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Top 20 Houston Astros PRE-SEASON Prospects

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Top 20 PRE-SEASON Astros Prospects in Review

This is the PRE-SEASON list. That means it was generated BEFORE THE SEASON STARTED and that the grades were PRE-SEASON. Anyone complaining about the grades based on 2006 performance will be smacked up the side of the head with a Mike Rosamond autographed bat.

1) Jason Hirsh, RHP, Grade A-
10-2, 2.18 in 19 starts for Triple-A Round Rock, 102/46 K/BB in 115 innings with just four homers allowed. Nothing left to prove in the minors. An excellent pitching prospect.

2) Troy Patton, LHP, Grade B+
6-7, 3.12 in 18 starts for Class A Salem, 94/35 K/BB in 95 innings. Has pitched better lately after a slow start. Another strong prospect.

3) Hunter Pence, OF, B+
Hitting .295/.357/.563 with 20 doubles, 22 homers, and 12 steals for Double-A Corpus Cristi. Not much to complain about, doing very well.

4) Jimmy Barthmaier, RHP, B+
5-8, 4.90 in 18 starts for Salem, 87/49 K/BB in 94 innings, 100 hits allowed. Quite mediocre and rather disappointing, I thought he'd be better than this.

5) Fernando Nieve, RHP, B
3-3, 4.44 in 75 innings for the Astros, 51/23 K/BB, 72 hits allowed, has been used as both a starter and reliever. Main flaw at this point is a high home run rate but overall he's holding his own.

6) Brian Bogusevic, LHP, B
Combined 0-3, 6.67 in 11 starts between Class A Lexington and short-season Tri-City, 30/17 K/BB in 38 innings, 49 hits allowed. Not very good obviously, and health is an issue.

7) Eli Iorg, OF, B
Hitting .244/.298/.406 with 10 homers, 23 steals, 84 strikeouts in 85 games for Lexington. Good tools but very raw for a guy coming from a four-year college with a strong program like Tennessee.

8) Ben Zobrist, SS, B-
Traded to Tampa Bay in the Huff deal. Now hitting .330/.435/.467 combined between Corpus Cristi and Triple-A Durham. Possible Bill Mueller-type.

9) Felipe Paulino del Guidice, RHP, C+
5-5, 3.87 in 18 starts for Salem, 62/41 K/BB in 81 innings, 71 hits allowed. Doing OK, needs better control.

10) Matt Albers, RHP, C+
Breakthrough: 10-2, 2.17 in 19 starts for Corpus Cristi, 95/47 K/BB in 116 innings, just 4 homers allowed. Command still needs some sharpening but a fine prospect.

11) Justin Towles, C, C+
Hitting .314/.387/.519 for Lexington with 10 steals. Very intriguing hitter.

12) Juan Gutierrez, RHP, C+
8-4, 3.51 in 16 starts for Corpus Cristi, 95/32 K/BB in 90 innings, 88 hits allowed. Solid performance.

13) Koby Clemens, 3B, C+
Hitting .224/.306/.335 for Lexington. Disappointing considering his rookie ball performance last year.

14) Chance Douglass, RHP, C+
6-3, 3.09 in 17 starts for Corpus Cristi, 68/36 K/BB in 108 innings. Strikeout rate is rather low but hard to argue with overall results, and he does throw strikes.

15) Josh Flores, OF, C+
Hitting .255/.313/.354 with 17 steals for Lexington. Good speed but lack of power and weak on-base skills will inhibit his value.

16) Brooks Conrad, 2B, C+
Hitting .250/.304/.486 for Round Rock, 29 doubles, 11 triples, 12 homers. Good pop for a middle infielder. Might help someone on a bench somewhere.

17) Luke Scott, OF, C
Hitting .299/.400/.541 for Round Rock, 20 homers, 52 walks. Not much left to prove in the minors but will have to take quick advantage of any major league time.

18) Tommy Manzella, SS, C
Hitting .259/.3113/.388 with 12 steals for Lexington. Nothing really impressive here, at least with the bat.

19) Mitch Einertson, OF, C
Hitting .223/.271/.382 for Lexington. Has 10 homers, but right now I will be surprised if he ever lives up to the potential he showed in rookie ball in 2004.

20) Ralph Henriquez, C, C
Hitting .252/.297/.388 in 26 games for Greenville in the Appy League. Sample too small to mean much right now.

Several bright spots. Hirsh is living up to my pre-season hopes, and Patton and Pence look good, too. 2005 draftees Iorg and Bogusevic have had problems, but the apparent breakthrough for Albers helps take some of the sting out. Ben Zobrist helped bring Aubrey Huff over from Tampa Bay.