Houston Astros Pre-Season Top 20 in Review
REMEMBER: This is a review of the PRE-SEASON list from back in February.
1) Chris Burke, 2B
Hitting .250/.306/.320 for the Astros. He is capable of much better than this, and in the long run I still have faith in him.
2) Mitch Einertson, OF
A horrible season, .224/.353/.354 for Class A Lexington. A good walk rate, but striking out once per game and overall production has been very disappointing. Too young to give up on, but this is a case study about being careful when it comes to short-season statistics. He was blistering hot last year but hasn't been able to maintain this against better pitching.
3) Ezequiel Astacio, RHP
3.02 ERA for Triple-A Round Rock, 57/12 K/BB in 66 innings. But has struggled with the Astros, throwing strikes (30/9 K/BB) but giving up too many hits, resulting in 8.24 ERA in 6 starts.
4) Matt Albers, RHP
3-11, 5.47 ERA in 19 starts for Class A Salem, 92/46 K/BB in 99 innings, 115 hits. K-rate is pretty good, but otherwise this is less than expected. Good physical potential but still trying to put things together.
5) Ben Zobrist, SS
Hit .304/.415/.413 in 68 games for Class A Lexington. Promoted to Salem this month, and has been even better: .377/.529/.485. We need to see him against better pitching, but these numbers are great. Excellent plate discipline, speed, and defensive ability.
6) Fernando Nieve, RHP
4-3, 2.65 for Double-A Corpus Christi, with 96/29 K/BB in 85 innings. Promoted to Round Rock, has been less effective against better competition (4.91 ERA), struggling with command at times.
7) Hunter Pence, OF
Hit .338/.413/.652 with 25 homers for Lexington. Outstanding performance in all categories, but we need to see him against pitchers who aren't scared out of their wits.
8) Troy Patton, LHP
Pitched brilliantly at Lexington (1.94 ERA in 15 starts, 94/20 K/BB), and has allowed 1 run in his first 6 innings after moving up to Salem. Premium prospect.
9) Willy Taveras, OF
Hitting .296/.329/.364 with 24 steals for the Astros. On-base skills remain marginal, but his speed will keep him employed for a long time.
10) Josh Anderson, OF
Hitting .277/.331/.322 with 35 steals for Corpus Christi. If he's lucky, he'll grow up to be Willy Taveras.
11) Taylor Buchholz, RHP
6-0, 4.19 in 14 starts for Round Rock, 41/23 K/BB in 69 innings, 66 hits allowed. Doing OK. Home run tendencies (12 taters) will be a problem in the Show. Brad Radke-type if things work out.
12) Jared Gothreaux, RHP
3-8, 4.29 in 15 starts for Round Rock, 47/29 K/BB in 86 innings. Mediocre ratio profile this year.
13) Mike Burns, RHP
1.67 ERA with 13 saves at Round Rock (and 31/4 K/BB) led to promotion to Houston. Has done well, 3.50 mark in 15 games, 11/3 K/BB in 18 innings. Decent middle reliever.
14) Brooks Conrad, 2B
Hitting .257/.331/.439 with 11 homers for Round Rock. A "skill" player without great tools, could be a Quadruple-A guy.
15) Mitch Talbot, RHP
4.15 ERA in 19 starts at Salem, 72/30 K/BB in 102 innings, 105 hits. Decent control, other numbers are middlin'. Grade C guy.
16) Tommy Whiteman, SS
A bad year. Hit .185 in 49 games for Round Rock, now down at Corpus Christi where he's at .262/351/.338 in 35 games. Quadruple-A guy, though for opposite reasons from Conrad. Whiteman has great tools but doesn't have skills.
17) Juan Gutierrez, RHP
Sleeper prospect. 2.55 ERA in 17 starts at Lexington, 83/32 K/BB in 99 innings, 8 hits. Solid numbers, will move up the list past some of the disappointing guys.
18) Luke Scott, OF
Was dumped back in the minors after just 39 at-bats with the Astros. Hitting only .253 at Round Rock, but with 20 homers, .560 SLG. Quadruple-A slugger?
19) Todd Self, 1B
Hit .326/.441/.479 for Round Rock, is 9-for-45 (.200) for Houston. Line drive hitter, lacks the power of the standard first baseman, but gets on base. A Quadruple-A Mark Grace?
20) Enyelbert Soto, LHP
4.44 ERA at Lexington, 16/2 K/BB in 26 innings, but hasn't pitched since mid-June.
The Astros seem to have a lot of guys who look like Quadruple-A candidates. They also have some very impressive up-and-comers with Pence, Patton, and Zobrist, which takes some of the sting out of disappointing seasons from Einertson, etc.. I think Burke will come around if they are patient with him. It takes him time to get acclimated to a new level.