Houston Astros Top Hitting Prospects | Touch’em All 2012

The Houston Astros are currently in a massive rebuilding process.  The new ownership made a splash in the 2012 draft with some strategic picks around the new rules of the CBA and it seems to have paid off.  Additionally, they’ve made several trades this season, reloading a depleted farm system.  This organization is packed at the outfield spot, not only with players close to the show, but throughout the organization.  In this edition, we will take a look at the hitters and come back to the pitchers in the next edition.  Let’s get right to it.

AAA Oklahoma City RedHawks

Jimmy Paredes, 3B – Age 23 – After making his major league debut in 2011, many thought Paredes would open the 2012 season on the Astros roster, possibly as a starter.  Despite no longer qualifying as a prospect, that didn’t happen.  Paredes opened the season at AAA and has been a productive member of the RedHawks all season.  He’s hitting .324 with 12 HR’s, 5 Triples, 21 Doubles, 52 RBI, 81 Runs, and 31 SB to go with a 85/19 K/BB ratio.  He’s one to remember next season.

Marwin Gonzalez, SS – Age 23 – Gonzalez made the Astros opening day roster in 2012, but has been shuttled between Houston and Oklahoma City.  He had a triple slash of .333/.395/.513 over 39 at bats with the RedHawks.  He’s currently hitting .261 with 1 HR and 9 Doubles to go with a 20/8 K/BB ratio over 142 at bats, no longer making him a prospect.  He should have a future as a utility infielder once the smoke clears from the Astros rebuilding project.

Brett Wallace, 1B – Age 25 – Another non-prospect, Wallace has seen significant major league at bats over 3 seasons now.  He’s yet to establish himself after being drafted 13th overall in 2008 and then traded twice.  He hit .300 with 16 HRs, 16 Doubles, 57 RBI, and 54 Runs to go with a 87/27 K/BB ratio over 310 at bats at AAA.  He’s currently hitting .296 with 4 HR’s and 3 Doubles over 54 at bats for the Astros.  Strikeouts are still problematic for Wallace, as he has a 20/4 K/BB ratio in the majors.  However, he should be in the majors to stay this time.

Matt Dominguez, 3B – Age 22 - The 12th overall pick in the 2007 draft by the Marlins, Dominguez has not lived up to expectations.  After being traded to Houston hew switches AAA PCL teams, going from New Orleans to Oklahoma City.  He’s hitting .243 with 8 HR’s and 64 RBI to go with a 41/29 K/BB ratio. Where he fits in with Houston is anybody’s guess.

Brandon Barnes, OF – Age 26 – The Astros 2005 6th round pick has slowly made his way through the levels of the minor leagues.  He’s hitting .322 with 12 HR’s, 38 Doubles, 69 RBI, 79 Runs, and 21 SB to go with a 89/36 K/BB ratio over 391 at bats between the Texas League and the PCL.  Clearly at age 26 he doesn’t have huge upside, but he could very well have a future as a reserve outfielder.  Quick update:  Barnes has been promoted to the majors, when he will make his debut has yet to be determined.

AA Corpus Christi Hooks

Marc Krauss, OF – Age 24 – In a trade that sent Chris Johnson to Arizona, Krauss joins the Astros and switches from the AA Southern League to the AA Texas League.  He’s hitting .291 with 20 HR’s, 2 Triples, 31 Doubles, 76 RBI, 84 Runs, and 6 SB to go with a 95/76 K/BB ratio over 368 at bats on the season.  He could see some time in Houston when the rosters expand and is likely a candidate to make the team out of spring training in 2013.

Bobby Borchering, OF – Age 21 – Like Krauss, Borchering moves from Arizona and the SL to Houston and the TL.  He’s hitting .255 with 23 HR’s, 1 Triple, 25 Doubles, 78 RBI, and 56 Runs to go with a 130/34 K/BB ratio over 404 at bats.  Unlike Krauss, he’s not near major league ready.  However, he is 3 years younger and has good power potential.  He needs to cut down on the K’s with that big swing.

Robbie Grossman, OF – Age 22 – Another player acquired via trade this summer, Grossman came to Houston as part of the Wandy Rodriguez deal.  He’s hitting .270 with 7 HR’s, 5 Triples, 22 Doubles, 37 RBI, 67 Runs, and 11 SB to go with a 91/68 K/BB ratio over 389 at bats.  He could see time in the Houston outfield sometime next summer.

Jonathan Villar, SS – Age 21 – Villar was hitting .261 with 11 HR’s, 2 Triples, 7 Doubles, 50 RBI, 54 Runs, and 39 SB to go with an 87/35 K/BB ratio over 326 at bats.  That was until July 13th when an 8 for 38 slumped upset Villar and he punch a door, breaking his hand.  Clearly, dealing with adversity will be on his “to do” list once he returns, but the young SS has loads of talent and should be one to watch out for in 2013.

High-A Lancaster JetHawks

George Springer, OF – Age 22 - The 2011 11th overall pick took advantage of his promotion to the hitter friendly CAL League in 2012.  He’s hitting .322 with 22 HR’s, 10 Triples, 18 Doubles, 80 RBI, 98 Runs, and 27 SB to go with a 125/55 K/BB ratio over 423 at bats.  We’d like to see him strike out less and walk more, but it’s hard to complain with that production, despite being in the CAL league.  With the crowded outfield at Corpus Christi, Springer is likely to finish out the season with Lancaster.  He’s one of the top prospects in baseball.

Jiovanni Mier, SS – Age 21 – The 2009 21st overall pick who has missed a good portion of the season with a hamstring injury, is on a rehab assignment in the GCL.  He was hitting .309 with 2 HR’s, 13 RBI, 13 Runs, and 3 SB to go with a 19/17 K/BB ratio over 94 at bats on the season.  He’s been pretty disappointing in his previous 3 season, so getting off to a good start in the CAL before the injury was a good sign.  Unfortunately, he’s likely to spend the entire 2013 season in Lancaster.

Carlos Perez, C – Age – 21 - Perez enjoyed a productive season in the Midwest League with the Blue Jays organization before being dealt on July 20th in a 10 player deal with Houston.  He was hitting .275 with 5 HR’s, 5 Triples, 22 Doubles, 40 RBI, 48 Runs, and 3 SB to go with a 38/35 K/BB ratio over 273 at bats.  Currently, he’s 9 for 31 for Lancaster.  He’s the Astros top catching prospect.

Domingo Santana, OF – Age 19 – The big Dominican kid has been in a funk as of late.  He’s just 1 for his last 14 and 5 for his last 37.  Overall though, he’s hitting .286 with 17 HR’s, 5 Triples, 20 Doubles, 80 RBI, 60 Runs, and 5 SB to go with a 117/40 K/BB ration.   The K rate is high, but this isn’t uncommon in young power hitters, especially from the Dominican.  There’s a lot to like in this 6’5″ 225 frame.  He’s been on radars for a while, but he’s worth watching out for long-term.

Telvin Nash, 1B – Age 21 – The power production keeps improving for Nash, who was a 2009 3rd round pick.  The bad news, though, is that he’s average (along with his OBP and OPS) keeps dropping.  The wrinkle here is his K rate.  He’s striking out nearly half the time.  He’s hitting .220 with 23 HR’s, 15 Doubles, 51 RBI, and 47 Runs to go with an ugly 146/39 K/BB ratio over 291 at bats on the season.  Huge potential, huge project.

Low-A Lexington Legends

Delino DeShields, 2B – Age 19 – If it wasn’t for Billy Hamilton of the Reds and his 122 stolen bases soaking up all the attention, perhaps more would be paid to DeShields.  He’s hitting .292 with 9 HR’s, 5 Triples, 22 Doubles, 48 RBI, 91 Runs, and yes, 77 SB to go with a 104/67 K/BB ratio over 428 at bats.  He strikes out a bit too much still, but like Hamilton his contact rate has improved greatly since 2011 making him a legit prospect.  He’s proving his worth as the #8 pick from the loaded 2010 draft.

Matt Duffy, 3B – Age 23 - Duffy was a 20th round pick in 2011, and the Astros liked what they saw from him in his 2011 New York-Penn League debut.  He opened the season with Lexington and has hit .299 with 14 HR’s, 1 Triple, 31 Doubles, 58 RBI, 62 Runs, and 4 SB to go with a 89/37 K/BB ratio over 412 at bats.  He has a .313/.442/.688 triple slash over his last 10 games.

Brandon Meredith, OF – Age 22 - The Astros 2011 6th round pick is hitting .280 with 12 HR’s, 3 Triples, 15 Doubles, 37 RBI, 41 Runs, and 10 SB to go with a 67/44 K/BB ratio over 257 at bats on the season.  A couple of nagging injuries have slowed him a little bit this season, but he’s on a tear right now, hitting .415 with 3 HR’s, 6 RBI, and 2 SB over his last 40 at bats.  He’s too old for the Sally, but given he was draft last year and this is first year of full season ball, we cut him some slack.  He’ needs to rip up the Cal League next season and find his way to the Texas League before we get too excited.  Still, he’s worth keeping an eye on.  He’s a sleeper for sure.

Zachary Johnson, 3B/1B – Age – 24 – Another 2011 draftee, Johnson was taken in the 15th round by the Astros.  He’s hitting .254 with 15 HR’s, 1 Triple, 33 Doubles, 97 RBI, and 54 Runs to go with a 72/59 K/BB ratio 422 at bats.  His .267 BABIP is very unlucky, and he doesn’t strike out very much.  Once a few of this balls make it safely into play, his average should go up.  At 24 years old, he’s behind the curve.

Nolan Fontana, SS – Age 21 – The 2012 2nd round pick got off to a late start with the Florida Gators doing well in the college world series run.  He’s hitting .247 with 2 HR’s, 1 Triple, 4 Doubles, 19 RBI, 26 Runs, and 9 SB to go with an impressive 21/39 K/BB ratio.  He has potential to move quickly in this organization.

Short Season-A Tri-City ValleyCats

Tyler Heineman, C – Age 21 – The 2012 8th Round pick is hitting .375 with 10 Doubles, 18 RBI, 19 Runs, and 3 SB to go with a 5/12 K/BB over 104 at bats in his pro debut. There isn’t a ton of upside here, but he could move up the ladder quickly.

Andrew Aplin, OF – Age 21 - The 2012 5th round pick is hitting .355 with 4 HR’s, 3 Triples, 9 Doubles, 22 RBI, 34 Runs, and 19 SB to go with a 20/23 K/BB ratio.  Aplin is a player to watch, but his movement could be slow in a packed Astros outfield group.

Preston Tucker, OF – Age 22 – The 2012 7th round pick got into action a little late this season with the Florida Gators college world series run.  He’s hitting .333 with 2 HR’s, 12 RBI, and 12 Runs to go with a 3/6 K/BB ratio over 57 at bats.

Austin Elkins, SS/2B – Age 21 – The 2012 19th round pick is hitting .325 with 4 HR’s, 2 Triples, 9 Doubles, 20 RBI, 29 Runs, and 14 SB to go with a 23/14 K/BB ratio over 166 at bats.  A pretty nice start to his pro career.

Rookie Greeneville Astros

 Ariel Ovando, OF – Age 18 – Ovando is show marked improvement since his pro debut in 2011.  He’s hitting .297 with 4 HR’s, 2 Triples, 10 Doubles, 26 RBI, and 28 runs to go with a 49/14 K/BB ratio over 172 at bats.  There’s a ton of projection there and he’s going to need a few years to mature.  He’s been on our radar for a while and remains an exciting player to watch.

Jean Batista, SS – Age 20 – By Dominican standards, Batista is a late bloomer of sorts.  He made his pro debut as a 19-year-old in 2011.  He’s hitting .326 with 6 HR’s, 2 Triples, 17 Doubles, 31 RBI, 27 Runs, and 6 SB to go along with a 26/6 K/BB ratio over 178 at bats in 2012.  With a .219 ISoP, there’s some pop there and if he can learn to work the count, he could be a player to watch.  Still, he’s behind the curve and will be 21 in November.  He needs to move quickly through full season ball starting next season.

Terell Joyce, OF – Age 20 – The Astros 2012 12th round pick is hitting .256 with 5 HR’s, 10 Doubles, 19 RBI, 26 Runs, and 2 SB to go with a 46/13 K/BB ratio over 160 at bats.  There’s some power there, but he’s going to have to work on his plate discipline and improve his contact rate before we can recommend him as a viable outfield prospect, especially given the depth of outfielders in Houston’s system.

Rookie Gulf Coast League Astros

Carlos Correa, SS – Age 17 – The #1 overall pick in the 2012 draft won’t be 18 until the season is over.  He’s struggled in his pro debut, but there’s a lot to like about Correa and he should be just fine moving forward.  He’s hitting .217 with 2 HR’s, 11 Doubles, 7 RBI, 19 Runs, and 4 SB to go with a 28/6 K/BB ratio over 138 at bats.  It’s a good introduction to pro ball for him and he’s been eager to learn from his coaches.  Rookie ball will be on the menu for Correa again in 2013.  Here’s video we took a few weeks ago of Correa.

Baseball Instinct Video

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Rio Ruiz, 3B – Age 18 – Like Correa, the 2012 4th round pick has struggled in his pro debut, especially as of late.  He’s hitting .257 with 2 Triples, 6 Doubles, 9 RBI, 12 Runs, and 1 SB to go with a 20/11 K/BB ratio over 70 at bats.  Ruiz was a tough sign and has a ton of upside, so there’s a lot to be pleased about with his debut.  He should be side by side with Correa for the next few seasons.

Brett Phillips, OF – Age 18 - The 2012 6th round pick was another player who slid on draft day because of signability concerns, but the Astros got it done.  He’s hitting .254 with 6 Triples, 6 Doubles, 9 RBI, 21 Runs, and 5 SB to go with a 41/21 K/BB ratio over 138 at bats.  Plate discipline is an issue early on, but it doesn’t look like anything that can’t be improved on.  Another fine young player from Houston’s 2012 draft.

Darwin Rivera, OF – Age 20 – Another late Dominican Bloomer, Rivera made his pro debut last season.  He spent a small amount of time in the DSL before jumping to the Appy League.  This season, The Astros are slowing down a bit with pushing him and it seems to be paying off.  He’s hitting .343 with 4 HR’s, 11 Doubles, 23 RBI, and 20 Runs to go with a 30/15 K/BB ratio over 140 at bats.  Same story here as with Joyce and Batista, he’s going to need to make his mark in full season ball next season to warrant any attention.

Juan Santana, SS/2B – Age 17 – Santana had a good debut as a 16-year-old in the DSL last summer.  In his debut in the states in 2012, he’s hitting .265 with 9 Doubles, 19 RBI, 11 Runs, and 4 SB to go with a 15/9 K/BB ratio over 136 at bats.  Power is a question mark, but there’s still room in his frame for growth.

Dominican Summer League Astros

Hector Roa, OF – Age 17 – The 6’0″ 195 pound Dominican is hitting .257 with 3 HR’s, 7 RBI, 9 Runs, and 1 SB to go with a 26/1 K/BB ratio over 70 at bats.  He’s hitting .333 over his last 10 games and it should be noted that with a .257 average, he leads the DSL Astros.

Brauly Mejia, OF – Age 17 – The 6’0″ 185 pound Dominican is hitting .256 with 7 SB and has a 24/5 K/BB ratio over 82 at bats on the season.

Luis Reynoso, SS – Age 17 – The 6’1″ 170 pound Dominican is hitting .244 with 1 HR, 10 RBI, 16 Runs, and 4 SB to go with a 25/21 K/BB ratio over 123 at bats.  He’s 11 for his last 36.

That’s our Houston Astros organizational hitting report to date.  Check back soon for the Astros pitching report.

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