Which Astros Prospects Will Make Their Big League Debuts in 2019?
Over the years and especially within recent memory, we have seen Astros’ Minor Leaguers turn into Major League stars right before our eyes (Springer, Bregman, Correa, McCullers to name a few). The organization continues to stockpile young talent so we will likely add a few names to that list over the next few years. So with the 2019 season slowly but surely approaching, it’s a good time to take a look at which current Astros’ Minor Leaguers will have a chance to not only make their Major League debut, but also make an impact for the Big League club.
Only players who have not yet made their Major League debut were eligible for this list (i.e. Kyle Tucker, Josh James not eligible).
Forrest Whitley — The first and most obvious name on the list is the righty from San Antonio, Forrest Whitley. If you haven’t already, learn the name now because he will be pitching at Minute Maid soon. Rated as the #1 pitching prospect in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline, Whitley already features 4 above average Major League pitches and shows room for improvement. At this point the question is when, not if, Forrest will make his Major League debut in 2019.
Yordan Alvarez — Like Forrest Whitley and Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez frequently appears on national top prospects lists. Though he gets less attention than the other two, he is just as impressive. The 6’5″-225 outfielder/first-baseman swings a powerful bat and shows good athleticism for his size. There is little doubt he can be an impactful Major League player, but the problem is that the Astros currently have a log-jam in the outfield so his path to consistent at-bats is murky at best. But keep an eye on Yordan because if he gets off to a hot start in 2019, the Astros may be tempted to give him a shot in the Big Leagues.
Corbin Martin — The Houston native (Cypress Ranch HS) is an interesting name to watch this year. In 2018 between A+/AA Martin pitched 122 innings with a 2.51 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP as a starter, showing decent command with a 2.4 BB/9 in 103 innings for AA Corpus Christi. What’s interesting about Corbin is that he fell to the Astros in the second round of the 2017 draft due to concerns about whether he was a starter or a reliever after he pitched in both roles at Texas A&M. In his first full season as a professional in 2018, he showed that he can manage his stuff by toning down his fastball a tick (mid-90s instead of high-90s) and pitch with more command as a starter. Now what once was a weakness is a strength for Martin because he has the versatility to pitch as a starter with tempered stuff or out of the bullpen with more electricity. Look for Corbin to make some spot starts for the Astros this season and/or get some outs out of the bullpen.
J.B. Bukauskas — Speaking of pitchers who could fill multiple roles, don’t forget about J.B. Bukauskas, who features maybe the best raw stuff of any of these guys. He throws an upper-90’s fastball and an elite slider that is unhitable at times. Based on that, he profiles as a legit Major League closer, but spent time as a starter in college (North Carolina). An injury-shortened 2018 season may put a damper on his chances to make his Major League debut in 2019, but don’t be surprised if he is getting high-leverage outs for the Astros at some point during the 2019 season.
Which Astros’ Minor Leaguers would YOU like to see make their Major League debut in 2019? Let us know on Twitter @astrosfuture @stephenschlett