Astros MiLB Position Review: Center Field
Now that the season is over and the MiLB awards have been handed out, we will review each position in the minor league system. This week we take a look at the center field position. The Astros rotated their minor league outfielders often so for this post I will focus on guys who played the majority of their games in center field.
Laureano, 16th round pick in 2014, had a breakout 2016 season. Before the season I chose him as a possible breakout candidate and he did just that. After struggling in his first taste of pro ball in 2014, he put together a decent 2015 but still left alot to be desired. In 2016, he had an incredible season. He started the season with Lancaster and hit .317 with 10 HR, 60 RBI in 80 games. In his final 13 games in Lancaster before being promoted he hit .522 (24-for-46) with 4 HR, 14 RBI. Lancaster is a great place to hit but he went to Corpus and hit even better slashing .323/.432/.548 in 36 games. Laureano also stole 43 bases and drew 70 walks. You can read more about Laureano here.
2016 Stats: 116 G, .319 BA/.428 OBP/.528 SLG, 27 2B, 8 3B, 15 HR, 73 RBI, 43 SB, 70 BB/119 SO
Most Astros fans knew the name “Tucker” prior to the 2015 draft thanks to Kyle’s older brother Preston. Kyle was the #5 overall pick in 2015 and he had a season to justify it. He made his full season debut to open the year with Quad Cities. He didn’t have much around him but still managed to hit .276 with 6 HR, 56 RBI and surprising many with 31 stolen bases. He played the majority of his games this season in center field, a good sight to see as he hasn’t been relegated to the corners. He earned a promotion to Lancaster where he dominated hitting .339 with 3 HR, 13 RBI in 16 games helping Lancaster to the playoffs. Tucker was already a consensus top 100 prospect in baseball and he will surely rise this off-season.
2016 Stats: 117 G, .285 BA/.360 OBP/.438 SLG, 25 2B, 7 3B, 9 HR, 69 RBI, 32 SB, 50 BB/81 SO
Fisher was drafted by the Astros in the supplemental round (37th overall) in 2014. He has one of the highest ceilings in the Astros system with a solid power/speed combination. After posting a very good 2015, Fisher followed it up with a solid 2016 campaign making his way to AAA. He started the season with Corpus Christi where he hit .266 with 13 HR, 57 BB in the first 81 games. He struggled a bit in July but eventually earned a promotion to AAA where he turned it up. In 27 AAA games Fisher hit .290 with 5 HR and 17 RBI. He finished with 21 HR and 28 SB while posting a .367 OBP between AA/AAA.
2016 Stats: 129 G, .255 BA/.367 OBP/.448 SLG, 21 2B, 4 3B, 21 HR, 76 RBI, 28 SB, 83 BB/154 SO
Martin was another guy I chose to be a breakout candidate and he accomplished that in 2016. He had a solid season in 2015 at just 19 years old. Martin played the majority of 2016 season at 20 years old, 2.4 years younger than the average age in the California League. Martin also showed off his power/speed combo hitting 23 HR (tied for most in Astros system). 7 triples, and stealing 20 bags. He figures to started the 2017 season in AA, which puts him within reaching distance of the MLB. He played 54 of the 103 games in center field.
2016 Stats: 110 G, .270 BA/.357 OBP/.533 SLG, 22 2B, 7 3B, 23 HR, 75 RBI, 20 SB, 55 BB/108 SO
THE REST OF THE PACK
Cameron, the son of former big leaguer Mike Cameron, was the 37th overall pick in 2015. He showed off his tools in his first season stealing 24 bases in 51 games. Cameron started the 2017 season with Quad Cities but struggled early hitting just .143 in 21 games. He eventually joined Tri-City where he started to turn it around hitting .278 in 19 games. Unfortunately, he season ended after being hit by a pitch breaking his left index finger.
2016 Stats: 40 G, .212 BA/.287 OBP/.321 SLG, 5 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 12 SB, 14 BB/59 SO
Wrenn was just drafted this summer but had a very good showing this season. He was seen as a very high potential pick. With Tri-City he hit .282 with 9 HR, 27 RBI, 8 SB in 36 games showing off his tools. Wrenn was then promoted to Quad Cities he finished hitting .236 with 3 HR and 12 RBI in 35 games.
2016 Stats: 71 G, .260 BA/.324 OBP/.471 SLG, 15 2B, 5 3B, 12 HR, 39 RBI, 15 SB, 25 BB/78 SO
Aplin was drafted by the Astros in the 2012 draft and flew through the lower level of the minor league system. After a solid 2015 season he was added to the Astros 40 man roster and figured to be a guy to get a shot. Unfortunately, his AAA season didn’t go well hitting just .223. He is very good defensively though and does a good job getting on base, evident by his .360 career MiLB OBP.
2016 Stats: 116 G, .223 BA/.300 OBP/.318 SLG, 15 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 32 RBI, 21 SB, 42 BB/98 SO
The Astros made a splash in international free agency in 2015 signing Celestino for $2.5 million. He came in as a very athletic outfielder with the speed, arm, and range to be a plus defender in center field. He made his Astros system debut this season playing for Astros Orange in the DSL hitting .279 with .822. The Astros moved him stateside to the GCL where he hit .200 in 18 games. He played the season at just 17 years old.
2016 Stats: 56 G, .257 BA/.365 OBP/.393 SLG, 12 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR, 19 RBI, 15 SB, 33 BB/39 SO
Easily the deepest position in the Astros system. It was hard to narrow down the top performers as many guys had fantastic season. Fisher will most likely start back in AAA but is an injury away from being called up. Laureano and Martin should both be in AA looking to capitalize on big 2016 seasons. The Astros have even more depth below that with Tucker, Wrenn, Cameron and Celestino coming up. It’s safe to say that one of these guys will be manning an Astros outfield spot come 2018-2019.
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**Photo Credit: Kiel Maddox/Fresno Grizzlies**