It’s an embarrassment of riches, really. Even after the graduation of George Springer and Jonathan Singleton, Houston’s farm system still ranks as the best in baseball. The club hit a homerun with its second and third picks in the draft, taking Virginia outfielder Derek Fisher, whose pre-draft analysis can be found HERE, and Golden Spikes Award Winner A.J. Reed, whose pre-draft analysis can be found HERE, both of whom pushed the likes of Nolan Fontana and Delino DeShields Jr. out of the top 10.
For a look at the club’s Top 10 Prospects heading into the year click HERE
1. Carlos Correa, SS, Age: 19
Playing half his games in the bandbox known as Lancaster, Correa’s home/road splits, however, are equally impressive: .315/.453/.481 vs. .341/.392/.519. His overall production, according to Weighted Runs Created Plus, tops the league average production by 47%. Improving plate discipline, blossoming power, above-average speed, Correa’s the crown jewel of a still loaded Houston farm system.
2. Mark Appel, RHP, Age: 22
A lot’s been made of Appel’s early struggles this season – an 11.94 ERA…GASP! The underlying skills, though, are solid: 9.35 K/9, 3.12 BB/9, and a 3.73 SIERA. The homerun rate, 3.12, is completely fluky. He’s still a top-of-the-rotation talent.
3. Brady Aiken, LHP, Age: 18
The #1 overall pick in a deep pitching class, Aiken offers an intriguing mix of pitchability and high upside. In a lot of other organization’s the big southpaw would easily rank as the top prospect.
4. Domingo Santana, LF/RF, Age: 21
I’ve long been on the Santana Bandwagon, ranking him among the Top 100 prospects in both 2013 and 2014. And still at the ripe ol’ age of 21, the free-swinging corner outfielder with above-average or better power potential is topping the league average production by 24% during his first foray into Class AAA.
5. Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Age: 22
Just another one of the Baby ‘Stros biding his time in the upper levels of the minors, Foltynewicz’s stock has been building for quite some time. After striking out 19.1% of the hitters he faced with Lexington in 2012, the big right-hander fanned 22.7% last season and a career best 24.7% in Class AAA this year.
6. Josh Hader, LHP, Age: 20
Perhaps no player in the system has taken a larger leap forward the rail-thin Hader, whom I ranked as the system’s #18 prospect in my book The 2014 Prospects Digest Annual. The 6-foot-3, 160-pound southpaw has fanned 29.0% of the hitters he’s faced this season, the third highest mark among all high Class A pitchers with at least 50 innings. The two players to best Hader’s mark, Ben Lively and Taylor Cole, are at least two years his senior.
7. Lance McCullers, RHP, Age: 20
For the second consecutive season, McCullers, the 41st pick the 2012 draft, has averaged more than 10.0 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9. His strikeout percentage, 25.7%, is the ninth best among all high Class A pitchers.
8. Rio Ruiz, 3B, Age: 20
The lefty-swinging third baseman is hitting .290/.388/.425 while topping the Cal League offensive production by 19%. And despite playing half his games in Lancaster, Ruiz is actually hitting for less power this season (.135 ISO).
9. A.J. Reed, 1B, Age: 21
The best collegiate player this season, Reed, who starred on both sides of the ball for Kentucky, offers above-average to plus-power and a pretty good idea at the plate. For his full pre-draft analysis click HERE.
10. Derek Fisher, LF, Age: 21
No surprise here, but Fisher was an incredibly savvy pick by an organization that, well, has been making incredibly savvy moves for years now. The former Virginia left fielder suffered a broken hamate bone, which sapped much of his power this season, but has the potential to develop into a 25+ HR hitter. For his full pre-draft analysis click HERE.
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Nielson/Houston Chronicle.