Prospects1500 is all about the minor leagues and the prospects that play there. Heck, it’s even in our name! That is the focus of the site and the desire of our staff. Now that the minor league season is a little over a week old, let’s talk about where the Astros put their top prospects.
The Top 10
With a Spring Training to remember, Preseason #1 Kyle Tucker could have earned the starting LF job right out of spring training (.409/.438/.818 with 5 HR and 21 RBI in 44 at-bats) despite only 72 games at AA. One has to wonder if the Astros regret stating so early that Tucker wasn’t going to break camp with the big club. With the way Derek Fisher and Jake Marisnick have started the season, the Astros could use an improvement in LF. Regardless, Tucker is in AAA Fresno. For now.
#2 Forrest Whitley was suspended the first 50 games of the 2018 season for a banned substance (not PED related). Likely to start in AA.
As the sole top 10 prospect below High A, #3 J.B. Bukauskas gets his first taste of full-season ball with Quad Cities in the Midwest League. J.B. has good swing-and-miss stuff, but needs to improve his control (9 BB in 13.2 minor league innings) if he wants to continue to climb the ladder. (He will do both).
Corpus Christi should be a fun team to watch this season as they get #4 Yordan Alvarez, and #7 Cionel Perez. Alvarez is trying his hand in the OF to start the season and Perez is getting another crack at AA hitters after a rough end to 2017. The Astros are high on both of these players and they could be in Fresno after the all-star break.
The disabled list is where #6 David Paulino started the season. Paulino missed 80 games last year for a PED suspension, but impressed the brass in the spring. Will likely head to the Fresno rotation when he officially starts his season.
The 1B job opened up when Yuli Gurriel went down with a hamate bone injury. It was a three man competition between former top prospect AJ Reed, last year’s early season darling Tyler White, and #8 J.D. Davis. If it hadn’t been for Tucker, Davis would have been the talk of camp (.385/.406/.662, 5 HR, 10 RBI in 65 at-bats). He has definitely inserted himself into the 1B rotation for 2018, but will most likely be the casualty when Gurriel gets activated from the DL.
#9 Hector Perez is repeating at Buies Creek, but is still just 21. Could see AA toward the end of the season. #10 Garrett Stubbs is listed as the starting catcher in Fresno after Max Stassi made the big club as a 3rd catcher. With the loss of Jake Rogers in the Verlander deal, Stubbs and Stassi are currently the catching duo of the future for Houston.
#5 Colin Moran is manning the hot corner for Pittsburgh. Moran (along with Joe Musgrove) were the key pieces in a trade that brought Houston Gerrit Cole. Also moving in that deal was #17 Jason Martin.
The rest of the guys:
AAA – Fresno
#11 Rogelio Armenteros, RHP – Looking to continue his ridiculous 2017 (10-4, 2.04 ERA, 146 K in 123.2 IP across AA and AAA).
#16 Brady Rodgers, RHP – Starts on the DL after TJ surgery in May of 2017. Looks to be activated in late May or early June.
#20 Jandel Gustave, RHP – Was Rodgers’ Tommy John buddy in 2017. Should have the same timetable as well.
#24 Dean Deetz, RHP – Suspended 80 games for PED use.
#25 Drew Ferguson, OF – 19th round pick in 2015 continues his ascent.
#26 Reymin Guduan, LHP – Made a less than impressive MLB debut in 2017. Looking to right the ship in 2018.
#31 Trent Thornton, RHP – Fills out the Fresno rotation
#44 Jon Kemmer, OF – Although “advanced” age of 27 doesn’t scream prospect, Kemmer has proven himself at every level. Blocked in Houston, could be injury call-up.
AA – Corpus Christi
#14 Myles Straw, OF – Goes back to AA after a 13 game stint to end 2017. One of the fastest prospects in Houston, has already been mentioned as a potential September call-up for that reason alone.
#28 Riley Ferrell, RHP – Pitched well after late season promotion. Looking to further prove he is back from 2016 shoulder surgery.
#29 Framber Valdez, LHP – Repeating AA at 24.
#38 Carmen Benedetti, OF – Getting his first taste of AA after covering two levels in 2017.
#39 Ryne Birk, 2B – Spent the latter half of 2017 in south Texas. Getting another go to start 2018.
#43 Stephen Wrenn, OF – Along with Straw and Bendetti, gives Corpus an exciting young outfield.
#48 Nick Hernandez, RHP – Has yet to appear in 2018, but slated to return to Corpus
#50 Sean Stutzman, LHP – Ended 2017 in Fresno, sent back to AA to work on control
High-A – Buies Creek
#13 Corbin Martin, SP – A 2nd round pick in 2017, Martin was impressive in 2017 and has had one impressive start so far in 2018.
#15 Brandon Bailey, RHP – Makes his debut in the Houston system after coming from Oakland in a trade for Ramon Laureano.
#19 Jorge Alcala, RHP – Gets another taste of that Carolina cooking
#23 Ronnie Dawson, OF – Saw a vast improvement after a late season promotion to the Creek. Looks to continue that progress this year.
#30 Brett Adcock, LHP – Back to BC.
#34 Brandon Bielak, RHP – Drafted in the 11th round in 2017, showed good strikeout ability and control.
#36 Abraham Toro-Hernandez, 3B – Up from Quad Cities. Looking to maintain power stroke while improving contact ability.
#40 Chuckie Robinson, C – Late round draft pick in 2016 looking to continue his slow climb. Steady hit tool.
#41 Kit Scheetz, LHP – The best name in the biz gets a crack at high A after dominating three levels in 2017.
#42 Carson LaRue, RHP – Had a rough end of the year in 2017 at BC. Getting a chance to right those wrongs.
#45 Troy Sieber, 1B – Looking to continue impressive 2017
A – Quad Cities
#18 Cristian Javier, RHP – Back in the Midwest League.
#32 J.J. Matijevic, OF – Looking to improve on a .125/.192/.250 line generated in 6 games in Quad Cities in 2017.
#37 Jonathan Arauz, SS – Repeating the level after a late season promotion.
#49 Michael Papierski, C – Has good eye at the plate, but needs to improve average (.100/.438/.200 in 2017).
Prospects looking at short season and rookie league debuts:
#12 Gilberto Celestino, OF
#21 Freudis Nova, SS – Within the organization, draws comps to Carlos Correa.
#22 Deury Carrasco, SS
#27 Elian Rodriguez, RHP
#33 Joe Perez, 3B
#35. Miguelangel Sierra, SS
#46 Jairo Solis, RHP – Could be the fastest mover as a pitcher and prospect.
#47 Chad Donato, RHP
Article featured image of Kyle Tucker – courtesy Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports via The Crawfish Boxes