .242/.336/.654 with 1 HR and 15 RBIs in 69 games.
Could be Something or Nothing – These guys all have some pluses and minuses to their games
- #8 Hector Perez RHP. 21 years old, Dominican FA. Between A and A+ ball he had above average stats – 7-6 and 3.44 ERA, but his 6.44 BB/9 IPs is the one thing holding him back.
- #9 Garrett Stubbs C. 24 years old, eighth Rd 2015. His hitting was very catcher-like (or catcher-light) with a .232/.328/.649 slash. He threw out a strong 39% of base stealers at AA and a weak 16% at AAA. The lack of young catching in the organization helps him more than anything.
- #14 Framber Valdez LHP. 23 years old, Dominican FA. His 2.79 ERA at A+ ball fell to a 5.88 ERA at AA ball. 2018 may well show a lot about where he is headed in the future.
- #19 J.J. Matisevic OF. 21 years old, second round 2017. After signing out of college in 59 games at A- and A ball, he had a so-so debut. His .228/.293/.674 slash was below average, while his 36 runs, 7 HRs, 31 RBIs and 11 SBs were good.
- #20 Joe Perez 3B. 18 years old, second round 2017. The Astros thought so highly of the young man that they drafted him knowing he was having TJ surgery. He will debut (hopefully) in the minors in 2018.
- #23 Myles Straw OF. 23 years old, 12th round 2015. His numbers at A+ and AA bring to mind an Austin Wates or similar solid hitter with little power. In 2017 he totaled .290/.405/.766 with 1 HR and 44 RBIs in 90 games. Does a Punch and Judy hitter have a chance in this organization?
- #27 Brett Adcock LHP. 22 years old, fourth round 2016. He had solid numbers that were much better at A than A+ ball. His overall numbers were 5-4, 3.93 ERA, 1.276 WHIP and 9.8 K/9 IP. In an organization that lacks left handers he could rise in a hurry.
It will be fun to see which of these folks are still on the list through 2018 and who, if any of them, make it to the bigs.