Houston Astros 2013 Top 21 Prospects List

Welcome back to Baseball Instinct’s 2013 Top Prospect Lists. The 21′s will be released in the following weeks, culminating in the Baseball Instinct 360°.

We left you with the Baltimore Orioles and now we will jump over to the American League West and their newest addition: The Houston Astros.  While the Orioles fortunes are changing for the better, the Astros are at the bottom of the major league food chain.  However, with new ownership, there is a sense of new direction.  A very strong draft and a flurry of trades has left this organization packed with prospects.  As with 2012, The Astros are set to have the #1 overall pick in the 2013 draft.  How much new talent is in the system?  To give you a sense, RHP  Paul Clemens fell out of our top 10 to #21, to no real fault of his own.  Likewise, 1B Chase Davidson and OF Telvin Nash fell out of our top 10 and we couldn’t find a place for them in our top 21 this season.  The depth of the Astros farm has improved that much.

We cut Chase (Davidson), so now let’s cut to the chase.

1. Jonathan Singleton, 1B 9/18/1991 H:6’2″ W: 235 –  We’ve always liked Singleton, but his strike zone discipline and lack of home run power in 2011, between High-A and the hitter friendly CAL league made us grumble a little bit last season.  The power that is needed to be a successful 1B appeared at AA in  2012.  He also draws a good number of walks and has excellent skills on the bases.  He’s becoming a better defender to boot.  While there are those outside of the Astros organization who have some questions about his glove at 1b, the Astros think he will be an average to above average defender.  We think so too.  He should spend a good portion of 2013 at AAA with a mid-to-late summer call up and then lock down the everyday job the following season.  ETA 2014.

2012 by the numbers: .284/.396/.497, 62 XBH(21 HR), 7 SB, .356 BABIP, 131/88 K/BB ratio in 461 ab’s at AA.  2009 (PHI) 8th round draft pick, 257th overall.

2. George Springer, OF 9/19/1989 H: 6’3″ W: 200 –  After a lack luster, 28 at bat performance in the APPY in 2011, we were left waiting to see if the Springer from U-Conn would show up in pro ball in 2012.  He did.  Defensively, he runs excellent routes to the ball and has a strong arm that should get even stronger as he advances.  There isn’t much concern that he can handle center field in the majors.  Offensively, he has very quick hands that gets through the zone quickly and can hit for power.  He also has a big hole in his swing (26% k rate) that makes us wonder if he will hit for average in the majors.  A lot of people will point to his 2012 numbers as being inflated by the hitter friendly CAL League.  There’s some truth to that, but there was some pretty good pitching in the CAL this season too.  He’s a threat to turn a single into a double and double into a triple (10 in 2012), as well as draw walks and steal bases.  There’s no shortage of outfielders in Houston’s system and Springer isn’t going to be rushed despite being 23.  He had an excellent showing in the AFL and should start the 2013 season in AA.  If he performs well there, you could see him in Houston later in the summer.  ETA 2014.

2012 by the numbers: .302/.383/.526, 55 XBH(24 HR), 32 SB, .396 BABIP, 156/62 K/BB ratio in 506 ab’s between High-A and AA.  2011 1st round draft pick, 11th overall.

3. Carlos Correa, SS 9/22/1994 H: 6’4″ W: 190 –  Since October of 2011, we’ve spent a lot of time examining Carlos Correa.  I flew down to Florida to join up with Tom Belmont to scout the players at the WWBA championships in Jupiter,FL in 2011.  I took video of Carrea then and after he wen’t #1 in the 2012 draft, Tom took some excellent video of him this past summer in the GCL.  You can check out a clip of him from the WWBA as well as the GCL video here.  Correa plays a premium position as is likely to end up as a plus defender.  He’s unlikely to ever be much of a threat on the bases, but won’t be a slug either.  He should hit for power and average and we love his work ethic.  The fact that he signed quickly and got into pro ball right away, kick starting his career at 17 years old is awesome.  He’s getting a little more experience in the Puerto Rico Winter League right now.  He’s likely to open the 2013 season at Low-A, but it might not take too long for him to get to the CAL League.  If Singleton and Springer are on this list next season, it would not surprise me at all if Correa leap-frogged them to #1.  A similar timeline to Manny Machado isn’t out of the question.  ETA 2015.

2012 by the numbers: .258/.305/.400, 19 XBH(3 HR), 6 SB, .322 BABIP, 44/12 K/BB ratio in 190 ab’s at 2 stops in Rookie-A ball.  2012 1st round draft pick, 1st overall.

4. Lance McCullers, RHP 10/2/1993 H: 6’1″ W: 190 –  Last fall McCullers was at the top of many lists as a possible #1 overall pick.  Fast forward to the 2012 draft and he fell into the hands of the Astros at #41, mostly due to sign-ability.  The crafty Astros worked out a deal with Correa ahead of time and found extra cash to get a deal done with McCullers.  Possessing a plus-plus fast ball, a plus slider, and a change up that is at minimum average, with a chance to be a plus pitch.  If he can refine his secondary pitches to go with his high 90’s fastball, the sky is the limit.  There’s some question about his ability to stick as a starter, but I think he has the make-up to be a front line starter.  The bullpen should be viewed as a future, last resort for now. While it’s very possible that he opens the season in full season Low-A ball, more likely look for him to open up in the APPY after working more at extended spring training.  ETA 2016.

2012 by the numbers: 0-4, 3.46 ERA, 4.47 FIP, .311 BABIP, 29/12 K/BB ratio in 26 innings at 2 stops in Rookie-A ball.   2012 1st round draft pick, 41st overall.

5. Delino DeShields, 2b 8/16/1992 H: 5’9″ W: 210 – If you hit for a decent average, display a little pop in your bat, and steal over 100 bases you’re likely to be #1 in most organizations and on most lists. Delino DeShields did all of that in 2012.  He just happens to be in a pretty deep organization.  Consensus thinking was taken way too early at #8 in the 2010 draft.  He was simply too raw and after a .220/.305/.322 triple slash that he posted in his 1st taste of full season ball, those same thinkers looked correct.  While he still needs to improve his recognition of pitches, his judgement overall has been pretty decent.  High strikeouts, yet high walks.  The schedule in 2013 for DeShields should read a lot like 2012,  Start where you left of the previous season, move up to the next level later in the summer.  He has the opportunity to follow the same plan that Billy Hamilton did in 2012; drink up the CAL League and get yourself to AA….in a manner of speaking.  ETA 2015.

2012 by the numbers: .287/.389/.428, 44 XBH(12 HR), 101 SB, .360 BABIP, 131/83 K/BB ratio in 537 ab’s between Low-A and High-A.  2010 1st round draft pick, 8th overall.

6. Domingo Santana, OF 8/5/1992 H: 6’5″ W: 228 – Yet another former prize of the Philadelphia Philles.  After the season the Phillies had in 2012, I doubt they have the stomach to read the top prospect list of the Houston Astros.  Santana posted a .921 OPS in the CAL league in 2012, not to shabby for a player to be named later in the Hunter Pence deal.  He’s got that swing and miss attribute that you find in most young Dominicans, but he’s likely to hit a ton and improve his K/BB ratio as he matures.  He scares off a lot of would-be prospectors with the K rate, but he’s going to hit for a high enough average and provide enough power to make it less of a factor.  He’s not terribly athletic and doesn’t posses a ton of speed, but offers a strong arm very well suited for right field.  There’s no reason for him to not enter the 2013 season at AA.  ETA 2014.

2012 by the numbers: .302/.385/.536, 65 XBH(23 HR), 7 SB, .402 BABIP, 148/55 K/BB ratio in 457 ab’s at High-A.  2009 (PHI) International free agent, Dominican Republic.

7. Jonathan Villar, SS 5/2/1991 H: 6’1″ W: 195  – After we suggested that Houston keep Villar at AA for the entire 2012 season and not aggressively push him, they did just that.  As much as we would love to take some magical credit for that, it had everything to do with his maturity level.  Punching doors, arguing with umpires, and temper issues are limiting his true abilities.  He has the makings of a pretty decent major league shortstop, in the field and at the plate.  If he can cut down the mistakes at the plate, errors in the field, and altercations with inanimate objects you might see him in Houston late in the 2013 season. Oh, and if you’re still counting, that’s former Phillies prospect #3 on our list.  ETA 2014.

2012 by the numbers: .261/.336/.396, 20 XBH(11 HR), 39 SB, .325 BABIP, 87/35 K/BB ratio in 326 ab’s at AA.  2008 (PHI) International free agent, Dominican Republic.

8. Jarred Cosart, RHP 5/25/1990 H: 6’3″ W: 180 – We’re to #8 on our list, and half of them including Cosart, are former Phillies prospects.  Command issues still trouble Cosart at times, but he has electric stuff.  He brushed up near 100 mph during the season, and 2 average, but improving, secondary pitches with a biting curve and at times, a deceptive curve.  Not surprisingly there’s talk that because of his durability that he might be better suited for the bullpen. I think he took a positive step forward to proving that he has what it takes to be a starter, and despite a blister problem this past season, he’s looking like a future middle of the rotation type guy.  He will pickup where he left off last season, starting at AAA in 2013 and should find some starts during the summer.  ETA 2013.

2012 by the numbers: 6-7, 3.30 ERA, 4.07 FIP, .313 BABIP, 92/51 K/BB ratio in 114.2 innings between AA and AAA.  2008 (PHI) 38th round draft pick, 1156th overall.

9. Rio Ruiz, 3B 5/22/1994 H: 6’1″ W: 180 – Ruiz was a sure fire top draft pick going into the spring, but upon learning of a blood clot in his right shoulder he was shut down in March for the season. His draft stock slid a bit and with the new signing bonus rules of the CBA, most teams went another direction.  Enter the Houston Astros in the 4th round with a very unique and innovative financial drafting strategy, much to the displeasure of Mark Appel and Scott Boras.  Houston plucked up Ruiz and found a way to get him signed.  He’s an easy projection as a future everyday 3B.  He has the maturity and the skill set to stay at the position.  He’s a left handed hitter with a good eye and makes solid contact.  He should be able to hit for average and develop consistent power at the next level. So he should be ready for the Sally in 2013.  ETA 2015.

2012 by the numbers: .252/.336/.400, 15 XBH(1 HR), 2 SB, .324 BABIP, 32/16 K/BB ratio in 135 ab’s at 2 stops in Rookie-A ball.  2012 4th round draft pick, 129th overall.

10. Mike Foltynewicz, RHP 10/7/1991 H: 6’4″ W: 200 – After a dismal 2011 debut in the SALLY, Folty returned in 2012 to burn the joint down.  After reports of displaying so-so stuff in 2010 and 2011, he looked more polished in 2012.  He runs his fastball in the low 90’s, which sometimes he can reach back for a little bit more.  His best pitch is arguably his change-up, and he’s working on establishing a breaking pitch, likely his slider.  He’s got the ideal pitchers body to become a sold innings eater in the majors.  His likely ceiling is that of a #3, but more realistically he’s going to be a back of the rotation type guy. Struggles in the CAL are probable and will solidify his ceiling.  ETA 2015.

2012 by the numbers: 14-4, 3.14 ERA, 4.54 FIP, .244 BABIP, 125/62 K/BB ratio in 152 innings at Low-A.  2010 1st round draft pick, 19th overall.

Outside the Top 10

11. A.Ovando, OF  9/15/1993 H: 6’4″ W: 190 - Ovando was in our top 10 last season.  As I mentioned in our opening, certain prospects dropped, or should I say, were “shoved out” of the top 10 by the new arrivals in Houston.  The Astros signed him for $2.6 mil, two years ago and right away compared him to the likes of Daryl Strawberry and Fred McGriff.  Ovando spent his 2nd straight season in the APPY and the Astros are in no hurry to rush him.  He’s very raw and unrefined, but there’s a ton of potential there to like.  It’s not a stretch to think that he will continue to improve in the same manner that fellow Dominican Domingo Santana has.  I think he’s worth keeping any eye on in 2013 and he gets into his 1st full season action in the Sally.  ETA 2016.

2012 by the numbers: .282/.350/.444, 21 XBH(6 HR), .387 BABIP, 67/22 K/BB ratio in 223 ab’s at Rookie-A ball.  2010 International free agent, Dominican Republic.

12. N.Tropeano, RHP 8/27/1990 H: 6’4″ W: 205 - Tropeano displayed a wicked change-up in the NY-Penn in 2011 to go along with a serviceable fastball and slider.  That combo served him well in the Sally, then the CAL, and later in the Arizona Fall League in 2012.  He’s not going to blow batters away, but he will sure fool the hell out of them.  His command will need to improve at the next level to go along with his excellent control, but I don’t think there’s any reason to doubt that he’s ready for AA in 2013.  ETA 2014.

2012 by the numbers: 12-7, 3.02 ERA, 3.95 FIP, .330 BABIP, 166/47 K/BB ratio in 158 innings between Low-A and High-A.  2011 5th round draft pick, 160th overall.

The Rest of the Top 21

13. M. Krauss, OF 

14. K.Comer, RHP

15. R.Grossman, OF

16. A.Wojciechowski, RHP

17. J.Musgrove, RHP

18. V.Velasquez, RHP

19. N.Fontana, SS

20. B. Phillips, OF

21. R.Rasmussen, LHP

22. P.Clemens, RHP

Stick with Baseball Instinct and we’ll keep you a step ahead of the game. Check back soon as we release our top 21 prospects for each organization. While you’re here, check out our Baseball Instinct 360° – it’s our top 360 prospects from 2012, and we will be updating it for 2013 soon.   Also check out a friend of ours for all of your fantasy sports needs. Fantasy Rundown is updated religiously and is truly an awesome resource. Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be, so don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email us now at mailbag@baseballinstinct.com. And while you’re at it head over to Facebook and join the Instinct page.  You can also follow us on twitter @BaseballInstinc.

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