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Houston Astros Top 20 Prospects for 2010

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Top 20 Houston Astros Prospects for 2010

All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too worried about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get beyond the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize. Complete reports on these and over 1,000 other players will be in the 2010 Baseball Prospect Book, now available for pre-order, shipping on February 2nd!

1) Jason Castro, C, Grade B+: I really like his defense, and his bat should at least be decent. He's kind of a low-end B+, with a high floor but a lower ceiling compared to some other guys in this grade range.

2) Jordan Lyles, RHP, Grade B+: Highly impressive season in the Sally League, great K/BB and K/IP marks. . .and he is two months younger than '09 draftee Jiovanni Mier. I almost ranked him number one.

3) Jiovanni Mier, SS, Grade B: Borderline B+, but I'd like to get some full-season data first. Well-balanced offensive and defensive prospect. Chance to be a national top 20 prospect a year from now if all goes well.

4) Sammy Gervacio, RHP, Grade B-. He was great in Houston, but command was wobblier during Triple-A time. Could be a future closer if it all comes together.

5) Chia-Jen Lo, RHP, Grade B-: Relief guy that I like a lot, maybe more than I should. Needs sharper control but I think he can develop it. Like Gervacio, Lo might be a closer.

6) Tanner Bushue, RHP, Grade B-: Cold-weather high school pitcher, projectable, did well in small sample size debut. Could pull a Jordan Lyles in '10.

7) T.J. Steele, OF, Grade C+: I don't like the BB/K ratio, but the guy has some serious bat speed and is toolsy. If he can improve his plate discipline even slightly, could explode in '10.

8) Jay Austin, OF, Grade C+: There is a lot of projection in that grade. He wasn't too great in the Sally League, but it was still huge improvement over the suckitude of his rookie ball performance. Born the same month and year as Mier and played a level higher last year.

9) Jon Gaston, OF, Grade C+: Power is real, and he has better tools than he is given credit for; he's not a bad athlete. Main problem: can he keep his batting average and OBP adequate outside of the Cal League?

10) Ross Seaton, RHP, Grade C+: Could rate above the three tools outfielders, but the low strikeout rate and reports of dropping velocity concern me.

11) Matt Nevarez, RHP, Grade C+: Dominant Sally League performance, throws hard, could move quickly as relief option if he maintains the control he showed this year. Good trade pickup. Underrated.

12) Fernando Abad, LHP, Grade C+: Pitchability lefty with tremendous K/BB and K/IP ratios.

13) Juri Perez, RHP, Grade C+: Impressive performance in Appy League, scouting reports are positive, need higher level data of course but a good ceiling.

14) Chris Johnson, 3B, Grade C, borderline C+. Decent corner bat, but needs better plate discipline. Some scouts seem high on him, but he looks more like a decent contributor than a future starter to me.

15) Polin Trinidad, LHP, Grade C: Possible fifth starter or long relief type, could help in '10.

16) Collin DeLome, OF, Grade C: Has power and speed, tools are underrated, the guy is a good athlete, but command of the strike zone is a big problem.

17) Brian Bogusevic, OF, Grade C: Gets some slack due to his background, I can still see him as a useful fourth outfielder.

18) Enrique Hernandez, 2B-SS, Grade C: sixth round pick out of Puerto Rico, looked good in rookie ball, need higher level data but a sleeper to watch for '10. I have a good intuitive feeling about him.

19) Brad Dydalewicz, LHP, Grade C: Not as good a prospect as Lyles or Seaton, but fellow '08 draftee held his own in the Sally League. Would like to see a higher strikeout rate.

20) J.P. Martinez, OF, Grade C: A terror with the bat in college, the Appy League, and the NY-P League. I have mixed reports about his tools; some people like them, some don't, but it looks like he can hit. If that remains true in full-season ball, his stock will rise quickly in '10.

OTHERS: Jose Altuve, 2B; Eric Castro, 3B; Leandro Cespedes, RHP; Koby Clemens, C-DH; Evan Engelbrook, RHP; Ed Ferreira, LHP, Dallas Keuchel, LHP; Arecinio Leon, RHP; Tommy Manzella, SS; Jonathan Mejia, SS-3B: Jonathan Meyer, 3B: Daniel Meszaros, RHP; Telvin Nash, OF; Michael Schurz, RHP; Jack Shuck, OF; Jose Vallejo, 2B; Henry Villar, RHP.

Note that many of the Grade C guys not listed in the Top 20 are interchangeable with the 14-20 slots. . .I emphasized the guys who I felt were most interesting (Hernandez, Dydalewicz, Martinez) or close to the majors. Clemens could be on there if I knew what position he could play at higher levels. International signees Ferreira and Mejia have the ceilings to rank, but without any performance data to look at I wasn't going to put them there yet. Eric Castro is an interesting sleeper from the '09 draft, etc. Making sense of the mass of C+/C guys and ranking them is difficult; there is a lot of flux once you get out of the Top Ten.

The Astros system has improved over the last two years. Jason Castro, Lyles, and Mier are a strong front three, and after them there's a nice mixture of upside (Bushue, Austin, Seaton), guys ready for or on the verge of the majors (Gervacio, Lo), and people in the middle with questions but potential (Gaston, Steele). As stated, there are some interesting Grade Cs beyond them. But the organization falls short in terms of depth, a hangover from botched drafts earlier this decade.

The system does have some strengths. The Latin American operation quietly continues to pump Grade C guys into the system, and some of the younger ones have upside beyond that. The scouting staff has done well in the last two drafts. The problems with this organization go back to short-sighted ownership decisions. If the baseball folks can maintain the momentum from the last two drafts, things will look up eventually.