Astros MiLB Position Review: Shortstop

Astros MiLB Position Review: Shortstop

Now that the season is over we will review each position in the minor league system during the 2019 season. This week we will look at the shortstop position. I will focusing on guys who played the majority of their games at this position.

Previous Position Reviews:

Catcher

First Base

Second Base

Third Base

TOP PERFORMERS

Jeremy Pena

Pena was the Astros 3rd pick in 2018 out of University of Maine. Coming out of college he was seen as possibly the best defensive shortstop in the draft. In 2019, it looks like the bat has started to catch up with the glove. Pena started the year in QC and played in 66 games slashing .293/.389/.421 with 17 SB (138 wRC+). He was promoted to Fayetteville where he hit even better posting a slash line of .317/.378/.467 good for a 146 wRC+. Overall he hit .303 with a .825 OPS while posting a solid walk rate (9.9%) and strikeout rate (19.0%). He also showed a nice increase in power with the 35 XBHs this season while adding 20 SB. A really good season for the 22 year old shortstop.

2019 Stats: 109 G, .303 BA/.385 OBP/.440 SLG, 21 2B, 7 3B, 7 HR, 54 RBI, 20 SB, 141 wRC+


Jack Mayfield

Mayfield has been in the Astros system since 2013 and has truly defied the odds making it to the big leagues this year after not even being drafted. Before getting called up, he put together another good season in AAA. Mayfield played in 100 games in AAA this season and had a very good .566 SLG and .916 OPS (113 wRC+). Mayfield is 29 years old, but should get more looks as a possible utility man for the Astros in 2020. He provides solid depth in case of injury.

2019 Stats: 100 G, .287 BA/.350 OBP/.566 SLG, 26 2B, 26 HR, 79 RBI, 113 wRC+


Myles Straw

Straw played quite a bit of time in Houston but started the season in AAA, and started his new position at shortstop. Overall Straw played more games at shortstop than center field this year, and showed enough that he played shortstop at the big league level too. Straw played 66 games in AAA and hit .321 with a .785 OPS. He also posted a .721 OPS in 128 at bats with the Astros. Nice season overall for Straw and should be on the MLB roster next year.

2019 Stats: 66 G, .321 BA/.391 OBP/.394 SLG, 11 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 33 RBI, 19 SB


Freudis Nova

Nova has been in the Astros system for three years and has made steady progress to this point making his full season debut in 2019. He played in full season at just 19 years old and hit 20 2B and 3 HR. The walk rate needs to improve, but he had stretches where he showed better plate discipline. He finished with a .670 OPS and a 95 wRC+. A decent season but hopefully he really takes a step forward in 2020.

2019 Stats: 75 G, .259 BA/.301 OBP/.369 SLG, 20 2B, 3 HR, 29 RBI, 10 SB, 95 wRC+


THE REST OF THE PACK

Grae Kessinger

Kessinger was a 2nd round pick in 2019, and was seen by many as a glove first shortstop. He moved fast and went to full season after just 12 games in Tri-City (.699 OPS). While he didn’t hit well, he did have some positive moments and showed solid plate discipline with 12.9% walk rate and 15.9% strikeout rate. Overall he had a 93 wRC+ in 62 games.

2019 Stats: 62 G, .232 BA/.333 OBP/.308 SLG, 10 2B, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 9 SB, 93 wRC+


Jonathan Arauz

Arauz was acquired in the Ken Giles deal prior to the 2016 season. I’ll go over his season, but he was recently selected by the Red Sox in the rule 5 draft. Arauz started the season in High-A and he hit .252/.322/.388 before being promoted to AA. There he started hot but finished with a .700 OPS in 28 games. He is still fairly young and can play all over the infield, but he wasn’t great with the bat in 2019.

2019 Stats: 115 G, .249 BA/.319 OBP/.388 SLG, 22 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR, 55 RBI, 6 SB, 104 wRC+


Osvaldo Duarte

Duarte has been a favorite of mine for a while and this year he spent the entire season in AA as a 23 year old. He showed some positive signs but finished with just a .666 OPS. He did have 12 HR and 21 SB, but he also struck out 30.0% of the time while posting just a 6.0% walk rate. He is a spark plug type of player, but the walk and strikeout rates are going to have to improve for him to keep moving up.

2019 Stats: 123 G, .234 BA/.290 OBP/.376 SLG, 13 2B, 8 3B, 12 HR, 46 RBI, 21 SB, 86 wRC+


Anibal Sierra

Sierra was signed by the Astros for $1.5 million back in 2016. So far, he hasn’t done anything to prove that he deserved that kind of bonus. This year playing in AA in the second year in a row, he posted a .558 OPS in 96 games as a 25 year old. His numbers improved a bit in AAA (.679 OPS) but that was in a hitter’s paradise. Overall he had a 61 wRC+ in 111 games.

2019 Stats: 111 G, .210 BA/.282 OBP/.293 SLG, 13 2B, 6 HR, 38 RBI, 61 wRC+


Miguelangel Sierra

Miguelangel was a high upside signing by the Astros a few years back. Unfortunately, he hasn’t translated to production on the field. Sierra played in High-A the full season and posted a .622 OPS with a 35.4% strikeout rate. While he is only just 22 years old, he owns a career .665 OPS in the minors and hasn’t really showed much improvement.

2019 Stats: 111 G, .203 BA/.281 OBP/.341 SLG, 10 2B, 1 3B, 13 HR, 46 RBI, 81 wRC+


2020 OUTLOOK/CONCLUSION

The Astros are currently set at shortstop, but there have been rumors about Carlos Correa being on the trade block., They have built some solid depth thought starting with Jeremy Pena. With another good season, Pena will really fly up the ranks. We saw what Mayfield could do last year and Straw was a really nice bench piece with a chance to start in the outfield. After that, there are a few high upside guys and a low floor guy in Kessinger. Not as deep as third base probably, but still solid depth for the shortstop position overall.

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**Photo Credit: Joe Dwyer**

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