Houston Astros 2018 Top 50 Prospects

Houston Astros Top 50 Prospects for 2018

What a year 2017 turned out to be for the Houston Astros. From the springtime optimism that almost all teams share to the horrible disaster that was Hurricane Harvey. From having almost all the starting rotation on the DL at one time to the surprising late addition of Justin Verlander (worth the cost of prospects to get him!) From the second best record in team history to the 3-2 deficit in the ALCS. 2017 was a year full of highs and lows that just felt like destiny. When the phrase, “Houston Strong” came to be, it felt like nothing was going to stop this team in their quest for a championship. 2017 ended with the first championship for the city of Houston since 2007, and the first in the “big three” of baseball, football, and basketball since 1995. This championship not only was the first World Series title for Houston, but the first for the entire state of Texas. As sweet as that was, we’re not here to talk about the past. We’re here to talk about prospects and the future. Without bias, it is safe to say that the future is very bright in Houston. The Astros burned the prospect status of OF Derek Fisher and RHP Francis Martes, but even with those graduations there are still plenty of kids who can make a difference. Let’s get to it.

Prospects1500 Tiers:
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster





TIER 1

1. Kyle Tucker, OF
Age: 20
Highest Level (2017): AA
How acquired: 1st round selection in 2015 (5th overall)
Tucker hit a combined .273/.347/.528 across two levels in 2017, reaching AA at 20. Also hit 25 HR with 90 RBI and 21 SB. Has the tools to be an elite hitter at the major league level. Average K% (21.37%) and BB% (9.02%) shows that Tucker does have two areas to improve, however he is young enough to make the corrections needed to be a true force in Houston. Genuine top 10 prospect in baseball, could see Houston as a September call-up in 2018, but more likely slated to claim an OF slot in 2019.

2. Forrest Whitley, RHP
Age: 20
Highest Level (2017): AA
How acquired: 1st round selection in 2016 (7th overall)
Like his hitting counterpart Tucker, Whitley came into his own in 2017. Across three levels, Whitley went 5-4 with a 2.83 ERA in 23 games (18 starts). He also struck out 143 over 92.1 innings while only walking 34, good enough for a 13.94 K/9. It all came together for him statistically in 2017 after his promotion to AA Corpus Christi where he struck out 26 in 14.2 innings walking four and only giving up three earned runs. Has the makeup, size, and stuff to front the big league rotation by 2019.

TIER 2

3. J.B. Bukauskas, RHP
Age: 21
Highest Level (2017): Short Season A
How acquired: 1st round selection in 2017 (15th overall)
Bukauskas got a late start to his pro career in 2017, throwing only 10 innings. Had an outstanding college season for North Carolina, going 9-1, 2.53 with 116/37 K/BB over 92.2 innings. Will be given every chance to be a starter, but could excel in the bullpen with his plus fastball and slider. Projected to move quickly due to advanced age and skill set. Should see Houston by 2019.

4. Yordan Alvarez, 1B
Age: 20
Highest Level (2017): A+
How acquired: Trade with the LA Dodgers for RHP Josh Fields, 8/1/2016
A true 1B prospect that has the potential to hold the position in Houston for a long time. Already 6’5″ and 225 lbs, Alvarez is a hitting machine. Started the season in the Midwest league (A) and hit .360/.468/.658 with 9 HR and 33 RBI in 111 AB. Earned a promotion to the Carolina League (A+) and continued to hit well (.277/.337/.393) while seeing a slight drop in power (only 3 HR in 224 AB). Should start the year back in High A with a ticket to Houston in late 2019 or 2020 waiting.

TIER 3

5. Colin Moran, 3B
Age: 25
Highest Level (2017): MLB
How acquired: Traded with OF Jake Marisnick, RHP Francis Martes, and 2015 draft pick (OF Derek Fisher) from Miami for RHP Jarred Cosart, OF Austin Wates, and OF Kike Hernandez, 7/31/2014
After starting the year in AAA for the second time, Moran finally found his power stroke hitting 18 HR to go along with a .303/.373/.543 line. Hit .364/.417/.818 in a small sample size in Houston (11 AB) before losing the remainder of the year to a facial fracture that occurred in July. Will spend the spring trying to improve versatility in the field. Expected to contribute in 2018.

6. David Paulino, RHP
Age: 23
Highest Level (2017): MLB
How acquired: Was PTBNL in deal with Tigers. Acquired with Danry Vasquez for Jose Veras, 9/13/2013
Started six games for Houston in 2017 before being suspended 80 games for a banned substance (Boldenone). Then suffered elbow issues effectively ending his 2017 season. Still has high ceiling and can impress with a 98 mph fastball and a plus curveball and changeup. Could fill starter or long-reliever role.

7. Cionel Perez, LHP
Age: 21
Highest Level (2017): AA
How acquired: International Free Agent, 12/9/2016
Pitched well in High A, going 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA with 18/5 K/BB over and 25.1 innings. Earned a promotion to AA and showed some regression (5.54 ERA with 10/5 K/BB in 13.0 innings). Durability is a concern, but scouts still love his potential.

8. J.D. Davis, 3B
Age: 24
Highest Level (2017): MLB
How acquired: 3rd round selection in 2014 (75th overall)
Has been the model of consistency since being drafted. Good power, average, and OPS at each stop. Finally made his major league debut in 2017 and hit .226/.284/.484. Added 4 HR in 62 at-bats. Doesn’t have much to prove at the minor league level, but will have a hard time cracking the Astros roster. Could be dangled as trade bait.

9. Hector Perez, RHP
Age: 21
Highest Level (2017): A+
How acquired: International Free Agent, 7/7/2014
Impressed in 2017 pitching to a combined 2.83 over 107.1 innings between A and High A. Showed great swing and miss potential with a 10.73 K/9. Needs to improve control (6.54 BB/9) to continue his ascent. Has the velocity to be successful in the back of a bullpen.

10. Garrett Stubbs, C
Age: 24
Highest Level (2017): AAA
How acquired: 8th round selection in 2015 (229th overall)
Still considered a defense first catcher throwing out 50% of base stealers in 2016 and 32% in 2017. Didn’t hit for average in 2017, but he has hit well overall since being drafted. Has the ability to get on base with a .329 OBP across two levels. Shows good plate discipline with a career 12.01 BB%. Should be in line for playing time in 2019, after the presumed loss of both McCann and Gattis.

11. Rogelio Armenteros, RHP
Age: 23
Highest Level (2017): AAA
How acquired: International Free Agent, 9/15/2014
Dominated AA in 2017 and improved even more in AAA going a combined 10-4 with a 2.04 ERA. Also struck out 146 in his 123.2 innings. His fastball is not dominating, but plays well due to outstanding change and two plus breaking pitches. Little to no injury history shows good durability thus far in his career. There is every reason to think that he will be a part of the Astros rotation going forward with his first taste of the big leagues looking to come in 2018.

12. Gilberto Celestino, OF
Age: 18
Highest Level (2017): Rookie
How acquired: International Free Agent, 7/2/2015
Spent all of 2017 in the rookie level Appalachian league. Hit .268/.331/.379 over 235 at-bats. Walked 22 times against 59 strikeouts. Also stole 10 bases. Should start 2018 in the Midwest league.




Tier 4

13. Corbin Martin, RHP
Age: 22
Highest Level (2017): Short Season A
How acquired: 2nd round selection in 2017 (56th overall)
Pitched well in the NY-Penn league, 2.20 ERA with 38/8 K/BB in 32.2 innings. Fastball could use some consistency, but has good movement. Also flashes a nice curve. Projects as a workhorse and will be able to eat some innings in the rotation. Could also be able to fill the role of a swingman.

14. Myles Straw, OF
Age: 23
Highest Level (2017): AA
How acquired: 12th round selection in 2015 (349th overall)
Straw is my favorite prospect in the Astros system, period. Is an on-base machine (.405 in 2017; .401 across three minor league seasons). Hasn’t shown home run power, but can find the gaps (17 doubles and 7 triples) and also stole 38 bases while scoring 90 runs. Prototypical leadoff hitter that makes contact, hits line drives, and gets on base. Very excited to see how high he can climb.

15. Brandon Bailey, RHP
Age: 23
Highest Level (2017): A+
How acquired: Trade with Oakland for OF Ramon Laureano, 11/20/2017
Struck out 120 in 91 innings in 2017 in the Oakland system. Did walk 31, but only gave up 68 hits as opponents hit .206 against him. Profiles as a middle reliever and has the ability to generate a lot of holds.

16. Brady Rodgers, RHP
Age: 27
Highest Level (2017): AAA
How acquired: 3rd round selection in 2012 (96th overall)
Most 27-year-olds don’t classify as prospects, but Rodgers in an exception. Made his major league debut late in 2016 and got knocked around. Came back strong in AAA to start 2017 (1.10 ERA with 11 strikeouts and only one walk in 16.1 innings), but lost the rest of the season to Tommy John surgery. Probably wont make 2018 debut until late summer.

17. Jason Martin, OF
Age: 22
Highest Level (2017): AA
How acquired: 8th round selection in 2013 (227th overall)
Martin has been a polarizing prospect in the Astros system since he has been drafted. Spent 2017 between High A and AA. Combined to hit .278/.332/.487. Finally turned some of those doubles into home runs. Proved that the insane numbers in the Cal League weren’t a product of the high altitude. Also stole 16 bases. Good power speed combo. Could see time in Houston in 2019. Might be a 4th OF in the majors for the Astros, but could start elsewhere.

18. Cristian Javier, RHP
Age: 20
Highest Level (2017): A+
How acquired: International Free Agent, 3/18/2015
Covered three stops in 2017 finishing in High A. Threw a combined 2.25 ERA with 80 strikeouts against 60 walks over 60.0 innings. Fastball sits at 90-91, but also throws a nice mix of curve, slider, and change-up. Not just a thrower, but a pitcher. One to keep an eye on.

19. Jorge Alcala, RHP
Age: 22
Highest Level (2017): A+
How acquired: International Free Agent, 12/3/2014
Definitely lost his sleeper status in 2017. Tall pitcher (6’3″) that should continue to grow into his frame. Had a bit of a reality check upon his promotion to High A. Opponents only hit .188 against him. 95 strikeouts in 109.1 innings. Has a plus fastball that sits in the upper 90’s and a decent curve. Made strides on improving those pitches, but still has a ways to go. Might end up in the bullpen but will be given every chance to start.

20. Jandel Gustave, RHP
Age: 25
Highest Level (2017): MLB
How acquired: International Free Agent, 5/25/2010
Started the season in the Astros bullpen. Appeared in 6 games, throwing 7 innings with a 2/7 K/BB. Underwent Tommy John surgery in June. Pitched well in 2016. Hard thrower that should have every chance to reclaim a spot in the Houston bullpen. At the least, he should be one of the fist callups in the event of an injury.

21. Freudis Nova, SS
Age: 17
Highest Level (2017): Rookie
How acquired: International Free Agent, 7/2/2016
Performed well in a small sample in the DSL (.248/.342/.355) with 15 walks, 33 strikeouts, and 8 SB over 166 at-bats. Has plus bat speed and good raw power. Rough defensive play sees a potential move to 2B or corner outfield. Potential to be a true three outcomes player.

22. Deury Carrasco, SS
Age: 18
Highest Level (2017): Rookie
How acquired: International Free Agent, 7/2/2016
A true sleeper in the Houston system. Did not play in 2016. Teamed with Nova in the DSL in 2017. Carried a ridiculous .407 OBP across 207 at-bats on the strength of 50 walks. Struck out 48 times and stole 32 bases. Good physical projection with the tools to stick at SS. One to definitely keep an eye on.

23. Ronnie Dawson, OF
Age: 22
Highest Level (2017): A+
How acquired: 2nd round selection in 2016 (61st overall)
After a rough debut, Dawson found his stroke in 2017. Hit a combined .278/.363/.423 with 14 HR and 67 RBI while scoring 88 runs and adding 18 steals. Did strikeout 110 times in 490 at-bats. Above average power, average speed, and good sense and range in the outfield give Dawson the projection of 4th OF, at the very least.

24. Dean Deetz, RHP
Age: 24
Highest Level (2017): AAA
How acquired: 11th round selection in 2014 (316th overall)
Pitched very well at AA Corpus Christ earning a promotion to AAA Fresno. The PCL was an eye-opening experience as Deetz went 3-4 with a 6.40 in 17 games (10 starts). Struck out 55 in 45.0 innings, but also walked 41. Has an upper 90’s fastball and a power slider, but command issues could force him to the bullpen.

25. Drew Ferguson, OF
Age: 25
Highest Level (2017): AAA
How acquired: 19th round selection in 2015 (559th overall)
Nothing overpowering about Ferguson’s game, but does several things well. Hit .292/.390/.426 in AA and .223/.304/.320 after his promotion to AAA. Doesn’t get a lot of credit due to being selected in the 19th round. Career .295/.369/.400 over 1,025 minor league at-bats. Should continue to perform. Unfortunately, like many OF prospects on this list, Ferguson’s best chance might come in another organization.

26. Reymin Guduan, LHP
Age: 25
Highest Level (2017): MLB
How acquired: International Free Agent, 9/22/2009
Made his major league debut in 2017. Has long had control issues, but can straight deal heat. Spent most of 2017 on the shuttle between AAA and the majors. With the recent bullpen additions in Houston, that seems to be the case again in 2018.

Tier 5

27. Elian Rodriguez, RHP
Age: 20
Highest Level (2017): Rookie
How acquired: International Free Agent, 6/13/2017
Did not debut well (0-3, 7.46 ERA in 9 starts, walked 30 and struck out 19 in 25.1 innings), but has the projection to be a big time pitcher. Stands 6’4″ and weighs in at 205 and can touch 97. Should play 2018 in the Dominican Summer League.

28. Riley Ferrell, RHP
Age: 24
Highest Level (2017): AA
How acquired: 3rd round selection in 2015 (79th overall)
Shut down early in 2016 due to an aneurysm in his throwing shoulder, Ferrell bounced back in 2017. Had a 10.00 K/9 and a 2.33 BB/9 striking out 60 and walking 14 in 54.0 innings. Also saved 6 games. Did get roughed up in the AFL, walking 9 and giving up 5 earned runs, but will most likely start back in AA and resume his march to his role as the Astros closer of the future.

29. Framber Valdez, LHP
Age: 24
Highest Level (2017): AA
How acquired: International Free Agent, 3/18/2015
Struggled after promotion to AA. 5.88 ERA in 49 innings with 23 walks. Good start to the season in Buies Creek (2.79 ERA, 73/29 K/BB in 61.1 innings), while finishing the season in the AFL (3.20, 14/8 K/BB over 19.2 innings). Hard throwing lefty that could start or relieve.

30. Brett Adcock, LHP
Age: 22
Highest Level (2017): A+
How acquired: 4th round selection in 2016 (127th overall)
After missing most of 2016 with a knee injury, Adcock turned in a decent 2017. He posted a 3.93 ERA with 117 strikeouts and 39 walks in 107.2 innings. Can hit 94 MPH with decent secondary stuff. If he can improve his command, Adcock could be a 4th or 5th starter. If not he might become a LOOGY specialist.

31. Trent Thornton, RHP
Age: 24
Highest Level (2017): AAA
How acquired: 5th round selection in 2015 (139th overall)
Started the season in AA, but finished in AAA due to a rash of injuries. Opponents hit .299 off of him. Struck out 101 in 131.1 IP, but showed good control only walking 23. Should start in AAA after spending parts of the last two seasons in AA.

32. J.J. Matijevic, OF
Age: 22
Highest Level (2017): A
How acquired: 2nd round selection in 2017 (75th overall)
A 1B in college, Matijevic spent most of 2017 in the OF and at DH. Had a rough first professional season hitting .228 with 69 strikeouts in 224 at-bats.

33. Joe Perez, 3B
Age: 18
Highest Level (2017): DNP
How acquired: 2nd round selection in 2017 (53rd overall)
A surprise pick, Perez could have gone as a 3B or pitcher. Spent all of 2017 on the shelf after Tommy John surgery

34. Brandon Bielak, RHP
Age: 21
Highest Level (2017): Short Season A
How acquired: 11th round selection in 2017 (331st overall)
My favorite pitcher in the system (after Whitley). Started in the Gulf Coast League, but finished in the NY-Penn league. Went 2-1 with a 0.80 ERA. 42 strikeouts and only 5 walks in 33.0 innings. Has the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter.

35. Miguelangel Sierra, SS
Age: 20
Highest Level (2017): Short Season A
How acquired: International Free Agent, 7/2/2014
Disappointing 2017 saw him hit .178/.260/.297. Has the defensive ability to stick at SS, but needs to improve overall hitting mechanics. (career .224/.318/.379; 643 at-bats)

36. Abraham Toro-Hernandez, 3B
Age: 21
Highest Level (2017): A
How acquired: 5th round selection in 2016 (157th overall)
This is a lot lower than some rankings out there, but there is potential. Drafted as a catcher but has moved to 3B full time. Hit 15 HR and walked 40 times in 240 AB. Power profile could improve as he ages and fills out his 6’1″ frame.

37. Jonathan Arauz, SS
Age: 19
Highest Level (2017): A
How acquired: Traded with RP Ken Giles from Philadelphia for RHP Vince Velasquez, RHP Mark Appel, RHP Thomas Eshelman, RHP Harold Arauz, and LHP Bret Oberholtzer, 12/12/2015
Arauz profiles as a utility player going forward, think Jonathan Villar without the power. Still just 19 has plenty of time to work on several things. Overall hit .242/.336/.319.

38. Carmen Benedetti, OF
Age: 23
Highest Level (2017): A+
How acquired: 12th round selection in 2016 (367th overall)
Absolutely raked in the Midwest League (.332/.446/.465), but came back down to earth after the promotion to High A (.268/.341/.415). On base machine with 60 walks in 323 at-bats.

39. Ryne Birk, 2B
Age: 23
Highest Level (2017): AA
How acquired: 13th round selection in 2016 (397th overall)
Has been an impressive addition since being drafted out of Texas A&M in 2016. Hit .266/.325/.430 across two levels. Also hit 15 home runs and drove in 77.

40. Chuckie Robinson, C
Age: 23
Highest Level (2017): A
How acquired: 21st round selection in 2016 (637th overall)
Potentially the fastest mover on this list, especially after the trade of Jake Rogers to Detroit. Hit .275/.330/.463 with 15 HR and 77 RBI. Defense is first rate also (threw out 40.9% of base stealers). No reason to think he wouldn’t start at AA and should rate much higher in the mid-season top 50.

41. Kit Scheetz, LHP
Age: 23
Highest Level (2017): A
How acquired: Non-drafted free agent, 6/23/2017
The best name in the Astros minor league system impressed after being signed as a non-drafted free agent. Struck out 53 and only walked 9 in 47 innings (10.15 K/9 and 1.72 BB/9). Started season in the Gulf Coast League and finished in the Midwest. Will most likely repeat A to start 2018, but is a name to keep an eye on.

42. Carson LaRue, RHP
Age: 21
Highest Level (2017): A+
How acquired: 14th round selection in 2016 (427th overall)
Spent most of 2017 in the Midwest league with a late season promotion to High A. Overall 12-7 3.23 with 105 strikeouts and 30 walks over 105 innings.

43. Stephen Wrenn, OF
Age: 23
Highest Level (2017): A+
How acquired: 6th round selection in 2016 (187th overall)
A good start in A ball earned Wrenn a promotion the Carolina league. Struggled after the promotion hitting .242/.316/.330 with 66 strikeouts in 306 at-bats. Will most likely start 2018 back with High A Buies Creek.

44. Jon Kemmer, OF
Age: 27
Highest Level (2017): A+
How acquired: 6th round selection in 2016 (187th overall)
Old for a prospect, Kemmer has been passed on the OF depth chart by the likes of Derek Fisher and Tony Kemp. Has spent the last two years in Fresno and improved in 2017. Hit .299 with a .932 OPS. Decent balance in the power department (17 doubles and 16 homeruns). Deserves a chance at the highest level, but that might have to come in another organization.

45. Troy Sieber, 1B
Age: 22
Highest Level (2017): A
How acquired: 24th round selection in 2016 (727th overall)
After a brief stint in the NY-Penn league (7 at-bats), Sieber spent 2017 in the Midwest league. Slashed .289/.404/.458 with 37 walks and 47 strikeouts.

46. Jairo Solis, RHP
Age: 18
Highest Level (2017): Rookie
How acquired: International free agent, 7/2/2016
Covered three rookie level stops in 2017 and impressed at each. Sits in the low 90’s with a high of 96 MPH. Mostly projection at this point, but posesses nice changeup and breaking ball.

47. Chad Donato, RHP
Age: 22
Highest Level (2017): Rookie
How acquired: 11th round selection in 2016 (337th overall)
Fastball sits 88-91 MPH and posses a good curveball. Started 8 games with 10 appearances overall. Spent last two seasons in rookie ball. Will need to prove himself at a full season stop.

48. Nick Hernandez, RHP
Age: 23
Highest Level (2017): AA
How acquired: 8th round selection in 2016 (247th overall)
Had a 10.74 K/9 across 58.2 innings at both High A and AA. Also saved 10 games. Improved fastball command and lowered WHIP from a year ago (1.38 to 1.04). Potential to hold down the back end of a bullpen.

49. Mike Papierski, C
Age: 21
Highest Level (2017): Short Season A
How acquired: 9th round selection in 2017 (271st overall)
Did not hit for average in 2017, but was an on-base machine (.380). Threw out 29% of base stealers. Defense first catcher.

50. Sean Stutzman, LHP
Age: 24
Highest Level (2017): AAA
How acquired: Non-drafted free agent, 6/17/2016
Appeared in 33 games covering three levels in 2017. Struck out 72 and walked 23 in 67.0 IP.
The overall Houston farm system is in good shape, even with the loss of Franklin Perez, Daz Cameron, and Jake Rogers.

Many of the prospects on this list could slot into the major league lineup/rotation with little to no drop off in talent and production. On the heels of a World Series championship, the Astros are positioned to contend for the foreseeable future.

6 Comments

    • I get it. Martin has been an absolutely polarizing player in these rankings from the start. Across 2017 Straw and Martin were, statistically, very similar players. Martin outperformed Straw in AA, but to be fair Straw only played 13 games to Martin’s 79. Martin had a higher slugging %, but the OBP was very similar. Straw was a better base stealer with 38 in 47 attempts vs 16 in 27 attempts for Martin. Also Martin struck out 124 times while Straw only struck out 79. I think Straw is the better overall talent due to his ability to get on base and be a force there. Not knocking Martin, just not as high on him as I am Straw. Stubbs had a down year between AA and AAA, but if you look at his career stats (.267 with a .741 OPS) compared to Martin (.269 with a .791 OPS), you can see that they are pretty similar. Martin has more power, but I think the game is more than power. Plus, Stubbs plays a more defensive challenging position. Rankings are definitely subjective and I appreciate the feedback! Cheers!

      • I appreciate the conversation. Power isn’t everything, but in my opinion it separates Martin from this pack. I expect that he’s only going to get stronger. I went to a game last year and saw him crush a ball. Tuck crushed one too, but Martin’s, man-o-man.

        • He can definitely mash, no doubt, and his overall game improved as the season went on. That is the great thing about prospects. They can create debate but the bottom line is we just want them to help our team win. Speed, power, whatever. It’s raising the trophy at the end that matters!

  1. Good read and love Yordan Alvarez just grabbed him 16th in a 5 year old 20 team dynasty league so that was a gift.

    The player who IMO will sky rocket on this list: Jairo Solis. He is going to be special.

6 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

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