With the offseason in full swings, there will be several top prospect lists coming out over the next month or so. Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus was the first writer to come out with an Astros top 10 prospects list. I pulled out the strengths and weaknesses of each prospect and there expected time of arrival. There are other great nuggets from Parks which I encourage y’all to read. For the full writeup from Parks, click here.
1. Carlos Correa - Major league ETA: 2014
Strengths: 80-grade makeup; high-end tool projections with present skills; advanced approach to the game; can make quick adjustments; plus potential hit; power could be bigger than projected; above-average glove; well-above-average arm; actions and instincts can keep him at shortstop.
Weaknesses: Body could outgrow shortstop; run is average at best; range at shortstop dependent on instincts/first step; swing can get long at times; can swing through velocity in the zone; power potential is a big debate (could be 5, could be 7).
2. George Springer - Major league ETA: 2014
Strengths: Lively power; should achieve at least solid-avg to plus game power; multi-dimensional player; brings plus run to offense/defense; glove in center should end up a 6; arm is weapon.
Weaknesses: Swing-and-miss concerns; approach can get loose; two-strike approach can lack adjustment; tendency to miss in the zone; hit tool might play below-average; could limit some of the power potential.
3. Mark Appel - Major league ETA: 2014
Strengths: Clean delivery; fastball works 92-96; can touch higher; thrown with good angle; can offer two-seamer look with good arm-side movement; slider is a weapon pitch; can flash plus-plus potential in the mid-80s; good tilt and dive; bat-misser when it’s on; changeup works solid-avg to plus; low 80s with tumble; good command projection.
Weaknesses: Fastball can lack deception; seems to find barrels; both slider and changeup flash plus (or better) but can play lower; struggles to bring every pitch to the table in the same game; aggressiveness in the zone needs work; can pitch with passivity (a few sources questioned his fortitude on the mound).
4. Michael Foltynewicz - Major league ETA: 2014
Strengths: Huge fastball; works in the upper 90s and can touch over 100; big, strong, durable frame; could horse innings; shows multiple breaking ball looks; both can flash; intimidation factor.
Weaknesses: Command is below average; fastball can work up and lose effectiveness; lacks a true wipeout breaking ball; changeup is below average; gets too firm and lacks movement.
5. Jonathan Singleton - Major league ETA: 2014
Strengths: Big raw power; 7 raw; game power should play to plus; generates excellent bat speed; hands are impressive; big torque in the swing, but shows bat control; has a plan at the plate; knows balls/strikes.
Weaknesses: Hit tool receives mixed reviews; struggles against arm-side pitching; power utility will be limited by contact ability; body got sloppy in layoff; speaks to iffy makeup; limited to first base defensively; below-average arm; doesn’t move well.
6. Vincent Velasquez - Major league ETA: 2015
Strengths: Really crisp fastball; easy plus velocity in the 92-95 range; routinely works higher; holds velocity; clean arm action; changeup is a plus pitch at present; some sources project it higher; excellent arm-speed deception; major-league-quality pitch; good overall feel for craft; good command profile.
Weaknesses: Breaking ball not very impressive; several reports had it below average at present and didn’t project it over fringe-average; success in lower minors on the back of fastball location and velocity in combination with big boy changeup; needs full-grade breaking ball improvement.
7. Lance McCullers Jr. - Major league ETA: 2015
Strengths: Plus-plus arm strength; easy cheese; works comfortably in the low-mid-90s; can go get more; power breaking ball is close to a plus pitch at present; projects higher; big-league-quality bat misser; competitor on the mound; attacks hitters.
Weaknesses: Delivery isn’t super easy or clean; tendency to lose some of the stuff later in games; changeup is below average; several sources don’t think it plays above fringe-average at maturity; command is spotty; lacks plus projection.
8. Domingo Santana - Major league ETA: Late 2014
Strengths: Big boy raw power; can launch tape-measure shots; leveraged swing that can produce very loud contact, especially when he can get extended on balls out over the plate; can handle right field; easy plus arm; good athlete for his size.
Weaknesses: Hit tool is below average; lacks much projection; tremendous strength, but swing can get heavy and pitchers can work him inside; lots of swing-and-miss; hit tool could limit power output.
9. Rio Ruiz - Major league ETA: Late 2015
Strengths: Sweet stroke from the left side; clean and quick to the ball; generates good bat speed; shows plus power potential; good approach at the plate; will work counts; shows recognition skills; strong arm at third.
Weaknesses: Glove at third is below average; might not get to average; lacks range; below-average run; mixed reviews on the hit tool; several sources really like it; others not sold it’s a plus tool (more average at best).
10. Michael Feliz - Major league ETA: 2016
Strengths: Plus-plus arm strength; fastball works in the 94-96 range, touching 98 with big wiggle; slider shows plus potential; big, strong frame; has some feel for craft; strike thrower.
Weaknesses: Control ahead of command; changeup is below average at present; sources not high on changeup projection; slider flashes but can get loose and slurvy.
Just Missed - Delino DeShields Jr.
Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/88 or later)
- Carlos Correa
- George Springer
- Mark Appel
- Jarred Cosart
- Michael Foltynewicz
- Jose Altuve
- Jonathan Singleton
- Vincent Velasquez
- Lance McCullers
- Domingo Santana
You have to love the ETA on some on the Astros prospects. I agree with Parks that Correa could easily see time in Houston this season. If he plays well at Corpus Christi at the beginning of the season, it’s certainly possible the Astros decide to showcase him in August or September of 2014. If not then, I expect Correa up no later than June of 2015.
I’m not surprised with Singleton down to 5th on the top 10 list. Singleton struggled at OKC and is no lock for the opening day roster in 2014. He’s likely to be up at some point in 2014, but we may have to wait until June. Singleton has dropped from the top 2 or 3 on most Astros top 10 prospects lists which isn’t necessarily such a bad thing. If the Astros decide to make a big splash on the trade market, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Singleton as the main trade piece in a trade.
McCullers at 7 surprised me quite a bit. I happen to believe Velasquez is the most underrated prospect in the Astros system, but I wouldn’t have put him over McCullers. Many experts think McCullers may serve better as a reliever, but he has proved those naysayers wrong so far in his young career.
For those fans that follow only the popular prospects, Michael Feliz may need to be added to your follow list. Feliz had an outstanding season with the Tri-City ValleyCats (69 IP, 1.96 ERA, 78 K, 13 BB) and is likely to jump up many prospect lists this offseason. Feliz is another of the many young Astros pitching prospects in the system and profiles as a possible two or three starter in the future.
There are those that love DeShields, but some experts don’t believe he’s a top 10 prospect in this strong Astros system. You could make an argument that DeShields should replace Santana in the top 10, though I could go either way on that argument.
Overall, I love this write-up by Jason Parks and everyone should read the whole list and the extras. The Astros system is one of the best in the Major Leagues, and lists like these should give Astros fans much hope for a great future.