Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Houston Astros. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.
All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. That can be found here.
Editor’s Note: Brandon Bailey has been added to this list at No. 30 following his return from the Baltimore Orioles subsequent to the Rule 5 Draft. Cal Stevenson has been removed following a trade to the Tampa Bay Rays.
|12||Jose Alberto Rivera||23.1||A||RHP||2021||40+|
|37||Juan Pablo Lopez||21.1||A||LHP||2022||35+|
|39||Bryan De La Cruz||23.2||AA||RF||2021||35+|
Other Prospects of Note
Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.
Valdez, 21, is a stocky, slower twitch infielder with limited range. He has good hands and actions and some feel to hit. He performed with the bat until a mid-year promotion to Hi-A. He could be a bat-first infield role player. Machandy, 18, is a speedy DSL center fielder from Cuba who needs a long-term look because of his tools. Perry is a 20-year-old, well-built catcher with an athletic lefty swing, and his defense is improving. The exit velos are in the 40/45-grade area right now, but he’s still pretty young. Carrasco barely played in 2019 and was bad when he did, but he only turned 20 in September. We liked him as a speed/glove/versatility bench piece last year. Yohander Martinez was a DSL All-Star. He’s well-built and has a plus arm; his swing has some length but it also has lift. Jimenez is a 20-year-old lower slot guy up to 95. Vega is an 18-year-old pitchability righty with a bunch of average pitches.
Barefoot is a swing change candidate with present speed and defense. He hit really well with wood on Cape Cod but flopped in a short Penn-League run last summer. He’ll be 22 all next year. Leovanny Rodriguez, 23, is a three-quarters slot righty who sits 91-95 in relief. He has good numbers up through Hi-A. McKenna, Adolph, and Barefoot are all tier two or three college center fielders who performed as amateurs. They have tweener traits and had down statistical seasons in 2019. De Juneas is up to 97, Blanco up to 96. They’re both well into their mid-20s and have control problems. Duarte has bench utility ceiling.
This is pretty self-explanatory. Jones, 26, is on the 40-man, he averaged 91 mph off the bat last year, and hit 48% of his balls in play 95 mph or above. He might be a corner bench piece because of the power. Perez has big raw power and also has huge arm strength, so we wonder if he might be moved to the mound if he doesn’t hit again in 2020. Rivas was acquired from the Angels for Max Stassi. He is only 18 but still averaged exit velos above 92 mph last year. He’s wholly unprojectable and positionless, but there’s real power. Matijevic whiffs too much to be a 40 FV first base fit.
Collado was close to being on the list even though he only touches 92 on occasion. He’s a side arm sinker/slider relief prospect with bat-missing tail on an upper-80s fastball. He’s 21 and has reached Double-A. Emanuel is 27, he’s now on the 40-man, and has been maximized for sink. Scheetz was undrafted out of Virginia Tech and is now 25, but he doesn’t have to be on the 40-man until next winter. He’s a funky, junk-balling lefty who has performed up through Triple-A. He’s great bullpen injury insurance for 2020. De Paula is 20, he’s pretty projectable, and has real arm strength (up to 95) but poor control. We’ve written about Deetz the last few seasons, but his control regressed last year.
As always, this system is loaded with homegrown pitching, some of which has come out of nowhere during the last 12 months. This list is a Rule 5 draft and a Greinke trade away from being a half dozen names longer, and while part of Houston’s draft strategy as it pertains to hitters (targeting measurable power) has seemed cookie cutter-ish, they’ve either been able to flip some of those types in deals or turn them into viable pieces.
Some of this may be caused by the vacuum created in the upper minors by Houston’s lack of minor league free agent signings. While GM Jeff Lunhow was in St. Louis, the Cardinals began de-emphasizing the signing of minor league free agents, and in Houston, that’s been taken to an extreme. The upper-level players other teams bring in are replaced by overachieving recent draftees who the org pushes up the ladder quickly as a way of stress-testing their skills; once in a while, you end up with Josh Rojas because of this. And rival teams who use a model-heavy approach to pro scouting can be misled by this strategy. Player promotion rate is almost certainly a variable in some models, and if not, is a way to flag players for re-evaluation. Houston promotes an artificially high number of their prospects to fill spots unoccupied by the minor league free agents they don’t sign, so this can be more noise than signal at times.
And depending on how MLB decides to discipline the org, fallout from the big league club’s trash can whacking might impact next year’s draft pick situation in a class that looks a little deeper than usual.