Houston Astros 2013 Top 15 Prospects
Bullpen Banter’s 2013 Top 15 Prospects
Bullpen Banter Houston Astros 2013 Top 15 Prospects
Al Skorupa: The Astros system had been one of the worst and least productive in the game over the last decade, but the tide has turned. A series of solid drafts has added some interesting talent to the system and Jeff Luhnow and company have assembled a deep farm in a very short amount of time with some savvy trades. From the 2011 Area Code Games our staff was talking about Carlos Correa as someone who could rise surprisingly high, but we didn’t really imagine he’d land at 1st overall. By draft time Correa and Buxton were 1-2 on my board and I loved the pick. Granted, much of the great advantage of the pick was the ability to redistribute much of the bonus and grab sliding hard signs like Lance McCullers and Rio Ruiz… Ultimately, I still think Correa was the right pick even if he had cost another million or two. In the interest of full disclosure I should say that if I knew that hypothetically Mark Appel and Correa were going to cost the same amount of money I’d have been sorely tempted to go for the quick fix! Correa was a great pick, though, and has the potential to be a dynamic player and regular all star. I’m not convinced he’ll be able to stay at SS but he has the tools to star at 3B anyway. I saw a great deal of George Springer as an amateur and I really like his game, but I am a little disappointed that he still hasn’t made the adjustments Scouts had hoped to see. He’s still over-swinging, chasing out of the zone, collapsing his back end, showing poor balance and his two strike approach remains raw. I’m not sure whether its more frustrating or encouraging to see him succeed in the minors despite not making significant changes to his game since college. I’m still taking Springer second in this system because he’s a gazelle with potential impact tools even if he hits for a low AVG. Jonathan Singleton had a very good year and raised his prospect status with his power showing. While I do think he’ll hit plenty in the bigs, I worry about his platoon issues and his only passable glove at 1B. His approach at the plate improved in 2012 but still has a ways to go to be major league ready as well.
Another player in this system who had a big year was Delino DeShields. Things clicked at the plate for DeShields this season and his natural tools shone through. DeShields, his skill set and season are an interesting contrast to potential future double play partners Jonathan Villar. Villar is a surefire major league shortstop but he hasn’t figured things out at the plate yet and lost development time when he broke his hand punching a door. There’s a lot to like about Domingo Santana (power, size, swing) but there’s equally as much that scares the hell out of you (lack of athleticism & straight ahead speed, lots of swing and miss). Lance McCullers has a big arm and great raw stuff but I’m still leaning bullpen. Where I’m leaning pen for McCullers I’m fairly certain Cosart belongs there and I have less hope for his command and control. I really liked the pick of Florida’s Nolan Fontana. I think Fontana has a chance to be a surprisingly decent everyday shortstop. I had every intent to rank fellow draftee Rio Ruiz higher than this but these rankings come at a low point in his value and quite possibly the high water mark for his risk. I think Ruiz has the potential to be an All Star 3B in the majors. Very impressed with the work done to this system. They finally have the tools and power arms they’ve lacking… now they need to develop them.
Jeff Reese: The Houston Astros have a farm system that has improved rapidly since the bleak depths of 2010, gathering high upside talents via trade and draft at every opportunity. The system is on the upswing. Selling off major league assets can certainly have this effect, but a few things must be remembered: how barren the system was before the purge; the major leaguers being ransomed were far from elite; and it still requires a keen eye to select the right prospects to target. The draft is the other essential piece in rebuilding a farm system. While Bobby Heck served as Scouting Director Houston has had a history of falling in love with draftees who showed well during personal workouts; the results have been mixed. The 2011 draft was an improvement, but the 2012 class has the potential to produce two impact level players. The first is Carlos Correa. Along with being one of the youngest players in the class Correa offers unique offensive upside from someone who has a shot to stick at short stop long term — a move to third may prove necessary depending on how his body matures. The major coup was being able to save money while taking the top talent in the draft — the top eight were rather ubiquitous with Correa as my preference — and redistribute the $2.4M saved to later draftees. That’s how they landed their second potential star in the diminutive statured, electric armed Lance McCullers. His height and the effort with which he throws the ball causes the inevitable reliever tag to ensue, but the elite fastball/slider mix with rapidly improving command gives him the makings of something special. Nolan Fontana and Brady Rodgers find themselves within the top 15 as well — Rio Ruiz just missed. Fontana and Ruiz are in Al’s corner while Brady Rodgers is my favorite of the trio. His average stuff plays up thanks to his tremendous command and pitchability.
The preceding drafts produced their share of fruit as well. George Springer has been a Bullpen Banter favorite since his Sophomore year at UConn. The elite bat speed, athleticism, tools, and make up are enough to overlook the faults with his swing. He produced about as expected in the Cal; the higher levels will be a stiffer test. Delino DeShields was a surprise top 10 pick in 2010 as a raw athlete with bloodlines and 80 grade speed. His pro debut was rocky, but his sophomore season saw marked improvement in all phases… and 101 stolen bases. Mike Foltynewicz, Adrian Houser, and Vincent Velasquez are all prep right handers drafted over the last three years who have seen their share of adversity. Folty showed a bit more refinement during his second tour through the South Atlantic League but Lancaster will be a big test; Velasquez returned after missing 2011 with Tommy-John surgery to have a nice debut in the NYPL; and Adrian Houser showed his impressive raw stuff in the Appy.
The Philadelphia to Houston pipeline has placed four players inside the top ten. The best is Jonathan Singleton who continues to show an impressive all around offensive game, and the mature first baseman-esque body that points to continued power gains. The most interesting may be Jonathan Villar who played on the same SAL Lakewood team as Singleton. Villar shows the athleticism and tools to be a standout offensive and defensive short stop, but those tools have been slow to refine. In the field errors mitigate the gains made with his range; and at the plate his approach can make like difficult. After a slow start to the 2012 season, Villar was turning his offensive season around before breaking his hand in mid-July. Domingo Santana has an interesting set of tools, and Cosart looks like a power late inning reliever. Robbie Grossman meanwhile came from the other team from Pennsylvania. Grossman offers good plate discipline and a number of average tools.
Houston Astros fans no longer have to be ashamed of their farm system.
Chris Blessing: As someone who covers the southeast, It was a sad early fall day when the Astros announced that their A-Ball affiliate was being moved to Quad Cities in the Midwest League. Having a glimpse at the talent that will be playing on that A-Ball this coming season, I know that Quad Cities will be loaded with talent. Top prospect such as Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers, Adrian Houser, Rio Ruiz & Ariel Ovando will all be members of that team at some point this season. In fact, McCullers (16), Ruiz (41) Ovando (43) are three of the prospects that will appear in my 2012 best prospects scouted list (Coming Soon). An obvious omission from my list is Carlos Correa, the Bullpen Banter’s Astros top prospect. The day I scouted Greeneville this season, Correa had the day off.
I’ve believed Jonathan Singleton was a future major leaguer since catching him late in the 2010 season. A strong, powerful kid with a good hit tool, I expect him to slot as the Astros First Baseman for years to come. At his greatest, it’s likely that Singleton will not be a top tier First Baseman; however, he’ll be the Astros most productive player at the position since 2009. Lance McCullers fell in the draft because some scouts see him with reliever upside and other teams thought signing him would be an issue. The Astros got a steal in the Supplemental round picking up a pitcher with three pitches that project to be major league pitches. I personally didn’t believe in Mike Foltynewicz stuff when I saw him a few seasons ago. After hearing meh reports on his stuff from others, I believe a rude awakening is in store for him in the California League. Bonus baby Ariel Ovando is a big, strong kid that has tremendous raw power and a longish swing. Either a potential superstar or a Midwest league bust, he’s a kid to keep a helium watch on.
SS Carlos Correa (Steve Fiorindo)
OF George Springer (Steve Fiorindo)
OF George Springer (Al Skorupa)
1B Jonathan Singleton (Peter Wardell)
RHP Lance McCullers (Chris Blessing)
RHP Jarred Cosart (Peter Wardell)
OF Robbie Grossman (Jeff Reese)