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Houston Astros Top 20 Prospects

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This isn't a very good photo of Chris Burke. How about this one?

A nicer photo (from wireimage.com), although the wrong Burke.

  1. Chris Burke, 2B, B+
  2. Mitch Einertson, OF, B+
  3. Ezequiel Astacio, RHP, B
  4. Matt Albers, RHP, B
  5. Ben Zobrist, SS, B
  6. Fernando Nieve, RHP, B
  7. Hunter Pence, OF, B
  8. Troy Patton, LHP, C+
  9. Willy Taveras, OF, C+
  10. Josh Anderson, OF, C+
  11. Taylor Buchholz, RHP, C+
  12. Jared Gothreaux, RHP, C+
  13. Mike Burns, RHP, C+
  14. Brooks Conrad, 2B, C+
  15. Mitch Talbot, RHP, C+
  16. Tommy Whiteman, SS, C
  17. Juan Gutierrez, RHP, C
  18. Luke Scott, OF, C
  19. Todd Self, 1B, C
  20. Enyelbert Soto, LHP, C
This looks like a somewhat thin system to me right now, depleted by trades and promotions. There are a lot of other Grade C guys who could slot in the 15-20 spaces, including outfielder Ervin Alcantara, infielder Edwin Maysonet, pitchers Ronnie Martinez, Jason Hirsh, and Evan Englebrook, and catchers Lou Santangelo and Hector Gimenez. The Astros love Gimenez's glove, but I don't think he can hit. Reliever Chad Qualls, who pitched well for Houston, would get a Grade C+ or B- but I didn't put him in the book for some reason.

Of the top prospects, I think Chris Burke is ready to contribute, although I did pick up his name being bandied about in a trade rumor last week. I like lefty Troy Patton as a possible breakthrough candidate in 2005. Albers is one of my favorites, but he has some personal issues to deal with (alcohol) and needs to get his life under control.

Mike Burns and Brooks Conrad are guys with strong track records, but they don't impress scouts that much and aren't considered hot prospects. Burns in particular could end up being very useful as a middle reliever. Tommy Whiteman has excellent tools and sometimes hits well, but I've seen him flail at too many pitches outside the strike zone to be too wild about him at this point.