Houston Astros Top 10 Prospects for 2018
With the regular season right around the corner, and the top prospects by each position completed, its time to update the top 30 prospects. Here are the top 10 prospects in the Astros system!
10. JD Davis, 3B
Current Level: MLB
Davis was the Astros 3rd round pick in 2014. He was seen as a third baseman with big power and a big arm and that report has not changed. Davis had a solid 2016 season in AA where he had a 134 wRC+. He started the 2017 season back in AA and showed improvement cutting down on the strikeouts with an increase in ISO. After 87 games in AA he was promoted to AAA Fresno. In 16 games with Fresno he hit 5 HR and drove in 18 earning him a callup to the Astros. Davis posted a 100 wRC+ in 25 MLB games. He also pitched twice out of the pen and was successful in his two stints. Davis could be a big contributor for the Astros in 2018, especially with the injury to Gurriel.
2017 Stats: 103 G, .282 BA/.345 OBP/.527 SLG, 23 2B, 26 HR, 78 RBI, 5 SB, 40 BB/108 SO (minors)
9. Jorge Alcala, RHP
Current Level: A+
Alcala has been in the Astros system since 2015 and has steadily made his way up the ladder. He started the 2017 season with Quad Cities pitching in six games and posting a 2.03 ERA with 35 K in 31 innings. He was promoted to Buies Creek and had a 3.45 ERA with 60 K in 78.1 innings. While his walk and strikeouts rates weren’t great, he was nearly unhittable all season allowing just 71 hits in 109.1 innings, good for a .184 batting average against. Alcala has a 98-100 MPH fastball, touching 102. He will have to harness his stuff but he has a ton of upside.
2017 Stats: 7-6, 3.05 ERA, 109.1 IP, 71 H, 45 BB, 95 K, 7.8 K/9
8. Cionel Perez, LHP
Current Level: AA
Perez originally agreed to a deal with the Astros worth $5.15 million but the deal was voided due to a physical. Perez was later signed for $2 million. He made his debut this season starting with Quad Cities posting a 4.39 ERA with 17 BB/55 K in 55.1 innings. He was promoted to Buies Creek and posted a 2.84 ERA with 5 BB/18 K in 25.1 innings. He is already 21 years old and recently added to the Astros 40-man roster. While he is smaller in stature, he has a solid mix of pitches with a low to mid 90s fastball and an improving slider and changeup.
2017 Stats: 6-4, 4.13 ERA, 93.2 IP, 94 H, 43 ER, 27 BB, 83 K, 8.0 K/9
7. Freudis Nova, SS
Current Level: Rookie
Nova was a big signing by the Astros in 2016 when he signed for $1.2 million. Nova was seen as one of the best prospects of the 2016 international group. Nova played in 47 games in the DSL in 2017 slashing .247/.342/.355 at 17 years old good for a 110 wRC+. Nova is very gifted defensively and has a ton of upside with the bat. Scouts have noted his exceptional bat speed and consistent hard contact. He should start this year in GCL which puts him on track with the typical high school draftee as he will be just 18 years old this season.
2017 Stats: 44 G, .247 BA/.343 OBP/.355 SLG, 6 2B, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 8 SB, 15 BB/33 SO
6. David Paulino, RHP
Current Level: MLB
Paulino was the PTBNL in the trade that sent Veras to Detroit. He missed all of 2014 due to TJ Surgery but has made a resurgence since. He pitched well in 2016 and was eventually called up to the Astros where he pitched just 7 innings. Paulino mixes a mid 90s fastball with a big curveball. Paulino made 3 starts for Fresno before rejoining Houston in 2017. He showed flashes of potential but unfortunately was suspended for 80 games due to a positive test for PEDs. He is still young and has a very high ceiling. He will be 24 in 2018 and could be a guy who sees a lot of time in Houston.
2017 Stats: 2-0, 6.52 ERA, 29.0 IP, 36 H, 7 BB, 34 K, 10.6 K/9 (MLB)
5. Rogelio Armenteros, RHP
Current Level: AAA
One of the breakout prospects in 2016, Armenteros has had another stellar season in 2017. Armenteros was originally signed out of Cuba for just $40,000. He started this season out in Corpus Christ and made quick work of Double-A posting a 1.93 ERA (2.61 FIP) with 74 K in 65.1 innings. He was promoted to Triple-A where he went 8-1 with a 2.16 ERA (3.45 FIP) and 72 K in 58.1 innings over 10 starts. He also had a very good 49.3 GB% with Fresno. Armenteros now owns a career of 42 BB/159 K in 142.0 IP with a 2.03 ERA in AA/AAA. He has started to see some national love with Baseball Prospectus ranking him as 5th in the Astros system. Armenteros has a low 90s fastball and a good changeup. He also has a lot of deception in his delivery making it hard for hitters to pick him up.
2017 Stats: 10-4, 2.04 ERA, 123.2 IP, 91 H, 28 ER, 38 BB, 146 K, 10.6 K/9
4. Yordan Alvarez, 1B
Current Level: A+
Alvarez was originally signed by the Dodgers out of Cuba for $2 million and the Astros snagged him in the trade that sent Fields to Los Angeles. Alvarez was seen as a raw prospect coming into this year but he turned heads crushing the ball in Quad Cities with a 207 wRC+ in 32 games. He was promoted to Buies Creek and was solid there as well cutting down on his strikeout rate and driving in 36 in 58 games. He played some in the outfield but should start moving up the ranks as a first base prospect. Overall he had a 139 wRC+ as a 20 year old between A/A+. Alvarez has as much upside with the bat as anyone in the Astros system with his above average raw power. 2018 could be a big year for him.
2017 Stats: 90 G, .304 BA/.379 OBP/.481 SLG, 17 2B, 12 HR, 69 RBI, 8 SB, 42 BB/77 SO
3. J.B. Bukauskas, RHP
Current Level: A-
Bukauskas was the Astros first round pick in 2017 out of the University of North Carolina. JB had a very good college career posting a 3.18 ERA over 3 seasons. In his junior season he went 9-1 with a 2.53 ERA and 116 K in 92.2 innings. Bukauskas only pitched 10 innings in the Astros system following the draft. Bukauskas features a plus fastball and an elite slider. Bukauskas has the makings of a good pitcher but some scouts have concerns due to his size (6’0″) and lack of a third pitch. At worst, he is a back of the bullpen type power pitcher. He is still working on his changeup and if that develops, he should move through the system fairly quick.
2017 Stats: 0-0, 2.70 ERA, 10.0 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 9 K
2. Kyle Tucker, OF
Current Level: AA
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. Tucker isn’t a burner but has some speed on the bases evident by his 71 stolen bases in 300 minor league games. He may end up in one of the corners but for now he is on the center field list.
2017 Stats: 120 G, .274 BA/.346 OBP/.528 SLG, 33 2B, 5 3B, 25 HR, 90 RBI, 21 SB, 46 BB/109 SO
1. Forrest Whitley, RHP
Current Level: AA
Whitley was the Astros first round pick in 2016 and he has rocketed through the Astros system. Whitley started the 2017 season with Quad Cities and had 67 K in 46.1 (13.0 K/9, 4.0 BB/9) innings with a 2.91 ERA (2.61 FIP). He was promoted to High-A Buies Creek where he had a 3.16 ERA (2.09 FIP) and 50 K in 31.1 IP (14.3 K/9, 2.6 BB/9). He finished with Corpus Christi posting a 1.84 ERA (1.68 FIP) over 4 outings with 4 BB/26 K in 14.2 innings (16.0 K/9, 2.5 BB/9). As you can see, he improved his FIP, K/9, and BB/9 at each level moving up in the system.
Whitley really had a phenomenal first full season making it to AA and joining rare company. Whitley has a mid 90s fastball with multiple plus off-speed offerings. Baseball America rated Whitley’s slider and changeup as the best in the Astros system. Unfortunately he was suspended for the first 50 games in 2017 due to a violation of the MiLB drug prevention program but he will still sit atop the Astros prospects rankings as this shouldn’t really affect him.
2017 Stats: 5-4, 2.83 ERA, 92.1 IP, 78 H, 29 ER, 34 BB, 143 K, 13.9 K/9
**Header Photo Credit: Tammy Tucker**
Also, for those amateur and professional baseball players out there looking for a new quality product to swing check out Aul Bats at AulBatCompany.com. Handmade with attention to detail for a premier product.