With the season just a couple weeks away, we can finally start counting down the Astros top 30 prospects. Today we look at the top 10 prospects in a very deep Houston Astros system!
10. Bryan Abreu, RHP
Current Level: A
Abreu has been a bit of a late bloomer as he was signed in 2013 but really broke onto the scene in 2018. In 2018, between two levels, Abreu had a 1.49 ERA and an absurd 90 K in 54.1 innings. Abreu possesses a solid mid 90s fastball but what really led to his strikeouts was his above average slider and curveball. The Astros added him to the 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft so he could be a fast riser. He has the size and stuff to project as a starter but a bullpen spot isn’t an unrealistic scenario either.
2018 Stats: 14 G, 1.49 ERA, 54.1 IP, 33 H, 23 BB, 90 K, 14.9 K/9
9. Freudis Nova, SS
Current Level: Rookie
Nova is one of the highest potential guys in the Astros system. He was signed for $1.2 million in 2016 and made his stateside debut during the 2018 season. He played in 41 games and hit .308 with 6 HR and 9 SB. Overall he had a 120 wRC+ at just 18 years old. Nova really has all the tools to succeed. Quick feet, strong arm, plus speed, and the ability to hit for both average and power. He has above average raw power too, which is nice to see from a young shortstop. We should see him in Quad Cities in 2019 which will be a good test for the 19 year old.
2018 Stats: 41 G, .308 BA/.331 OBP/.466 SLG, 3 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 28 RBI, 9 SB
8. Cionel Perez, LHP
Current Level: MLB
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. Perez put together a great 2018 season. He started the year in AA and posted a 1.83 ERA with 83 K in 68.1 innings while flashing a 98 MPH heater. He pitched in 5 games in relief for the Grizzlies before being promoted to Houston. With the Astros, he had a 3.97 ERA in 11.1 innings. While he is smaller in stature, he has a solid mix of pitches with a mid 90s fastball and an improving slider and changeup. He also has the advantage of being a left handed pitcher and might be able to carve out a role in the bullpen this year, even though he still projects as a starter.
2018 Stats: 20 G, 2.08 ERA, 73.2 IP, 59 H, 28 BB, 89 K, 10.9 K/9 (AA/AAA)
7. Seth Beer, 1B/OF
Current Level: A+
Beer was the Astros first round pick in 2018, but some people wondered how he would do with a wood bat. He put up numbers early proving them wrong so far. Beer started with Tri-City and had a 1.090 OPS in 11 games before being promoted to Quad Cities. There he had a .934 OPS in 29 games. He finished the season with Buies Creek posting a .746 OPS in 27 games. Through all three levels he had a 155 wRC+ and had just a 16.6 K%. Beer has an intriguing combination of power and patience and should see his bat carry him through the system. Beer played more games in left than first base in 2019 but ultimately I see him ending up as a DH/1B. Here is another good read on Beer.
2018 Stats: 67 G, .304 BA/.389 OBP/.496 SLG, 14 2B, 12 HR, 42 RBI, 25 BB/49 SO
6. J.B. Bukauskas, RHP
Current Level: AA
Bukauskas was the Astros first round pick in 2017. Bukauskas was involved in a car accident in spring training which pushed him timeline back a bit. He pitched a couple times in April before going back on the DL. He started his rehab Tri-City striking out 9 in 8.1 scoreless innings. He went back to Quad Cities and struck out 21 over 15 innings. JB was then promoted to Buies Creek where he really got rolling. He started five games for Buies Creek and posted a 1.61 ERA while striking out 31 over 28 innings. He earned a final promotion to Corpus Christi where he struck out 8 over 6 scoreless innings in his one start. He also made one start in the playoffs allowing 1 run in 6 innings. Overall he had a 2.14 ERA with 71 K in 59 innings. Scouts still question his size but he has a hard fastball, and a 70 grade slider. He mixes in a nice changeup as well. The 2017 draft is looking really strong for pitchers right now.
2018 Stats: 14 G, 2.14 ERA, 59.0 IP, 42 H, 24 BB, 71 K, 10.8 K/9
5. Josh James, RHP
Current Level: MLB
James was drafted in the 34th round of the 2014 draft and steadily made his way through the Astros system. James’ sleep issues are well documented, and getting this figured out, along with some mechanical adjustments, helped him gain elite velocity. This season in the minors he struck out 171 in 114.1 innings with a 3.23 ERA earning him his call up to Houston. James showed why he was getting a lot of buzz striking out 9 in 5 innings in his major league debut and showed off his 101.1 MPH fastball in the first inning. He led the Astros minor league system in strikeouts, and it wasn’t close. He ended up striking out 29 in 23 innings for the Astros this year. James was a late bloomer but has the tools to be a successful starter or reliever in the big leagues.
2018 Stats: 23 G, 3.23 ERA, 114.1 IP, 79 H, 49 BB, 171 K, 13.5 K/9
4. Corbin Martin, RHP
Current Level: AA
Martin was a polarizing prospect in the draft with some seeing him as a first round talent and others seeing him as a mid round pick due to concerns as a starter. The Astros selected him in the second round and he has been great. He started the 2018 season in Buies Creek and struck out 26 batters in 19 scoreless innings while allowing just 4 hits, earning him a quick promotion to AA. Martin’s first start in Double-A was rough but he got rolling after that one. He pitched in 20 games after that first outing and he had a 2.45 ERA (3.26 FIP) with 96 K in 102.2 innings. Overall he had a 2.51 ERA (3.07 FIP) and struck out 122 in 122 innings. Martin has a mid 90s fastball, a plus slider, and an above average changeup. He had a great first full season in the minors and is on the cusp of a callup after just being drafted two years ago.
2018 Stats: 25 G, 2.51 ERA, 122.0 IP, 88 H, 35 BB, 122 K, 3.49 K/BB
3. Yordan Alvarez, LF
Current Level: AAA
The Astros got a steal in Alvarez when they acquired him from the Dodgers in a trade for Josh Fields. Alvarez had a breakout 2017 and continued to see his stock as a prospect rise in 2018. He got off to a great start hitting .299 with 8 2B, 6 HR, 26 RBI in his first 27 games but then missed about a month dealing with a hand injyr. He came back in mid June and finished his time in AA hitting .325 with 12 HR, 46 RBI and 168 wRC+ in 45 games. He was promoted to AAA where he had a .801 OPS with 8 HR in 43 games (111 wRC+). Overall he had a 139 wRC+ as a 21 year old between AA and AAA. Alvarez is huge (6’5″, 225 lbs) but actually moves around really well. I think he has a chance to stick in the outfield and it looks like that is the plan so far. He has monster power and has improved his plate discipline. He was ranked the #34 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America.
2018 Stats: 88 G, .293 BA/.369 OBP/.534 SLG, 21 2B, 20 HR, 74 RBI, 6 SB, 42 BB/92 SO
2. Kyle Tucker, OF
Current Level: MLB
Tucker came into the season as the Astros top position player prospect and the #15 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America. He did not disappoint in 2018 and actually moved even higher in the pre-2019 lists. He started the season in AAA as just a 21 years old and dominated the Pacific Coast League. In 100 games he had a .990 OPS, 24 HR, 93 RBI and a 155 wRC+. He posted respectable walk (10.3 BB%) and strikeout (18.1 K%) numbers as well. He was eventually promoted to Houston and struggled a bit, but numbers indicate he was quite unlucky and didn’t really get enough opportunities to bounce out of it. Here is a good read on Tucker and his 2018 season. Astros fans should expect to see a lot of Kyle Tucker in 2019.
2018 Stats: 100 G, .332 BA/.400 OBP/.590 SLG, 27 2B, 3 3B, 24 HR, 93 RBI, 20 SB, 48 BB/84 SO
1. Forrest Whitley, RHP
Current Level: AA
Whitley was the Astros first round pick in 2016 and he has steadily made his way up the prospect boards. Whitley was dominant in 2017 but had an interesting 2018 season. He missed the first part of it serving a suspension for violating drug policy. He struggled with some injuries and only tossed a combined 26.1 innings this year but is still the top pitching prospect in baseball. Whitley has five above average pitches with a plus fastball, slider and changeup. Fangraphs noted Whitley as having the best collection of pitches in the minor leagues. With his size and pitch collection, he has all the makings of a top flight starter. He might start back at AA this season but I doubt he lasts there long.
2018 Stats: 8 G, 3.76 ERA, 26.1 IP, 15 H, 11 BB, 34 K, 11.6 K/9
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**Photo Credit: Tammy Tucker**