Houston Astros Potential Breakout Prospects (2016)
This is one of my favorite parts of the offseason. Every year there are guys that come out of nowhere and move up the prospect rankings. Building a deep farm system is also about having quality prospects in the system that aren’t necessarily high draft picks.
The perfect example last year was Francis Martes. A guy picked up in the Jarred Cosart trade was almost an afterthought. Prior to 2015 he threw a total of 44 innings stateside. After a breakout 2015 campaign, he was ranked the #20 prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball America.
For this list I will try to avoid guys who are ranked in the Astros top 10 prospects.
Dean Deetz, RHP
Listed at 6’1″ 195 lbs, Deetz was drafted by the Astros in the 11th round of the 2014 draft. Given his repertoire, getting him in the 11th round was a steal. Deetz features a mid-to-high 90s fastball topping out at 98 MPH, a hard slider and a changeup. He had TJ surgery in 2013 so he only played one year of college baseball. He is super athletic and has been clocked running the 40-yard dash at 4.4 with a 38″ vertical.
In 2015 he posted a 1.70 ERA between Tri-City and Quad Cities. With QC he had a 0.76 ERA and while his FIP was higher at 2.86, it is still very good. With QC he had 13 BB/29 SO in 35.2 innings. With improvement from his off speed pitch he could be a guy who can rise up and crack the Astros top 10 next season.
Franklin Perez, RHP
The next guy on the list is a “bonus baby” the Astros signed out of Venezuela for $1,000,000 in 2014. He made his Astros debut this year pitching 35 innings in the Dominican Summer League before coming stateside. He pitched all of 2015 as a 17-year old and if the Astros are aggressive he could start out in QC. Listed at 6’3″ and 195 lbs, Perez has plenty of room to add more size and is already huge at just 18-years old.
Perez was hitting 93 MPH consistently at 16 and is expected to gain more velocity as he matures. In 2015 for the DSL team he posted a 4.37 ERA (2.35 FIP) with 11 BB/44 SO in 35 innings. He then moved to GCL Astros and had a 4.80 ERA, though with a miniscule 1.64 FIP. Overall he posted 2.5 BB/9, 11.0 SO/9 over 50 innings in 2015.
Jason Martin, OF
Martin was a somewhat popular pick to breakout last year. Martin had a good season but I feel like bigger things are in store for him in 2016. Martin was drafted out of high school in 2013. He is a quick twitch athlete standing at 5’11” and 175 lbs and has the ability and instincts to play center field but played mostly left last season with Boyd covering center field. He has speed too but hasn’t been effective stealing bases so far (14-of-29 in 2015).
Martin played in 2015 at 19-years old with the full season QC team. He hit .270 with 8 HR, 47 BB/74 SO in 105 games. Not bad at all, but I think he can be more than that. He posted a 10.2 BB%, 16.1 SO%, and 116 wRC+ as a teenager. Martin should start the season in Lancaster, which is a good hitter’s park. If he maintains his walk and strikeout rates and gets a boost in power, he could start moving up prospect lists.
Ramon Laureano, OF
Another recent draft pick out of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Laureano was drafted in the 16th round of the 2014 draft. In his sophomore season at just 19-years old, Laureano hit .429 with 13 HR, 69 RBI, 29 BB/22 SO. Laureano isn’t a big guy but has a nice combination of speed and power.
He struggled in his first taste of pro ball with Greeneville hitting .189, though only in 16 games. The Astros showed confidence in him putting him in full season ball at the age of 20. In 2015, Laureano hit .265 with 15 2B, 8 3B, 4 HR, 18 SB in 76 games. He tied for third in the league in triples despite playing 30-40 games less than those above him. If he moves to Lancaster, he should see a nice boost in his power numbers and will still be playing well below the league average in age.