My favorite Houston Astro of all time was James Rodney Richard
All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don’t get too worried about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get out of the top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you are looking for.
1) Jason Castro, C, Grade B: Good glove, should provide some power, not sure if he’ll hit enough to be a genuine star or just a solid player.
2) Brian Bogusevic, OF, Grade B-: Good plate discipline, should hit for average, but lack of home run power may make him a fourth outfielder. However, you have to like the rapid adjustment he made, and the power may still come.
3) Bud Norris, RHP, Grade B-: Throws hard, but doesn’t change speeds well and seems better-suited to bullpen work than starting.
4) Jordan Lyles, RHP, Grade B-: Very projectable young arm but will need time to develop.
5) Ross Seaton, RHP, Grade B-: Another very projectable young arm and a local kid. For some reason I’m optimistic about him and Lyles.
6) Felipe Paulino, RHP, Grade C+: If healthy, could rank B- and ahead of Lyles and Seaton. Great stuff, but role and condition of arm are uncertain.
7) Drew Sutton, 2B, Grade C+: I see him as a useful role player due to broad secondary skills.
8) Chris Johnson, 3B, Grade C+: Hasn’t hit outside the Texas League. I’ve seen both Sutton and Johnson play. Johnson has better tools but Sutton is far more polished and skillful.
9) Sam Gervacio, RHP, Grade C+: Decent stuff and weird delivery, should be good middle reliever.
10) Chia-Jen-Lo, RHP, Grade C+: Hard to grade. Scouting reports indicate a polished guy who could be a decent fourth/fifth starter or a good long reliever, but doesn’t have upside beyond that.
11) Collin DeLome, OF, Grade C: Good power, some speed, but bad strike zone judgment will hold him back.
12) Sergio Perez, RHP, Grade C: Injured in regular season, but did well in Arizona Fall League. Could be fourth/fifth starter but might dominate more in the pen.
14) T.J. Steele, OF, Grade C: Good tools, power and speed, but very raw for a college guy, with major strike zone problems.
15) J.B. Shuck, OF, Grade C: Showed no power in college, but hit with authority in NY-P. Athletic, good plate discipline, more polished than Steele but not as much upside.
16) Jay Austin, OF, Grade C: Very toolsy high school kid, could not hit Appalachian League pitching but is young enough to improve.
17) Federico Hernandez, C, Grade C: Very good defensive catcher, bat may be questionable at higher levels but at least he makes some contact.
18) Leandro Cespedes, RHP, Grade C: Average stuff, but good K/BB and K/IP marks in the Sally League. Will this carry forward?
19) Phil Disher, 1B, Grade C: Monster numbers in the NY-P League, excellent power, but horrible glove and high strikeout rate limit his grade at this time.
20) Tim Torres, SS, Grade C: Older prospect, but has some skills and could be on the Drew Sutton sleeper path.
Others: Fernando Abad, LHP; Douglas Arguello, LHP; Koby Clemens, C; Luis Cruz, LHP; Gilbert De La Vara, LHP; David Duncan, LHP; Brad Dydalewicz, LHP; Mitch Einertson, OF; Chris Hicks, RHP; Eli Iorg, OF; Brad James, RHP; Tommy Manzella, SS.
As usual, don’t sweat so much about where the Grade C+/C types rank exactly on this list. After I get past the top 10 I don’t worry so much about exact placement, since I’m trying to concentrate on the book right now. Some of the Grade C guys could be C+ in the book, and vice versa.
SYSTEM IN BRIEF
This is an extremely thin system right now, but the 2008 draft looks somewhat promising and they seem to be taking the need to rebuild more seriously. I think Castro is pretty solid, but I think there were other guys available in the draft who would make bigger impacts. It says a lot about the system that the number two hitter was a pitcher a year ago. Sutton looks like a good role player to me, but I’m not totally convinced about Chris Johnson yet. Johnson has better tools, but Sutton looks more likely to actually live up to his potential. 2008 outfield draftees Steele, Shuck, and Austin are all interesting, but for very different reasons.
Pitching-wise, there are no definite impact guys right now. Norris has a lively arm but I have doubts about him as a starter. Lyles and Seaton could both be excellent, but they carry the risks typical for projectable young pitchers and won’t advance quickly. After that you have a bunch of fifth starter/reliever types.
Full reports on these players and over 1,000 others can be found in the 2009 Baseball Prospect Book. Pre-order for January 31st shipping now!