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Houston Astros Top 20 2012 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

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July 8, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; USA batter Jonathan Singleton hits  a single during the fifth inning of the 2012 All Star Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports via US PRESSWIRE
July 8, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; USA batter Jonathan Singleton hits a single during the fifth inning of the 2012 All Star Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports via US PRESSWIRE

Houston Astros Top 20 2012 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

Continuing with our reviews of the Top 20 pre-season prospect lists, we return to the National League and the Houston Astros. Remember, this is a pre-season list. It is not a new list.

This list was originally published January 18th, 2012.

The next team on the list is the Cleveland Indians, followed by the Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets.

1) Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Grade B+: Hitting .287/.402/.492 with 69 walks, 99 strikeouts, 14 homers in 356 at-bats for Double-A Corpus Christi. No change in status, still a top first base prospect.

2) George Springer, OF, Grade B+: Hitting .327/.411/.572 with 21 homers, 27 steals, 55 walks, 118 strikeouts in 404 at-bats for High-A Lancaster. Outstanding tools stand out, strikeout rate is high, how will this translate outside the California League?

3) Jarred Cosart, RHP, Grade B: 3.52 ERA, 68/32 K/BB, 2.12 GO/AO in 87 innings in Double-A, 83 hits. Promoted to Triple-A, 6.52 ERA with 10/3 K/BB in 10 innings for Oklahoma City. Reports on stuff remain strong, results don't quite match reputation, but no real change in status.

4) Jonathan Villar, SS, Grade B-: .261/.336/.396 with 35 walks, 87 strikeouts in 326 at-bats in Double-A, 39 steals. On DL with fractured hand. Still has all the tools in the world, has made progress with baserunning and plate discipline.

5) Paul Clemens, RHP, Grade B-: 6.83 ERA with 85/35 K/BB in 113 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 159 hits, 20 homers allowed. No big positives here, although he did fan 10 in his last start. Age 24. I think he ends up in relief.

6) Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Grade C+: 12-3, 3.07 ERA with 96/48 K/BB in 126 innings, 122 hits, 1.20 GO/AO in 22 starts for Low-A Lexington. Repeating the league, but still just 20 years old.

7) Domingo Santana, OF, Grade C+: .294/.368/.531 with 38 walks, 111 strikeouts in 343 at-bats for High-A Lancaster. Home/road split is notable (.987 home OPS, .811 road OPS) and contact issues remain, but he's made progress. Turns 20 this weekend.

8) Brett Oberholtzer, LHP, Grade C+: 4.21 ERA with 68/21 K/BB in 77 innings in Double-A, 6.02 ERA with 35/12 K/BB in 49 innings in Triple-A. Hittable, throws strikes but lacks dominant stuff.

9) Kyle Weiland, RHP, Grade C+: Out all year with a shoulder injury.

10) Delino DeShields, 2B, Grade C+: .295/.398/.431 with nine homers, 66 walks, 102 strikeouts, 77 steals in 413 at-bats for Lexington. Still just 19, has made significant progress in all phases. Still has some rough edges on defense, but overall this is what the Astros were looking for when they drafted him.

11) Adrian Houser, RHP, Grade C+: 3.43 ERA with 46/17 K/BB, 2.61 GO/AO in 45 innings for Greenville in the Appy League. Just getting his career started, but has mid-rotation upside and needs to be watched for a breakout in 2013.

12) Telvin Nash, 1B-OF, Grade C+: This is one of the most extreme batting lines I've ever seen: .221/.323/.510 with 23 homers, 39 walks, 146 strikeouts in 290 at-bats for Lancaster. On DL with ankle injury.

13) Nick Tropeano, RHP, Grade C+: 2.78 ERA with 97/26 K/BB in 87 innings in Low-A, 4.64 ERA with 34/13 K/BB in 33 innings in High-A. Velocity boost in pro ball is good to see, and he already knew how to pitch. I'd move him up to a B-.

14) Austin Wates, OF, Grade C+: Hitting .303/.366/.410 in Double-A, 24 walks, 58 strikeouts, 13 steals in 300 at-bats. Hits for average consistently, but doesn't have the power to profile in left field, where he fits best with the glove.

15) Jiovanni Mier, SS, Grade C: .309/.414/.447 for Lancaster but limited to 26 games by injury, just started rehab assignment in rookie ball for hamstring injury. Good plate discipline but the sample before the injury was very small, hard to know if he would have maintained the progress.

16) Tanner Bushue, RHP, Grade C: Egads....15.00 ERA with 21/22 K/BB in 24 innings, 50 hits and 47 runs allowed between Low-A and the Appy League. He's given up a .439 average this year.

17) Juan Abreu, RHP, Grade C: 7.25 ERA with 54/32 K/BB in 45 innings for Oklahoma City, 46 hits. Severe control problems this year and at age 27 his window is closing quickly.

18) Ariel Ovando, OF, Grade C: .309/.354/.463 with 11 walks, 40 strikeouts in 149 at-bats for Greenville in the Appy League. Slash line is prettier this year, but he's still got strike zone/refinement issues to address. Still young (18) and toolsy of course.

19) Ross Seaton, RHP, Grade C: 4.42 ERA with 83/30 K/BB in 130 innings in Double-A/Triple-A, 143 hits. Well he's got his ERA below 5.00 at least for the first time since 2009. Still throws strikes, but as the system improves you will see him fall off the lists without more than this. My guess: he switches to relief eventually and takes a step forward.

20) Jake Buchanan, RHP, Grade C: I liked him as a command-oriented sleeper, but pretty disappointing overall, 5.34 ERA with 79/31 K/BB in 120 innings in Double-A/Triple-A, 160 hits. Does have a 2.00 GO/AO, could still sneak up on us.

21) Chris Wallace, C, Grade C: .266/.353/.424 with five homers, 20 walks, 53 strikeouts in 177 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A. Has thrown out just 12% of runners.

The Astros have spent the summer purging veterans and gathering prospects, and the 2013 list is going to look a lot different. In chronological order of acquisition: 3B Matt Dominguez, LHP Rob Rasmussen, RHP Joe Musgrove, RHP Asher Wojciechowski, LHP David Rollins, C Carlos Perez, RHP Matt Heidenreich, LHP Blair Walters, OF Robbie Grossman, LHP Rudy Owens, LHP Colton Cain, OF-3B Bobby Borchering, OF Marc Krauss. While none of those guys are certain stars, adding 13 new players to a farm system already showing signs of improvement is a big boost.

Then you add in players from the 2012 draft, which mixed high-ceiling high school talents like Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers with polished college products who can move quickly. The minor league organization has made a huge leap in depth. Everyone wants me to re-rank the players in the system, but exact rankings are a kettle of fish I don't want to open just yet, not until the season is over.

The bottom line is that this system is much better than it was six months ago, and is a quantum leap ahead of where they were three years ago. It will take time for the talent to percolate up into the majors, but Astros fans have reason for optimism.