Astros MiLB Position Review: Starting Pitching
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 starting pitchers in the system. There are a ton of pitchers, I tried to cover the majority of them that performed well.
Previous Position Reviews:
Javier put together a phenomenal 2019 season. He has been on the rise the last couple years but made his way to AAA in 2019 and did it in dominating fashion. He started the year in High-A and posted a 0.94 ERA with 40 K in 28.2 innings. He was them promoted to AA and kept it rolling with a 2.04 ERA and 114 K in 74 innings. He finished the season making two starts in AAA and allowing 2 ER in 11 innings with 16 strikeouts. If all goes as planned, he should be making his big league debut in 2020.
2019 Stats: 26 G, 1.71 ERA, 113.2 IP, 51 H, 22 ER, 59 BB, 170 K, 13.5 K/9
Garcia was signed by the Astros for just $20,000 back in 2017. He put together a breakout year in 2019 though. He started the year with Quad Cities and had a 2.93 ERA with 60 K in 43.0 innings. He was then promoted to High-A where he had a 3.02 ERA with 108 K in 65.2 innings (14.8 K/9). Fangraphs noted that Garcia has a mid 90s fastball and a plus slurve. He will be 23 years old for the 2020 season.
2019 Stats: 24 G, 2.98 ERA, 108.2 IP, 66 H, 36 ER, 50 BB, 168 K, 13.9 K/9
Conine has been another late round gem for the Astros after being drafted in the 11th round in 2018. He started the year in Quad Cities but made quick work on the Midwest League posting a 1.91 ERA with 6 BB/40 K in 33 innings. He was promoted to High-A where he was great again with a 2.42 ERA and 80 K in 63.1 innings. The Astros aggressively moved him to AA to end the season and he had a 2.l00 ERA in four games. He will be 23 for the 2020 season and has a chance to push for a mid to late season call-up.
2019 Stats: 25 G, 2.20 ERA, 114.1 IP, 91 H, 28 ER, 29 BB, 134 K, 10.5 K/9
What Paredes lacks in size, he makes up for in stuff. He is listed at just 5’11” and 168 lbs but struck out 12.3 K/9 in 2019. He started the year in High-A and had a 1.64 ERA with 59 K in 44 innings. He was promoted to AA where he struck out 69 in 50 innings with a 3.78 ERA (2.51 FIP). Paredes tops out near 100 MPH and has a very good curve. His size may force him to the pen, but he has the stuff to pitch in Houston in 2020.
2019 Stats: 22 G, 2.78 ERA, 94.0 IP, 50 H, 29 ER, 42 BB, 128 K, 12.3 K/9
Ivey was one of my favorites in the 2017 draft and he had a solid season in 2019. His performance on the field was very good, but he dealt with some injuries that restricted him to pitching just 52 innings. In those innings, he had a 1.38 ERA with 68 K. For the Hooks, he had a 1.57 ERA in 46 of those innings. If he stays healthy, he could make some noise in the Astros system next season.
2019 Stats: 14 G, 1.38 ERA, 52.0 IP, 28 H, 8 ER, 20 BB, 68 K, 11.8 K/9
Lopez was another signing out of Venezuela in the 2017 signing period, though he signed for $300,000. Lopez made his stateside debut in 2019 and definitely made the most of it. He started the year in the GCL and had a 1.09 ERA with 25 K in 24.2 innings. He was promoted to Tri-City, where he pitched 3.3 years younger than average, and had a 1.71 ERA with 36 K in 26.1 innings. He will be 19 for the 2020 season and hopefully making his full-season debut.
2019 Stats: 13 G, 1.41 ERA, 51.0 IP, 25 H, 8 ER, 23 BB, 61 K, 10.8 K/9
Dubin is a very interesting prospect. He is listed at 6’1″ – 154 lbs and he looks it. But he can bring it on the mound with a solid fastball and a good slider. He pitched in Quad Cities briefly in 2019 striking out 19 in 12 innings with a 0.75 ERA. He was promoted to High-A where he pitched in 98.2 innings and struck out 132 with a 3.92 ERA (2.62 FIP). It will be interesting to see how he performs as he makes his way to AA.
2019 Stats: 25 G, 3.58 ERA, 110.2 IP, 78 H, 44 ER, 46 BB, 151 K, 12.3 K/9
Deason was a 5th round pick by the Astros in 2018 out of the University of Arizona. He started the year with Quad Cities and was solid posting a 3.28 ERA with 76 K in 60.1 innings. He was promoted to High-A where he had a 3.57 ERA with 44 K in 40.1 innings. Overall he had a 3.40 ERA (3.15 FIP) with 120 K in 100.2 innings.
2019 Stats: 23 G, 3.40 ERA, 100.2 IP, 76 H, 38 ER, 45 BB, 120 K, 10.7 K/9
THE REST OF THE PACK
Everyone knows the background to Whitley so there isn’t much point getting into it. After a 2018 season that saw him pitch in just 26.1 innings, he followed that up with a worse 2019. He pitched across four levels as he dealt with injuries most of the year. He compiled 86 K in 59.2 innings but had a 7.99 ERA. In AAA, he allowed a .343 BAA. Just a rough season for him but he will only be 22 in 2020.
2019 Stats: 18 G, 7.99 ERA, 59.2 IP, 59 H, 53 ER, 44 BB, 86 K, 13.0 K/9
Urquidy was better than his overall numbers showed. He started the year in AA and had a 4.09 ERA but 5 BB/40 K in 33 innings. He was promoted to AAA where he had a 4.63 ERA with 16 BB/94 K in 70 innings before being promoted to Houston. With the Astros he had a 3.95 ERA in 9 games. Urquidy was great in the playoffs and probably did enough to secure a rotation spot in 2020.
2019 Stats: 20 G, 4.46 ERA, 103.0 IP, 95 H, 51 ER, 21 BB, 134 K, 11.7 K/9
Bielak was an 11th round pick for the Astros in 2017. He made it to AAA in 2019 and put together a decent season. He started in AA and had a 3.75 ERA with 33 K in 36 innings. He was promoted to AAA where he had a 4.41 ERA with 86 K in 85.2 innings, but had a 3.04 ERA over his final 12 games of the season. He looks to be a guy who can make an impact in 2020.
2019 Stats: 23 G, 4.22 ERA, 121.2 IP, 98 H, 57 ER, 50 BB, 119 K
Another guy who debuted in Houston in 2019. Abreu started the year in High-A and had a 3.68 ERA with 25 K in 14.2 innings. He was promoted to AA where he struggled a bit with a 5.05 ERA (3.99 FIP) but did have 101 K in 76.2 innings. He was promoted to Houston where he had a 1.04 ERA with 13 K in 8.2 innings. He has a solid fastball and a good curve and slider. He should be a bullpen piece in 2020.
2019 Stats: 23 G, 4.83 ERA, 91.1 IP, 69 H, 49 ER, 54 BB, 126 K, 12.4 K/9
**Photo Credit: Tammy Tucker**