Astros MiLB Position Review: Center Field
We continue our position reviews in the Astros system this week, taking a look at the center field position. I will focus on guys who played primarily center field in 2017.
Here are the previous position reviews:
Tucker has steadily moved up the prospect rankings and his stock got even higher this year. He started the season with Buies Creek (High-A) and made quick work of the Carolina League hitting .285 with 9 HR, 43 RBI in 48 games with a 159 wRC+. He was promoted to Corpus Christi and spent the remainder of the season. In 72 games with the Hooks, Tucker hit .265 with 16 HR, 47 RBI and a 129 wRC+. While his walk rate dropped, he actually cut down on his K rate a bit. Overall Tucker had a very good season combining for 25 HR, 90 RBI and a 141 wRC+ as a 20 year old. Tucker had the 6th highest ISO (.247) in all of AA with at least 300 PAs. The only notable above him was Rafael Devers, the rest were 23+ years old.
2017 Stats: 120 G, .274 BA/.346 OBP/.528 SLG, 33 2B, 5 3B, 25 HR, 90 RBI, 21 SB, 46 BB/109 SO
Fisher was drafted by the Astros with the 37th overall pick in 2013 and has always been known as a high upside guy. He was ranked the #83 prospect in baseball prior to the 2017 season (MLB.com). After a strong finish in AAA last year in 27 games, Fisher carried that over this year destroying the PCL. He played in 84 AAA games and hit .318 with 26 2B, 21 HR, 66 RBI including .369 in May and .353 in July. He performed well enough to earn a promotion to Houston where he had 5 HR and 82 wRC+ in 166 PA. He figures to be a big time player in Houston in 2018.
2017 Stats: 84 G, .318 BA/.384 OBP/.583 SLG, 26 2B, 21 HR, 66 RBI, 16 SB, 35 BB/74 SO (AAA)
Straw had somewhat of a breakout prospect in 2016 when he hit .374 in 68 games for Quad Cities (.358 overall). Straw started the 2017 season with Buies Creek and continued to swing the bat well hitting .295 with a .412 OBP in 114 games for BC. He posted a phenomenal 16.3 BB% and 13.1 K%. Straw is also one of the fastest runners in the Astros system and he showed it on the bases in 2017 stealing 36 bases for Buies Creek. He was promoted to AA and played in 13 games there hitting .239 with a .340 OBP. Overall he had 94 BB/79 SO and was 38/47 in SB in 127 games.
2017 Stats: 127 G, .290 BA/.405 OBP/.360 SLG, 17 2B, 7 3B, 1 HR, 44 RBI, 38 SB, 94 BB/79 SO
THE REST OF THE PACK
Ferguson has flown under the radar during his Astros career, most likely due to draft position (19th round) and age (now 25) but he has produced at every level. In 2017 he started the season with Corpus Christi and hit .292 with 18 2B, 8 HR, 15 SB in 84 games, good for a 133 wRC+. He was promoted to AAA and hit just .223 but maintained solid walk and strikeout numbers. 2018 should be an interesting season for him.
2017 Stats: 113 G, .275 BA/.369 OBP/.400 SLG, 25 2B, 9 HR, 41 RBI, 18 SB, 57 BB/98 SO
The Astros signed Celestino for $2.5 million back in 2015 and was the #7 international prospect that year according to MLB. Celestino is very athletic and a good defender in CF. In 2017 he played for the Greeneville Astros and hit .262 but showed some of his offensive tools with 10 2B, 4 HR in 59 games. He will be 19 in 2018 and should start with Quad Cities.
2017 Stats: 59 G, .268 BA/.331 OBP/.379 SLG, 10 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 24 RBI, 10 SB, 22 BB/59 SO
Probably the deepest position in the Astros minor league system. Fisher has now graduated but Tucker a consensus top 30 prospect in the MLB. Straw is very fast and has improved his plate discipline. Then you have guys like Ferguson who are solid depth and Celestino who is a high potential guy. Look for Tucker to make his MLB debut some time in 2018 if the need arises, or he forces his way onto the MLB club.
**Photo Credit: Tammy Tucker**