2014 Houston Astros Top 10 Prospects

Springer, George

After a long delay – something measured in the months, not days –  I have a bit of an announcement to make: I will be publishing the first ever Prospect Digest Annual sometime late January/early February.

The Prospect Digest Annual will feature each organization’s Top 30 Prospects, ranking the farm systems, and several additional articles.

Until the big day happens, I will be posting each organization’s Top 10 Prospects, starting with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Enjoy!

For more Top Prospects click HERE

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1. Carlos Correa, Position: SS, Age: 19

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

A

519

147

.320

.405

.467

11.2%

16.0%

.147

33

3

9

10/20

Profile: Lost in the hubbub surrounding the player chosen directly behind him, Minnesota’s Byron Buxton, Correa quietly established himself among the top offensive players in the game. After a slow start, Correa, who batted .221/.384/397 in April, hit .338/.410/.479 the rest of the way.

Analysis: The former #1 pick was the most dangerous hitter in the Midwest League, despite being one of just three 18-year-olds. Correa topped the league average offense by 47%. Big and projectable, he has developing power with the potential to turn into 25 to 30 HRs down the line. He combines that with an already impressive eye at the plate, decent speed, and strong contact skills. Oh, yeah, he played half of his games in an offense-suppressing environment.  If he stays at shortstop, Correa could be one of the top players in the league for the better part of a decade.

Ceiling: 7.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

2. Mark Appel, Position: RHP, Age: 22

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

A-

5.0

1.80

1.14

10.80

0.00

30.0%

0.0%

0.00

71.4%

A

33.0

3.82

3.72

7.36

2.45

19.3%

6.4%

0.55

50.5%

Profile: Well, the gamble paid off for Appel, who was selected with the eighth pick by the Pirates in 2012 but chose not to sign. Instead, the 6-foot-5 right-hander headed back to Stanford and was promptly chosen as the top pick last June.

Analysis: Prior to the draft, I wrote: “Appel has long been on the draft radar, showing a lot of promise as a 19-year-old sophomore in 2011 (7.16 and 2.24 BB/9 in 104.1 innings) and then took a large developmental step forward in 2012 (9.51 K/9 and 2.20 BB/9). The fact that he took his game to another level this season with the added pressure should not be overlooked either.” Very polished with frontend potential, Appel shouldn’t need much time in the minors.

Ceiling: 5.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

3. George Springer, Position: CF, Age: 24

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

AA

323

174

.297

.399

.579

13.0%

29.7%

.282

20

0

19

23/28

AAA

266

175

.311

.425

.626

15.4%

24.4%

.315

7

4

18

22/25

Profile: Springer missed the vaunted 40/40 club by three homeruns. The former University of Connecticut star hit a combined .303/.411/.600 between the Texas and Pacific Coast Leagues. He topped the league average offense by 74%, the second best total in the entire minor leagues.

Analysis: Tools laden and blessed with elite talent, the only question that Springer will face moving forward is his ability to put the ball in plate. He’s sporting a career 26.5% K-rate, not exactly red flag territory, per se, but it’s awfully close. Think of a circa 2010-2011 Chris Young with better tools.

Ceiling: 5.5- to 6.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

4. Jonathan Singleton, Position: 1B, Age: 22

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

A

25

224

.286

.400

.810

16.0%

20.0%

.524

2

0

3

0/0

AA

48

158

.263

.396

.526

18.8%

33.3%

.263

2

1

2

0/0

AAA

294

86

.220

.340

.347

15.6%

30.3%

.127

13

0

6

1/1

Profile: Baseball players, if they’re lucky, have 15-year careers. If they’re not, then it can be measured in days, months, or a few seasons. Either way, the time is limited. Why not wait till the post-playing days to do whatever recreational activities? Nonetheless, Singleton lost 50 games because of pot, a suspension that possibly cost him a 2013 call up and the subsequent start of his time arbitration clock. 

Analysis: One of the top eyes in the minors and plus power potential, but Singleton’s inability to handle southpaws is more of a question to his potential stardom than marijuana. The 6-foot-2 and 240-pound first baseman has hit .226/.330/.338 against LHs since 2011. The inevitable Ryan Howard comparisons will eventually be brought up. But Singleton still has time on his side, though.

Ceiling: 4.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

5. Domingo Santana, Position: RF, Age: 21

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

AA

476

137

.252

.345

.498

9.7%

29.2%

.245

23

2

25

12/17

Profile: Santana more than handled his own as a 20-year-old making his debut in the Texas League. Acquired along with Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cossart, and Josh Zeid, Santana hit a respectable .252/.345/.498 with 25 homeruns, the third most in the league.

Analysis: He’s shown some progress in his K-rate, cutting it down from a career high 37.6% in 2010 to under 29% combined over the past two years. It’s still a major red flag, but given his age and the fact that he maintained a similar rate as he moved from A+ to AA, there’s some hope he could trim it down even further. Thirty-homerun power with strong walk rates. He’s a player.

Ceiling: 4.0- to 4.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

6. Lance McCullers, Position: RHP, Age: 20

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

A

104.2

3.18

3.33

10.06

4.21

26.2%

11.0%

0.26

53.1%

Profile: The club’s supplemental first round pick in 2012, McCullers spent the year as one of the youngest pitchers in the Midwest League. Among hurlers with 100+ innings, his 10.06 K/9 tied with fellow Houston farmhand Vincent Velasquez for tops in the league.

Analysis: Dominated older competition during his first full season in pro ball, McCullers induced a lot of action on the ground, 53.1%, and posted a solid 3.33 Skill Independent ERA. Outside of some slightly below-average control, McCullers has a chance to be a very good #2.

Ceiling: 4.0- to 4.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

7. Michael Foltynewicz, Position: RHP, Age: 22

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

A+

26.0

3.84

3.84

10.04

4.85

23.8%

11.5%

1.38

41.8%

AA

103.1

4.01

4.01

8.27

4.53

22.4%

12.3%

0.70

49.3%

Profile: After two trips through the South Atlantic League, Foltynewicz spent just 26 innings with Lancaster before the organization deemed him ready for Class AA. And once with Corpus Christi the big right-hander struck out 95 and walked 52 in 103.1 innings, a solid showing for a 21-year-old.

Analysis: With an inning-eater build, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Foltynewicz ascended up the prospect rankings after two subpar years. The control regressed a bit this season, to a career worst 4.59 BB/9, but it was solid-average between 2011 and 2012 so it should see an improvement in 2014. Not ace potential, but another with #2-type potential.

Ceiling: 4.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

8. Rio Ruiz, Position: 3B, Age: 20

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

A

472

115

.260

.335

.430

10.6%

19..5%

.171

33

1

12

12/15

Profile: Ruiz, a fourth round pick two years ago, signed for $1,850,000, the equivalent of late first round money. And as a 19-year-old in the Midwest League, the lefty-swinging third base showed tremendous offensive potential. Ruiz finished the season with 46 extra-base hits and topped the league average offense by 15%.

Analysis: After a mediocre start to the season, Ruiz hit .291/.350/.526 from June till the end of the season. Thirty- to 35-HR potential, a strong eye at the plate, modest strikeout rates, and some base stealing prowess; Ruiz has the potential to be an All-Star caliber player – if he can stick at the hot corner. 

Ceiling: 4.0- to 4.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

9. Delino DeShields Jr., Position: 2B, Age: 22

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

A+

534

133

.317

.405

.468

10.7%

17.0%

.151

25

14

5

51/69

Profile: Overshadowed by fellow speedster Billy Hamilton, DeShields, nonetheless, is one of the game’s top thieves. After swiping 101 bags in 2012, the former eighth overall pick saw a dramatic decline in his stolen base total, though his 51 bases is hardly anything to dismiss.

Analysis: Not on the same level on the base paths as Cincinnati’s Hamilton, DeShields does have a higher offensive upside with the bat. While lacking true homerun pop, he has enough gap power to keep pitchers – and infielders – honest, also giving hope that his above-average walk rates are more sustainable as he moves up to the upper levels. He’s a potential leadoff/#2-type hitter, capable of batting .280/.350/.390 with 60+ stolen bases.

Ceiling: 3.5 to 4.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

10. Nick Tropeano, Position: RHP, Age: 23

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

AA

133.2

4.11

3.41

8.75

2.63

15.8%

6.9%

1.01

42.3%

Profile: A fifth rounder out of Stony Brook University in 2011, Tropeano maintained his strong peripherals as he continued to move up the minor league ladder. A 6-foot-4 right-hander that averaged 9.5 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 2012, Tropeano fanned 130 and walked just 39 in 133.2 innings with Corpus Christi.

Analysis: A nice mid- to late-rotation-type prospect Tropeano outpitched his 4.11 ERA by nearly three-quarters of a run. He’s a bit homerun-prone, but should develop into a serviceable big league arm.

Ceiling: 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

 Photo of George Springer Courtesy of Arturo Parvadilla via Flickr.com.



About

After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.


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