The “fake news” of prospect ranking

Father of the blog, Chip Bailey sent me a note with the following link and a suggestion it might make a good subject to for my next post. It involves minor league rankings.

As you will notice those rankings show the Astros as #27 (a tick up from a preseason #28) out of 30 in the major leagues when ranking the farm systems. They show Forrest Whitley (at #21) as our only top 100 prospect and then they say, “The Astros emptied out what once was a formidable farm system with graduations and trades that won them one World Series and two pennants, and Whitley’s third consecutive lost season isn’t helping matters.”

To this analysis, I say “Balderdash”. What is my proof? Well, let’s go to the following Top 30 prospects list, which is compiled by the same people who ranked the Astros as the 27th best team as far as prospects go.

Now this list includes the following players, who are still considered prospects even though they have played some MLB ball.

  • #2 Jose Urquidy – Mr. Urquidy showed very well in his short appearance in 2019, including a terrific start and win in Game 4 of the World Series. He would have been in the rotation except for a likely COVID/injury set back.
  • #4 Bryan Abreu – In a short stack of 12 innings Abreu has put up a 1.50 ERA. He was taken off the active roster when the team went down to 28 players mostly due to control issues, but if he can work through his control issues (see Valdez, Framber) he looks like a potential mighty arm for the Astros
  • #5 Cristian Javier – With the arm problems the Astros had at the beginning of this season, they needed someone to stand up in the rotation. And that someone was Cristian Javier, who has grabbed a starting spot and not let go. He has been very solid (3-1, 3.77 ERA) and has only allowed a .191 Batting average against to this point in the season.
  • #12 Brandon Bielak – Yes, the last time we saw this young man he was being hammered twice. But he did do some good things in his first four appearances and gave the Astros three important wins on the season.
  • #13 Enoli Paredes – Paredes has been used 13 times this season, almost always in high leverage situations and he has been solid with a 1-1 record and 3.27 ERA. Like many of his compadres, he walks too many hitters, but he has MLB tools.
  • #24 Taylor Jones – In sporadic usage, he has struggled a bit (.190 BA/ .608 OPS) but this is only in 21 ABs. But he has had a few decent moments too.  Anyways, look where Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker were after 21 major league at bats.
  • #28 Blake Taylor – Like Paredes, he has been used often and in very important situations. He has had a couple slip-ups but his 1-1 record including a save and a 1.15 ERA show the type of assistance he has been to the big club.
  • #30 Nivaldo Rodriguez – Of the guys on the top 30 list that have played this year, Rodriquez (in only 4 innings) was the only one who looked totally overmatched.

Non-Top 30 prospects contributions

  • Andre Scrubb – The 25-year-old was not on the prospects list likely due to age, but he has been very good (don’t look at his walks) since coming up. His curveball does not always find the zone, but when it does it rarely gets hit. In his 13 innings he has only given up one run (0.68 ERA) and has been brought in often and late for this team.
  • Brandon Bailey – He showed well in five appearances and 7.2 IP (2.45 ERA) and fans are looking forward to seeing more from him in the future.
  • Humberto Castellanos and Carlos Sanabria were not very effective in a handful of appearances, but they are still young, 22 and 23 years old respectively.

Of course, this does not even touch on those prospects yet to come, that folks like GoStros have pointed out to us on the blog. Players like Brett Conine, Jairo Solis and others.

My question to the folks is this….if this team has the 27th best prospects in the sport, how could they be getting solid contributions from so many of those prospects at the major league level? No answer? I thought not.


24 comments on “The “fake news” of prospect ranking

  1. Not surprised that the writers who made up those rankings for are all Eastern guys (Callis from Chicago, Mayo from Pittsburgh & Rosenbaum from NYC) and most other mainstream media do not want to promote the Astros.

    urquidy coming soon (hopfully):


  2. 1 Whitley arsenal /2 Urquidy mettle
    3 Toro tools /4 Javier talent
    5 Solis SP2 /6 Bielak streaky
    7 Conine wicked curve /8 Paredes pure energy
    9 H Brown big arm /10 Garcia strikeout king

    11 Abreu seeks FB command /12 Torres head turner
    13 Ivey mid rotation potential /14 Pena glove first
    15 Stubbs leadership qualities /16 B Taylor big surprise
    17 Lee highly rated /18 Barber best CF in system
    19 Rodriguez added to roster /20 Henley stuff

    21 Santos II topline potential /22 Brewer speed kills
    23 Bailey pitches to contact /24 Tanielu AAAA now
    25 Castellanos learning /26 Dubin big arm
    27 Rivera seeks control /28 Nova 5 tools no more
    29 Sanabria learning / 30 Lorenzo hi $ Switch tools +

    31 Scrubb ML combo /32 Solomon mid-rotation potential
    33 Hansen coaches rave /34 J Lopez big arm
    35 Maquarie hi regard /36 McCormick grit plate control toolsy
    37 Jones bat 1st /38 Bellozo quick rise big potential
    39 Dawson R5 ML potential trade /40 Gusto underrated

    41 JP Lopez LHSP young /42 Grae Kessinger dirt devil

    Here are some you won’t see:
    CJ Stubbs slugged over 600 his 1st yr drafted in Quad Cities!
    Jake Meyers CF is such a good glove, but so is Papierski C (neither will be ranked). Speaking of catchers; Quintana, Nathan Perry, Colt Shaver.
    Pitchers Jeremy Molero who led the Dominican in K’s.
    Robaina, Cobos, Collado, Manny, Palmer

    Collin McKee older who was marvelous in CC. Bryan De la Cruz hit several towering homers in the Spring. These are in a line of others who are already R5 eligible, as you can see below.

    One reason why the fake news happens, aside from our own team trying to retain value in players they may have spent unwisely on and want to trade (Schroeder, Sierra, etc.)– look at the column on the far right and how often these services were wrong. MLB had Dean Deetz ranked #20 in 2019! Just zero projectibility in this analysis, because he has such poor control. Bet we can go back and find Yohan Ramirez in my ranks last year, though, when a AA kid asked me ‘who is that Yohan guy?’ and yet he never showed up until SEA turned him out this year. The only place you may have seen him was Jimmy Price at Astros Future a few years ago. Of course Jayne Hansen has done good work for years.

    The real scouts were touting Jojanse Torres and Jose Luis-Hernandez way ahead of the curve. One guy who always had a good eye was Jon Sickels, but he’s not really an Astros expert anymore. If I’m not mistakenly, he’s doing a political blog now, as well. It just doesn’t pay to be an Astros prospect whiz, I tell ya!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I know I said this before but it seems like Scrubb pitches even better after he walks someone. It’s almost as if he does it to set the other team up


  4. Another bit of a did for the Astros

    I like the part where they are downplaying what some of the other pitchers have done. Certainly McCullers and Bielak were a mixed bag, but Cristian Javier? I know his numbers improved after his start last night, but they were pretty darned good before then.
    His 3.35 ERA is 12th among AL qualifiers and even before last night he was top 15. His 0.956 WHIP is 7th among AL qualifiers.
    I presume they are looking at that miniscule .167 babip and that 5.12 FIP and say he has been lucky. I don’t see it when I watch him. It is not like guys are hitting 27 line drives at the fielders. He does not give up a lot of hard contact that I see.


  5. In the first inning….
    Michael Brantley knocks in his 7th run in the last 3 games and then there is an Aledmys Diaz sighting as he launches a 3 run dinger.
    4-0 Astros!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Watching with the sound off – Altuve slid awkwardly into third in the 1st inning and then stood around making a few faces talking to Pettis and stayed in and scored on the Diaz HR. Now out of the game and Toro is in for him. Guessing he pulled or strained a muscle.


      • Looked to me like Tuve was limping before the slide, which was the left knee he slid on anyway. Fine with me, l’il man needs a re-set.

        A good win today to keep it rolling.

        Wish I could get a report from Corpus today on Peacock and Urquidy. Hoping Astros don’t put Garcia and Cionel down yet, either. Astros are planning on starting Bielak on Sunday someone said, and I think that is a huge mistake! He and James are obviously struggling, and should try to work it out from the pen first.

        Brooks Raley, Enoli Paredes and Blake Taylor have been incredible surprises. Wonder how many days is Biagini’s last. Sneed looks to have edged him out for good as one the final playoff roster spots, if planning today.

        I don’t expect Urquidy to be 100% ready for a few starts, and he’s another one I’d lean toward letting him take 3 innings at a time. Astros so tight-lipped, hard to get a reading sometimes.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. It was good to see the guys with a bunch of opposite field hits: Altuve, Brantley, Tucker & Maldonado. Praying that Jose’s knee is not damaged too badly; his bat was starting to heat up again.

    Bleacher Report has an updated prospect ranking with the ‘Stros at 18th:

    They have Paredes listed as a LHP; maybe they meant to put Taylor there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nice to see, Astronut. Thanks.

      This one rings a little truer to my comments here last offseason, that when our rookies begin to prove up their worth & perform, our team will settle around the #15 mark. Keep in mind, the slight they claimed to rank at #28 was largely based on Whitley downgraded to 60, and overcoming the thought that he’s a bust from 2019 outcomes. Those questions linger, and in my mind, unfairly so — just take a look how long it took Glasnow or JordanLyles. These things take time, where FW was in HS when drafted. Like Tucker, there’s a certain amount of biding time trying to breakthrough a “perennially championship caliber team.”

      Here again, it just feels like these services don’t have a pulse. It’s truly amazing the love that Nova gets, and yet nobody seems to realize his exit velo’s are concerningly low (like that of once touted Luis Santana of the failed JD Davis trade).

      He says Hunter Brown will be #2, yet no mention of Luis Garcia, or Brett Conine? These guys have no imagination Ha! They see names. They see age. I see mostly how they look against other highly regarded players.

      Got into a debate yesterday over Jon Arauz (21) — why we didn’t protect him instead of Mayfield (29). [I thought we should have protected Ramirez and not Kent Emanuel, but that’s another story.]

      I had it figured a year before we were going to have to decide on Arauz, we’d lose him. Why, because we have 5 players ahead of him today (Mayfield, De Goti, Tanielu, Pena, Duarte), and 4 more next season (Kessinger, Nova, Enmanuel Valdez, Dauri Lorenzo).

      Since he was never going to be a vital part of the team (add-on in the Giles trade), why not let the kid pursue his dreams where they have an opening. If he were worth anything in the 1st place, Astros could have been able to trade him, right? Instead, teams know we have a crunch and can’t keep them all, so they wait us out. That’s the deal. It’s not really talent eval, more to do with flexibility, team balance and *team* future.

      So, these services look at a guy like Yordan Alvarez, see he hasn’t been called up and go off on a trail about “issues.” I still can’t get over FG ranking him #6. When the reality is Astros use every bit of team control possible to retain Super 2 status. These services falter because they lack wherewithal, and cannot weigh the entirety of the orgs thinking.

      The area this org has excelled is development, anyway. Most are a shell of the young man they’ll be next year. Trust me on this, Spring Training 2021 is going to be an unbelievable harvest.


    • Yes, we knew this yesterday. They said the cause was sticking a cleet.

      Gotta be honest, I don’t think this news will be good, if it’s the same knee he had surgery on..

      As discussed above, though, Astros are pretty solid with IF depth. This opens up for Toro, Mayfield and hopefully Tanielu is hitting the ball in Corpus. That dude needs an opening to breakthrough, or he will get snatched in Dec.


      • *Cleat

        Anyone want to discuss the Astros upcoming moves with the 4 players set to return? If Peacock Urquidy come back strong, then Bregman, this team could start to build some momentum!


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