Closer Look at Astros Non-Roster Invitees
Last week the Astros announced the non-roster invitees to Spring Training. As always there is a couple veteran minor league guys on the list but the list is headlined by some very good prospects. Here is a closer look at some of the prospects.
The Astros #1 prospect, Martes, will obviously be one to watch. Martes was an under the radar acquisition in 2014 in the Jarred Cosart trade. Martes had a breakout 2015 season pitching across three levels at just 19 years old and making it to AA. In 2016, he pitched in Double-A and after a slow start, he has dominated the Texas League. From May 17th until the end of the season Martes went 7-4 with a 2.52 ERA and 114 K in 103.2 innings. At just 20 years old, he has established himself as one of the best pitching prospects in baseball striking out 131 batters in 125.1 innings in AA. Martes has a very good power breaking ball and a mid to high 90s fastball. He may not make the club out of Spring Training but I don’t think it will be long for him to be ready. He could be a guy who makes a McCullers type impact in 2017.
2016 Stats: 9-6, 3.30 ERA, 125.1 IP, 104 H, 47 BB, 131 K, 9.4 K/9, 2.73 FIP
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. Fisher will most likely start the season in AAA but will probably be one of the first outfielders called up if the Astros need help.
2016 Stats: 129 G, .255 BA/.367 OBP/.448 SLG, 21 2B, 4 3B, 21 HR, 76 RBI, 28 SB, 83 BB/154 SO
Stubbs was drafted by the Astros out of USC in 2015. He was known as a great defender but has really made good strides with the bat. In 2015, he played in 36 games hitting .263 with an insane 21 BB/5 SO ratio. Stubbs started the 2016 season with Lancaster and got off to a nice start slashing .305/.399/.473 in the first half of the season. Stubbs was eventually promoted to Corpus Christi where he continued his hot hitting and actually improved in every category slashing .325/.401/.517 over 31 AA games. On the season he stole 15 bases and only struck out 48 times in 86 games. He has definitely established himself as the best catching prospect in the Astros system. Stubbs also hit .412 with 2 2B, 2 RBI in four playoff games for the Hooks. Overall he threw out 51% of base stealers in 2016. Stubbs will still get some more time in the minor leagues but if injuries were to happen at the catcher position, he could fine himself on the MLB roster in 2017.
2016 Stats: 86 G, .304 BA/.391 OBP/.469 SLG, 22 2B, 10 HR, 54 RBI, 15 SB, 43 BB/48 SO
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. Just like Stubbs, he will still see more time in the minors. But as we saw in 2016, the Astros aren’t afraid to be aggressive and call some young guys up.
2016 Stats: 116 G, .319 BA/.428 OBP/.528 SLG, 27 2B, 8 3B, 15 HR, 73 RBI, 43 SB, 70 BB/119 SO
Davis was drafted by the Astros in the 3rd round of the 2014 MLB draft. His first full season in the minors (2015) he put together a strong year hitting .289 with 26 HR. Davis played the entire 2016 season with the Corpus Christi Hooks and again proved his value at the plate. He finished hitting .268 and lead the Astros minor league system in HR (23) and RBI (81). He has some swing and miss in his game but when he makes contact he can do a lot of damage. Davis is one of the better power bats in the Astros system and should start the season in AAA.
2016 Stats: 126 G, .268 BA/.334 OBP/.485 SLG, 34 2B, 23 HR, 81 RBI, 45 BB/143 SO
Sneed was acquired from the Brewers in the trade that sent Jon Villar to Milwaukee. Sneed got off to a nice start in the 2016 season going 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA in his first 13 outings. Sneed hit a bit of a rough stretch in late June and July which caused his ERA to rise. He was able to turn it around in August with a 2.27 ERA. Sneed has a solid four pitch mix with advanced pitchability. He could start out in AA again, but if he puts together a nice season, he could see himself in Houston.
2016 Stats: 6-5, 4.04 ERA, 118 IP, 119 H, 33 BB, 112 K, 8.5 K/9, 3.3 K/BB
For the full list of the Astros non-roster invitees click HERE.
**Photo Credit: Kiel Maddox/Fresno Grizzlies**