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Houston Astros 2011 Top 20 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

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ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 28: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros hits a sacrifice RBI against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on July 28, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Astros beat the Cardinals 5-3.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 28: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros hits a sacrifice RBI against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on July 28, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Astros beat the Cardinals 5-3. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Houston Astros 2011 Top 20 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

I am reviewing my PRE-SEASON list of Top 20 prospects for 2011 for each organization, continuing today with the Houston Astros. This list was originally published December 28, 2010. We will look at the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, and the Cleveland Indians to finish things off Saturday.

This is a review of the 2011 Pre-Season Top 20 list. IT IS NOT A NEW LIST.  THESE ARE NOT NEW GRADES

The 2012 list and new grades won't be ready until the season is over and I start writing the book.

1) Jordan Lyles, RHP, Grade B+:  3.20 ERA with 41/16 K/BB in 59 innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City, 57 hits.  1-7, 5.31 in 14 starts for the Astros, 57/21 K/BB in 85 innings, 94 hits. I'm not really surprised by the major league results, but I think he will adjust and end up being very good, something like Brad Radke.

2) Delino DeShields, 2B, Grade B-: Hitting .225/.306/.317 with 27 steals, 41 walks, 104 strikeouts in 404 at-bats for Low-A Lexington. Very raw, especially on offense, but didn't turn 19 until this week.

3) Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Grade B-:  4.69 ERA with 79/47 K/BB in 125 innings for Lexington, 135 hits. He's eating innings well but the components aren't impressive at this point.

4) Austin Wates, OF, Grade B-:  Hitting .308/.375/.421 with 20 steals, 44 walks, 74 strikeouts in 451 at-bats for High-A Lancaster. I like him, but we need to see him outside the Cal League.

5) J.D. Martinez, OF, Grade B-:  .338/.414/.546 with 13 homers, 42 walks, 55 strikeouts in 317 at-bats for Double-A Corpus Christi.  Hitting .258/.319/.515 since promotion to the majors, six walks, 15 strikeouts in 66 at-bats. I like him.

6) Tanner Bushue, RHP, Grade C+: Repeating Sally League with mediocre results, 4.30 ERA with 48/16 K/BB in 73 innings, 80 hits, 11 homers. Can't say I'm excited about this.

7) Aneury Rodriguez, RHP, Grade C+:  4.66 ERA with 54/23 K/BB in 73 major league innings, 68 hits, 13 homers. I think he can and will improve.

8) Mark Melancon, RHP, Grade C+: 3.20 ERA with 47/20 K/BB in 56 major league innings, 54 hits, 12 saves. Obviously no complaints here, a fine rookie season.

9) Jonathan Villar, SS, Grade C+: Hit .259/.353/.414 with 20 steals, 25 walks, 56 strikeouts in 174 at-bats for Lancaster, then .236/.305/.419 with nine steals, 22 walks, and 75 strikeouts in 246 at-bats for Corpus Christi. Young for Double-A at age 20, very athletic, still quite raw on both offense and defense.

10) Jimmy Paredes, 2B, Grade C+: .270/.300/.426 with 15 walks, 84 strikeouts, 29 steals in 385 at-bats for Corpus Christi. .294/.333/.490 in 51 major league at-bats, three walks, 11 strikeouts. I don't think his major league numbers are sustainable in a larger sample, not without substantial improvement in his plate discipline.

11) Mike Kvasnicka, 3B-C-OF, Grade C+: Hitting .278/.346/.385 in 418 at-bats for Lexington, 41 walks, 92 strikeouts. Settling in at third base but right now I don't think he has the power for the position.

12) Jiovanni Mier, SS, Grade C+:  .245/.354/.380 with 37 walks, 58 strikeouts in 216 at-bats for Lexington, .199/.311/.235 with 20 walks, 45 strikeouts in 136 at-bats for Lancaster. It looks more and more like his rookie-ball season in '09 was an Appy League illusion, although at age 20 it is too soon to give up.

13) Jose Altuve, 2B, Grade C:  .408/.451/.606 in 213 at-bats for Lancaster, .361/.388/.569 in 144 at-bats for Corpus Christi, .317/.333/.376 with two walks, 12 strikeouts in 101 major league at-bats. He has some adjustments to make, but I'm no longer concerned about the height issue and expect  him to have a fine career.

14) Dallas Keuchel, LHP, Grade C:  3.17 ERA with 76/27 K/BB in 128 innings for Corpus Christi, 116 hits. Got killed in his first two Triple-A starts, but pitched well in his last one. Interesting finesse guy.

15) Jay Austin, OF, Grade C:  Hitting a combined .244/.313/.339 with 40 walks, 101 strikeouts, 23 steals in 431 at-bats between Lancaster and Lexington. Still has tools but I don't think his bat is going to come around.

16) Ariel Ovando, OF, Grade C:  .270/.326/.421 with 11 walks, 38 strikeouts in 126 at-bats for Greenville in the Appy League. Not a lot of performance yet, but just 17 years old.

17) Douglas Arguello, LHP, Grade C: 3.07 ERA with a 60/44 K/BB in 67 innings, 48 hits for Oklahoma City, and a 2.12 GO/AO. Lefties are hitting .133 against him. Deserves a shot.

18) Brian Bogusevic, OF, Grade C:  .261/.362/.399 with 20 steals, 30 walks, 49 strikeouts in 218 at-bats for OKC. In the majors, hitting .288/.365/.439 in 66 at-bats with seven walks and 17 strikeouts. I think he can have a long career as a fourth outfielder.

19) Telvin Nash, 1B-OF, Grade C:  .250/.368/.445 with 11 homers, 32 walks, 75 strikeouts in 200 at-bats for Lexington. Draws walks, lots of raw power, but strikeout rate is scary at this stage.

20) Carlos Quevedo, RHP, Grade C:  4.08 ERA with 94/13 K/BB in 136 innings for Lexington, 163 hits. Outstanding control, but very hittable and has given up 18 homers.

For all the talk about having a weak farm system, the Astros have gotten promising performance out of several rookies this year, with Altuve, Martinez, and Lyles looking like core players for the future and several others around who can contribute. They still need more depth and there is plenty of room for improvement, but things are looking up.