Houston Astros Prospects – 2019 Bold Predictions

J.J. Matijevic - Photo credit Jayne Hansen on Flickr, Whattheheckbobby.blogspot.com

This is the time of year where the bold can be rewarded. It’s fun to make a prediction and then if you’re right, later on down the year you can make yourself sound great. Plus, by then everyone will have forgotten your bad predictions and you can come off smelling like a rose. That’s what gave me the idea. But this is Prospects1500 we are talking about here. No need for silly bold predictions where I tell you Yordan Alvarez is going to hit 30 bombs (he’s on pace for like 85 by the way) or say Kyle Tucker will be up by June. These are the boldest of the bold for your Astros prospects.

J.J. Matijevic leads the Astros’ minor league affiliates in home runs and makes it all the way to AAA in 2019.

And we’re off! Matijevic is #18 on our Prospects1500 list and hit an eye-opening 22 home runs last year. He was rewarded with a promotion to Corpus Christi in AA for the 2019 season. Since turning pro, it is clear that Matijevic is prioritizing power over his hit tool and there is no doubt he will hit some balls out this year. He is always on the top of the leader board when it comes to exit velocities and the Texas League is a nice place to call home for the summer. The biggest problem for Matijevic is his ability to hit lefties. My hope is that he can improve on that ever so slightly and push for 30 home runs this year. My confidence in this prediction also stems from the fact that Alvarez and Tucker won’t spend much time in the minors this year, while Matijevic will almost definitely stay in the minors the entire season. His bat is legit though (it has to be, since his defense is ugly, to be frank) and I think he is ready for a big breakout.

Tyler Ivey is the Astros’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

My rationale here is that Forrest Whitley will be up before too long and that any other pitcher close to the majors will be used like J.B. Bukauskas or Framber Valdez. Ivey probably isn’t quite ready for his big league debut this year, but I think he will put up some awesome numbers with his Double-A assignment. Ivey is a guy that has four pitches at his disposal that he can use, plus some decent velocity. If you’re guessing wrong at the plate against him you’re striking out as his 135 K’s in 112 IP last year would indicate. He sported a 2.97 ERA last year and has kept his walk rate down his entire career (2.3 BB/9 in 2018). In my eyes he will keep doing his thing and be the best Astros pitching prospect that doesn’t get the call-up this year and will take home the honors.

Austin Hansen becomes a top 35 prospect for the Astros by the end of 2019.

Alright, let’s get a little deeper here. Hansen is a guy that didn’t even crack our top 50, but he is someone that is very intriguing. He is a college reliever from Oklahoma, who was drafted last year. He has a clean delivery with some wicked stuff that comes at a weird angle. In essence, he is a guy that most people will overlook because he is definitely staying in the pen, will be old for his level, and doesn’t have a 100 mph fastball. However, his stats last year in his debut at Low-A are too loud to ignore. He had a 1.76 ERA in 30 IP while posting a ridiculous 13.2 K/9. He will move quickly through the lower levels and while I am not ready to say he will make the big leagues, I am confident enough to say he will make a big jump on the rankings for next season. Several graduating prospects should give him enough room to crack the top 50 for sure, but I am predicting an even higher jump into the 30’s

Granden Goetzman hits 15+ home runs.

This is perhaps the biggest and the boldest of the predictions, as Goetzman has never hit more than 8 home runs in a season, he is 26 and is a career .244 hitter in the lower levels. This is more of a hunch. He made a slight adjustment in the winter league and it produced loud results in the spring as his .600 batting average shows. He is a long-shot, but I’ve seen many guys that change their swing and blossom at an older age and something tells me Goetzman may have a shot at that. He is a former 2nd round pick and this is probably his last chance. I’ll take the bet that the Astros saw something in him and he unlocks it. Look at the video below; how has this guy not blasted more than 10 home runs in a year before?

Nick Tanielu spends more time in the big leagues that he does in the minor leagues this year.

The legend continues to grow, and I am truly believing that he spends a large chunk of the season in the big leagues. His spring was ridiculous; .353/.411/.804 with 5 home runs and 18 RBI. He can play all over the diamond and has seemingly proved himself at Triple-A. Injuries are a real thing for teams that play as many games as the Astros have over the last few seasons, and I think he is the one to reap the most benefit from something like that. Tony Kemp is no roadblock, and while I don’t think he plays everyday, he is definitely good enough for a bench bat spot.

Nick Tanielu – Photo credit Jayne Hansen on Flickr, Whattheheckbobby.blogspot.com

As the designated “Super Utility” guy, I think it might be best to start transitioning into some other non-Astros stuff. Our Astros’ correspondent Brandon Lute will hopefully be returning soon, so I figure it might be a good time to try some other stuff. Here are five more bold predictions for the 2019 season!

Julio Rodriguez will be a top 15 prospect by the end of 2019.

I do a lot of reading on prospects, and to me this name keep coming up over and over again. So while I may not be the only one who is fully bought into Julio Rodriguez, I still think it’s worth mentioning him to showcase just how much potential this kid has. The time is now to buy him before the price skyrockets. He earned an aggressive promotion to Low-A and is already tearing the cover off of the ball with a .476/.500/.619 line. When teams promote their young guys this hard and he responds with this incredible of a debut, you know you may have something special. He is a big kid, with even more muscle and power to add and you have to love his confidence. Plus, he is extremely dedicated to the game. Multiple reports have expressed his desire to be great and has a huge passion for the game. I can name 10 prospects who have the loud tools that he has, but the one that is obsessed with greatness is a little more rare. It’s the Kobe Bryant effect and I want in.

Trevor Larnach is the Minor League Player of the Year for the Twins.

This is a little bolder than you may think on the outset with a system that contains Alex Kirilloff and Royce Lewis. But I’m a big believer in the sweet swinging lefty from Oregon State. His impressive debut hopefully gives him some momentum to beat out those other guys. He has has the pedigree, passes the eye test, and will be pretty age appropriate for the level. He reminds me of Alex Kirilloff a few years ago. The sweet swing with the great attitude. Look at the love he shows his mother after game 2 of the College World Series:

Lovely. Give me the guy who can hit in his sleep, and has character. Oh, at the 139+ WRC last year. That too.

Matt Manning becomes the #1 pitching prospect of the Tigers…as well as all of baseball by the end of the year.
Manning is a big dude. I love my hard throwing right-handers to be big. He has a simply delivery that he can repeat. Check out this great three-year look at his mechanics:

His delivery is so smooth and easy and that sort of thing is becoming a bit rare where people are trying to squeeze every ounce of velocity out of their bodies that they can. I have confidence that he will remain healthier than the average pitching prospect and his timeline couldn’t be better as a Tigers prospect. Last year his stats were very impressive. Don’t look at his ERA, but rather take a look at his FIP and strikeout rate. That FIP at 2.78 looks shiny and backed up nicely by his 12.39 K/9. His last hurdle to overcome is the walk rate (4.35 per 9 last year) and if he does that this guy will have it all. The other great pitching prospects should all be up by then leaving him as the new #1.

Dylan Carlson hits 25 home runs.

Carlson is a big switch-hitter that has be revered for his high baseball intelligence and potential power. Also, I am a sucker for big switch-hitters. Also, also, he plays for the Cardinals and they have some sort of devil magic that unheralded prospects use so they become superstars. He hit 11 home runs last season, so this would be quite a jump and he was aggressively assigned to AA. But I believe this will be a true breakout and a guy that you might be able to get in leagues for nothing (I picked him up two months ago in my 16-team, 36 player minor league dynasty league off the waivers). His strikeout rate (17%) and walk rate (11%) are very encouraging suggesting an advanced approach and I willing to bet that this is the year he really puts his name on the map.

Carter Kieboom comes up in the summer and dominates, making him the next big thing heading in the drafts next year.

I am the least confident in this prediction than the others, but man I like the way this kid plays. He does everything above average or better and I think that there are a lot of avenues for him to get to the big leagues this year. Brian Dozier has been struggling, Trea Turner’s injury may linger or maybe Kieboom is just too good to keep down. Let’s not forget that the Nationals are an organization that is not afraid to bring up guys when they are ready (Juan Soto last year). Kieboom had an excellent spring and is bigger than I remember when I watched him. At 21 years old, we aren’t even talking about that aggressive of a promotion.

My goal is to provide an unique perspective when it comes to baseball so that readers can have the information and insight, as well as a bold and progressive analysis. I trust the analytics, but I also trust my eyes when I see the player perform on the field. I don’t want to regurgitate the same, old information but rather I want to give my opinion that is based on research and well-developed thought. Baseball is a game on intricacies and delicate balances and I want to explore every facet that I can. Here on Prospects1500 I will give you the inside scoop on the prospects so that you get to know who they are before everyone else. I won’t always be right, but I can promise my logic and dedication will be sound. Feel free to reach out to discuss and debate and let’s get to prospecting!

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