Houston Astros Top 41 Prospects

Angela Piazza/Caller-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Houston Astros. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as our own observations. This is the fourth year we’re delineating between two anticipated relief roles, the abbreviations for which you’ll see in the “position” column below: MIRP for multi-inning relief pitchers, and SIRP for single-inning relief pitchers. The ETAs listed generally correspond to the year a player has to be added to the 40-man roster to avoid being made eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Manual adjustments are made where they seem appropriate, but we use that as a rule of thumb.

A quick overview of what FV (Future Value) means can be found here. A much deeper overview can be found here.

All of the ranked prospects below also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It has more details (and updated TrackMan data from various sources) than this article and integrates every team’s list so readers can compare prospects across farm systems. It can be found here.

Astros Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Jacob Melton 23.8 AA CF 2027 50
2 Jake Bloss 23.0 AA SP 2026 50
3 Joey Loperfido 25.1 MLB CF 2025 45
4 Alberto Hernandez 19.8 A SS 2027 45
5 Brice Matthews 22.2 A+ SS 2026 45
6 Zach Dezenzo 24.1 AA 3B 2025 40+
7 Spencer Arrighetti 24.4 MLB MIRP 2024 40+
8 Alonzo Tredwell 22.1 A MIRP 2026 40+
9 Luis Baez 20.4 A+ RF 2027 40+
10 Camilo Diaz 18.8 R 3B 2029 40+
11 Miguel Ullola 22.0 AA SIRP 2025 40+
12 Alimber Santa 21.1 A SIRP 2026 40+
13 Abel Mercedes 21.9 A SIRP 2026 40+
14 Jacob Amaya 25.8 MLB SS 2024 40
15 Kenedy Corona 24.2 AA CF 2025 40
16 Michael Knorr 24.1 AA SP 2026 40
17 A.J. Blubaugh 23.9 AAA SP 2025 40
18 Chase Jaworsky 19.9 A SS 2028 40
19 Zach Cole 23.9 AA CF 2027 40
20 Waner Luciano 19.4 A 3B 2028 40
21 Pascanel Ferreras 22.5 AA 2B 2027 40
22 Anderson Brito 19.9 R SIRP 2030 40
23 Esmil Valencia 18.6 R LF 2029 40
24 Luis Rives 19.7 R RF 2030 40
25 Cristopfer Gonzalez 18.9 R RF 2029 35+
26 Will Wagner 25.9 AAA 3B 2025 35+
27 Jancel Villarroel 19.4 R C 2028 35+
28 Colton Gordon 25.5 AAA SP 2025 35+
29 James Hicks 23.1 A+ SP 2026 35+
30 Raimy Rodriguez 18.9 A MIRP 2027 35+
31 Trey Dombroski 23.2 A+ SP 2025 35+
32 Alex Speas 26.3 MLB SIRP 2024 35+
33 Pedro León 26.0 AAA CF 2024 35+
34 Colin Barber 23.5 AA LF 2025 35+
35 Yamal Encarnacion 20.8 AA CF 2027 35+
36 Cesar Hernandez 21.1 A CF 2030 35+
37 Misael Tamarez 24.4 AAA SIRP 2024 35+
38 Alex Santos II 22.3 AA SIRP 2025 35+
39 Colby Langford 22.1 A SIRP 2028 35+
40 Andrew Taylor 22.7 A+ MIRP 2026 35+
41 Nolan DeVos 23.8 A+ SIRP 2026 35+
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50 FV Prospects

1. Jacob Melton, CF

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2022 from Oregon St (HOU)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 208 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/45 65/65 45/60 55/55 45/45 40

Even though he hit .364/.428/.660 throughout his career at Oregon State, Melton was one of the toolsy, enigmatic college outfielders in the 2022 draft whose swing made scouts worried about whether they’d actually hit in pro ball. Here at FanGraphs, we took the under and had a late-second/early-third round grade on him. In 2023, his first full pro season, Melton slashed .245/.334/.467 with 23 homers while going 46-for-53 in stolen base attempts. His 2024 was off to a very good start at Double-A Corpus Christi (especially from a contact standpoint) when Melton was shut down with a wrist issue a couple of weeks before list publication.

Melton has plus raw power and hits the ball hard with plus-plus consistency, though there isn’t drastic loft in his bat path. The strength and athleticism in his lower body has leveled up since he signed, and he can move the barrel around the zone to make crude, imprecise (but hard) contact to all fields. It’s a slug-over-hit profile to the eye, but it’s more balanced when you look at Melton’s statistical performance. He adds an additional layer of offensive value with his ability to swipe bags at an efficient rate. The problem here is that Melton has really struggled against lefties and is hitting about .185 against them as a pro. It’s difficult to give him an everyday player’s FV grade when this is true.

It becomes more plausible if you think Melton can do enough on defense to impact the game even on days when he faces a southpaw. He’s an above-average runner who covers an average amount of ground in center field, with his ball skills and relative lack of athleticism at the catchpoint causing a slight downtick in his defense grade. He’s not an ideal center field fit, but he can play there if you need him to, and we think he’d be a plus left fielder if he was deployed there all the time. That’s enough to push Melton into the 50 FV tier and onto the Top 100 list. We expect production similar to what Kerry Carpenter has done except with better defense, an above-average rate of production but not an omni-situational player due to his issues versus lefties.

2. Jake Bloss, SP

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2023 from Georgetown (HOU)
Age 23.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 60/60 55/55 45/55 40/45 93-96 / 98

Bloss was taken 99th overall in the 2023 draft out of Georgetown after spending his first three years of collegiate ball at Lafayette College. He coasted through A-ball and was given a quick hook to Double-A after the first month of the 2024 season.

Bloss throws from a high slot that, along with his plus extension, generates significant carry on his 93-96 mph four-seamer; the pitch has a 31% miss rate so far in 2024. He also has a deep secondary mix to back up the fastball. His 76-81 mph curveball is a very vertical breaker. He’ll adjust the amount of depth on it, sometimes throwing a deep “freeze” type, while at others, he’ll shorten it up for more drastic snap action. Bloss does something similar with his slider in that he’ll throw ones with hard, two-plane shape while others are shorter, more cutter-like offerings; both shapes regularly show average teeth while flashing a tick above. Bloss’ changeup has the furthest to go to be an average weapon for him, but he’s a small school arm who we think is benefitting from pro instruction and we believe it’ll get there. The best ones he’ll throw have late diving action and a hint of fade, though he’s still prone to frequently throwing ones that have very minimal action. Bloss is a fairly explosive, whippy-armed athlete with below-average body control and frame composition. We’re skeptical the improvements he’s made as a strike-thrower in 2024 will stick, but the way his fastball plays doesn’t make that a strictly necessary aspect of his profile. He’s trending up and tracking like a mid-rotation starter.

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 7th Round, 2021 from Duke (HOU)
Age 25.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 60/60 45/55 60/60 55/55 50

A seventh-round senior sign out of Duke in 2021, Loperfido has done nothing but perform since breaking into the pro ranks. He covered three levels in 2023 and finished at Triple-A Sugar Land, posting a cumulative OPS of .880 with 25 homers and 27 steals in 31 attempts. In 2024, he hit 10 homers in the first half of April, made his big league debut, and has been up and down depending on the health of Houston’s other outfielders.

Loperfido hits out of a crouched, square stance with his hands set up high, and has a direct, adjustable path that sprays contact to all-fields. He can really elevate pitches with authority in the lower quadrants of the zone and hits the ball hard with meaningful consistency. He swings through a lot of in-zone fastballs and is striking out about 30% of the time at Triple-A. A lack of consistent contact is what stands between Loperfido and an everyday grade.

A big part of why we’re this high on him despite his hit tool issues is Loperfido’s very versatile defensive profile. He has the ability to play all three outfield positions at an average level, while also showing he can handle first and second-base at a passable level. The way Loperfido can move the ball around the infield at first base is actually quite special. While he does many things at an average to solid level, there’s no single aspect of his bat or defensive ability that grades out as plus; this is a profile where the sum is greater than the raw parts. Loperfido projects as a high-end bench utility player for a World Series contender and could sneak into the lineup every day for lesser clubs.

Signed: International Signing Period, 2022 from Cuba (HOU)
Age 19.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/55 40/50 25/40 50/50 45/55 50

Hernandez has a pretty exciting bat-to-ball and infield defensive fit foundation, and he has begun to layer on pro strength in the weight room. He didn’t have a huge 2022 DSL (.235/.332/.349, a 90 wRC+) but he did make a lot of contact (14% K%), and Hernandez had a 24-to-31 BB/K ratio and posted a .789 OPS in 40 games in his first taste of stateside action in the 2023 Complex League.

The twitchy, rangy shortstop has a lean, projectable frame and already swings pretty hard. Hernandez hits out of a slightly open stance with a high-hands setup before utilizing a leg kick trigger to bring him back to square. There’s average bat speed here right now, but Hernandez does tend to get lengthy in his path, resulting in too much weak groundball contact, as reflected in Hernandez’s 48% groundball rate from 2023. While he projects to have average raw, barring an adjustment, Hernandez’s inability to keep the ball off the ground will make his solid-average hit tool play a little lighter than most.

Hernandez has played all over the infield defensively and has progressed significantly with his glove, to the point he projects to be a solid-average defender anywhere on the dirt. He’s acrobatic but his hands are a little inconsistent. The range and athleticism to play shortstop are clearly here, and the other stuff should get polished as Hernandez gets stronger and more experienced. For now, Hernandez is tracking like a high-floored utility guy, but there are some right tail outcomes where he hits enough to be an everyday shortstop.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2023 from Nebraska (HOU)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/45 55/60 35/45 55/55 40/50 50

Matthews was one of the more polarizing prospects in the 2023 draft, an unpolished collection of huge tools and mixed results. His exit velos were as high as anyone’s in the class, including Dylan Crews, it’s just that Matthews’ feel to hit was not good. He didn’t swing and miss excessively in college, but the visual evaluation of his hit tool wasn’t great, and Matthews especially struggled to get on top of high fastballs. He is a plus runner and will show you a max-effort plus arm, but Matthews is also a crude defender at short and isn’t a lock to stay there. He’s often slow to approach choppers in front of him and has to rush once he has the baseball, and his throwing accuracy is a mixed bag. The last time the Astros took a player whose scouting report read like this — huge tools college guy with hit tool risk — it was George Springer.

Matthews got 156 plate appearances after the draft last summer, primarily with Low-A Fayetteville, where he had a 26.7% strikeout rate and only produced 10 extra-base hits. He spent nearly a month on the IL with a lower back issue early in 2024 and has been white hot since returning. Matthews hits out of a square, balanced setup with a simple stride and his bat path tends to be on the flatter side, with solid bat speed through the zone. We want to let him air out in pro ball for a while before revisiting his FV grade. He was always going to be a bit of a slow burn, a toolsy dev project typical of Houston’s high-variance style of drafting when it comes to hitters.

40+ FV Prospects

6. Zach Dezenzo, 3B

Drafted: 12th Round, 2022 from Ohio State (HOU)
Age 24.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/30 70/70 50/55 40/40 40/50 50

For a team with a reputation for leaning on data, the Astros sure do end up drafting a lot of giant guys who jump out at you as soon as they get off the bus, and Dezenzo is one of them. A monstrous 6-foot-5, 220-pound shortstop and first baseman at Ohio State, Dezenzo had a breakout 2023 at the plate when he slashed .305/.383/.531 across High- and Double-A and saw time at several new defensive positions. A wrist issue kept him out for the first two months of 2024; Dezenzo began rehabbing on the complex shortly before list publication.

Dezenzo’s physicality and power are exceptional, but even with his strong surface performance, you can ask reasonable questions about both his ability to hit for contact and where he’ll be able to play defense. Dezenzo was regularly beaten by fastballs at the belt in 2023 and he wasn’t facing anything close to big league velocity. This, as well as a greater-than-average vulnerability to in-zone sliders, leads us to believe Dezenzo is due for a regression in the contact department. On defense, Dezenzo has plus footwork and arm strength but below-average hands. He’s quite flexible for his size and plays defense low to the ground, but even when he’s in great position to field the baseball, he’s flub-prone. We’re bullish that Dezenzo will improve enough in this area to be a viable third baseman, and his other attributes there are actually pretty rare and exciting. Like late-career Eugenio Suárez, Dezenzo could club about 25 homers while striking out 30% of the time during his prime years. He’s likely to be volatile and streaky even if his hit tool ends up being good enough for him to sustain a big league role.

Drafted: 6th Round, 2021 from UL-Lafayette (HOU)
Age 24.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 186 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/50 60/60 30/40 45/50 40/45 91-94 / 96

Arrighetti had a nomadic amateur career, going from TCU to Navarro Junior College (TX) before finishing up at Louisiana. His velocity climbed throughout the 2021 and 2022 seasons, with Arrighetti throwing four ticks harder than he did in college by the end of that span. That velo spike was sustained (but plateaued) in 2023 even as the Astros took the piggyback starter leash off and Arrighetti consistently worked five innings or more. This year, he’s added a cutter to his fastball/sweeper mix and debuted (but struggled) in the big leagues, to the tune of a 5.33 ERA (3.84 FIP) as of list publication.

Arrighetti’s fastball tails and rides in on the hands of right-handed hitters, while his sweeper breaks in the exact opposite direction. His breaking ball command is better than his fastball command, which is part of why we have him on the starter/reliever line. Considering how loose and whippy his delivery is, and that this level of velocity is relatively new for him, it’s plausible Arrighetti could sharpen his command enough to more comfortably project as a starter. His fastball plays up because of huge extension (look how far down the mound he is at release in his video), and he might not even need precise command of that pitch to bully hitters in the zone with it because of the way it jumps on them. Really what Arrighetti has needed is a more reliable way to thwart left-handed hitters, and while the new cutter definitely gives opposing hitters something else to parse, we’re not sure it’s going to be a panacea against lefties. Arrighetti also has a changeup that he barely uses, and the way he tends to approach lefties is by altering the shape of his slower breaking ball to make it more vertical, like a curveball.

As we’ve seen with 30-year-old Ronel Blanco and his new changeup, Houston can teach an old dog new tricks, and it’s plausible Arrighetti will find yet another gear with big league instruction. He’s needed as a starter right now due to injury, but, even though our FV grade for him has now gone up a tier, on a healthy, contending team’s roster, this guy is probably a multi-inning reliever.

8. Alonzo Tredwell, MIRP

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2023 from UCLA (HOU)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 8″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/55 50/55 30/40 30/40 91-93 / 95

Tredwell had an absurd sophomore year in the UCLA bullpen, with 62 strikeouts and six walks in 47 innings while throwing 85% fastballs. He experienced a two-tick bump in 2023 and began integrating more secondary pitches before he was shut down in April with back and rib injuries.

Gigantic 6-foot-8 frames like this ordinarily create whiff-diluting downhill plane on the fastball, but Tredwell’s does a ton of damage in the zone at 91-93 because he’s generating roughly 20 inches of vertical break from about seven feet of extension. He isn’t the sort of twitchy athlete who you expect to throw harder over time, but this fastball will play. Curveballs and sliders were more a part of Tredwell’s formula starting in 2023. His 75-80 mph curveball is a deep 12-to-6 downer that regularly shows above-average tightness. At its best, the slider has two-plane action ending in late tilt, but it’s an offering he tends to get on the side of, morphing its shape into a tweener breaking ball with a bit less authority in its bite. Both breakers are about average in quality and play down because Tredwell doesn’t locate them. The changeup rounds out his arsenal. It’s an offering he throws less than 10% of the time; more often than not, it has minimal effective action and at best projects to be a “show-me” pitch long-term. With his curveball as vertical as it is, he may not need the changeup to be an average offering for him to neutralize left-handed hitters.

Tredwell’s feel to pitch needs to improve. He has a power-over-precision operation right now, but remember he was in the bullpen or injured for a lot of his college career. For this reason, he also hasn’t proven he can eat a buffet’s worth of innings yet, but his frame indicates it’s possible. We really like Tredwell’s foundation of positive fastball traits to go along with a projectable frame and underdeveloped career arc, which could easily result in late-arriving command or even more velocity in the future. A long relief or swingman role is his realistic outcome, with some no. 4 starter high-end possibility if the components we’ve talked about here develop as hoped.

9. Luis Baez, RF

Signed: International Signing Period, 2022 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 20.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 55/60 35/55 40/40 40/50 55

Baez was one of Houston’s top 2022 international signees and hit for huge power in that year’s DSL, with an absurd 52% hard-hit rate. As a 19-year-old in 2023, Baez played 17 games in the Florida Complex League before playing his final 41 games of the season in Fayetteville. Over the two levels, he posted a .248/.357/.481 slash line across 255 plate appearances while striking out 24.3% of the time and walking 12.9% of the time. He’s off to a hot start in 2024, with an OPS north of .800 and nine home runs, a 20-plus homer pace.

Baez is very physical, wielding comfortably plus bat speed with minimal effort. He is wider and more broad-shouldered than he is tall, but there’s still physical projection here, and Baez should be extremely strong at peak considering how good Houston’s strength and conditioning program seems to be (at least based on how many of the hitters in their system look). He has a chance to grow into titanic power, which would make Baez an impact player even in a corner outfield spot so long as he hits enough, though we’re starting to have some question marks on that score because his rate of chase is very high. He hits out of an open, slightly crouched stance, and uses a toe-tap trigger as his timing mechanism. Baez utilizes an all-fields approach and has above-average bat speed. His build and offensive forecast are in the Franmil Reyes mold, and it’s going to be important for Baez to either stay mobile and lithe or refine his approach so that he has a more complete offensive skill set once he starts to regress as an athlete. He has heart-of-the-order talent, but we’d be cautious about making Baez the centerpiece of a deadline deal because righty corner bats with plate discipline this poor are risky propositions.

10. Camilo Diaz, 3B

Signed: International Signing Period, 2023 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 18.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 208 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/30 45/60 25/55 50/45 30/45 70

Originally rumored to be headed to Texas for $3 million, things changed course (likely due to decisions Texas made to divert to Sebastian Walcott) and Diaz, our no. 14 prospect in the 2023 international class, ended up signing with Houston for $2.25 million. Looking for elite bat speed? Diaz comes close, with his hips and torso turning like the head of an owl in the blink of an eye. While Diaz rotates as fast as anyone in Houston’s system, he does so with some mechanical flaws and shortcuts that make his hit tool feel flimsy, and he struck out about a third of the time in his 2023 DSL debut. If Diaz can refine his barrel feel without sacrificing bat speed, he’s going to be an impact bat. He’s the toolsiest of Houston’s 2024 FCL contingent, a power-hitting third base prospect of extreme variance.

11. Miguel Ullola, SIRP

Signed: International Signing Period, 2021 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 22.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/70 50/55 50/55 30/40 30/35 92-96 / 98

Ullola continues to be stretched out and developed as a starter, but it seems apparent that he’ll end up in the bullpen due to his lack of consistent control and command of his arsenal. It’s a lean, medium frame that can still handle additional mass in coming years; that, along with his eventual transition to a relief role, will give him an extra grade of fastball velocity in short-burst duties. Ullola’s fastball, which sits 92-96 mph and already touches 98 mph, has plus carry through the zone. It has generated a 31% swing-and-miss rate against Double-A hitters so far in 2024 and projects to continue to do so at the higher levels. His 79-83 mph curveball is a deep 12-to-6er that shows consistently average bite and flashes a tick better on occasion, while his 85-88 mph slider will show sharp, two-plane shape with late break when it’s at its best, giving Ullola two future above-average breaking balls. The last offering in Ullola’s mix is a changeup; it’s a low-impact pitch that often lacks effective action and plays down even more due to his inability to land it in the zone (21% in-zone rate in 2024). We don’t think the strike-throwing component here will ever be good enough for Ullola to start, but we also think he’d enjoy a velo spike out of the bullpen and have a dominant big league fastball as a result, which would spearhead some late-inning work.

12. Alimber Santa, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 21.1 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Command Sits/Tops
60/70 40/50 45/55 30/40 95-98 / 99

If there was anything we could do to head off all of the horrible chimney-scaling puns we’ll be subjected to as a result of having Alimber Santa around, we would, but alas. Nominative determinism is seemingly not at play here, as Santa isn’t especially a-limber. He has a robust lower half and isn’t particularly projectable, nor is he athletic enough to throw strikes. In 2023, he threw 87.1 innings at Fayetteville where, as the youngest and hardest-throwing member of the roster, he struck out 28.8% of batters he faced but also walked 17.9%. After starting the 2024 season on the IL, Santa is back and throwing even harder than he was last year, sitting 95-98 mph (he averaged 95 in 2023) and peaking at 100. His fastball has above-average riding life through the zone at a downhill angle, and it powers past A-ball hitters. Presently, Santa really lacks feel for both of his breaking balls. The curveball is a deep 12-to-6er that regularly flashes plus teeth, while the slider has two-plane shape with late tilt when it’s at its best. Especially with the slider, Santa tends to get on the side of the ball, which results in less efficient break. While Santa is still being developed as a starter, it’s apparent his shotgun command is better suited for the bullpen, where he projects as a power middle-reliever with the ceiling of a late-inning bullpen piece.

13. Abel Mercedes, SIRP

Signed: International Signing Period, 2021 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 21.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
60/65 60/70 20/30 97-99 / 100

A powerfully built relief prospect, Mercedes’ fastball has been in the 97-99 mph range for the last couple of years, but he’s walked a little more than a batter per inning since coming stateside from the DSL. Mercedes epitomizes variance. His arm strength and raw breaking ball quality give him late-inning upside, but he needs to experience a pretty serious strike-throwing progression to be a big leaguer at all. His mid-80s curveball has ridiculous depth when Mercedes releases it correctly, which doesn’t happen very often. With pure stuff this lively, Abel is going to get lots of time and opportunity to polish his control enough to play some kind of big league role. If/when things click for him, he’ll probably move quickly.

40 FV Prospects

14. Jacob Amaya, SS

Drafted: 11th Round, 2017 from South Hills HS (CA) (LAD)
Age 25.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 40/40 30/30 55/55 50/50 50

Amaya is a skills-over-tools infielder whose versatility and ability to play shortstop should enable a utility infield role in the near future. Amaya doesn’t have the huge physical tools of a premium shortstop defender (he’s more average there), but his hands and actions are exceptional and make him a plus defender at the other infield positions. A lack of physicality and power will limit his offensive impact, but Amaya has a great eye for the strike zone, as well as an idea of which pitches he can drive for doubles. He’s got a short, punchy swing you can’t beat with velo alone, and Amaya has run plus contact rates again in 2024. In his final option year, Amaya should end up in a steady on-roster role as a sixth infielder within the next year.

15. Kenedy Corona, CF

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (NYM)
Age 24.2 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 184 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 50/50 35/40 60/60 60/70 60

Corona is a great athlete who can really go get it in center field. He came to the Astros via the Jake Marisnick trade in 2019 and was added to Houston’s 40-man this past winter after posting a .774 OPS as a 23-year-old in the Texas League. Corona’s defensive ability is his carrying tool, as he shows plus range in both center and right field. He’s very efficient in his routes and appears very comfortable going in any direction to track down batted balls, and he also boasts plus arm strength. In 2023, Corona carried a 26.2% strikeout rate but also hit 22 homers. Like a lot of players in this system, he is in pull-only mode. He covers the outer third of the plate pretty well and will punish hanging breakers, but Corona is a little chase-prone and gets worked up around his hands. He’ll likely end up with below-average contact and game power, but his other tools will play in a modest but important role.

16. Michael Knorr, SP

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2022 from Coastal Carolina (HOU)
Age 24.1 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 245 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 45/50 45/50 50/55 45/50 92-96 / 97

Knorr transferred from Fullerton to Coastal prior to his senior year, had a velocity spike, and suddenly looked like one of the college prospects with the best chance to pitch in a big league rotation thanks to his pre-existing combination of repertoire depth and command. Knorr’s four-seamer sits between 92-96 mph and has solid carrying life that plays especially well on the top rail of the zone. His deep, 12-to-6 shaped curveball (74-77 mph) tunnels well with his fastball because it comes out of the same slot that his elevated heaters do. The other breaking ball in Knorr’s mix is a slider that he struggles to maintain consistent two-plane shape on because of his tendency to get on the side of the offering, which frequently causes it to back up on him. He mirrors his fastball arm speed when throwing his changeup, which has fade and notable depth. The offering projects to have the most effective action of all his secondary pitches, but he’ll need to land it in the zone more often than he is now (41% in-zone rate as of list publication). A bigger-framed guy, Knorr lacks long-term body projection, but he’s strong and durable. He continues to track like a low-variance backend starter.

17. A.J. Blubaugh, SP

Drafted: 7th Round, 2022 from UW-Milwaukee (HOU)
Age 23.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/55 50/55 45/50 40/45 91-95 / 97

Blubaugh’s mom was a two-sport college athlete at Akron and A.J. was a three-sport conference champ in high school before matriculating to UW-Milwaukee. He reached Double-A in his first full pro season and was quickly bumped to Triple-A in 2024. Blubaugh has a long, lean build, and looks like he could handle more weight on his frame without it altering his odd but effective delivery. He threw exactly 100 frames in 2023 between Asheville and Corpus Christi, striking out 26.5% of opposing hitters and posting a 4.68 ERA as a 22-year-old. Blubaugh throws from a high slot that assists in generating his 91-95 mph four-seamer’s solid riding action. He throws both a curveball and slider, the curve a very vertical, deep breaker, while the slider has late tilting action to it. He’ll manipulate the amount of depth on both breaking balls, which each project to solid-average. He also has a changeup that he throws with fastball arm speed; it shows fade and sink. It has more gradual than sudden action, but it will still serve as an average pitch for him. Blubaugh’s fringe command will limit his overall ceiling, but he has the pure stuff to project as a backend starter or swingman.

18. Chase Jaworsky, SS

Drafted: 5th Round, 2023 from Rock Canyon HS (CO) (HOU)
Age 19.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 40/50 30/45 60/60 40/55 50

The Astros popped Jaworsky in the fifth round of the 2023 draft out of Rock Canyon High School in Littleton, CO. He has a slight, underdeveloped frame that still has significant projectability. After signing last summer, Jaworsky had a very brief run in the Florida Complex League, during which he posted six walks and six strikeouts but didn’t collect an extra-base hit in 38 plate appearances. The Astros assigned Jaworsky to Low-A Fayetteville to start this season and he’s continued to play all over the dirt on the defensive side of the ball, showing soft hands and enough lateral range (Jaworsky ran one of the fastest 30-yd dashes at the Combine at 3.63 seconds) that he projects to be a solid defender at shortstop.

Offensively, Jaworsky hits out of an upright, slightly open stance and has average bat speed. His bat path has natural loft to it, and he can manipulate the barrel some, but his lack of impact and his tendency to chase handcuffs his offensive upside. His ability to provide above-average defense at multiple infield spots, including shortstop, gives him a utility infield role projection.

19. Zach Cole, CF

Drafted: 10th Round, 2022 from Ball State (HOU)
Age 23.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 45/55 45/50 60/60 40/45 70

Cole, a 10th-round selection out of Ball State in 2022, had a productive 2023 that saw him cover both of the Astros A-ball affiliates and slash .258/.380/.489 with 37 steals and 19 homers, though he did carry a 31.8% strikeout rate for the season. We love Cole’s build and explosive brand of athleticism, which is most evident when he’s throwing and taking his best swings. He creates loft in his path from his first move, which results in him doing the most damage on balls in the lower quadrants of the zone. He lacks the ability to adjust and manipulate his barrel, both of which meaningfully contribute to inflated strikeout totals that will probably always be an issue for him.

Cole has gotten plenty of run at all three outfield spots. He has the pure speed to play center field, but he doesn’t have great feel for the position. This guy isn’t rushing to the big leagues; Cole is a toolsy, older dev project who has exciting power-hitting ceiling for a potential center fielder. He could be a luxury part-time outfielder who has a righty-mashing peak with 15 homers and steals, but his profile still has a lot of risk and variance for a 23-year-old at Double-A.

20. Waner Luciano, 3B

Signed: International Signing Period, 2022 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 19.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 55/60 30/50 45/45 40/45 55

In 2023, Luciano tallied 194 plate appearances as an 18-year-old playing in the FCL, where he posted a .247/.345/.476 slash line while striking out 18.6% of the time. Luciano consistently expands out of the zone (25% chase so far in 2024), especially against same-side spin. His swing path has both loft and bat speed, but his ability to produce consistent hard contact is hindered by his pitch selection. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for Luciano to take such large hacks in hitters’ counts that he loses his ability to manipulate his barrel to cover multiple quadrants of the zone and he greatly sacrifices his ability to make contact in the process. Luciano has played all over the dirt since entering the pro ranks, but he doesn’t project to be an above-average defender anywhere, with third base the position that his solid-average arm and fringe quick-twitch abilities profile at best. Luciano has a depth corner infield profile long-term.

Drafted: 20th Round, 2023 from Western Carolina (HOU)
Age 22.5 Height 5′ 7″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 50/55 35/50 50/50 40/50 50

Ferreras was the last selection of the 2023 draft after three seasons at Western Carolina University. In his 116 plate appearances in Fayetteville last summer, he struck out 28.4% of the time and only walked at a 6.9% clip on his way to a .212/.284/.288 slash. Both of those data points have trended in a better direction so far in 2024, as he’s posted a 25.1% strikeout rate and 12.3% walk rate at the time of this writing. Ferreras hits out a slightly open, semi-crouched stance, and uses an abbreviated leg kick to generate leverage. He doesn’t have especially good barrell control, but his bat path has loft, with only 38.9% of his contact this season coming on the ground, so he should get to the power he has. Ferreras has been playing all over the infield, and projects to be an average defender at shortstop and a tick above that at both the hot corner and the keystone. There isn’t much here to project on frame-wise, and Ferreras profiles as a utility bench infielder down the road.

22. Anderson Brito, SIRP

Signed: International Signing Period, 2023 from Venezuela (HOU)
Age 19.9 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/60 30/45 20/50 95-97 / 98

Brito is an athletic, powerfully built righty who sat 95-97, often with over 20 inches of induced vertical break, during his DSL debut. He also has an 82-83 mph sweeper that has much more lateral action than depth. Brito, who is another “older” Astros pitcher signee at 19 years old, is making his pro debut and could not be further away from the big leagues. The risk profile of any teenage pitcher, especially one like Brito without much physical projection, is extreme, and we’re careful not to over-grade Brito even though he has exciting stuff. Simply maintaining this fastball should facilitate a meaningful relief role, but obviously Houston has a good track record of developing arms and they’ve barely had a chance to sculpt Brito’s exciting stuff. It feels silly to be overly specific about how Brito is projected. Right now, he’s simply a high-upside arm whose career is just underway.

23. Esmil Valencia, LF

Signed: International Signing Period, 2023 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 18.6 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 182 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 40/50 20/50 45/45 30/50 40

Valencia was our no. 25 international amateur prospect in 2023 and signed with Houston for just shy of $900,000. He’s going to have to rake since it appears his best defensive fit is in left field, but Valencia’s lovely swing might enable that. He is short to the ball, track pitches very well, moves the barrel all over the zone, and is strong enough to do damage. You can see the DNA of other Astros’ swings (like Alex Bregman’s) in Valencia’s, and he has a tendency for pull-side contact. The shape of his profile is atypical for a teenage prospect. He’s a high-floor, medium-variance corner bat who could be a Harold Ramírez type of part-timer.

24. Luis Rives, RF

Signed: International Signing Period, 2024 from Cuba (HOU)
Age 19.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 50/60 20/50 55/55 35/55 60

The Astros have often targeted Cuban players in the international amateur space, and in 2024, they had a couple of older prospects to whom they gave fairly big bonuses. The best of them is Rives, a powerful, switch-hitting outfielder whose $900,000 agreement was first reported by Cuban journalist Francys Romero. Rives is built like an Abercrombie model and has very dangerous power from both sides of the plate. His power stands apart from the other prospects in the 2024 class partially because Rives is two or three years older than most of his peers. The quality of the pitching he faced in Cuba does not allow for reliable statistical conversion, so we’re talking about a hit tool (and player) of extreme variance and risk. Still, switch-hitters with this much power don’t exactly grow on trees, so it feels fine to allocate about this much pool space to a profile like Rives’ even with the cloudy contact forecast.

35+ FV Prospects

Signed: International Signing Period, 2022 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 18.9 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 35/60 20/55 50/40 30/55 55

Gonzalez was 17 for most of the 2023 DSL season and slashed .273/.385/.418 even though he is still growing into his body. He doesn’t have nearly the same level of control over his limbs, but Gonzalez is built like early-career Kevin Alcántara at a super-projectable 6-foot-5. The elements of his swing are sometimes disconnected, but his explosiveness and the athleticism he displays even as he’s spinning out of control are remarkable for a hitter his size. He didn’t whiff at a terribly high rate and has impressive raw power for someone his age. Gonzalez has played a mix of first base and outfield, including some center field. Where he ends up fitting (likely a corner) is going to depend on how mobile he can stay as he presumably adds all kinds of strength and power. This is key prospect to follow in the lower levels of Houston’s system, one with an enormous power-hitting ceiling.

26. Will Wagner, 3B

Drafted: 18th Round, 2021 from Liberty (HOU)
Age 25.9 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 40/40 35/35 45/45 40/40 40

Wagner missed significant time in 2023 due to a hamate injury that ultimately required surgery, but prior to that, he slashed .337/.420/.518 over 286 plate appearances split primarily between Double- and Triple-A. We think he can hit, just not enough to be a slam dunk everyday second baseman, and he lacks the defensive versatility to play a utility role. Wagner hits out of a square, balanced setup, with a quick, compact stroke that he uses to spray contact to all fields. He’s limited his strikeouts to 18% in pro ball while drawing walks 13.5% of the time. Wagner has moved around the dirt as a professional, with second base clearly being where he has the best defensive chops; he doesn’t have the arm to play the left side of the infield. We like Wagner as an above-replacement player and a high-priority upper-level depth option.

Signed: International Signing Period, 2022 from Venezuela (HOU)
Age 19.4 Height 5′ 8″ Weight 176 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 40/50 20/50 50/40 30/40 55

Florida’s version of Alberto Barriga, Villarroel is a very explosive little catching prospect who has a career OPS hovering around .950 as of list publication. At just 5-foot-8, scouts have a healthy skepticism of (and some outright dismiss) his prospectdom because of his lack of size, especially for a catcher. But Villarroel is about as physical as a 5-foot-8 teenager can be, and he’s a sensational athlete who can swing surprisingly hard for a guy his size. It’s common for undersized catchers to play other positions and Villarroel has spent a lot of time at first base, and might be athletic enough to try the outfield or even second base (which he’s done a tiny bit of in 2024). He’s not nearly as advanced a defender as Barriga (a prospect in the Diamondbacks system), hence the gap in their FV grades. Currently a young sleeper prospect at the bottom of the system (and perhaps the most fun to watch), Villarroel needs to develop as a defender and prove he can sustain impact offense across the grind of a full season of squatting.

28. Colton Gordon, SP

Drafted: 8th Round, 2021 from Central Florida (HOU)
Age 25.5 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
30/30 50/55 50/50 45/50 50/55 90-92 / 93

Gordon kicked back from Florida to Hillsborough Community College (FL) before bumping back to Division-I ball with Central Florida. He made four starts there before the 2020 shutdown, then his 2021 season for the Knights was cut short by Tommy John. The Astros used a 2021 Day Two pick on him anyway and hustled Gordon up the minor league ladder when he was finally back from his TJ rehab in 2022. He was assigned straight to Double-A Corpus Christi in 2023; Gordon tossed 128.1 frames — 27.1% K%, 10.4% BB%, 4.14 ERA — over the season and reached Triple-A. While his smoke-and-mirrors deception hasn’t played quite as well as it did against A-ball bats, Gordon is still throwing a starter’s level of strikes and showing stuff commensurate with a backend starter. Gordon’s four-seam fastball sits between 90-92 mph, but it consistently plays above its pure velocity due to his top-tier extension. His cross-bodied delivery makes him especially tough against lefties. He throws two breaking balls. His curveball is a 1-to-7 shaped offering that often morphs into a slurvey-shaped pitch, while his slider is a shorter sweeper type that shows sharper break. The effectiveness of Gordon’s changeup is driven by his ability to throw the pitch with deceptive arm speed; on pure stuff, it’s lacking. Gordon squeezes the most out of his arsenal via deception and unpredictability, and projects to be a spot starter relatively soon.

29. James Hicks, SP

Drafted: 13th Round, 2023 from South Carolina (HOU)
Age 23.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/40 55/60 45/45 45/50 35/60 91-94 / 95

After spending two seasons at Crowder College in Missouri, Hicks transferred to SC for his junior and senior years but really only pitched in the latter. He was a shrewd senior sign by Houston in 2023 and seems poised to end his first pro season at Corpus Christi if he can keep dominating A-ball the way he has so far in 2024. Hicks commands a four-pitch mix of pitches that mostly operate east and west. He has a low, short arm stroke that imparts tailing action on his 91 mph fastball, and the lateral movement of his slider diverges significantly from that of his heater. Working inside/outside in sequence is Hicks’ most common approach to hitters, but he also has a sinking changeup, a get-me-over curveball, and some ability to run his fastball up the ladder because of its angle rather than velocity. Hicks has all kinds of ways to get hitters out and his command helps him execute in locations that keep him succeeding despite mediocre velocity. He should be a Josh Fleming type of swingman or backend starter.

30. Raimy Rodriguez, MIRP

Signed: International Signing Period, 2022 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 18.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/60 40/55 40/55 20/30 90-95 / 96

Rodriguez threw 31.2 frames between the DSL and FCL in 2023; he struck out 31.3% of the batters he faced but also had a 17% walk rate. His low three-quarters arm slot produces significant lateral action on his 90-95 mph fastball and often gets in the kitchen of right-handed hitters. He throws a 80-84 mph breaking ball that is prone to showing several different shapes because his arm is frequently late, but the best ones have three-quarter shape with two-plane break. His 84-88 mph changeup shows big fading action with sudden depth that slips under opposing hitters bats. The pitch will flash true plus action, but he’s landing it in the zone less than 20% of the time this season and it essentially serves as a pure chase offering at present. Raimy has a loose, quick arm and it’s easy to project future velocity gains for him. Even though Rodriguez lacks the strike-throwing ability to hold down a starter role long-term, he has the pure stuff to project as a multi-inning reliever because of his repertoire depth. If he can hone his command, he’ll be a valuable part of a pitching staff. If he can’t, he’ll be limited to lower-leverage situations.

31. Trey Dombroski, SP

Drafted: 4th Round, 2022 from Monmouth (HOU)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 235 Bat / Thr R / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
35/35 45/50 55/55 50/55 35/55 88-91 / 93

Dombroski received Most Outstanding Pitcher honors on the Cape in 2021, where he issued 45 strikeouts and just two walks in 31.2 innings. He carried that strike-throwing ability into his senior year at Monmouth, where he fanned 120 in 95 innings against 14 free passes, earning him a fourth-round selection in the 2022 amateur draft. In 2023, Dombroski tossed 119 frames for Fayetteville, where he posted a 3.71 ERA and struck out 30.1% of batters against just 7.3% walks in his first taste of pro ball. Despite an elevated ERA so far in 2024, Dombroski has maintained strong peripherals at Asheville.

Dombroski’s secondary offerings continue to headline his profile, with all three pitches projecting to be average to above-average for him. He can really turn over a mid-80s changeup and he can also vary the shape on two upper-70s breaking balls. That said, our optimism about his fastball velocity taking a jump continues to shrink. In 2023, Dombroski’s four-seamer averaged 90.1 mph, while to this point in 2024, it has averaged only 89.1 mph and there’s nothing more to project on the frame. Ultimately, Dombroski will have to pitch around his fastball in order to be effective, and while he has a robust secondary mix, we think it’s more emblematic of an up/down emergency starter’s stuff.

32. Alex Speas, SIRP

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from McEachern HS (GA) (TEX)
Age 26.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/60 60/60 20/20 96-97 / 100

Speas stepped away from baseball for a year and, frustrated and constantly beset by injury, he nearly hung it up at age 23. Now 26, he’s coming off another inconsistent but exciting season after remaking his repertoire and working out at Tread Athletics. The Rangers DFA’d him late last year to make room for a healthy Matt Bush on the 40-man, after which Speas was claimed off waivers by the White Sox during the postseason. They DFA’d him in April and he was traded to Oakland for cash, before Oakland DFA’d him and he was claimed by Houston.

Speas’ fastball velocity has keeled off a bit compared to last year, when he was sitting 98-99 and touching 102. He’s down about two ticks so far in 2024, but he has continued to utilize a cutter-heavy approach because his feel for throwing that pitch for strikes is much better than any other. Those cutters tilt in anywhere from 89-95 mph with variable shape, and it can be tough to distinguish some of them from his 85-89 mph slider, which he throws on occasion. It’s plausible Speas could find more consistent release as big league hitters force him to sharpen his control. Even though he’s hopping around the fringes of rosters, Speas’ arm strength and build give him a shot to capture lightning in a bottle and dominate, even if it’s just for a little while. We want to stay on him even though he’s struggling to stick on a roster.

33. Pedro León, CF

Signed: International Signing Period, 2021 from Cuba (HOU)
Age 26.0 Height 5′ 8″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 55/55 45/45 55/55 45/45 60

León was a fun, late-market Cuban prospect who homered 15 times in 30 games during the 18-19 Cuban National Series before an oblique injury shelved him. After he defected, further injury issues delayed his stateside workout, and when it was finally held, teams got a text on the way there saying that León had a deal with Houston already done. The Astros sent him straight to Double-A in 2021 and he has now spent parts of the last several seasons at Triple-A, showing a pull-heavy, power-over-hit offensive skill set while sliding down the defensive spectrum a little bit. León continues to employ an approach where he looks to pull and elevate everything possible, and it has yielded better results so far in 2024 against Triple-A pitching than it has the past two seasons at the same level. León struck out 28.6% of the time and walked at a 12.5% clip in over 1,000 Triple-A plate appearances prior to this season; this year, he’s cut down on the strikeouts (25.7%), but the walks also have declined a bit (10.2%). On the defensive side, León used to be a Swiss-Army Knife of sorts, but he’s turned into an average defender in right field, where his plus arm fits well, and a fringe-average defender in center. Without the defensive versatility he once had, León profiles as an up/down depth outfielder.

34. Colin Barber, LF

Drafted: 4th Round, 2019 from Pleasant Valley HS (CA) (HOU)
Age 23.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 45/50 30/40 50/50 40/50 40

At the outset of our process, we didn’t expect Barber would be here either, but now that he has a maxed-out, corner-only look, this is the role we expect he’ll play. Barber posted a .791 OPS as a 22-year-old in Corpus Christi in 2023, with 11 homers and a 22.7% strikeout rate over 79 games before missing time due to a hip flexor injury. There have been times during his prospectdom when Barber had a chance to stick in center field and be a well-rounded everyday player. He has slid into more of a left field-only fit on defense, but he doesn’t have the power typical of that position. There isn’t one particular aspect of Barber’s offensive profile that jumps off the page aside from maybe his in-zone contact ability, which is better than average. Lefty sticks with feel for contact like this tend to find their way into a small big league role, and Barber is evaluated here as an above-replacement player in the Conner Capel mold. If Barber gets a long-term opportunity, it will probably involve him sliding into a roster vacancy on a rebuilding team.

Signed: International Signing Period, 2021 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 20.8 Height 5′ 7″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 45/50 35/45 60/60 30/45 40

Encarnacion is a twitchy developmental outfield prospect with dangerous bat speed from both sides of the plate. The Astros have promoted Encarnacion even though he’s struggled to perform on paper since entering full-season ball, though he’s never been at any stop long enough to generate a meaningfully big sample. To the eye, this is an explosive and exciting athlete with impact speed and a surprising amount of thump for a smaller, younger hitter (Encarnacion is currently the youngest bat in Asheville). Because he’s so compactly built and short to the baseball, Encarnacion has made above-average underlying rates of contact in 2024 even though he’s hitting near the Mendoza line. His feel to hit is much better from the right side (where he actually tracks the ball) than the left (where he tends to cuts through the middle of the zone). A lack of reps and Encarnacion’s age relative to his level of play offers hope of projection in this area. The same is true of Encarnacion’s center field defense, which is lacking right now even though he’s a plus runner. He began his career as an infielder and hasn’t played much outfield yet. He has the tools to be a Daniel Nava/Andres Torres type of player but he needs substantial polish.

36. Cesar Hernandez, CF

Signed: International Signing Period, 2024 from Cuba (HOU)
Age 21.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 45/50 30/40 60/60 40/50 45

Teams had wildly variable evaluations of Hernandez leading up to his signing in January 2024, when he inked a deal for $1.7 million. He had experience on Cuba’s National Team, which created a more meaningful and deep video backlog than most international signees and Eric came away skeptical of his bat from those looks. Evaluations of Hernandez’s speed and raw power might not have been up for debate, but scouts were all over the place when it came to whether or not he’d hit. Assigned to Low-A Fayetteville, Hernandez is off to a fair start to 2024. His slash line isn’t great, but he’s making a decent rate of contact even though his swing, which has a very late trigger, is a little wacky. He looks more like a speedy extra outfielder than a potential regular, but his hit tool is more stable now than when he signed.

37. Misael Tamarez, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 24.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 206 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 45/50 45/50 45/45 30/35 92-97 / 99

Last year, a 23-year-old Tamarez threw 101 innings across 17 starts and 26 games for Sugar Land, where he struck out 100 batters (22.6%) but also walked 60 (13.6%), resulting in a 5.08 ERA for the season. His four-seamer ranges from 92-97 mph as a starter and has registered as high as 99 mph in 2024 with solid carrying life, and it’s apparent Tamarez is still pacing himself for the longer outings he’s handling. Both of his breaking balls project to average. The 82-85 mph curveball is a short, sharp 12-to-6 shaped offering, while the 86-89 mph slider is a short three-quarters breaker with late tilting action. Both breaking balls will flash above-average bite, but Tamarez’s inability to consistently work in the zone with either (both are thrown in the zone less than 40% of the time) hinders their overall effectiveness and means they likely won’t get the same consistent chase from major league hitters. This year, Tamarez has really struggled to maintain consistent action on his changeup, which was once his highest-projected secondary pitch; he’s showing changeups with late depth less often than he did in years past. It ranges between 86-91 mph, so when that late bottom action is absent, it essentially turns into a batting practice fastball. Tamarez profiles as an up/down reliever who can find success in short stints where he can get the most out of his fastball.

38. Alex Santos II, SIRP

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from Mount St. Michael HS (NY) (HOU)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/55 55/60 45/45 50/55 40/40 94-96 / 97

Santos is back — sort of. He’s had a three-tick velocity spike in 2024 and might be able to throw even harder if he’s eventually moved to the bullpen. That said, Santos’ fastball still isn’t missing bats, though his slider/cutter mix has been a potent secondary combination. The two span the 81-89 mph range and run together in the middle. We’re intrigued by how much arm strength Santos would have if he were airing it out an inning at a time and consider him firmly back on the prospect radar as a potential middle reliever.

39. Colby Langford, SIRP

Drafted: 17th Round, 2023 from Murray State JC (OK) (HOU)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/60 30/50 30/45 20/35 88-92 / 93

Langford is a developmental relief prospect with some very exciting athletic traits and pitch characteristics that could make his fastball dominant if the Astros can help him to throw harder. Langford pedals his lanky frame way down the mound, generating seven feet of extension. Such an extreme drop-and-drive delivery creates an uphill angle on Langford’s fastball, which also has a backspinning axis. Those two things in concert give his fastball enormous potential if the small school lefty can add velocity on a pro program. It’s also difficult for Langford to maintain a consistent release when he’s efforting so much to get down the mound. Langford casts many of his changeups, and his sliders often finish way out the zone, but both occasionally flash bat-missing movement. As a junior college draftee, it’s plausible any of Langford’s issues will be remedied by pro instruction. He’s a high-priority deep sleeper.

40. Andrew Taylor, MIRP

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2022 from Central Michigan (HOU)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/50 40/40 45/50 40/45 45/50 30/50 90-93 / 94

An elbow issue has kept Taylor out for most of 2024 and, as of list publication, a source familiar with the situation indicated he’s tracking to pitch again this season but is probably still a few weeks from throwing. Taylor pitched 84 innings in a piggyback role last season and struck out 34% of opposing hitters. His fastball shape is the key component to his profile, and as such, it’s the offering he relies on most heavily. While its only sits 91, it features 21 inches of induced vertical break from a very high release point. He tends to favor his secondaries (in order of usage frequency; his slider, curveball, cutter, and changeup) when he’s ahead in the count, letting their respective vertical shapes play off the life of the heater, though he’s had limited success with them, and instead has mostly garnered upper-zone swing-and-miss with the fastball. We like him as a reliever long-term.

41. Nolan DeVos, SIRP

Drafted: 5th Round, 2022 from Davidson (HOU)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Command Sits/Tops
50/50 40/50 40/50 30/50 89-92 / 93

DeVos popped onto the radar last year as a lower-level arm with a magical fastball who needed dev in other areas. His heater’s underlying traits were enabling it to miss bats in the minors even though DeVos was only sitting 89-93, which was a few ticks harder than he threw at Davidson. He was injured to start 2024 and ultimately needed TJ, which he had a few weeks prior to list publication. The timing of the surgery also threatens his 2025 season. He’s purely a wait-and-see relief prospect at this point, one with premium fastball characteristics.

Other Prospects of Note

Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

Projectable Pitchers
Yeriel Santos, RHP
Derek True, RHP
Julio Marte, RHP

Santos, 20, is an athletic A-ball righty who is sitting 92-95 with an average curveball and a changeup of mixed quality. He could end up with three average or better offerings, but he has no overt plus trait right now. True is having pro success in a piggyback role after he was a pure reliever at Cal Poly. He’s sitting 93-95 with an above-average slider and below-average command. He’ll probably shift back into a short relief role eventually. Marte, 21, is a super projectable righty at 6-foot-5, 180 pounds. He has a long, vertical arm stroke and sits 91-95. He’s a smooth, graceful athlete but isn’t all that powerful yet, and he struggles to locate his breaking stuff.

Power Hitters
Nehomar Ochoa Jr., OF
Jeron Williams, 3B/SS
German Ramirez, 2B
Franchely Silverio, SS
Fernando Caldera, C
Zach Daniels, OF
Oliver Carrillo, 1B
Anthony Huezo, OF

Ochoa, 18, is a physical outfielder with big present strength and a lift-heavy approach at the plate. He’s striking out at a 30% clip in Fayetteville but he’s getting to power. Williams played his freshman season at Lincoln Trail Community College before he transferred to Toledo, and two seasons later, he was MAC Player of the Year. He’s built like a big leaguer and has sufficient athleticism, which is evident in Williams’ best swings and his acrobatic flashes on defense. He’s been promoted to Corpus Christi pretty quickly, but don’t we believe in his feel to hit because of the way his swing looks. Ramirez, 17, is a pull-power projection infielder in the Complex League. He’s a bucket strider and has long-term hit tool risk, but he sure can swing hard for a teenage infielder. Silverio is a more physically mature version of Ramirez, except in the DSL. Caldera, 21, is a physical A-ball catcher who hit for power last year but is struggling so far in 2024. Daniels, 25, is a yoked, power-hitting outfielder with a bottom-of-the-scale hit tool. Carrillo, a 21-year-old Mexican first baseman, is built like an unsliced rotating spit of gyro meat at a rectangular 5-foot-11. He swings hard and got a quick hook to High-A after a hot start, but the righty-hitting first base profile is tough. Huezo is a projectable lefty-hitting outfielder with a long, lanky frame. He signed for $400,000 last year and was one of the youngest players from the 2023 draft. He has been overwhelmed so far by pro stuff.

Spot Starter Ceilings
Julio Robaina, LHP
Edinson Batista, RHP
Jose Fleury, RHP
Ethan Pecko, RHP
Alain Pena, RHP

Robaina, 23, is a slider-oriented Cuban lefty who has finally pitched his way out of Corpus Christi. Batista, 22, is a Dominican righty who sits 91-95 with sink. He’s an advanced, athletic, undersized depth starter type. Fleury, a 22-year-old 6-foot righty, is similar to Batista (he’s undersized and relatively advanced), but his fastball plays with vertical action rather than sink. This year, he was skipped over High-A and sent straight to Double-A, where he’s held his own despite sitting 90-91. Pecko is a drop-and-drive 21-year-old righty from Towson. He’s a loose-bodied athlete with a pretty delivery and a strong (if mature) frame, but he has 40- and 45-grade stuff across the board. Pena, 21, is a cutter-oriented Mexican righty who is working efficiently in A-ball. His low-90s stuff isn’t quiet big enough for the main section of the list, and like everyone in this group, he has the look of someone with depth starter ceiling.

Relief Depth
Forrest Whitley, RHP
Cesar Gomez, RHP

Whitley was throwing hard (97-99) at the start of the season but quickly hit the IL with elbow discomfort and has only recently resumed throwing. He hasn’t been consistently effective or healthy for a while, and now that he’s almost out of options and clearly on the fringe of Houston’s roster, he needs to prove it at the big league level to have any kind of trade value. Gomez is a 25-year-old kitchen sink reliever — slider, cutter, changeup, with fastballs and sinkers up to 96 — who is having success at Double-A.

System Overview

As was the case with last year’s list, Houston’s system has the most depth and upside among its position players, with Jake Bloss the lone starting pitcher in the top eight of this ranking. The Astros make an obvious effort to maximize the versatility of their position player group, with a majority of them getting playing time at multiple positions on the defensive side of the ball; players like Joey Loperfido, Alberto Hernandez, and Brice Matthews are good examples of this. For some, their projections would look drastically different without above-average defensive versatility. There’s also no shortage of high-risk/high-reward types in this system, players who have huge offensive upside but some underlying issue that acts as a loose Jenga block in their profile. Luis Baez epitomizes this.

The Astros continue to have an abundance of intriguing arms from the Latin American and domestic markets, but fewer and fewer of them have enough starter-like traits to even allow you to dream on them filling a rotation spot at the major league level. Arms like Alonzo Tredwell, Alimber Santa, and Miguel Ullola all have pitch mixes that look deep enough on paper to start, but their command is light enough that their most productive innings will be out of the bullpen.

Prior to being named the Astros’ general manager in January of 2023, Dana Brown led one of the most successful amateur scouting departments in the league in Atlanta. We think it’s safe to assume Houston will continue to operate without much of an in-person pro department, as they have since the mid-Luhnow era, because that was also Atlanta’s approach when Brown was there (though again, he led the amateur side). There has yet to be a drastic spike in the number of scouting boots on the ground Houston has covering the amateur ranks, but it’s also still early in Brown’s tenure; the next couple of years will tell us a lot about how the Astros’ amateur apparatus will operate moving forward. Their international department has been among the most consistent in the league at identifying future big leaguers (many more pitchers than average, and often older, $10,000 or $20,000 signees), but recent signing periods haven’t produced a Top 100 type of prospect.

Even with two prospects moving into the Top 100, this is a below-average system on impact and an average one in terms of depth. With the 28th pick in the upcoming draft, any short-term leap in farm system quality will come from trades. Houston’s 2024 injuries and slow start might lead them to take a seller’s posture at the deadline for the first time in a long time. Alex Bregman is in the final year of his deal, while Kyle Tucker and Framber Valdez will be free agents after next season. The Astros are only 7.5 games back in the division as of this writing and Brown has stated he has no plans to sell, but a lot could change between now and the end of July. It will be interesting to see how this system looks in just a few months.

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Cave Dameron
9 days ago

Thank you Eric and Travis, very cool!