Feb 27, 2013; Lakeland, FL, USA; ESPN reporter Peter Gammons before a spring training game between the Detroit Tigers and the Atlanta Braves at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros: Top Prospects Receive High Praise From Peter Gammons

Peter Gammons (ESPN) polls different scouts, general managers, coaches, and others baseball minds around this time of spring and he asks them about different observations they had from all around the league over the course of March.

Gammons’ first question had to do with the youngsters. He asked, “Were there any young players you watched and said, ‘this guy has a chance to be a star?” Guess who was number one on the list? Yup. Carlos Correa!

1. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston. 19 years old. Scary skills, highly intelligent, work ethic off the scales, 6-3, but putting him in Lancaster may create bad hitting habits that set him back.

Correa is listed above many other prospects, including Byron Buxton which we will get to shortly. The interesting note about Correa is the Lancaster thought. As noted earlier this week, Correa is likely to start the season at High-A Lancaster. Lancaster is known as one of the “best” hitter’s parks in the country and offensive numbers are usually highly inflated. (Jon Gaston says hello). There are hitters that change their approach at Lancaster, and that could create bad hitting habits as Gammons mentioned above, but do we really believe Correa will change his habits?

I don’t believe Correa’s habits will change there, but his placement at Lancaster does make me scratch my head. You could argue Correa could already be starting at shortstop for the Houston Astros Major League team, but it obviously doesn’t make much sense to start him there quite yet. Are the Astros trying to slow Correa’s path to the Majors for future contractual reasons? Maybe we should ask that question to George Springer.

The other note on the hitter’s list for Gammons is what one evaluator had to say in regards to Byron Buxton.

3. Byron Buxton, CF, Minnesota. One very good evaluator thinks “George Springer’s best six years will be better than Buxton’s six best but Buxton’s career may be 15 years of excellence.”

Buxton has been regarded as one of the best prospects in a long time. If Springer’s best six years will be better than Buxton’s best six years, then you may be talking about one of the best Astros outfielders of all time. Springer will surely be fun to watch one day.

Gammons also took a look at the pitchers and asked baseball minds which pitchers they thought could be future rotation stars. One Astros pitcher made the list, though his hair is a bit shorter than it was last season.

6. Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Astros. The development of Foltynewicz and Jarred Cosart—holdovers from the Ed Wade administration—were very important to the Astros this spring, and having Brent Strom and his disdain for the two seam doctrine should only make them better when they get into the rotation. As he did more than any minor league starter last season, Foltynewicz put 100’s on a lot of radar guns. “He needs better command,” says one scout, “but the stuff and the aggressiveness are front end.”

It’s nice to see Brent Strom get a shoutout. His hiring should hopefully do wonders for the young pitchers in the Majors as well as the Minors. We all know Foltynewicz could put up 100+ on the radar gun but his career will be dependent on his command. The Astros may not need him to be their #1 or #2 but the Astros hope they could plug in this fireballer in the middle of the rotation for the next 10 years.

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Tags: Carlos Correa Houston Astros Michael Foltynewicz

  • dougieG

    Lots of good stuff here. This brings a lot of questions to my mind. Why would we even have a development level team in a location where hitters “change their approach” and “create bad hitting habits”? Are there no alternatives to the Cal League or Lancaster, in particular? Have there been a lot of players who have been ruined or had major setbacks by playing there? Which Astros, in particular, that have put up great numbers there, have really struggled at Corpus, and do they eventually recover their old habits and continue to progress at an expected rate? If Correa only plays there for a couple of months, do people really think he would change his approach or methods or swing in such a short time frame?
    As regards the Gammons’ pitchers article, it’s nice to see Folty mentioned, but a little depressing to not see Appel mentioned. Every ranking, poll or article I read about the young pitching prospects have Jonathon Gray ranked or rated ahead of Mark Appel or Appel isn’t even mentioned at all, as in this article. I know that Appel hasn’t regressed, so why is Gray always projected ahead of him? Was he always ahead of him, even going into the draft or has his projection really taken off just based on the incredibly small sample size he’s shown? Or, do the “experts” simply prefer the “country strong kids” with the heavy duty frame over the more “refined, polished urban kids” when it comes to pitching? — i.e. Noah Syndergaard, Gray, Rodon, …

    • Yoni Pollak

      I’ll try to answer every question.

      A. I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that the Astros would love to get out of Lancaster and out of the Cal League if possible but they have a contract there and there aren’t many alternatives.
      B. Jonathan Gaston is someone I remember who had his numbers inflated at Lancaster. It’s hard to tell player’s power there and looking at splits at that level are very important. Tyler Heineman hit 13 HR’s last season IIRC and 6 of the 13 were at home. THat’s great to see. Seeing a hitter with 90% of his HR’s there could be a sign that it’s the Lancaster effect.
      C. I don’t think Correa will change his habits but why bother even putting him there? It shouldn’t be a challenge for him there. Stick him in CC.
      D. Folty was on the list because he impressed. Appel was left off the list because he was injured, so scouts simply couldn’t see him. I’m sure he would have been on the list if completely healthy and pitching.

      • dougieG

        Good to hear re. Appel. He apparently looked good in his inning pitched yesterday vs. Mets. I agree with you on Correa starting the year at Corpus. Maybe Luhnow just wants him to get some exposure in the SoCAL area and touch all the bases, so to speak, on his way up to the bigs. Thanks.