Where Are They Now? Astros Top Prospects From 2006
This is a follow up to the other “where are they now?: 2009 prospects” post from a couple weeks ago. This time we look at the Astros top prospects fresh off their first trip to the World Series in franchise history.
1 – Jason Hirsh, RHP
Hirsh was the Astros second round pick in the 2003 draft. He had a great minor league debut and put together his best minor league season in 2005. That year he had a 2.87 ERA with 165 K in 172.1 innings. This was a strong enough performance to see him ranked the #42 prospect in baseball heading into 2006. He made his MLB debut the following year posting a 6.04 ERA in 44.2 innings. In December of 2006, Hirsh was traded to the Rockies, along with Willy Taveras and Taylor Buchholz, for Jason Jennings. Hirsh only logged 121 innings for the Rockies before burning out in the minor leagues in 2010.
2 – Troy Patton, LHP
Patton was a steal by the Astros in the 9th round of the 2004 draft out of Tomball High School. He had a great debut in 2004 but followed it up with an even better 2005 season where he had a 2.18 ERA with 132 K in 119.2 innings between A/A+ at just 19 years old. He was ranked the #62 prospect by Baseball America heading into 2006. Patton would eventually make his debut in 2007 pitching in 12.2 innings at the end of the season. In December of 2007, Patton was traded as part of the Miguel Tejada deal. Patton ended up pitching five seasons for Baltimore and finished his career with a 3.25 ERA in 169.0 innings. He last pitched in the Royals system in 2013.
3 – Hunter Pence, OF
Easily the best of the bunch in some rough years for the Astros. Pence was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2004 draft. Pence had his breakout year in the minors in 2005 hitting .327 with 31 HR between A and A+. The following season he hit .283 with 28 HR earning him a ranking as the #38 prospect in baseball heading into the 2007 season. Pence made his debut in 2007 and never looked back. As a rookie, he hit .322 with .899 OPS and 30 2B, 17 HR in 108 games. Pence would play the next three and a half seasons with the Astros hitting .290 with 103 HR in 680 games. Pence was trade to Philadelphia in 2011 which really triggered the Astros rebuild. He brought back Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid and Domingo Santana. Pence was trade from Philly to San Francisco in 2012 and has been with them ever since. He is a 3x All-Star, 2x World Series Champion and has compiled 29.7 WAR during his career.
4 – Jimmy Barthmaier, RHP
Barthmaier was a 13th round pick out of high school by the Astros in 2003. He earned his ranking here by going 12-6 with a 2.24 ERA and 148 K in 140.2 innings in 2005 between A and A+. He struggled to find the same success he had in 2005 and was eventually claimed on waivers by the Pirates in 2007. He debuted with the Pirates the same year but only pitched 10.1 innings. He went back down the minors and bounced around last playing in the minors in 2012 with the Nationals.
5 – Fernando Nieve, RHP
Nieve began his minor league career with the Astros in 2001. He has some solid seasons early in his career posting a 3.65 ERA in 2003 and 2.81 ERA in 2004. In 2005, Nieve pitched at AA and AAA striking out 171 in 167 innings with a 3.72 ERA. Nieve would make his major league debut the next season with the Astros posting a 4.20 ERA in 40 games (11 starts). He missed the majority of the 2007 season with Tommy John Surgery and came back in 2008 but pitched in just 11 games. In 2009 he was claimed off Waivers by the Mets. He pitched in two seasons for the Mets but had a 4.58 ERA over 78.2 innings. He bounced around five different systems before pitching in a few foreign leagues. He last pitched in 2018 in the Mexican League.
6 – Brian Bogusevic, LHP
Bogusevic was the Astros 1st round selection in 2005 as a pitcher. He pitched in the minors from 05-08 before fully making the transition to outfield in 2009. He ended up making his debut in 2010 in the Astros depleted outfield. Brian looked the part standing at 6-3, 215 lbs. He really struggled with the Astros though playing in 252 games and hitting just .227 with 80 OPS+. He signed a minor league deal with the Cubs in 2012 and played 47 games with them in 2013. He bounced around a bit before joining the Phillies in 2015 and playing in 22 games. That was his last MLB appearance as he finished with a career 87 OPS+ in 321 games.
7 – Eli lorg, OF
Eli was the Astros first round pick in the 2005 draft. He had a very good debut hitting .333 with 7 HR and 34 RBI in 35 games. His debut in full season ball didn’t go as well as he hit just .256 with .313 OBP, though he did have 15 HR and 85 RBI in 125 games. Eli would eventually make it up to AAA despite pretty mediocre numbers. He flamed out in AAA and last played in 2009. His career slash line in the minors was .273/.323/.445.
8 – Ben Zobrist, SS
The one that got away. Zobrist was a 6th round pick in 2004. He showed his abilities early hitting .339 with 43 BB/31 SO in his debut season and followed that up with .317 and 84 BB/52 SO in 2005. In the summer of 2006, Zobrist was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for Aubrey Huff. Zobrist made his major league debut in 2006 hitting .224 in 52 games. He played in 31 game sin 2007 and 62 games in 2008 before breaking out in 2009. In that 2009 season he hit .297 with .405 OBP, 27 HR, 91 RBI, 150 OPS+ and was worth 8.6 WAR. Zobrist continued to perform well for the Rays through the 2014 season when he was traded to Oakland. He was only with Oakland for a few months when he was flipped to Kansas City at the deadline. Zobrist would go onto help the Royals win a World Series in 2015 and then signed a $56 million deal with the Cubs prior to 2016. He won another World Series in 2016, this time taking home World Series MVP. Overall he has a .785 OPS, 116 OPS+, 344 2B, 166 HR and has been worth 45.3 WAR. The one that got away…..
9 – Felipe Paulino, RHP
Paulino was signed by the Astros and he debuted in the system in 2003. In his third year in the system, 2005, he had a combined 2.95 ERA over 55 innings with 64 K. In 2007 he had a 3.62 ERA in AA and was strong enough to earn a call-up by the Astros. He would bounce between the minors and majors during the 2007-2010 seasons. The Astros traded him to Colorado for Clint Barmes in 2010. He would pitch for Colorado, Kansas City and the White Sox before moving to the Mexico Leagues and Independent Leagues. In 2018 for the Sugar Land Skeeters, he posted a 1.18 ERA with 72 K in 53.1 innings.
10 – Matt Albers, RHP
Albers was drafted by the Astros in the 23rd round of the 2001 draft. He pitched well early in his minor league career including a season where he struck out 140 in 111.1 innings. In the 2005 season he pitched at Salem and had a 4.66 ERA with 146 K in 148.2 innings. The following season between AA and AAA he had a 2.49 ERA and earned a call-up to Houston pitching in 15 innings. He pitched the following season with the Astros as well but struggled with a 5.86 ERA. In December 2007, Albers was traded to Baltimore. Albers ended up carving himself out a role as a relief pitcher for Baltimore from 2008-2010. He has since played with Boston, Arizona, Cleveland, back with Houston, Chicago White Sox, Nationals and the Brewers in 2018. The results with the Brewers weren’t pretty though as he had a 7.34 ERA and was worth -1.6 WAR. To this date he has made 549 career appearances with a 4.29 ERA.