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Houston Astros Top 20 prospects for 2017: Mid-season review

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MLB: Texas Rangers at Houston Astros
Francis Martes
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

We continue our mid-season organization reviews with a look at the Houston Astros Top 20 Prospects from the beginning of 2017. The index for other team reviews can be found here.




This list was originally published December 12th, 2016.

1) Francis Martes, RHP, Grade B+: Age 21, Dominican right-hander acquired from Marlins in Jarred Cosart trade; 5.51 ERA in 33 major league innings as both starter and reliever, 40/16 K/BB, 28 hits; potential is immense and obvious, needs innings to develop more consistency. I have faith.

2) Kyle Tucker, OF, Grade B+: Age 20, first round pick in 2015; hitting combined .284/.360/.534 with 18 homers, 20 steals, 37 walks, 91 strikeouts in 356 at-bats between High-A and Double-A; elite prospect coming along nicely.

3) David Paulino, RHP, Grade B+: Age 23, signed by Tigers back in 2010 from Dominican Republic; acquired in 2013 trade; 6.52 ERA in 29 major league innings with good 34/7 K/BB, suspended July 1st for PED use, 80 games.

MLB: New York Yankees at Houston Astros
Yuli Gurriel
Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

4) Yuli Gurriel, 3B-1B-OF, Grade B/B+: Age 33, former Cuban superstar signed five year contract; difficult to know where to rank him given age and background; doing pretty well in majors with .284/.311/.472 slash line, 28 doubles, 13 homers in 359 at-bats; what you see is what you get.

5) Franklin Perez, RHP, Grade B/B+: Age 19; signed out of Venezuela in 2014 for $1,000,000; I love this guy, 3.39 ERA in 69 innings between High-A and Double-A with 61/22 K/BB, 54 hits; missed some time with a knee injury but throwing well again after some tentative return outings; possibly special combination of stuff, pitchability, and makeup.

6) Forrest Whitley, RHP, Grade B/B+: Age 19, first round pick from high school in Texas in 2016; 2.93 ERA in 74 innings between Low-A and High-A with 110/27 K/BB, 64 hits; like Perez, the combination of stuff and command is hard to beat, clearly an elite prospect.

7) Ramon Laureano, OF, Grade B-/B: Age 23, originally from Dominican Republic, drafted in 16th round in 2014 from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Junior College; this was an aggressive pre-season ranking and it looks like a bad one right now, .221/.291/.346 in Double-A, 22 steals; he hit .323/.432/.548 at the same level last year with glowing reports so it will be very interesting to compare 2017 observations/splits/breakdowns to last year to see what’s changed.

MLB: Houston Astros at Detroit Tigers
Derek Fisher
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

8) Derek Fisher, OF, Grade B-/B: Age 23, compensation pick in 2014 from University of Virginia; impressive in Triple-A (.318/.384/.583) and has kept hitting in the majors (.295/.395/.568); looks legit to me, tools have always been there and the skills have caught up.

9) Teoscar Hernandez, OF, Grade B-/B: Age 24, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2011; decent year in Triple-A (.279/.369/.485) but was passed by others on depth chart; traded to the Toronto Blue Jays at the deadline for Francisco Liriano, should be a solid contributor.

10) Daz Cameron, OF, Grade B-/C+: Age 20, compensation round pick in 2015; hitting .241/.317/.436 with 11 homers, 22 steals, 32 walks, 93 strikeouts in 344 at-bats in Low-A; honestly very similar to his father Mike Cameron at the same stage.

11) Garrett Stubbs, C, Grade B-/C+: Age 24, eighth round pick in 2015 from Southern Cal; hitting .235/.326/.333 in Double-A, excellent defensive catcher, hit well in Double-A last year so as with Laureano, comparing the reports at the end of the season will (hopefully) tell us something.

12) A.J. Reed, 1B, Grade B-/C+: Age 24, hitting .251/.348/.481 in Triple-A with 22 homers, 55 walks, 111 strikeouts in 366 at-bats, just promoted to majors again a couple of days ago; no real change here, impressive power with contact questions.

13) Jandel Gustave, RHP, Grade C+/B-: Age 24, out with Tommy John surgery.

14) Anibal Sierra, SS, Grade C+/B-: Age 23, Cuban defector signed for $1,500,000 last summer, difficult season at .215/.289/.300, 25 walks, 104 strikeouts between Low-A and High-A, defense hasn’t been too hot either.

15) Jason Martin, OF, Grade C+: Age 21, eighth round pick in 2013; often overlooked in deep system but continues to play well, hitting .282/.333/.508 with 16 homers, 13 steals, 31 walks, 97 strikeouts in 376 at-bats between High-A and Double-A; don’t dismiss him, good tools here with improved skills.

16) Stephen Wrenn, OF, Grade C+: Age 22, sixth round pick in 2016 from University of Georgia; hit well in Low-A (.288/.363/.431) but poorly after moving up to High-A (.214/.288/.332); power/speed potential with this one but needs to make adjustments and can’t afford to stagnate in this system.

17) Cionel Perez, LHP, Grade C+: Age 21, another Cuban talent, originally signed for $5,150,000 but this was cut back to $2,000,000 after physical exam revealed potential arm problems; healthy so far and effective, 3.72 ERA in 73 innings between Low-A and High-A with 66/18 K/BB, 11/1 K/BB in last three starts; Midwest League sources liked him, main concern remains durability.

18) J.D. Davis, 3B, Grade C+: Age 24, third round pick in 2014 from Cal State Fullerton; hitting .277/.341/.516 with 25 homers, 39 walks, 106 strikeouts in 405 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A; real power and a solid glove, would get more notice in other systems.

Houston Astros v Chicago White Sox
Colin Moran
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

19) Colin Moran, 3B, Grade C+: Age 24, started hitting for power this year, ripped Triple-A for .308/.373/.543 line, promoted to majors but suffered facial fracture in second game from foul ball.

20) Miguelangel Sierra, SS, Grade C+: Age 19, signed for $1,000,000 out of Venezuela in 2014; slow start in New York-Penn League with .179/.268/.321 line 112 at-bats, 11 walks, 33 strikeouts, defense hasn’t been much better so far; plenty of tools and youth but work to do .

OTHER GRADE C+ (more or less interchangeable with spots 15-20):
Yordan Alvarez, 1B: Hitting .308/.402/.523 between Low-A and High-A.
Rogelio Armenteros, RHP: 2.21 ERA in 94 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 106/29 K/BB, stock up.
Gilberto Celestino, OF: Just 18, hitting .291/.353/.404 in rookie ball.
Ronnie Dawson, OF: Hitting .272/.356/.450 in Low-A, 13 homers, 12 steals.
Jacob Dorris, RHP: 3.42 ERA in 50 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 57/21 K/BB.
Dean Deetz, RHP: 4.46 ERA in 69 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 67/33 K/BB.
Drew Ferguson, OF: Hitting .294/.391/.428 between Double-A and Triple-A, 15 steals.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Houston Astros
Reymin Guduan and Francis Martes
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Reymin Guduan, LHP: 6.10 ERA in 10 MLB innings, 9/5 K/BB, could be much better in time.
Nick Hernandez, RHP: 2.36 ERA in 42 innings between High-A and Double-A, 51/17 K/BB.
James Hoyt, RHP: 5.54 ERA in 37 MLB innings, 57/9 K/BB; I bet that ERA comes down if he gets more chances.
Jordan Jankowski, RHP: 4.66 ERA in 37 Triple-A innings, 49/18 K/BB; 10 saves.
Cristian Javier, RHP: 2.76 ERA with 40/17 K/BB in 29 innings, has bounced short-season, Low-A, and High-A so easy to overlook, note the strikeouts.

Jon Kemmer, OF: Hitting .312/.409/.548 with 15 homers in Triple-A; in the wrong system.
Brendan McCurry, RHP: 2.64 ERA in 31 innings in Triple-A, 39/8 K/BB. Just needs a chance.
Freudys Nova, SS: Hitting .302/.422/.415 in Dominican Summer League.
Hector Perez, RHP: 2.87 ERA in 91 innings between Low-A and High-A, 113/56 K/BB, only 64 hits.
Brady Rodgers, RHP: Tommy John surgery.
Abdiel Saldana, RHP: 2.84 ERA in 70 innings in Low-A, 66/26 K/BB.

There’s always a lot to discuss in the Astros system. I will be out the rest of the day but will be back in the morning for discussion.