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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 IS A REVIEW OF THE OLD LIST.

THIS IS NOT A NEW LIST.

THESE ARE NOT NEW GRADES.

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.