10. Miguelangel Sierra, SS
Current Level: Rookie
Sierra was signed by the Astros out of Venezuela for $1,000,000 in 2014. He made his big screen debut when he appeared in the Jose Altuve documentary that aired prior to 2015. Sierra stands at 5’11” and listed at 165 lbs. He made his Astros debut in 2015 splitting time between DSL and GCL Astros. In 2016, he started the season with Greeneville and showed off some of his tools. In just 31 games with Greeneville he slugged .620 with 11 HR. He was then promoted to Tri-City where he struggled a bit, though he was 3.1 years younger than the average player in the NYPL. Scouts note he has a very quick first step and soft hands, leading many to believe he will be a plus defender at shortstop. At the plate, he shows good pop for his size but needs to work on his pitch recognition. He still has a ways to go but has as much upside as any middle infielder in the Astros system.
2016 Stats: 56 G, .224 BA/.314 OBP/.430 SLG, 5 2B, 3 3B, 11 HR, 24 RBI, 6 SB, 19 BB/74 SO
9. Daz Cameron, OF
Current Level: A-
Cameron, the son of former big leaguer Mike Cameron, was the 37th overall pick in 2015. He showed off his tools in his first season stealing 24 bases in 51 games. Cameron started the 2017 season with Quad Cities but struggled early hitting just .143 in 21 games. He eventually joined Tri-City where he started to turn it around hitting .278 in 19 games. Unfortunately, he season ended after being hit by a pitch breaking his left index finger. At this point, most of Cameron’s ranking is justified on projections. He is well built at 6’2″ and 185 lbs. He has very good speed but is a good center field defender due to his reads and reactions. He also projects to have at least average power.
2016 Stats: 40 G, .212 BA/.287 OBP/.321 SLG, 5 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 12 SB, 14 BB/59 SO
8. Teoscar Hernandez, OF
Current Level: MLB
Hernandez has been in the Astros system since 2011 and made huge strides in 2016. He broke onto the scene in 2014 when he hit .292 with 21 HR, 85 RBI. This led many to expect a big 2015 season and, unfortunately, it didn’t happen. Teoscar finished 2015 hitting just .219 with 17 HR in 121 AA games. Hernandez turned things around big time in 2016 though. He started the year in Corpus and hit .305 with 19 2B, 6 HR, 30 RBI, 29 SB in 69 games. He also improved his plate discipline with 32 BB/55 SO in those games. He was promoted to Fresno where he continued to smoke the ball hitting .313 with a .865 OPS in 38 games. He was promoted to Houston and hit .230 with 4 HR in 100 at bats. Teoscar has a solid mix of power and speed as well as a strong arm in right field. Regardless of where he starts the 2017 season, he should be in Houston at some point.
2016 Stats: 107 G, .307 BA/.377 OBP/.459 SLG, 28 2B, 3 3B, 10 HR, 53 RBI, 34 SB, 45 BB/80 SO
7. Ramon Laureano, OF
Current Level: AA
Laureano, 16th round pick in 2014, had a breakout 2016 season. Before the season I chose him as a possible breakout candidate and he did just that. After struggling in his first taste of pro ball in 2014, he put together a decent 2015 but still left a lot to be desired. In 2016, he had an incredible season. He started the season with Lancaster and hit .317 with 10 HR, 60 RBI in 80 games. In his final 13 games in Lancaster before being promoted he hit .522 (24-for-46) with 4 HR, 14 RBI. Lancaster is a great place to hit but he went to Corpus and hit even better slashing .323/.432/.548 in 36 games. Laureano also stole 43 bases and drew 70 walks. He showed some good power and has a nice line drive stroke. He has played all three outfield positions but might profile best in right field. The speed (43 SB) and patience (70 BB) combination is great to see from a young player. I’m really excited to see how he performs in 2017. You can read more about Laureano here.
2016 Stats: 116 G, .319 BA/.428 OBP/.528 SLG, 28 2B, 7 3B, 15 HR, 73 RBI, 43 SB, 70 BB/119 SO
6. Derek Fisher, OF
Current Level: AAA
Fisher was drafted by the Astros in the supplemental round (37th overall) in 2014. He has one of the highest ceilings in the Astros system with a solid power/speed combination. After posting a very good 2015, Fisher followed it up with a solid 2016 campaign making his way to AAA. He started the season with Corpus Christi where he hit .266 with 13 HR, 57 BB in the first 81 games. He struggled a bit in July but eventually earned a promotion to AAA where he turned it up. In 27 AAA games Fisher hit .290 with 5 HR and 17 RBI. He finished with 21 HR and 28 SB while posting a .367 OBP between AA/AAA. While the average was a bit low, the .367 OBP and 21 HR/28 SB is nice to see. If he can make progress making contact we may see him in Houston in 2017.
2016 Stats: 129 G, .255 BA/.367 OBP/.448 SLG, 21 2B, 4 3B, 21 HR, 76 RBI, 28 SB, 83 BB/154 SO
5. Forrest Whitley, RHP
Current Level: Rookie
Whitley was drafted by the Astros with the 17th overall pick in the 2016 draft. Whitley is huge, especially for just 18 years old, listed at 6’7″ and 240 lbs. After signing Whitley was assigned to the GCL Astros where he 3 BB/13 K in 7.1 IP. He was promoted to Greeneville and 3 BB/13 K in 11.1 IP. He finished the season with an impressive 6 BB/26 K in just 18.2 IP. Whitley has a mid 90s fastball, thanks to his huge frame. But unlike many with big bodies, he has a smooth delivery that he is able to repeat well. He already has a solid off-speed offering and should be pitching in full season next year. He could have a big season and jump up the prospect rankings.
2016 Stats: 1-2, 4.82 ERA, 18.2 IP, 19 H, 6 BB, 26 K, 10.6 K/9
4. Franklin Perez, RHP
Current Level: A
The Astros signed Perez in 2014 at just 16 years old. He made his Astros system debut in 2015 pitching between the DSL and the Gulf Coast League Astros striking out 61 batters in 50 innings at just 17 years old. In 2016, at just 18 years old, Perez made his full season debut with Quad Cities proving why the Astros signed him. He had a 2.84 ERA with 19 BB/75 K in 66.2 IP. While Perez doesn’t have the high 90s fastball, he works it 92-94 MPH (touching 95) while mixing in solid offspeed pitches (curveball, changeup) with the changeup being the best. He has very advanced pitchability for his age. He is very athletic and has a good build for a starter as well. He will be 19 years old for the full 2017 season and could make his way to Double-A, similar to Martes in 2015.
2016 Stats: 3-3, 2.84 ERA, 66.2 IP, 63 H, 19 BB, 75 K, 10.4 K/9, 4.1 K/BB
3. David Paulino, RHP
Current Level: MLB
Paulino was the PTBNL in the trade that sent Veras to Detroit. He missed all of 2014 due to TJ Surgery but has made a resurgence since. Last season he 5-3 with a 2.81 ERA over three different levels. He was even better this season pitching in AA and AAA. With Corpus, Paulino posted a 1.83 ERA with 11 BB/72 K in 64 innings. He missed sometime due to a minor injury but came back and pitched well. He was eventually called up to the Astros where he pitched just 7 innings. Paulino mixes a mid 90s fastball with a big curveball. He hit a career high in innings last year (97 total) and will probably be on a limit due to the TJS. He will most likely start in AAA and will be one of the first to come up when help is needed.
2016 Stats: 5-4, 2.00 ERA, 90.0 IP, 72 H, 19 BB, 106 K, 10.6 K/9, 5.5 K/BB
2. Kyle Tucker, OF
Current Level: A+
Most Astros fans knew the name “Tucker” prior to the 2015 draft thanks to Kyle’s older brother Preston. Kyle was the #5 overall pick in 2015 and he had a season to justify it. Coming out of the draft, Tucker was seen as one of the purest high school hitters available. He made his full season debut to open the year with Quad Cities. He didn’t have much around him but still managed to hit .276 with 6 HR, 56 RBI and surprising many with 31 stolen bases. He played the majority of his games this season in center field, a good sight to see as he hasn’t been relegated to the corners. He earned a promotion to Lancaster where he dominated hitting .339 with 3 HR, 13 RBI in 16 games helping Lancaster to the playoffs. Tucker’s calling card is his bat and, unlike most these days, he does a good job making contact. He also has some pop (with more to be expected) and solid speed. He will be just 20 in 2017 and should see time in Corpus.
2016 Stats: 117 G, .285 BA/.360 OBP/.438 SLG, 25 2B, 7 3B, 9 HR, 69 RBI, 32 SB, 50 BB/81 SO
1. Francis Martes, RHP
Current Level: AA
Martes was an under the radar acquisition in 2014 in the Jarred Cosart trade. Martes had a breakout 2015 season pitching across three levels at just 19 years old and making it to AA. He pitched whole 2016 season with Corpus and after a slow start, he has dominated the Texas League. From May 17th until the end of the season Martes went 7-4 with a 2.52 ERA and 114 K in 103.2 innings. At just 20 years old, he has established himself as one of the best pitching prospects in baseball striking out 131 batters in 125.1 innings in AA. Martes has a very good power breaking ball and a mid to high 90s fastball. He is still very young and will pitch all of 2017 at just 21 years old and is one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. He could be a guy who makes a McCullers type impact for Houston in 2017.
2016 Stats: 9-6, 3.30 ERA, 125.1 IP, 104 H, 47 BB, 131 K, 9.4 K/9, 2.7 K/BB