Steamer Projects: Houston Astros Prospects

Earlier this week, polite and Canadian and polite Marc Hulet published his 2014 organizational prospect list for the Houston Astros.

It goes without saying that, in composing such a list, Hulet has considered the overall future value those prospects might be expected to provide either to the Astros or whatever other organizations to which they might someday belong.

What this brief post concerns isn’t overall future value, at all, but rather such value as the prospects from Hulet’s list might provide were they to play, more or less, a full major-league season in 2014.

Other prospect projections: Arizona / Chicago AL / Miami / Minnesota / New York NL / San Diego / San Francisco / Seattle / Toronto.

Steamer Projections: Houston Batting Prospects
Below are the current 2014 projections for select Houston batting prospects. All projections have been prorated to 550 plate appearances (and 450 for catchers) for sake of uniformity. Defensive figures (denoted by Def) account both for positional adjustment and UZR, and are presented relative to league average. Note that, in many cases, defensive value has been calculated entirely by positional adjustment based on the relevant player’s minor-league defensive starts in 2013. Prospects are listed in order of projected WAR. The symbol # denotes the relevant prospect’s ranking on Hulet’s list. Figures might diverge slightly (although not signficantly) from those which appear on player pages.

# Name Age POS PA BB% K% BABIP wRC+ BsR Off Def* WAR
2 George Springer 24 CF 550 9.1% 26.9% .318 118 1 11 2 3.3
12 Max Stassi 23 C 450 5.8% 21.3% .282 92 0 -4 8 2.0
8 Domingo Santana 21 COF 550 7.3% 29.1% .311 98 0 -1 -6 1.2
4 Jon Singleton 22 1B 550 11.0% 25.9% .295 94 0 -4 -10 0.5
13 Delino Deshields Jr. 21 2B/CF 550 6.9% 21.0% .278 66 0 -21 2 -0.1
1 Carlos Correa 19 SS 550 5.4% 17.7% .262 55 0 -28 6 -0.4
9 Rio Ruiz 20 3B 550 5.6% 20.7% .236 46 0 -34 2 -1.4

Steamer Projections: Houston Pitching Prospects
Below are the 2014 projections for select Houston pitching prospects. Projections for starting pitchers have been prorated to 150 innings; for relievers, to 50 innings. Prospects are listed in order of projected WAR, which has been calculated by using kwERA — that is, an ERA estimator which utilizes only strikeouts and walks — so as to remove the vagaries of park effects, and probably also because the author has no idea what he’s doing. Listed ages are as of June 30, 2014. The symbol # denotes the relevant prospect’s ranking on Hulet’s list. Figures might diverge slightly (although not signficantly) from those which appear on player pages.

# Name Age Hand IP K% BB% kwERA kwERA- WAR
6 Vincent Velasquez 22 RHP 150 20.3% 11.3% 4.23 109 1.2
7 Lance McCullers 20 RHP 150 20.7% 13.6% 4.46 115 0.8
15 Kyle Smith 21 RHP 150 15.4% 10.2% 4.69 121 0.4
11 Michael Feliz 20 RHP 150 14.9% 10.0% 4.72 122 0.4
5 Mike Foltynewicz 22 RHP 150 15.0% 11.3% 4.87 126 0.1
3 Mark Appel 22 RHP 150 11.5% 8.0% 4.89 126 0.1
10 Josh Hader 20 LHP 150 14.3% 12.0% 5.03 130 -0.2

Notes
• Despite the fact that he feels like a certain sort of 60-year-old woman whilst saying it, the author is prepared to describe Houston’s as a “fun” organization, so far as its prospects are concerned. Here one finds a pleasant diversity of young talent: slugging international signees (Domingo Santana), atypically athletic college draftees (George Springer), high-school first-base types (Jon Singleton), quietly effective pitchers (Vincent Velasquez), intriguing high-upside arms (Mike Foltynewicz), and, of course, conspicuously high-end talents (Mark Appel, Carlos Correa).

• Regarding Springer, specifically, he’s projected by Steamer to produce the highest WAR, on a rate basis, of any prospect considered thus far in this series, which now includes 10 teams. His figure here, for example, is even higher than Dexter Fowler’s, whom Houston has acquired this offseason from Colorado.

• The right-handed Vincent Velasquez missed all of the 2011, and about half of the 2012, season due to Tommy John surgery and the subsequent rehab. Since returning, however, he’s struck out ca. 27% of opposing batters in about 170 innings pitched between Low A, regular Class A, and High A. Marc Hulet has more information regarding the former California high-school draftee in his organizational list.

We hoped you liked reading Steamer Projects: Houston Astros Prospects by Carson Cistulli!

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Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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Jesse
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Jesse

Regarding Springer, I think the projections may be understating some of his peripheral skills. The 9.1% BB rate seems a bit low, given that he averaged ~14% between AA and AAA last year (and was actually higher at AAA). He’s only projected for 1 BsR, which seems odd for a guy who stole 45 bases with an 85% success rate (and is generally regarded as having legit plus speed with good base-running instincts). Similarly, my impression is that he’s regarded as a potential plus corner outfield defender, so the projected defensive value seems a bit low.

Still, that’s a hell of an impressive projected debut for a rookie. Be interesting to see if he makes the team out of spring training – it’s not like he has much more to prove at AAA.

maguro
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maguro

By the same token, I would expect Springer to exceed the 26.9% K rate that Steamer projects. Dude struck out a ton all through the minors.

Jesse
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Jesse

A fair point, although he showed improvement in his K rate between AA and AAA (from 30-31% over ~400 PA at AA to 24.4% over 266 PA at AAA). I’d guess that Steamer is seeing that improvement and factoring it into projections, but his biggest risk as a prospect is still his hit tool.

His upside, even if his hit tool never becomes more than okay, is probably somewhere around Mike Cameron (with more power and less D) or Curtis Granderson, so he’s got a pretty good ceiling. But his floor is also pretty low.

Matt
Guest
Matt

+2 defense for a plus COF doesn’t seem low. Isn’t that an average CF or plus COF? He sounds a lot like Chris Young.