Houston Astros Top 20 Prospects for 2011
All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too concerned about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get past the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize.
Feel free to critique the list, but use logic and reason rather than polemics to do to. The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2011 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders. Order early and order often!
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS:
Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Almost all Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don't intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don't make it at all.
A major point to remember is that grades for pitchers do NOT correspond directly to grades for hitters. Many Grade A pitching prospects fail to develop, often due to injuries. Some Grade C pitching prospects turn out much better than expected.
Also note that there is diversity within each category. I'm a tough grader; Grade C+ is actually good praise coming from me, and some C+ prospects turn out very well indeed.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment for my full opinion about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.
Houston Astros Top 20 Prospects for 2011
1) Jordan Lyles, RHP, Grade B+: He won't be a superstar, but he'll soak innings and throw strikes.
2) Delino DeShields, 2B, Grade B-: If he turns out like his dad, the Astros will be happy. Grade can/should rise once he gets more experience.
3) Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Grade B-: One of my favorite high school pitchers from the 2010 draft.
4) Austin Wates, OF, Grade B-: I think this guy is underrated. Should hit for average, get on base, and provide steals.
5) J.D. Martinez, OF, Grade B-: Steal from the 2009 draft, has decent tools, knows how to hit, but was just a 20th round pick.
6) Tanner Bushue, RHP, Grade C+: Erratic in the Sally League, but still young and projectable.
7) Aneury Rodriguez, RHP, Grade C+: You know your system is thin when a Rule 5 guy gets into the Top 10. But he has a good arm and should be able to help this year.
8) Mark Melancon, RHP, Grade C+: Like Rodriguez, he's ready to help now. If he throws enough strikes, he could close eventually.
9) Jonathan Villar, SS, Grade C+: Would rank higher on pure tools, but I have significant worries about his bat.
10) Jimmy Paredes, 2B, Grade C+: Like Villar, he came over in a trade, he's got the tools, but I'm not sure he'll hit.
11) Mike Kvasnicka, 3B-C-OF, Grade C+: I don't think the NY-P numbers reflect his bat fairly, but what position does he play?
12) Jiovanni Mier, SS, Grade C+: One of the big disappointments of the 2010 season. Young enough to rebound.
13) Jose Altuve, 2B, Grade C: You have to love the numbers, but can a 5-5 player really succeed at higher levels? We'll find out this year.
14) Dallas Keuchel, LHP, Grade C: Throws strikes, gets ground balls, could surprise as fifth starter type.
15) Jay Austin, OF, Grade C: Great tools, but I doubt the bat.
16) Ariel Ovando, OF, Grade C: Great tools, power, cost a lot of money, but hasn't played in the US yet and I am cautious about such players until we get real data.
17) Douglas Arguello, LHP, Grade C: Older prospect that you won't see on other lists, but he throws strikes, gets grounders, and could sneak into major league role this year.
18) Brian Bogusevic, OF, Grade C: Perfect fit as a reserve outfielder. Won't hit for average, but can do everything else decently.
19) Telvin Nash, 1B-OF, Grade C: Excellent power potential but lacks other skills.
20) Carlos Quevedo, RHP, Grade C: Strike-thrower had good year in the New York-Penn League, though doesn't fan a lot of people.
OTHERS: Jose Cisenro, RHP; Koby Clemens, 1B; Bobby Doran, RHP; Jon Gaston, OF; Jake Goebbert, OF; Ben Heath, C; Roberto Pena, C; Lance Pendleton, RHP; Rodney Quintero, RHP; James Robinson, RHP; Ross Seaton, RHP; Tommy Shirley, LHP; J.B. Shuck, OF; Pat Urckfitz, LHP; Vincent Velasquez, RHP.
The problems with the Houston farm system are well-documented, and most of the blame lies with cheapskate ownership. The situation has improved over the last couple of years, with an influx of projectable arms like Lyles, Folty, and Bushue giving some hope for the future pitching staff. Physical tools are the emphasis on the hitting side, although the results so far with players like Austin aren't too impressive. Trades this past summer brought in high-ceiling infielders Villar and Paredes, but I'm not sure either of them will hit enough to live up to expectations. The signing of Ovando is a good marker for the future of the system, even if he doesn't pan out himself.
Overall, things are still very thin, but there are signs of improvement.