Astros MiLB Position Review: Shortstop
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 shortstop positon. This position was led by a great performance and it should be locked up for years to come.
There isn’t much else to say about Bregman that hasn’t already been stated. The #2 overall pick from the 2015 draft put together a phenomenal 2016 MiLB campaign. He showed power crushing 14 HR in 62 games and that came with 42 BB/26 SO. He went from being a top 40 prospect in baseball to the #1 prospect in the MLB in just a few months. Bregman was promoted to AAA where he continued to rake hitting .333 with 6 HR and 15 RBI in 18 games. He played the majority of his MiLB games at shortstop but did see some time at third base to help with his promotion to the MLB. It looks like the Astros struck gold with this pick. Expect Bregman to have a huge 2017 season.
2016 Stats: 80 G, .306 BA/.406 OBP/.580 SLG, 22 2B, 20 HR, 61 RBI, 47 BB/38 SO (AA/AAA)
After Bregman the list becomes very interesting. Duarte was signed by the Astros as an international free agent in 2013. While he isn’t a big guy (5’9″, 160 lbs) he makes up for it with very good speed. He played most of the season at shortstop while seeing some time in center field. In 76 games for Quad Cities he hit .272 with 20 2B and 3 HR. He was promoted to Lancaster where he showed more power. He has some swing and miss in his game but has very good tools. He is only 20 years old and will be one to watch next year.
2016 Stats: 112 G, .265 BA/.310 OBP/.434 SLG, 25 2B, 9 3B, 10 HR, 47 RBI, 19 SB, 31 BB/139 SO
Sierra was signed by the Astros out of Venezuela and made a cameo appearance in the Altuve documentary. He has good tools but none that really pop. He started of the season with Greeneville and went on a tear hitting 11 HR in just 31 games. This earned him a promotion to Tri-City where he was facing competition 3-4 years older than him. He struggled a bit hitting just .140 but should be able to build off this season.
2016 Stats: 56 G, .224 BA/.314 OBP/.430 SLG, 5 2B, 11 HR, 24 RBI, 19 BB/74 SO
THE REST OF THE PACK
Another free agent signing, the Astros nabbed Sierra out of Cuba just this summer. The 22 year old played in the Dominican Summer League this season and hit .316 in 23 games. He performed well but did so against younger competition. Hopefully he will be stateside and in full season ball in 2017.
2016 Stats: 23 G, .316 BA/.465 OBP/.506 SLG, 5 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 18 BB/20 SO
Nunez has defied the odds after being drafted in the 18th round in 2014. He played across three levels this season with his best performance coming in the highest level (Corpus Christi). He is a spark plug type player who can make things happen with his legs. He doesn’t have a lot of power but does a very good job getting on base. As stated, he ended the season in Corpus hitting .304 in 23 games and being a key contributor in their playoff run.
2016 Stats: 106 G, .259 BA/.375 OBP/.298 SLG, 9 2B, 2 3B, 32 RBI, 21 SB, 62 BB/81 SO
Acquired in the trade that brought Ken Giles to Houston, Arauz played this season at just 17 years old. He posted respectable numbers with the .249 BA at his age, playing against competition 3.5 years older than him. Plenty of scouts are very high on him and hopefully he will make his full season debut next year at just 18 years old. He now has 20 2B and 4 HR in 97 career MiLB games.
2016 Stats: 53 G, .249 BA/.323 OBP/.338 SLG, 10 2B, 2 HR, 18 RBI, 19 BB/45 SO
When Fontana was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft, many expected him to be on a fast track to Houston given his advanced approach. In his first MiLB season he had 65 walks in 44 games with a .464 OBP. This appeared to be his calling call moving forward. Unfortunately, this didn’t carry over to 2016 where he just .195 with a .268 OBP in AAA. He will be 26 next season and will probably be back in AAA.
2016 Stats: 116 G, .203 BA/.282 OBP/.273 SLG, 19 2B, 3 HR, 31 RBI, 40 BB/113 SO
The best shortstop prospect has graduated and now it is up for grabs. I could see any of Duarte, Arauz, or Sierra having a breakout season and taking over that position. Hopefully Sierra and Arauz will start out with Quad Cities in 2017 making their full season debuts.
The Astros have now produced Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman in back to back years. They don’t possess a top shortstop prospect but have a few that could turn into one. This position has solid depth in the Astros system.
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**Photo Credit: Kiel Maddox/Fresno Grizzlies**