With the S2S 2012 Top 100 Prospects List now in the books, it’s time to take a closer look at the future of each team. And that means team prospect lists!
Most minor league sites will do top-10s, top-15s, top-20s, or some other ranking. Last year, to be a bit different, the FanSided team prospect lists (which were done at Call to the Pen, since S2S didn’t exist), instead listed a team’s top prospect at each position (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OFs, 5 SPs, and 2 RPs). This year, we’re keeping that format, but also adding a “Best of the Rest” section that lists the top ten players beyond the positional rankings. That’s 25 players per system, if you’re counting.
The Astros system improved at midseason with the drafting of George Springer and a number of solid trades, but it also took a hit from the graduation of Jordan Lyles, J.D. Martinez, and Jose Altuve. Therefore, it ended the season roughly in the same “tier” it was in prior to 2011.
The system has nice balance overall, but there’s no prospect here that ranked in my top 50. Springer is completely untested, Jonathan Singleton may not end up as more than an average first baseman, and the pitchers seem to fall into two groups: overperformers with back-of-the-rotation stuff and underperformers with higher upside. There’s a major hole at third base, and the hitting depth beyond the top half-dozen position players is quite suspect.
Position Player Upside: C+
Position Player Depth: C
Pitching Upside: C+
Pitching Depth: B
System Grade: C+
Catcher: Chris Wallace. Since being drafted in the 16th round in 2010, Wallace has hit .280/.355/.495 while nabbing 34% of basestealers. However, he was drafted at age 22, so he’ll be 24 in April already. In a late-season look in Double-A in 2011, he showed off some pop (.179 ISO), but hit just .244 with 41 strikeouts in 36 games while catching just 3 of 30 base thieves. He could be a solid starter, but he could end up relegated to an offense-first backup role–not to mention that plenty of better offensive catching prospects have flamed out. Grade: C+
First base: Jonathan Singleton. An utterly confusing player. Singleton has a career .393 OBP and 210/150 K/BB in 263 games despite being very young for his levels–he spent all of 2011 as a 19-year-old in High-A. Still, though, you have to hit a lot at first base, and Singleton’s performances aside from the first half of 2010 have not overwhelmed. He hit .284/.387/.413 for the Phillies’ High-A affiliate, and while his line swelled to .333/.405/.512 after his trade to the Astros, that comes with both a big Cal League (and Lancaster, at that!) asterisk and a decline in his one strong suit: plate discipline. His K/BB eroded from 83/56 in 93 games to 40/14 in 35 games after the deal. Scouts do like his power potential, but he’s not especially projectable. Singleton could be anything from Ben Broussard to Derrek Lee. Grade: B+
Second base: Delino DeShields. The son of the former big leaguer of the same name, DeShields was considered an overdraft at 8th overall in 2010 by many. He did little to sway his doubters by hitting .222/.307/.324 in Low-A in his first full season. All hope isn’t lost, though–he turned 19 in August, so he was very young, he swiped 30 bases, and he showed an ability to work walks (9.6%). His biggest need is to hit the ball with more authority, as his .102 ISO and .274 BABIP attest. A converted outfielder, he focused more on improving his defense than offense during the season, and projects to play well there with continued refinement. He could go down as one of the biggest busts in Astros history, or he could end up as a very fine second baseman someday–much of the book has yet to be written on him. Grade: C+
Third base. Mike Kvasnicka. Kvasnicka also was an overdraft in 2010, going 33rd overall. The thinking was that he’d be an offensive catcher, but he’s neither a catcher nor a good hitter. He played catcher, third base, and right field in 2010, but moved to third full-time in 2011 and fielded just .902 there. He’s also hit just .251/.320/.357 in his pro career, is already 23, and hasn’t even played in High-A yet. He wouldn’t be on this list, or even particularly close, if it weren’t for the lack of other options at the position in this system. And even then, I strongly considered Brandon Wikoff. Grade: C
Shortstop: Jonathan Villar. Like Singleton and DeShields, Villar’s been moved so quickly that it’s difficult to discern whether his poor performance is due to his youth or lack of skill. At 20, he hit well enough in Lancaster (.289/.353/.411), but who doesn’t? He managed a .155 ISO in Double-A, but his problems with the strike zone (100/29 K/BB in 83 games) and errors (.923 fielding percentage) persisted. There’s a lot to like here in terms of tools, but Villar needs a lot of refinement. Grade: B-
Outfielder #1: George Springer. The 11th pick in the 2011 draft, Springer had a great three-year career at the University of Connecticut and had the talent to go even higher than he did in most drafts. He’s got five-tool potential in center field, but he’s already 22 and unproven in pro ball, so he will need to catch on to pro ball quickly. He struck out and walked considerably less as a junior than a sophomore, and it will be interesting to see how well he controls the zone in pro ball. A year from now, he could be the best outfield prospect in the game. Grade: B
Outfielder #2: Domingo Santana. Like Singleton, Santana’s numbers went way up after being traded to Houston. Hitting a solid .269/.345/.434 for the Phillies’ Low-A affiliate, he went 26-for-68 with a much-improved 15/6 K/BB (120/26 before the deal). Overall, as an 18-year-old in the SAL, the massive outfielder hit .287/.362/.471 with 49 extra-base hits, and more power will come as he fills out his skinny frame. The rare prospect with approach issues that I’m higher on than most, there’s a very real chance he ends up being the best of the four players Houston received for Hunter Pence. Grade: B
Outfielder #3: Ariel Ovando. A major international signing in 2010 ($2.6 million), Ovando struggled in the Appalachian League in his pro debut, but he didn’t even turn 18 until after the season. Like Santana, he’s a big guy with plenty of room to fill out, and he hasn’t quite figured out his large strike zone yet. Don’t assume he’ll live up to his bonus, though–he’s not going to be better than average defensively in an outfield corner, so wait for the power to show up before jumping on the bandwagon. Grade: C+
Starting Pitcher #1: Jarred Cosart. Cosart throws very hard and has a nice breaking ball, but a number of flaws push him far, far away from the elite tier of pitching prospects. His mechanics come and go, leading to wavering command and a high injury risk. Furthermore, for all his “stuff,” he has a lot of trouble striking guys out, with just 101 in 144 1/3 innings between High-A and Double-A in 2011. It’s tough enough to maintain one’s strikeout rate from Double-A to Triple-A and the majors, but for Cosart to become an impact starter, he’d have to see a pronounced uptick in his K rates. Given his faults, he’s probably better served in the bullpen, where he could become an impact closer. Grade: B
Starting Pitcher #2: Brett Oberholtzer. I like this sort of pitcher. Oberholtzer is a big lefthander with three solid pitches and a simple delivery. He turned 22 midseason, and posted a 121/52 K/BB in 155 innings in Double-A, including a 28/10 mark in 27 1/3 innings following his trade from Atlanta. He had previously dominated both A-ball levels in previous seasons, and owns a pretty 3.68 K/BB ratio for his career. He’s basically Joe Saunders with a much better breaking ball, and thus more ability to miss bats. Grade: B-
Starting Pitcher #3: Kyle Weiland. Weiland caught a lot of flak for his poor performance down the stretch as the Red Sox collapsed, but he showed a nice four-pitch mix that could allow him to be a mid-rotation starter, possibly even a #2/#3 if his command improves some. He struck out nearly a batter per inning in Triple-A, so it’s not like his stuff doesn’t play. Getting 175 innings on a low-pressure, rebuilding team is a great situation for Weiland, who could be a really interesting late bloomer. At the same time, he’s already 25, so he’s got to quickly improve upon his poor MLB showing in 2011. Grade: B-
Starting Pitcher #4: Paul Clemens. Clemens had a solid year in the upper minors, with a 125/62 K/BB in 144 innings. He’s a hard thrower with usable secondary stuff who never has quite mastered his command, as he doesn’t repeat his delivery well and can lose his release point. At 24, he’s got to have a big year if he wants to remain a starter. He’s sort of a lesser version of Cosart in some ways, as he could end up a functional starter or high-leverage reliever. Grade: C+
Starting Pitcher #5: Mike Foltynewicz. The 19th overall pick in 2010, Foltynewicz, like DeShields and Kvasnicka, underperformed his draft slot in his first year. He struck out just 88 batters in 134 innings, failing to put batters away, and didn’t excel in avoiding walks or generating grounders either. He has a good pitcher’s frame, a solid fastball and curveball, and is just 20, but he needs more of a third pitch and more consistency if he’s going to have a significant career. Grade: C+
Relief Pitcher #1: Juan Abreu. Armed with a 93-99 mph fastball and good hard curveball, Abreu punched out 12 of the 34 MLB batters he faced in his brief major league stint last year. Another midseason acquisition, he’ll be 27 in April and has some command problems, but if Fernando Rodney can close for MLB teams, so can Abreu. Grade: C+
Relief Pitcher #2: Daniel Meszaros. A nice relief sleeper with a low-90′s fastball and put-away curveball, Meszaros could also make an impact in the Astros’ bullpen as soon as this season. A former 48th-round pick, he’s punched out over ten batters per nine innings in his career, including 11.2 in Double-A and 9.5 in Triple-A last season. He’s undersized and will give up some fly balls, but should be a very effective middle reliever. Grade: C+
Best of the Rest
#1.) Jake Buchanan, RHP. Buchanan managed to successfully navigate Lancaster thanks to a 58% groundball rate. He doesn’t have knockout stuff, but isn’t exactly Graham Taylor either, and should have a solid career as a back-of-the-rotation starter or double-play relief specialist. Grade: C+
#2.) Luis Ordosgoitti, RHP. A really intriguing sleeper arm. In 76 1/3 career innings, all in the short-season leagues, Ordosgoitti has struck out 67, walked just 15, and allowed only three home runs. He’ll be 19 for the entire 2012 season, and has plenty of time to grow into his 6’4″ frame. A player to watch in 2012 as he will likely make his full-season debut; I wouldn’t be shocked if he makes some Top 100 lists next year. Grade: C+
#3.) Adrian Houser, RHP. A second-round pick in 2011, Houser struggled with his command in his pro debut, walking 25 in 48 innings. He does have a solid curveball and hard moving fastball; there’s some resemblance to A.J. Cole in his scouting profile, actually. Still, his delivery has some effort to it, and he doesn’t repeat his landing very well. He’s another player whose stock could change dramatically (up or down) in 2012, especially if the Astros send him to Low-A. He’s only just about to turn 19, though, so he has plenty of time to regroup from any setbacks. Grade: C+
#4.) Jose Cisnero, RHP. Unlike Buchanan, Cisnero was torched to the tune of a 6.06 ERA in Lancaster, as his 35.2% groundball rate didn’t mesh well with the pinball-machine environment. Still, he posted a 4.12 FIP, mainly thanks to a ridiculous 11.09 K/9. His walk rates need to come down, but anyone with this type of ability to miss bats could have a nice career. Another guy to watch in 2012 as he moves to a less crazy environment but will have to adjust to upper-minors hitters. Grade: C+
#5.) Nick Tropeano, RHP. Tropeano was the Astros’ 5th-round pick in 2011, and he immediately dominated the NYPL, with a 2.36 ERA and 2.32 FIP. He turned 21 before the end of the season, so he should’ve dominated the level, but that’s encouraging. Tropeano is a big guy, but he doesn’t throw hard, working off a changeup that is already plus and a solid breaking ball. He could be a righthanded Dallas Braden if things go well. Grade: C+
#6.) Jiovanni Mier, SS. Another high pick that hasn’t worked out as well as hoped. Mier’s a career .244/.341/.355 hitter in three seasons since being picked 21st overall in 2009. He brings a plus glove to shortstop and a discerning eye to the plate, but he only managed a .233/.335/.306 line in Lancaster, of all places. If you squint, you can see some Jamey Carroll here, but Mier looks destined for a utility career path. Still just 21, he does have some time to escape that fate, however. Grade: C
#7.) Kody Hinze, 1B. Hinze hit an absurd .323/.458/.625 in Lancaster, which says more about Lancaster than it does about Hinze. He’s not a punchless player by any means, but his lines before (.277/.377/.465 in Low-A in 2010) and after (.281/.358/.422 in Double-A after a midseason promotion) paint a much better picture of his ability. He has good power and discipline and isn’t completely undone by strikeouts, but he turns 25 in July, and it takes more than a merely good hitter to make an impact at first base. Grade: C
#8.) Carlos Quevedo, RHP. Quevedo owns a career BB/9 rate of 1.3, including 1.1 in 2011 (19 walks in 151 innings). A 22-year-old wide-bodied righthander, his finesse repertoire didn’t miss a whole lot of bats (16.8% K%) and got him in trouble with homers (37.3% GB%, 22 HRA). If he can continue to refine his offspeed stuff and keep the ball down more, he could be a nice back-of-the-rotation pitcher, or a poor man’s Ed Mujica in relief. Grade: C
#9.) Ernesto Genoves, C. A deep sleeper who doesn’t show up on many prospect lists, Genoves hit .280/.375/.464 in the Appalachian League as a 20-year-old. He makes solid contact, has a decent approach and some gap power, and is a decent defensive catcher for his age. A total lottery ticket, but he’s shown a nice base of skills for someone so young. Grade: C
#10.) Juan Minaya, RHP. A wild but projectable power arm, Minaya has walked 5.2 batters per nine innings in his career, including an ugly 57 in 77 frames last year. He does have a good moving fastball in the low 90′s and a nice hard breaking ball, and he struck out nearly a batter per inning at age 20 in Low-A. He was moved to relief in the middle of the season and could become an impact two-pitch arm out of the bullpen, not all that dissimilar from Abreu. Grade: C
The complete list of S2S 2012 Team Prospect Rankings can be found here.
For more on the Astros, check out Climbing Tal’s Hill.
Topics: Adrian Houser, Ariel Ovando, Brett Oberholtzer, Carlos Quevedo, Chris Wallace, Daniel Meszaros, Delino DeShields, Domingo Santana, Ernesto Genoves, George Springer, Houston Astros, Jake Buchanan, Jarred Cosart, Jiovanni Mier, Jonathan Singleton, Jonathan Villar, Jose Cisnero, Juan Abreu, Juan Minaya, Kody Hinze, Kyle Weiland, Luis Ordosgoitti, Mike Foltynewicz, Mike Kvasnicka, Nick Tropeano, Paul Clemens