Where have all the flowers gone? A look at the Astros’ pitching prospects


A few questions keep coming up about the Houston Astros. Does the current front office of the Astros’ have a weakness relative to developing pitching talent? Does their minor league tandem method fail to nurture major league starters? Can they even develop bullpen parts?

Look at the pitchers who have pitched for them this season. For the pitchers who made their major league debuts as Astros, the list is only four pitchers long: Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, Chris Devenski and James Hoyt. Dallas was developed under the previous regime, Hoyt is basically a AAAA pitcher received as the other chip in the Evan Gattis trade from Atlanta and Devenski was brought in from the White Sox by trade. Only McCullers was truly developed exclusively by this front office.

So where have all the flowers (pitching prospects) gone? My crack staff of researchers (OK cracked staff of one – me) has compiled a list of pitchers, who have appeared on Astro prospect lists between 2012 and 2017 (shown in chronological order to when they were on the list) and cover the question – Whatever happened to …..?

  1. Jarred Cosart. Made the majors with the Astros and then was sent to the Marlins in the trade that brought back Francis Martes, Jake Marisnick, Colin Moran and the pick that became Daz Cameron. Moran became a key piece in the Gerrit Cole trade and Cameron headed to the Tigers in the Justin Verlander trade.’
  2. Paul Clemens. Came here in the Michael Bourn trade with Atlanta, ended up pitching poorly with the big club, was released in 2014, bumped around other places since and lately has been seen in the Mexican and Independent leagues.
  3. Mike Foltynewicz. A 1st round draft choice by the Astros, pitched below average in one shot with the Astros and then was included in the Evan Gattis trade with Atlanta. He has pitched average to below average with the Braves, but this season at the age of 26 he has had a great start to the season.
  4. Brett Oberholtzer. Also came in the Bourn trade, pitched decently in three shots with the big club and then was sent to the Phillies in the Ken Giles trade. Pitched poorly for the Phillies and Dodgers and is now in the Rockies farm system.
  5. Kyle Weiland. Obtained with Jed Lowrie in a trade for Mark Melancon. Made a 3 game appearance with the Astros, bopped around the minors and never came back from the injury bug in 2014.
  6. Adrian Houser. Second round draft choice of the Astros included in the Carlos Gomez / Mike Fiers trade with Milwaukee. Has had a couple of cups of coffee with the Brewers and currently pitching for their AAA squad at 25 y.o.
  7. Tanner Bushue. A second-round pick of the Astros who made it as high as A ball and then was released in 2013.
  8. Juan Abreu. Third pitcher received in the Bourn deal, made a brief appearance with the Astros, released in 2012 and out of baseball since 2015.
  9. Ross Seaton. Third round pick of the Astros who topped out in AAA and was released in 2015. Has bumped around and down since.
  10. Jake Buchanan. Eighth round pick of the Astros, who had a couple short stints with the big club and was released in 2016. Currently with Arizona’s AAA club.
  11. Lance McCullers. Compensation pick who has been a critical part of the starting rotation the last 3 years.
  12. Kevin Comer. Obtained in the J.A. Happ trade with Toronto, released after the 2017 season and currently with Detroit AAA club at 25 y.o.
  13. Brad Peacock. Obtained in the first Jed Lowrie trade with Oakland, persevered through injuries and became a critical bullpen/ spot starter cog in the 2017 run to the World Series.
  14. Joe Musgrove. Also obtained in the J.A. Happ trade, worked his way to the majors and was an important bullpen presence in 2017, including winning the pivotal 5th game marathon in the WS. Included in the trade for Gerrit Cole. Has given the Pirates 4 strong starts after starting the season injured.
  15. Nick Tropeano. A fifth-round pick of the Astros, who made the majors for the Astros and then was included in a trade for Hank Conger. Currently 5th man in the Angels rotation.
  16. Asher Wojciechowski – Obtained in the J.A. Happ trade, battled injuries, had a cup of coffee with the Astros and released in 2016. Has bobbed around since, currently pitching AAA for the Orioles.
  17. Daniel Mengden. A fourth-round pick of the Astros was included in the 2015 trade to the A’s for Scott Kazmir. Despite what happened Tuesday night he has turned into a solid middle of the rotation pitcher for Oakland, And as Becky has said he has the best moustache since Rollie Fingers.
  18. Vince Velasquez. A second-round pick of the Astros – pitched a little for the Astros in 2015 and then included in the Ken Giles trade. Has been injured quite a bit and his production has been average or below when healthy in Philly.
  19. Josh Fields. Rule 5 pickup, who had steadily improving numbers in his three seasons with the Astros. Traded for Yordan Alvarez who has become top Astros prospect. Has pitched very well for the Dodgers in a set-up role (Don’t look at his relief appearance in Game 2 of the WS)
  20. Mark Appel. Overall #1 pick and huge fail in the minors. Packaged him for Giles and he went to Philly, struggled even more and then retired.
  21. Josh Hader. Obtained in the Bud Norris trade and then included in the Gomez/Fiers trade to Milwaukee. Currently is one of the best LH closers in the majors at 24 y.o.   Not that we could use one of those.
  22. Kyle Smith. Obtained in the Justin Maxwell trade. Was rising through the system, but has never pitched well after losing all of 2015 to injury. Has not pitched this season.
  23. Andrew Thurman. A second-round pick of the Astros, he was included in the Evan Gattis trade and has bounced around the minors for both the Braves and the Dodgers.
  24. Michael Feliz. Signed as free agent out of the Dominican, he worked his way up to the Astros bullpen, he was capable of big strikeout numbers and big ERAs. He was included in the Cole trade and continues to struggle with the Pirates.
  25. Francis Martes. Another FA out of the Dominican – he became the Astros top pitching prospect before Mr. Whitley appeared. His 2017 debut with the Astros was a mix of poor bullpen work and decent starting pitching. His 2018 return to the minors has been a combination of poor pitching and injury.
  26. Riley Farrell. A third-round pick, after missing most of 2016 to injury, he worked his way to AA where he is sporting great K numbers and bad BB numbers.
  27. Reymin Guduan. Signed as an FA out of the Dominican – he was recently brought up for his second shot at the bigs when Joe Smith was put on the DL. His time in the minors, including this season includes some good numbers, but he struggles with control.
  28. Chris Devenski. The player to be named later in the trade-off of Brett Myers he has ridden his killer changeup to a position as one of the best relievers in the game.
  29. David Paulino. And yet another FA out of the Dominican, he rose quickly through the system and had enjoyed a couple call-up to the big club when a PED suspension in 2017 detoured his career. Can he come back and be a major league pitcher? He is stuck in the minors and shut down at the moment.
  30. Brady Rodgers. Third round pick – Had a rough cup of coffee with the Astros in 2016 – pitched well at AAA when he went down with TJ surgery and may come back in mid-2018
  31. Akeem Bostick. Picked up in exchange for Carlos Corporan, he has had some ups and downs climbing up from the minors and is currently a 24 y.o. pitching decently at Corpus AA
  32. Patrick Sandoval. Eleventh round pick, who is now pitching at A ball as a 21 y.o.
  33. Jandel Gustave. A free agent out of the Dominican, he worked his way up to a short stint in the majors, but is currently working his way back from TJ surgery.
  34. Brendan McCurry. The second time the Astros traded Jed Lowrie they received McCurry back from the A’s. Shortly after that, he was hit with a 50 game drug suspension. He has had very good numbers in the lower minors and just so-so at AAA
  35. Forrest Whitley. First-round choice who became one of the top-rated pitching prospects in all of baseball. He was derailed for a time due to the use of a non-PED drug and has just returned from his 50 game suspension for a nice first start at AA Corpus.
  36. Franklin Perez. A FA signing out of Venezuela, he was a critical piece in the Justin Verlander trade. He currently is down with a lat injury.
  37. James Hoyt. As discussed above – a bullpen backup piece who moves from AAA to the big club as needed
  38. Cionel Perez. A FA signing out of Cuba, he is currently putting up strong numbers at AA Corpus
  39. Guadalupe Chavez – Received in the trade of Scott Feldman to Toronto this is the biggest mystery on this list. As an 18 y.o. at Astros rookie ball he put up a 4-1 record, 1.38 ERA, 1.01 WHIP in 45.2 IP and promptly disappeared. He is shown as voluntarily retired – he must have gotten a heck of a signing bonus to retire at like 19.

So, there you have it. The Astros develop more major league level pitchers than you would think, but not all for their own team. Thirteen of these 39 pitchers listed as top prospects sometime in the last 6 years were used in trades that picked up players as diverse in value as Justin Verlander and Hank Conger. Some bob around between the majors and the minors. Some have made it big time in the majors. Many have floated away to other minor league organizations or back to their homes. Some have been undone by injuries. Three have faced PED or non-PED drug suspensions.

What is your verdict? Does this team know how to develop pitchers or not?

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157 comments on “Where have all the flowers gone? A look at the Astros’ pitching prospects

  1. I have a friend in Seattle so we’re going back and forth on the M’s and ‘Stros. Went to bed last night thinking we’d be up 1.5 but no, the M’s came back. I told him that it’s about time your team should go on a losing streak but he’s having none of it. Should be a fun time as long as we come out on top.

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  2. Astros come out strong and score 2 runs in the first on Altuve’s long double. Then Jose continues a tradition during this winning streak by running into a silly throw out at 3rd on a shallow fly to left center.
    Some time these continued baserunning brain f–ts are going to get them in trouble.

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  3. Boy, that sure was a lazy error by Carlos, but Keuchel has been around too long to lose his focus like that. Even going back to the Ranger sweep, this club has not been playing remarkable baseball.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Billy, I think he’ll get another vacation or two before October, but the pitchers like him back there. We’ve got 12 homers and 34 RBI’s from our two regular catchers. That’s pretty good.

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  4. So funny when they showed Gattis carrying Tony Kemp like a mother carrying a baby. These guys always look like they like each other and are having fun (not hard to do when on a 10-game win streak). Bregman is developing into a bona fide star before our eyes…in addition, he’s highly intelligent, poised, and articulate.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. A few notes
    * Dave Hudgens is a better hitting coach now than he was three weeks ago.
    * Apparently, Myles Straw is now a Grizzly/Taco. He is 3 for 5 leading off for Fresno this afternoon. He is in CF. Garrett Stubbs is now hitting .359 for the season after his 2 hits from the DH position today.
    * Max Stassi has found a home in Houston.
    * In his first game back from a long absence to injury, Yordan Alvarez has 2 homers in the first four innings. None of the pitchers can get anyone out as Midland and the Hooks are 8-8 going into the fifth inning.
    * Dallas Keuchel gave up no earned runs today.While his players were wilting in the heat, Dallas was out in it, too.
    * The Astros are rolling.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Great to see DK’s slider working at last. Haven’t seen that much this year. He also put the ball pretty much where Stassi called for it – and was given a pretty generous strike zone.

    KC is a really a bunch of free-swingers now – not the patient team of 2015 at all – but hopefully this good outing against an impatient team will give Dallas some momentum going forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Good list, Dan. I think a number of guys have faltered because of the difference in seam height between the college and pro balls. I really thought Thurman’s floor was close to that of Mike Leake…but he never panned out. Arm injuries are tough to predict. I’m surprised Kent Emanuel never made one of the top lists, but his repertoire prior to the TJ surgery was closer to Olberholtzer/Keuchel than what you’d expect to see on the list.

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  8. Last night it was mentioned that at 56% Dallas Keuchel leads the AL in ground ball percentage. In case someone didn’t bring this up during the previous post about slotting him in at #5 starter and should we be happy it’s something to keep in mind. With his velocity being down he can’t escape from as many self inflicted (walks) jams or when a few more ground balls get through the infield than normal, but there is no reason to put him out to pasture or be really concerned. In a playoff series you may want to slot him in between Verlander and Cole to change the look and force the opposing manager to change his lineup between the games too.

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  9. Corpus Christi must beat first place SA on the road today and tomorrow to overtake them and win the first half Texas League divisional championship.
    Cionel Perez and Forrest Whitley will be the starting pitchers for CC.

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  10. Girls and boys….we missed a gem last night in Fresno! Tent Thornton had a no hitter going into the 8th with two outs! This kid has a delivery just like Juan Marichal! He just got promoted to Fresno….and along with him, is a kid named Miles Straw. His first game in Fresno, he went 3 for 5 scored twice, and stole a base! Folks…..we have GOLD in our farm! Oh yeah forgot about about Tri City and the Quad City river rats! Go check out Jane Hanson’s, piece today GOOD STUFF!!!

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  11. Workmanlike 7-4 win by the Astros. It felt like 2017 where they would hang around and then put their foot down late in the game to take the lead and not give it back. Correa with a huge homer to tie it, Giles solid in the 8th, Rondon solid in the 9th. Sipp with a scoreless 7th and a 2.16 ERA. They overcome grounding into 4 double plays, and an up and down outing by McCullers. Tyler White has a big pinch hit double leading to the go-ahead runs. Gattis with 3 hits, McCann with 2, Correa with 3 RBIs, Bregman with 2 hits and 2 runs scored. Good win

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  12. Bottom of the 8th Boston has a 7 run lead over the M’s. I sure would love to keep Tyler White up with the big club. That HUGE double he hit really turned today’s game around…..PLUS he can play all infield positions. Gosh it felt good to see these guys sweep all three of these teams!
    Happy Father’s day to all you wonderful dads! As a mom, I know how much a family leans on you guys. You are our strength, and never forget how much you are appreciated! I could not go through those dark days without my husband❤

    Liked by 4 people

  13. -The Astros are not alone. 12 MLB teams have better winning percentages on the road than they do at home and one team has the same percentages.
    -Oakland beat the Angels and Anaheim is 9.5 games behind Houston.
    Seattle lost and is 1.5 out.
    – GIDP and errors did not slow the Astros bats down. Once again, their lineup is becoming relentless. Today, the guys picked up George Springer who had a rough day. Tomorrow, maybe he’ll pick them up.
    The Rays get to face JV, Cole and Morton.

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  14. I know the Royals are going through a rough stretch, but I thought their attitude and body language looked like they knew they would be losers, even when ahead. They were still in the game and let their anger reduce the strength of the team. Not smart.

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  15. The team is playing like we thought that they could (should) and we’re now happy as a bunch of clams. Late inning rally’s, timely hitting, good starting pitching and a solid bull pen. Oh least I forget, good coaching and management. Let’s hope they keep this up and maybe we’ll be 6 or more games up at the AS break. It looks like they’re really having fun now and playing real loose. Can’t say that was the case early on.

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  16. Like this year, the Astros hit into a ton of DPs in 2017, but in the playoffs it was not so much.
    The Astros committed a lot of errors last year with Bregman and Gurriel and Correa having their fair share. But in the playoffs they were the best defensive team every series.
    Like this year, the 2017 Astros were the best hitting team.
    The 2017 Astros were probably one player away from the promised land and they went out and got that player. They may do that again, or maybe they don’t have to.
    The big difference this season from last season is that there is another team in our division who is playing well. The Astros will have their chances to take on the Mariners and go get the division. They haven’t really changed that much but the Mariners have and the Astros will need to fight hard to win this thing and defend.
    I think the Astros have the best team, but it’s up to them to prove it. I think they are doing a great job of that. 73 games in, they are 23 games over .500.

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  17. Eleven straight wins is nothing to sniff at. It is something to celebrate. Of course, it is undeniable that the Rangers, the A’s, and the Royals c. 2018 are not exactly elite teams; but this are the kind of games a team has to win a lot of at this time of year to set itself up to be in real competition come September. So far, this team is doing what it has to do in June, and looking good doing it. All aspects of the game are rounding into excellence – well, except base-running.

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  18. John Fogerty finally made it to centerfield – with his guitar and a microphone!

    Swept ’em outright in 3 cities;
    Hittin’ like a terror every night and day;
    Finally got to see those Mariners slippin’
    into 2nd place, while we pull away.
    Altuve still playin’ Bam-Bam; Paul Bunyan smackin’ a grand slam,
    and we’re rollin’, rollin’, rolling toward September.

    If you go down to the Juice Box
    Bet yer gonna find some people who hit.
    You don’t just have to worry ’bout Jose and Correa –
    the bottom of the order here can give you a fit!
    Margo and Stassi are pimpin’; and look at little Tony a-Kempin’!
    And we’re rollin’, rollin’, rolling toward September!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Mr. Fogerty has advised that there actually was a 2nd verse. Sorry I omitted it above. Here is how he insists it goes:

      Won it on a balk in Texas;
      Banny went ballistic – what a sight to see!
      We hit the coliseum – Gattis shouted Carpe Diem!
      And we finished with a massacre of poor K.C.!
      Man that’s some rotation! Now we’re comin’ back to Union Station,
      And we’re rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ toward September.

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  19. Lots of ex-Astros in the transaction world today….
    – Folty put on the 10 day DL by the Braves
    – Adrien Houser brought up by the Brewers
    – Nolan Fontana sent down by the Angels
    – Carlos Perez put on the 10 day DL by the Rangers
    – Doug Fister moved to the 60 day DL by the Rangers

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    • Saw Fontana, the grandson of Lew Burdette, hit his 2nd ML HR the other night. Might be a while before the next one. I had hopes for him when he was in Astros system, but he may be AAAA.

      If anyone is going to the game tomorrow night (Tuesday), I’ll be one of 30-40 folks warbling the anthem as a member of my St. John Vianney Parish choir. Hopefully we’ll be going for club-record 13. I’ll be one of the old guys, wearing black glasses.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Taking a walk down memory lane here John.
        As a young married my wife and I attended St. John Vianney.
        Then back in 1999 as part of the St. Laurence choir I got to sing the anthem before an Astros’ game in the last year of the Astrodome. We had an inside link because Xavier Hernandez’s wife sang in our choir.
        Should be a thrill for you!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dan, thanks for the insight into your background. Yes, a lot to like about singing the anthem anywhere, anytime. I was once a guest of the Houston Boychoir and sang it at a Rockets game. And as a former minor league umpire some years ago, the anthem was one of my favorite moments of each game, as I stood there harmonizing along and thinking of how blessed I was to be doing what I was doing, and for having been born in the greatest country in the world. Are you still warbling? I knew about the X-Man but wasn’t aware that his wife was a St. Laurence choir member. He went to TJ HS in Port Arthur, and then to USL.

        Hope to meet you someday.

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      • Yes, John – I’ve been warbling at St. Laurence for about 25 years now.
        Last thing I knew – X-Man was an assistant coach at HBU – I think they had a son pitching there.
        One of the funnier things about singing the national anthem at the Astrodome – I would say we sang before more people at church that week than at the Dome – there was just no one in their seats before the game.

        One vivid memory was that everything seemed huge from walking on to the field from that angle. I would guess Minute Maid would not be quite as huge, because the Dome was just so spread out from side to side.

        Good luck – hope it goes well for you.

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