There is no doubt that the Houston Astros have one of the top farm systems in Major League Baseball. Even with the graduations of Lance McCullers, Chris Devenski, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, etc., Houston is still ranked highly on several farm system rankings. There are plenty of prospects to choose from, and that makes the challenge of ranking them even more difficult. As a fan, it is very nice to see a team that is more dependent on their draft strategy than throwing money at over-priced free agents (Carlos Lee, Woody Williams). The new regime of Crane and Luhnow inherited a mess. Their decision to jettison any player that had value was scoffed at and mocked league wide, however the Astros are laughing a little bit louder today. Adding veteran pieces should be a luxury and not a necessity. With that being said, the recent additions of McCann, Reddick, and Beltran make the Astros lineup is arguably the best in the league. A healthy McCullers and Keuchel could take Houston to the promised land. But if injuries abound again, then there are plenty of reinforcements ready to step up. Lets get to the list…
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster
1. Francis Martes, RHP
Age: 21 (DOB 11/24/1995)
Potentially one of the best “throw-ins” in recent memory, Martes has developed into a frontline starter with loads of potential. A consistent 93-95 fastball and a curve that will make most knees buckle has pushed Martes into the conversation as one of the best pitching prospects in the game. He needs to work on his control (3.14 BB/9), but a career 8.61 K/9 shows he know to miss bats as well. Spent all of 2016 at AA and should start 2016 in AAA. Oh and he’ll spend the entire season playing at the tender age of 21.
2. Kyle Tucker, OF
Age: 20 (DOB 1/17/1997)
Selected 5th overall in the 2015 draft, Kyle Tucker has proven worthy of the lofty draft slot. After hitting .246 over 232 AB during his draft year, Tucker started to put it all together in 2016. Finishing the season in high A, he combined to hit .285 and slug .438 while getting on base at a 36% clip. Isn’t the fastest guy on the field, but is a smart baserunner. Projects as a RF in the majors with an impact middle-of-the order bat.
3. David Paulino, RHP
Age: 22 (DOB 2/6/1994)
Since being acquired as the PTBNL in a 2013 trade with the Tigers, David Paulino has proven to be a steal. Despite missing 2014 due to Tommy John surgery, Paulino had an impressive 2015 with a 9.34 K/9 and a 3.79 K/BB and a chance at bonafide prospect status. However his 2016 silenced any doubters. 20 games and 15 starts across 3 levels (R, AA, and AAA) led to a 2.00 ERA, a 10.6 K/9 and a ridiculous 5.58 K/BB. Standing at 6’7” and checking in at 215lbs, Paulino has the build of a workhorse. He has a 60-70 FB and 55-60 curve that is bordering on plus. Named a rising star of the AFL in 2016, Paulino has a bright future and could be pitching in Minute Maid later this summer.
4. Forrest Whitley, RHP
Age: 19 (DOB 9/15/1997)
The Astros first round selection in 2016 came from Alamo Heights High School in San Antonio (close enough for me to take in a game or two) and had a somewhat rough adjustment to pro ball. Has the build (6’7”, 240lbs) and fastball (92-97) to rebound nicely in 2017. Whitley also offers a curve that sits in the low 80s that can turn slider. Projects to be a solid 2/3 starter, but could be an effective reliever in the big leagues on the strength of the two plus pitches. Definitely the definition of a high floor, high ceiling player.
5. Derek Fisher, OF
Age: 23 (DOB 8/21/1993)
Hit .245/.373/.431 in 371 at-bats in AA in 2016 earning a promotion to AAA Fresno where he slashed .290/.347/.505 in 107 at-bats. Fisher combined for 21 homers, 28 stolen bases, 83 walks, and 154 strikeouts. There is no doubt that Fisher knows how to get on base and has a very nice power/speed combination. Will most likely be limited to LF in the majors due to a weak arm, however he is one of the best overall athletes in the Astros system with legitimate 20-20 potential.
6. Franklin Perez, RHP
Age: 19 (DOB 12/6/1997)
Franklin Perez made his full-season debut in 2016 after spending 2015 in the DSL and GCL. Pitched to a 2.84 ERA with 75/19 K/BB in 66.2. His K/BB (3.95) and K/IP (10.13) are more reflective of his long-term ability. His arsenal consists of a fastball (91-93), a downer curveball, and a change that is still coming along. Also has a repeatable delivery that will allow him to consistently throw strikes. Perez has the upside of a 3 in a big league rotation
7. Daz Cameron, OF
Age: 20 (DOB 1/15/1997)
There is no doubting the bloodlines of Dazmon Jaroid Cameron as his father was a former All-Star and Gold Glover. A potential #1 overall selection, signability concerns dropped him to 37th overall in the 2015 draft. After a less than stellar 2015 across the GCL and Appalachian league (.251/.353/.309), the Astros aggressively started Cameron in the full-season Midwest league in 2016. An abysmal 21 game stint dropped him to short season ball where things were starting to come together until a broken index finger ended his season in July. His ceiling has definitely fallen, however Daz still could turn into a solid CF who never lost his high floor. As he fills out his 6’2” frame, he should be good for average power (10-15 HR) with decently high stolen base numbers.
8. James Hoyt, RHP
Age: 30 (DOB 9/30/1986)
A little old for most prospect lists, Hoyt is an exception. Added to the Evan Gattis deal as the true definition of a flyer. Prior to the 2016 season, Hoyt was thought of somewhere between decent relief pitcher and organizational depth. After a 2016 season in which he pitched to a 1.64 ERA, saved 29 games, and struck out nearly half of the batters he faced (93 K in 55 IP). Got a taste with the Astros late in the season and threw 11.45 K/9 and 3.68 BB/9. Hoyt now looks like an important piece of the bullpen and has the upside of a top flight closer.
9. Teoscar Hernandez, OF
Age: 24 (DOB 10/15/1992)
Started 2016 in AA Corpus Christi and finished it in Houston. Hernandez hit .307/.377/.459 across AA and AAA earning the promotion to Houston. Was able to only slash .230/.304/.420 across 100 AB and showed problems with the strikzone (28% K rate). Like Fisher could end up a 20-20 type player, but needs to learn patience. Has good speed, but will likely end up in RF as he is a good, but not great defender.
10. J.D. Davis, 3B
Age: 23 (DOB 4/27/1993)
Is a hitter, plain and simple. A minor league career slash line of .282/.334/.485 shows that Davis is good at getting on base. Found his power stroke in the hitter friendly Cal league in 2015 with 26 HR and driving in 101, but showed it wasn’t a fluke as he hit 23HR with 81 RBI in the Texas league in 2016. Has 60-65 power, but does strike out at a 29% rate. Could move to 1B with the uncertainty that Houston still has at that position.
11. Colin Moran, 3B
Age: 24 (DOB 10/1/1992)
Selected 5th overall in 2013, Moran was one of the key pieces in the deal that sent Jarred Cosart to Miami. Will not be a 3B with consistent power (30 HR in 1452 MILB at-bats), but does find the gaps with a nice line drive swing. Moran does control the strike zone well and doesn’t give away many pitches. Could stick at 3B, but lacks range. Any fantasy value relies on Moran staying at the hot corner because his bat would have a difficult time playing anywhere else on the diamond.
12. Miguelangel Sierra, SS
Age: 19 (DOB 12/2/1997)
Sierra earned a trip to the US after an impressive showing in the DSL in 2015. Started 2016 in the Appalachian league and showed a power stroke hitting 11 HR in 121 games. Was moved up to short-season Tri-City and hit a wall with a disastrous 36.6 K rate. Sierra needs to improve his patience and pitch recognition, but has the ability to hit to all fields. Might be a batter fielder than hitter, but has enough intangibles to be a solid fantasy role player.
13. Jonathan Arauz, SS
Age: 18 (DOB 8/3/1998)
Arauz came to Houston from Philadelphia in the Ken Giles deal. A switch hitting shortstop that finds ways to get on base, has an uncanny ability to put the bat on the ball and could develop more power as he fills out.
14. Anibal Sierra, 2B/SS
Age: 22 (DOB 2/15/1994)
Signed out of Cuba in 2016, Sierra had an impressive 23 game stint in the DSL. Walked 18 times in 79 AB. Sierra is already at an advanced age and will need to progress quickly if he is going to have an impact in the Astros system.
15. Ronnie Dawson, OF
Age: 21 (DOB 5/19/1995)
Hasn’t proven to be worthy of a second round pick by traditional metrics, but did contribute a .351 OBP with 12 steals across 70 games. Dawson will be one to watch as he should show more of the skills (.903 OPS in college) that got him drafted highly as he gets more comfortable with advanced pitching.
16. Garrett Stubbs, C
Age: 23 (DOB 5/26/1993)
After trading Jacob Nottingham, the Astros lacked a “catcher-of-the-future.” They might’ve found one in Stubbs. Drafted in the 8th round in 2015, his game calling and defense have already been compared to some of the better catchers in the game. Decent power for a catcher, Stubbs could hit 10-15 HR a year while getting on base at an above average clip. With only aging Brian McCann and hitter-first Evan Gattis in front of him, Stubbs should see Triple A in 2017 with a legitimate shot at being the Houston starting catcher in 2018.
17. Ramon Laureano, OF
Age: 22 (DOB 7/15/1994)
Made a grand entrance to most prospect lists in 2016. Combined to hit .319 with 15 HR and 73 RBI in 417 AB between AA and AAA. Also stole 43 bases. Has the potential to be an outstanding fantasy baseball prospect.
18. Jandel Gustave, RHP
Age: 24 (DOB 10/12/1992)
Selected by the Red Sox in the Rule V draft after the 2014 season, Guastave went to Kansas City, then San Diego before returning to Houston. And all he did in 2015 was post a 2.15 ERA with 20 saves, 49/25 K/BB in 58.2 innings in Double-A. Came back to earth a bit in 2016, but still thrived in a relief role with a 94-98 fastball (can hit 102) and a low 90s slider. Could potentially be a stud closer, but needs to better harness his control.
19. Gilberto Celestino, OF
Age: 17 (DOB 2/13/1999)
Signed for $2,500,000 out of Dominican Republic in 2015, made his debut across the DSL and GCL. Slashed .257/.365/.393 with a 20% K rate and a 17% BB rate. last summer, Shows good judgment of the strike zone and has amazing instincts in the OF. Could conceivably average 10-15 HR with 20 SB. I am excited to see how he does this season and could see him moving up the rankings quickly.
20. Jason Martin, OF
Age: 21 (DOB 9/5/1995)
Showed inflated power number in high A Lancaster (California League, But walks a career 13% rate) Shows average speed 20 SB in Lancaster in 2016. Martin needs to better understand his reads and routes to stick in CF long term. That’s important because he (consistently) lacks the power number required of a corner OF and has a below-average arm. High ceiling, but needs to prove that numbers in hitter friendly Cal league were no fluke (.270/.346.396 23 HR 75 RBI).
21. Brendan McCurry, RHP
Age: 25 (DOB 1/7/1992)
McCurry hit a bit of a wall in 2016 as he reached the upper levels of the minor leagues. Managed to save 16 games in 20 opportunities and struck out 94 in 82 IP. Will spend the first 50 games of the 2017 season on the bench due to a suspension for methamphetamine usage. Could still bounce back later this summer and continue to climb the ladder, but there is no doubt his leash will be a little bit shorter.
22. Brady Rodgers, RHP
Age: 26 (9/17/1990)
Named the Astros minor league pitcher of the year in 2016 after going 12-4 with a 2.86 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 132 IP. Failed to impress in his brief callup at the end of the 2016 season. Rodgers will likely head back to Triple A Fresno to start 2017. Should be one of the first to Houston in the event a starter is needed. Does not throw hard, and does not allow many walks (23 in 132.0 IP). Could admirably fill a #5 starter slot, but more likely suited as a swing man/emergency starter.
23. Rogelio Armenteros, RHP
Age: 22 (6/30/1994)
Struck out 140 in 127 IP and walked 44. Armenteros throws five pitches with a fastball that sits in the low 90s. Best pitch could be the curveball. Excels at mixing his pitches and throwing strikes. Successfully navigated three levels in 2016 finishing in AA and earning an spot in the Arizona Fall League. Had a rough go in fall ball, but continued to show great strikeout potential. Will most likely start 2017 in AA again.
24. Cionel Perez, LHP
Age: 20 (DOB 4/21/1996)
After signing, then voiding, then resigning his contract, the Astros finally landed Perez for $2 million. Tops out at 95 and throws a slurve that could result in a plus breaking pitch with more refinement. Must be added to Houston 40-Man roster prior to 2017 Rule V draft to be protected due to the fact that they previously voided his contract.
25. Riley Ferrell, RHP
Age: 23 (DOB 10/18/1993)
Drafted in 2015, but has only thrown 26.2 innings in the two season since due to injury. Projected to continue to work in the backend of a bullpen once he returns from shoulder surgery. Prior to the injury, Ferrell sat 95-98 with the fastball. Saved 32 games over 3 seasons at TCU.
26. Stephen Wrenn, OF
Age: 22 (DOB 10/7/94)
Hit 11 HR in his first 53 games as a professional and stole 15 bases. Pitching caught up to him as he advanced to full season A ball, but made minor adjustments at the end of the season. Wrenn is still very heavy with the strikeouts, but has the potential to be a solid 4th outfielder.
27. Reymin Guduan, LHP
Age: 24 (DOB 3/16/1992)
Potential future closer. Started 2016 where he finished 2015, in AA. But after nine games, earned a promotion to AAA where the struggles began. Likely to being 2017 in AAA, however could be a mid-season callup if the control continues to improve.
28. Freudys Nova, SS
Age: 26 (DOB 1/12/2000)
Has the ability to stick at SS, but shows the ability to be a potential 20-20 type of player. If he needs to move off of SS, the bat will definitely play at 3B or in a corner OF position. Tested positive for steroids in February, 2016 causing the Marlins to pass and the Astros to jump on the signing. You may find him listed as Freudis Nova on certain sites, like MLB.com and Fantrax.
29. Yordan Alvarez, 1B/OF
Age: 19 (DOB 6/27/1997)
Traded to the Astros by the Dodgers for Josh Fields in August, 2016. Has a natural knack for hitting and could be well suited for a DH role. Hit .341 and had a.974 OPS in 16 games in the Dominican Summer League.
30. Guadalupe Chavez, RHP
Age: 19 (DOB 12/3/1997)
Potential of a mid-rotation starter but needs to fill out his 6’2″ 150 pound frame. Pitched in 5 games for the Astros after being traded by the Blue Jays (0-0, 0.69 ERA, 9.87 K/9). Must work on his control to advance toward the major leagues (4.15 BB/9 after the trade).
31. Myles Straw, OF
Age: 22 (DOB 10/17/1994)
Straw was a 12th round pick in 2015 and was an average hitter with good speed in the Appalachian league. It seemed he turned a corner in 2016 as he combined to slash .358/.423/.454 on the strength of 28 2B and 40 BB. Also stole 21 bases. Outside of Laureano, could be the fastest riser on this list and is definitely the prospect that excites this fan the most.
32. Andrew Alpin, OF
Age: 25 (DOB 3/21/1991)
A lot of potential, but nothing overwhelming could define Aplin to a “T.” The speed of the game has caught up with him as he has reached the higher levels of the minors, but has the intangibles to make a major league team. Aplin is very good at drawing walks and stealing bases, but doesn’t provide a lot of pop. Is currently on the Astros 40-Man roster, thus his tier 4 ranking.
33. Jacob Dorris, RHP
Age: 23 (DOB 3/24/1993)
Dorris is a player that could prove a lot of people wrong. Could very easily develop into a high value reliever/closer with pitches that don’t boast a lot of speed, but wicked deception and movement. Career 12.9 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 1.11 WHIP. In another organization, Dorris could be a top 20 prospect.
34. Dean Deetz, RHP
Age: 23 (DOB 11/29/1993)
Had Tommy John surgery in high school and has yet to show any ill effects. Finished 2016 in AA with a .175 BAA, 0.75 WHIP, and 12.75 K/9. Another prospect that could continue to rise the ladder.
35. Drew Ferguson, OF
Age: 24 (DOB 8/3/1992)
A 19th round draftee in 2015, Ferguson reached AA in just his second year. His hit tool is what will make him a more “legitimate” prospect, but he can play all three OF positions. Also has speed and smarts on the basepaths. Has the ability to become a top 25 prospect with a solid summer, likely starting again in Corpus Christi.
36. Jon Kemmer, OF
Age: 26 (DOB 11/17/1990)
Advanced age for a prospect, but reached AAA in just four years. Will strictly be a corner outfielder/DH, but has the bat to play with a career slash of .282/.355/.493 that has shown minimal regression as he has climbed the organizational ladder.
37. Hector Perez, RHP
Age: 20 (DOB 6/6/1996)
Has a peak fastball of 98 and a slider that averages 87-88. Perez still struggles with command, but has the arsenal to fit in the back of a major league bullpen if starting doesn’t work out. One to keep an eye on.
38. Jose Hernandez, RHP
Age: 21 (DOB 5/1/1995)
Twice named Midwest League Pitcher of the Week, Hernandez finished 2016 in the California League. There was some regression as to be expected in such a hitter friendly environment. Has the potential to be a back-of-the-rotation starter.
39. Jake Rogers, C
Age: 21 (DOB 4/18/1995)
Definitely a defense-first catcher, but has the potential to get on base. Unless your fantasy league uses defensive metrics, Rogers will most likely not warrant a roster spot. But if it does, then the anemic bat is worth the value he brings behind the plate.
40. Nick Hernandez, RHP
Age: 22 (DOB 12/30/1994)
Another 2016 draftee that finds a place on the Astros top 50. Potential bullpen piece, but must get better command of his fastball. Good debut season finishing at full season Quad Cities.
41. Cristian Javier, RHP
Age: 19 (DOB 3/26/1997)
Javier does not have any plus pitches, but understands that and makes the most of what he has. Spent 2016 between the GCL and Appalachian league.
42. Abdiel Saldana, RHP
Age: 20 (DOB 3/13/1996)
Same story different player. Has been a swingman all 3 years in the minors with huge strikeout numbers (11.79 K/9).
43. Brett Adcock, LHP
Age: 21 (DOB 8/28/1995)
Pitched just 4.1 innings in his draft year, but had a high K/9 while at Michigan prior to being drafted. Also had a very high BB/9. How high he rises will predominately depend on how he harnesses his control.
44. Jorge Alcala, RHP
Age: 21 (DOB 7/28/1995)
Alcala is just yet another Astros farmhand that knows how to strike people out. 11.25 K/9 in 2016.
45. Tyler Britton, RHP
Age: 22 (DOB 3/6/1994)
A 23rd round draft choice in 2016, Britton excelled at the swing role in 2016. 63 strikeouts in 41 IPO against only 12 walks. Could fit in the back of a MLB bullpen due to potentially overpowering stuff.
46. Ryan Deemes, RHP
Age: 23 (DOB 6/11/1993)
Covered three levels in 2016, finding success in all. Ended season in AA. Not afraid to challenge hitters with three solid pitch offerings. Has the potential to move up this list quickly.
47. Elieser Hernandez, RHP
Age: 21 (DOB 5/3/1995)
Fell back to earth in 2016 after a ridiculous 2015 (10.31 K/9 buoyed by a 13.06 in short season Tri-City). Still has potential to make the big leagues, but needs to figure out life at and above high A. There is time though, as he still is just 21.
48. Joshua James, RHP
Age: 23 (DOB 3/8/1993)
Has four pitches in the 40-45 range but none are overly special. Deployed mostly as a starter in the minors, but might find more success in a relief role.
49. Eric Peterson, RHP
Age: 23 (DOB 3/8/1993)
Peterson overcame a rough start in the California League to earn a promotion to AA Corpus Christi. Not an overpowering pitcher, but has shown good command with a career 1.61 BB/9.
50. Nick Tanielu, 2B
Age: 24 (DOB 9/4/1992)
Tanielu makes this list if for no other reason that the strength of his 2016 Cal league campaign (.372/.455/.505). Plays a decent 2B and earned an invite to the AFL after his 2016 season.