MLB.com released it’s updated top 20 Houston Astros prospescts list.
To see their preseason list, click here.
The New List
1. Carlos Correa - (Previous: 1)
Correa earns high marks for his work ethic and makeup, which will help him bounce back from his injury. He has a chance to be an impact player regardless of his future position.
2. Mark Appel - (Previous: 2)
Appel’s struggles are difficult to explain, because his stuff hasn’t taken a step back from what he showed at Stanford. He throws his fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s, mixing it with a changeup and a slider. Appel throws all of his pitches for strikes and he has ideal size for a right-hander.
3. Domingo Santana - (Previous: 8)
Santana is an average defender and has a strong arm. Big and physical, he fits the prototypical profile for a power-hitting right fielder.
4. Michael Foltynewicz – (Previous: 6)
As the club does with most of its pitching prospects, Houston has used Foltynewicz as both a starter and a reliever. While some scouts see him as a closer, Foltynewicz has the tools necessary to fit into a Major League rotation one day.
5. Colin Moran – (Just traded to Houston)
Scouts wonder how much power he will have, however, as his swing is more geared to produce line drives than home runs. Moran is a below-average runner, but it doesn’t hold him back defensively. He is sure-handed, and he has a strong arm.
6. Lance McCullers Jr. - (Previous: 5)
Some scouts still feel McCullers is best suited for a role in short relief like his father, but there is growing sentiment that he can make it as a starter.
7. Michael Feliz – (Previous: 10)
Though Feliz is still raw, he demonstrates a good feel for pitching. He won the New York-Penn League ERA title as a 19-year-old in 2013, and he earned a spot on the World roster at the 2014 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game the following year.
8. Vincent Velasquez - (Previous: 9)
Velasquez started the season strong before a groin injury sidelined him for two months. When he’s healthy, he fits right in with the rest of the Astros’ top pitching prospects.
9. Rio Ruiz – (Previous: 11)
The Astros were encouraged by how well Ruiz made the adjustment to his swing in 2013. His success this season in the California League has only reinforced their confidence in him.
10. Josh Hader - (Previous: 15)
Even with all of his advances so far, Hader still has plenty of room for growth. His secondary pitches have good potential, but they are inconsistent. Hader needs to refine his command. He started making those adjustments in 2014 at Class A Lancaster, where he has thrived despite pitching in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the Minor Leagues.
11. Teoscar Hernandez – (Previous: 13)
Hernandez has a strong arm and is a capable center fielder. He is still physically maturing, though, and if he loses a bit of speed as he fills out, he’ll likely need to move to a corner. Even if a position change does come to pass, Hernandez has the tools to be an everyday player.
12. Delino DeShields Jr. – (Previous: 7)
Houston made DeShields a second baseman after drafting him in the first round in 2010, but then moved him back to his natural position of center field during the Arizona Fall League in ’13. He is a good fit in the outfield, where his speed plays up.
13. Nick Tropeano - (Previous: 17)
Tropeano’s slider is the key to his development. If he can tighten it up and give himself a third quality offering, he will fit nicely into a Major League rotation.
14. Derek Fisher – (Just drafted)
Though Fisher has good speed, his below-average arm limits him to left field. Although that puts more pressure on his bat, his tools give him the chance to be an impact hitter.
15. AJ Reed – (Just drafted)
Reed doesn’t run well enough to play a position other than first base, but he has a strong arm and he plays solid defense. Scouts believe he has the tools to become a power-hitting first baseman in the big leagues.
16. Kyle Smith – (Previous: 19)
Smith mixes all of his pitches well and doesn’t back down from hitters, despite his lack of power stuff. His ceiling doesn’t match that of some of the Astros’ top pitching prospects, but he has all the tools necessary to one day help Houston’s rotation.
17. Nolan Fontana – (Previous: 18)
Fontana may profile more as a utilityman than an everyday player, but scouts don’t doubt that he’ll find a way to make an impact in the Major Leagues. His progress has been slowed this season when he broke a finger in June. The injury required surgery, and it will keep Fontana out for several weeks.
18. Tony Kemp – (First time on list)
As an undersized and speedy second baseman, comparisons to Jose Altuve are inevitable for Kemp. He still has a ways to go to match Altuve’s success, but he is off to a good start. Kemp reached Double-A Corpus Christi in his first full professional season.
19. Max Stassi – (Previous: 12)
Injuries have dogged Stassi throughout his career, even forcing him onto the disabled list during his brief stint in the big leagues. If he can stay healthy, Stassi has the potential to contribute on a more regular basis soon in the Major Leagues.
20. Preston Tucker - (First time on list)
Tucker has moved between first base and the outfield corners throughout his career. He has the ability to be a serviceable outfielder, but it will be up to his bat to carry him to the Major Leagues
I think the list is a good list. It would have been even better with Brady Aiken and possibly Jacob Nix on it as well, but that’s for a different time.
I personally would have listed Preston Tucker a bit higher (maybe as high as 17). Besides for that, I really don’t have any qualms over the list.
The Astros system is clearly stacked, and most of these prospects will remain on this list at the end of the season, with the exception of Foltynewicz and Santana likely graduating as well.
In case you weren’t counting, MLB.com has 8 starting pitchers in the Astros top 16 prospects. That’s not including the other young SP’s at OKC (like Rudy Owens, Alex White, Asher Wojciechowski, Jake Buchanan, and others) that also have some potential.