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Houston Astros Top 10 Prospects of 2014

Mark Appel
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The Houston Astros’ farm system is considered one of, if not the best in Major League Baseball. A few last place finishes garnered them favorable draft pics and they made the most of them. Of the top three on this list two of them are former number one overall pics and are some of the most promising young talents in baseball. It is safe to say I would draft almost any one of these players in a dynasty league, especially in AL-Only leagues.

1. Carlos Correa (SS)

Correa was the number one pick in the 2012 MLB draft and the Astros have big plans for the 19-year-old. Last year in Low-A ball he showed that he has all the tools to take over as an everyday SS. Correa didn’t show much power in 2013 as he hit only 9 home runs but his true power is in the gaps. He may not hit 15 home runs in the bigs but with his ability to drive the ball into the gaps he has tons of potential. There aren’t too many players who can hit just 9 home runs in 450 at-bats and drive in 86 runs (not to mention end up with a .872 OPS) but he pulled it off all while hitting a cool .320 at the plate. The future is very bright for this young man, and even though he may get moved to third base his ceiling is very, very high.

2. George Springer (OF)

Springer decided to let everyone know that his 2012 season that saw him hit 22 home runs and steal 28 bases in High-A ball was no fluke. All he did was come back and between both Double-A Corpus Christie and Triple-A Oklahoma City and smack 37 home runs and steal 45 bases. So why doesn’t the 24 year old have a starting job yet on the MLB club? Ask Dexter Fowler. When the ‘Stros made the move to get him, it put a halt on Springer’s arrival to The Show. Springer strikes out a lot which is expected of a power hitter but his high OBP will help owners in the SB category. It is safe to say he will be up sometime this season; it’s just a matter of when. He remains one of the most exciting prospects in all of baseball.

3. Mark Appel (P)

Mark Appel was the number one overall draft pick (notice a trend here…) for the Astros last year. At 6’5” and 190 lbs his arsenal is projected to have three plus pitches with his fastball being looked at a plus-plus. It averages out in the mid-90’s but has reached 98. He also throws a slider and a change, both believed to be plus pitches. He won’t break camp with the Astros, but there is a very good chance the 22 year old will finish the season with them. Don’t be surprised if they throw him a few starts at the end of the season. It is hard to say how far they will be willing to stretch him this year giving his age and lack of professional experience but he makes for a great dynasty pick because he could end up a #1 someday.

4. Mike Foltynewicz (P)

Foltynewicz has the most electric fastball of any Astros pitching prospect. In fact, he could have the most electric pitch in all of the minors. It is said he hits 100 mph often and even touched 103 in a game last year in Double-A. Named the Astros 2012 Minor League Pitcher of the year, the Houston scouts obviously sees something in the 22 year old. His 4.6 BB/9 ratio suggests that he needs to work on his control but if they feel he can’t start that fastball will look pretty good coming out of the bullpen to close games.

5. Jonathan Singleton (1B)

Fresh off a 50-game suspension, Singleton has recent made news for admitting he was addicted to marijuana and would like to put all of that being him. He flashed what he could do in 2012 when he posted a .284/.396/.497 slash line with 21 homers and 79 RBI’s in 461 at-bats. It sounds like a cliché but his power does come with a price, that of course being strikeouts. On the bright side, he does know how to take a walk which increases his value in OBP leagues. Don’t expect huge things from the first basemen, especially with his struggles in AAA (.220/.340/347) and newcomer Japhet Amador expected to be up in the bigs sooner rather than later.

6. Delino DeShields (2B/OF)

Son of former MLB star with the same name, Delino has a lot in common with his father. For one thing, they both have a knack for stealing bases, with little Delino making some real noise on the base paths. In Single-A and High-A ball in 2012 he swiped a total of 105 bases. Sound familiar? Yes, and the first comparison that comes to my mind is Billy Hamilton. Both started out as infielders and project to end up in the outfield. He doesn’t have a whole lot of pop but he will hit for a decent average which will help increase his stolen base potential. He is only 21 but he could potentially be a fantasy stud in the stolen base department. Think of him as Jose Altuve with more speed.

7. Vincent Velasquez (P)

Coming off of Tommy John surgery 21 year old Vincent Velasquez enjoyed a nice season between both Low-A Quad Cities and High-A Lancaster. In total, he threw 123.2 innings and struck out 142 in the process. He is a very talented kid who has three potential plus-pitches, a fastball that sits in the mid to upper 90’s, a curve and a change. You never know with pitchers coming off Tommy John but the fact that he has been increasing his innings total every year since returning is a good sign.

8. Domingo Santana (OF)

Drafted by the Phillies out of Santo Domingo when he was 16, Santana has a big bat with a lot of holes. He may hit 25 home runs or more as a major leaguer, but he will never strike out less than 150 times as a full time player. He has some speed as evidenced by his 12 stolen bases in 119 games last year in Double-A Corpus Christie. It is possible he sees some time in the bigs in 2014 and if he does he will get regular at-bats. There will be no point in leaving him on the bench with his power potential.

9. Lance McCullers Jr. (P)

The son of a former major leaguer by the same name, McCullers has the ability to both miss bats and force ground balls. In Single-A ball last year he struck out 117 batters in 104.2 innings while registering a 3.18 ERA. His WHIP was a little high due to inconsistency in his motion but you have to remember that he is only 20 years old. He has a strong fastball and if he can learn to locate it a bit better down in the zone he could project as a #2 starter.

10. Japhet Amador (1B)

I would feel like I did the readers a injustice by leaving the 6’ 4” 305 lb monster off the list but it is hard to list him as a prospect at the age of 27. Amador comes from the Mexican league with no major league experience. His bat is the talk of legend, as the numbers he put up last year are staggering. In only 114 games last year he put up a .361/.409/.655 slash line with 36 home runs and 123 RBI’s. His name is starting to gain a bit of recognition so if you already drafted drop a backup and pick him up. He is still young enough to be worth a roster spot in Dynasty leagues and could make you look like a genius if he gets regular playing time this year.

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  • DSE_Strowyrm March 9, 2014, 11:03 pm

    Nice list. I have DeShields a bit lower as he is moving back to Center. Also have to keep an eye on Asher Wojciechowski, Michael Feliz and especially Rio Ruiz – all of whom would be top 10 for any other team – again a nod to how deep the Astros farm has become.

    • Jim Cunningham March 10, 2014, 8:06 am

      It was a tough list to make, could’ve easily made a Top-15 but cutting it down to 10 made for tougher decisions.

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