Recent major league debuts for the Astros

Normally, when one thinks about teams debuting prospects at the major league level, the thought is that having a lot of debuts is a sign of a rebuild or low performing team. Now truthfully, the Astros did struggle in 2020 due primarily to injuries. Still, the bottom line is the last couple of seasons have featured a boatload of prospects making their debuts for a team that made it to the ALCS and the World Series consecutively.

The crazy pandemic season of 2020 with illness and injury led to the debut of the following prospects (mainly on the pitching side):

Taylor Jones – after the Jack Mayfield and Abraham Toro debuts in 2019, Jones was the only position player to debut in 2020. In a tiny sample (21 ABs), he hit poorly in 2020 but improved with more exposure in 2021. Is he the heir apparent to Yuli Gurriel, or will some other/younger prospect eclipse him?

Cristian JavierJavier made a quick run through three minor league levels as the Astros’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2019. He did a great job in 2020, starting 10 of his 12 appearances, and in 2021, he started 9 times but then moved back to the bullpen as a multi-inning weapon for the team. The Astros have said they see him long term as a starting pitcher. When will the long term begin?  

Blake TaylorTaylor arrived from the Mets with young OF Kenedy Corona in the Jake Marisnick trade. He debuted with the Astros in 2020 and settled in as a solid left-handed option out of the bullpen. And currently, he is the last lefty standing in the current bullpen configuration after Brooks Raley moved down the line. He has a penchant for putting too many guys on base but often works out of it. He needs to take another step forward in 2022.

Andre ScrubbScrubb came over in the Tyler White trade in 2019 and was one of the relievers who jumped from AA to the majors to assist in 2020. He pulled a Houdini act in 2020, somehow pitching to a 1.90 ERA despite walking 20 hitters in 23.2 innings. Only giving up 1 homer in those 23.2 innings helped. His act wore thin in 2021 as he still walked a ton (14 in 19.2 innings), but 5 homers ballooned that ERA to 5.03. A shoulder injury shortened his season, and he was taken off the 40-man in December, but after clearing waivers, he was outrighted to AAA Sugar Land.

Enoli ParedesLike Scrubb, Paredes made the jump from AA in 2019 to a major league bullpen in 2020. And like Scrubb, he overcame a relatively high walk rate to pitch significant innings with a sound 3.05 ERA. This came undone in 2021. He struck out an impressive 15 hitters in 8.2 innings but unfortunately walked 17 in the same amount of innings, resulting in a 6.23 ERA that landed him back in the minors. At 26 years old, he is at the crossroads in his career heading into 2022.

Brandon BielakAn 11th round pick in the 2017 draft, Bielak was one of the few pitchers here that had pitched significant innings at AAA in 2019 before his callup. In 2020, his first 5 appearances, including 3 starts, were outstanding, going 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA. The wheels came off in his next start as he gave up 7 runs in 1.1 IP. In his last 7 appearances, including 3 starts, he only went 10.2 innings. In those 10.2 innings, he gave up a whopping 26 hits, including 7 home runs and pitched to a 16.88 ERA. He was better in 2021 as he made 28 appearances and went 3-4 with a 4.50 ERA. He feels like the kind of guy the Astros will trade-off at some point.

Luis GarciaGarcia is the best of all these “debuters” to date. He had not pitched beyond A+ ball when he debuted in 2020. In a short sample in 2020, he had a 2.92 ERA in 5 regular-season appearances, but his most impressive effort was a 2 inning scoreless stint during a spot start in the ALCS against the Rays. He picked up where he left off in 2021 as he was the best rookie pitcher in the league. The Astros are undoubtedly hoping he fills a rotation spot here through 2027, when he would first become a free agent.  

Humberto CastellanosAfter good numbers in a short tour at AAA in 2019, Castellanos got the callup for a quick tour in the majors in 2020. He was lit up a bit with the Astros and was released in December and picked up by the D’Backs.

Nivaldo RodriguezRodriguez had two short stints with the Astros. The one in 2020 did not go well. The one in 2021 went better, but they waived him in August, and he was picked up by the Tigers.

Brandon BaileyBailey is an interesting story – he came to the Astros in a straight-up trade with Oakland for Ramon Laureano, who has carved out a spot in the A’s OF rotation. Bailey was then taken from the Astros in the Rule 5 draft by Baltimore (folks who were involved when the Astros traded for Bailey from Oakland) but then returned. He was called up by the Astros, pitched well in five games, was sent back to the Astros’ minor league camp in August and then sold to the Reds after the 2020 season.

Carlos Sanabria – Sanabria had a shot glass worth of a cup of coffee with the Astros in 2020. The team apparently saw enough as they waived him after the season, and he was picked up by the Royals. He pitched in two games for two innings and two runs allowed.  

The loss of free agent George Springer coupled with players missing time with injuries and due to Covid led to the majority of the debuts in 2021:

Chas McCormick – Chas was considered the most major league ready outfielder heading towards 2021. With Springer gone, he broke camp with the team and was the 4th outfielder for the first half of the season until the trade of Myles Straw. He then shared the CF spot with Jake Meyers down the stretch taking it back full time when Meyers was hurt in the playoffs. McCormick did a solid job in his first exposure to the majors, his 14 HRs and 50 RBIs in only 280 ABs, particularly standing out. He is set up to be the CF starter in 2022 until the next man returns…..

Jake Meyers – Meyers got his callup after the Straw trade. Before 2021 Meyers had been considered a great glove, light hitting OF prospect, but McCormick’s call up to the majors allowed Meyers and his reworked swing to show off newfound power at AAA Sugar Land. Meyers flashed his great glove and solid bat (6 HRs and 28 RBIs in 146 ABs) with the big club, and it was a disappointment when he suffered the shoulder injury during the ALDS that kept him out of the rest of the playoffs and apparently will delay his start to the 2022 season. The hope is that Meyers and McCormick will push each other to greater heights as they grow and mature.

Jose SiriNormally, a player putting up a .304 BA/ .347 OBP/ .956 OPS slash in his first 46 ABs would be a cause for celebration and anticipation for the home crowd. In his first major league appearance, Siri did some good things, but a few things bother the home folk. One was his over the top theatrics after every home run, single, or whatever that made some of us old-timers uncomfortable. The other thing was that he exploded in a 4 for 5, 2 HR, 5 RBI performance against the Rangers in his 6th major league game, and then he steadily slid down after that. Could he help this team going forward? Yes. Will he? That’s the tricky question.

Alex DeGoti – DeGoti got his major league shot on the tails of the early season Covid attack on the team. He had a couple hits in a couple games and went back to the minors. He is considered a major league ready filler for the infield.

Ronnie Dawson – Dawson has been about as low profile a high pick as you could imagine as he was the 2nd round pick behind Forest Whitley, who has gotten all the attention (good and bad). Though he has some speed and some power, he never was really more than mediocre on his rise through the minors. He had a tiny cameo at the major league level in 2021, and then he was released ahead of the Rule 5 draft and the Ohio St man was picked up by the nearby Reds.

Kent Emanuel – Emanuel was one of those names that fans had heard about for a very long time as he had been drafted in the third round in 2013 and slowly climbed the ladder, finally premiering in 2021. And what a debut it was as he threw 8.2 of 2 run relief in a bullpen saving effort. He pitched well in 9 other appearances but blew his arm out at the end of May. He was waived after the season and picked up by the Phillies.

Peter SolomonA 4th rounder out of the 2017 draft, Solomon had been pretty terrific in his time in the minors, struggling a little bit at AAA after skipping AA ball (where he should have pitched in 2020). His 6 game stint with the Astros left us hoping to see more of him as he went 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA over 14 innings.

Ralph GarzaThe 26th rounder from 2015 had a lot of ups and downs on his meandering through the system and finally got the call in 2021. He pitched “ok” for the Astros but got squeezed out and released in the middle of summer and picked up by the Twins.

Tyler IveyThe former Aggie was picked in the third round of the 2017 draft by the Astros. He worked his way up the system and was brought up to make a spot start for the team, where he started off well, retiring the first 7 batters he faced but ended up giving up 4 runs in 4.2 innings. Arm problems sidelined him in 2021, and his future is uncertain.

Seth MartinezThe Astros pulled Martinez out of the Oakland A’s in the minor-league portion of the Rule 5 draft (which meant he did not have to be put on the 40 man roster). He continued a long string of good minor league seasons with the Skeeters. His short stint in the majors – three-game and a 15.00 ERA did not clear the vision of whether he will ever hook on permanently or be a AAAA type pitcher.

Ryan HartmanSince really shining in a stint at AA in 2018, Hartman had struggled mightily in the subsequent time, which was interrupted with the 2020 cancellation of the minor league season. He was brought up for one appearance in the majors, which he pitched decently and was then sent back down. The Astros released him last summer, and the Orioles swooped in to scoop him up.

There you have it…. Two seasons of debuts by players in the system. Some stuck around. Some have been moved elsewhere. Some are waiting for their next call up.

Questions:

  1. Off this list ….Astros Top Prospects | MLB.com, who do you think will debut in 2022? Who would you like to make a debut?
  2. Is there anyone not on that list you think will debut? (There are always non-top prospects who get a shot).
  3. Of the players who debuted in the last two years, who do you think will get the call back up and stick?
  4. Is there anyone the Astros sent elsewhere you wished they held on to?

37 comments on “Recent major league debuts for the Astros

  1. – Taylor Jones has hit so well for the Astros in the upper minors. Yuli has blocked Jones for years. I hope he gets his chance. Sometime. Somewhere.
    – Cristian Javier can pitch. But the Astros have only given him a total of 85 innings in AA and AAA combined. They have never given this guy a chance to grow and learn the fine art of pitching. They just throw him out there whenever it suits them. Somebody is going to give this guy a chance.
    – Blake Taylor is another guy who has been screwed over. The guy has a total of 14 AAA innings for two organizations, over 3 different seasons and in 3 completely different venues: 3 innings in Sugarland, one-third of an inning in Syracuse and 11 innings in Las Vegas. Is it any wonder the guy has never been able to reach his potential.
    – Andre Scrubb pitched 23 innings in the majors before ever getting to AAA. he did well in Sugarland in 15 innings in 2021. That is pretty much the extent of his training. I wonder how many baseball player’s careers will be ruined by the coronavirus, like Scrubb’s.
    I’ll stop here.
    Chief Cynic-Oklahoma Territory.

    Liked by 2 people

    • CC, I sure agree with your assessment of Javier. Starter, long man, set up guy, closer. 101 innings, then 11 more in the post season. Where would this club have been without him? But it’s time to decide on a real path for the kid though. Groom him for his job. Lot’s of value there. He’s been a team guy. Respect that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful development! The Athletic Sports Rag is now owned by: The New York Times. Move along. No bias to see here, folks.
    What a great day this has been.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t read either but I wonder if we will see stories like this.
      “Last night the Yankees almost defeated the lowly and fraudulent Astros. Although the score was 21-3, the score was ties at the start of the first two innings due to superior pitching of the Yanks staff and the continual dreadful hitting by the tainted Astros. For those that forget, it has been only 5 years ago when the deceitful Astros…………”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Solomon got my attention in the last few weeks of the season. He’s got good stuff and hopefully he gets the call and stays up this year! Sorry you guys but I’m guys but I’m not a Siri fan. Note to Siri you’re not the next Carlos Correa.
    It appears that God’s not done with me just yet, I celebrated my 73rd birthday yesterday!
    Old Pro I thought the same thing when I read about the Athletic🤮

    Liked by 3 people

  4. When MLB replaced Topps with Fanatics to be the source of official MLB Cards, that agreement meant that the change would occur at the end of 2025, because that is when Topps’s contract ran out.
    But today, Fanatics bought the skeleton that was left of Topps, and they now have the rights to make the cards starting NOW.
    Goodbye Topps Baseball Cards.

    Like

  5. 1. From the Astros top 30 list, I think Shawn Dubin, Scott Manea & Jojanse Torres will get called up because they are already 26 years old and we need to see if they have what it takes to play MLB or not.

    2. I think Jonathan Bermudez will debut because he is a LHP and also 26 years old. Not on the top 30 list but is on the 40 man roster.

    3. Bielak, Scrubb and Solomon will be competing for the 26th man roster. If they don’t stick with the Astros, I’m sure other teams would want them.

    4. It’s disappointing we were unable to keep Emanuel.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. -Paredes is another typical Astros story. He was a tandem starter his entire minor league career until he got called up to the majors with no bullpen experience and no AAA innings. The Astros used him in relief and pretty much stink up any chance of him learning anything about being a reliever. Probably gonna DFA him and then somebody else will give him a shot.
    -Bielak’s fastball just isn’t good enough. He’d break off a good curve and then the batters would ignore the other stuff and wait for a flat fastball. Too many walks because he just can’t seem to overpower anyone. His only shot would seem to be a one inning middle reliever unless he can come up with a put-away pitch.
    – Chas McCormick is a major league outfielder. He goes to the plate with the idea of hitting the ball as hard as he can. Works hard to lay off outside pitches. Needs to recognize breaking stuff down.
    – Solomon is a guy who might make it.

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  7. I guess I should not be surprised that no one is mentioning wanting to see Forest Whitley in 2022. They really need to find out this season if he is going to be anything or nothing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan, he has a path to the majors. He needs to come back from his rehab and start off on rehab assignments in the low minors and try to work his way up. The guy hasn’t pitched competitively in years. He should be treated like a prospect coming out of college and put on a semi-fast track in the minors. Both the Astros and Whitley need to forget the past and act like he’s an older prospect.
      Let’s see if there is anything there. If I were them I’d be looking forward to mid 2023.

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  8. I’m not sure there is a place for him. He’s the next potential JDM in my opinion. The big questions are whether he returns from the TJ surgery at the same level and whether he can make the necessary adjustments to progress. Something bad happened to his development in 2019. I’ve heard people suggest the Astros were making arm slot adjustments and other changes…which only makes sense when you remember we had Jeff Luhnow running the show still. 2020 was lost for him. 2021 was lost due to the injury in spring training. If he returns to 2018 form he could step onto the big league roster and contribute right away. If not, well, we’ve seen plenty of guys like him not make it. I’d certainly give him a full year at Sugarland before I decided whether he was in the future plans or not. If things are going great you give him an August callup. If not, well, the changes to the September rules may prevent him from getting that cup of coffee.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dan, I always liked it when you included questions at the end of your post.
    1. Three guys off of that prospect list who I think we will see in 2022 are Jeremy Pena, Peter Solomon and Shawn Dubin. I picked those three because they are on the 40-man, they are currently healthy, have shown enough ability to make it and also because there are 3 September callups allowed and these 3 guys play positions of need should there be a need.
    The guy on that list I would love to see dominate in AAA and force his way onto the team is Korey Lee because he will need to be added at the end of the season anyway, and, if he does make his debut it’s because he had left no doubt he could be a major league catcher who might fill a black hole in the lineup come playoff time. Korey Lee making it to the Astros in 2022 would be a dream come true for me.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. My opinion and opinion ONLY: 1. Taylor Jones – better options by 2023. 2. Javier is very talented. Let him pitch – someplace consistently. He needs to work on control but that comes with knowing your role and working at it. 3. Blake Taylor – seems adequate. 4. Scrubb, Parades, Bielak – I think several in the minors will pass them in 2022. Let’s hope so. 5. CF – Meyers looked the best last year until hurt. Out of that 3, surely one can play as well as Straw (Not as well as Springer). 6. DeGoti – From what I saw last year, none of DeGoti, Kessinger, Wielansky, Sierra, Hensley, etc are ready with both glove and bat. However, each one is better than Robel Garcia. 7. Seth Martinez – Looked good at AAA. (How many times have we seen that?) He is a reliever, so he can be worked in without doing too much damage to see if he stays. 8. Solomon – Was the reverse of Martinez. Looked below average at AAA, but not in MLB. 9. If they are gone, they are gone. Good luck to them.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I really do enjoy reading y’alls comments and answers to questions, etc. I always learn something every day.
    Here’s where I am at…..
    – People don’t realize how huge it is to add two potential good starters like Luis Garcia and Cristian Javier in one season. Having two guys like that under team control for a number of years (how many years may change with the new agreement) is a huge bonus financially as it frees dollars up to extend other players or bring other talents into the fold.
    – I really did like what both Chas and Jake brought to the team last year. So many times you bring these guys up and they hit .180 or whatever. Both of these guys look like they belong in an OF rotation and I think if one or both of them learn the strike zone better, they will be a long term answer here. I don’t know why, but I trust Meyers a little more that way, but will be delighted if McCormick improves in that area too.
    My answers to my questions
    – Off the prospects list I would like to see Korey Lee, Hunter Brown, Jeremy Pena, Forest Whitley, Shawn Dubin – I’m torn on Pedro Leon – not sure he is a necessity unless we have a big injury bug in the OF, would like to see him get comfortable at AAA
    – Not sure on the non-prospects but Bermudez is as good as anyone, Astro Nut
    – Solomon strikes me as the one who debuted in the last two seasons, who could stick next time up. I’d like to see Taylor Jones get another shot, he was better in 2021 than 2020 and maybe third time is the charm. If Paredes could do a Framber and control that stuff, he could be special. Big if.
    – I wonder if Brandon Bailey might be someone we will rue letting go of….

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Is it fair that the guy who asked the questions gives the answers? I mean, how do we know you didn’t ask THOSE questions because you already knew the answers.
    Anyway, don’t mind me because I just watched Airplane II and I’m a little confused right now. Over and Unger!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. One guy who might sneak past our little blog and make his debut in 2022 out of the bullpen is Jojanse Torres. He’s hiding down there on the Astros prospect list at #30 and apparently has the best fastball in the system. A power reliever with a good slider could fool us. He’s getting to the point where he needs to have a decision about his career.

    Like

  14. The one who got away and could have helped us win at least one more WS was Josh Hader. Becky was right and I was wrong. Time has told us the Astros made a huge mistake there.

    Liked by 2 people

    • But you have to give up some potential stars to get those known stars (Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers). (Sarcasm).

      It would have been a mistake to trade Danry Vasquez and/or Roberto Osuna for those two.

      Like

    • Yeah – OP, I was meaning which of the guys on this two year list of debuts, who have left might we miss the most, but stretching out farther to guys who have left since our rebuild, Hader has to be at or towards the top. JD Martinez is another one, who could have been quite impactful if we had waited just a little longer, but Hader is something we haven’t had since Billy Wagner (as best I can remember). A lockdown left hander…..

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  15. One guy not on the prospect list who could be added to the team this year would be the catcher who doesn’t get taken in the Rule 5 draft.
    I fear one of Manea or Papierski could get taken.
    The Astros have only their two old catchers on the 40-man. At least 5 or six will come to spring training. They may have to make a decision on another catcher to add to that roster in case of injury or covid or both.
    I don’t think they will take Korey Lee and put him on the roster before his time.
    There was talk of Papierski last season. That will be another mystery to look forward to it’s unfolding this season.
    Dan, thank you for this blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your welcome OP – this was a fun blog to write. Sometimes you have to think outside the box to come up with subjects and it struck me how many debuts we had the last couple of years.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. My wife is listening to the Spot 95.7 FM and they are having just a little technical difficulty…. Songs are playing with about a 2 second delay echo playing over the intial song. And it has been doing it for at least three songs. I felt like I’d taken LSD even though I don’t know what that feels like – listening to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, Aha’s Take on Me and then Haddaway’s What is Love (Baby Don’t Hurt Me). And now….Peter Schilling’s Major Tom (Coming Home) — this is crazy

    Liked by 1 person

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