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Houston Astros Top Prospects for 2019 (Updated)

The Round Rock Express played the Nashville Sounds in an Pacific Coast League baseball game at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas, on April 9, 2019. The Nashville won 3-1. (Andy Nietupski / Through the Lens Sports Media)

Astros Top Prospects

With the draft last month, and some recent graduations, it’s time for an update. Here we go!

30. Valente Bellozo, RHP

Bellozo was signed by the Astros as an international free agent in 2017. He is a small guy, standing at just 5-10 but he makes up for it in ability. He has an 88-92 MPH fastball and a solid changeup and slider. Bellozo pounds the zone and so far this season, has made a nice transition stateside.

2019 Stats: 9 G, 1.49 ERA, 36.1 IP, 21 H, 9 BB, 44 K

29. Enmanuel Valdez, 2B

Valdez has been a favorite of mine for a few years and its nice to see him having a breakout season in 2019. He started the year with Quad Cities and had a .816 OPS in 33 games before earning a promotion to High-A, where the numbers dipped a bit. Overall he is hitting .243 with .701 OPS this season. He has draws some walks, doesn’t strikeout a ton, and has some power for a smaller guy.

2019 Stats: 87 G, .243 BA/.314 OBP/.387 SLG, 20 2B, 7 HR, 44 RBI, 7 SB

28. Hunter Brown, RHP

The Astros drafted Brown in the 5th round of the 2019 draft. While he didn’t pitch at a big school (Wayne State) he still put up great numbers striking out 114 over 85 innings. Scouts note this breaking ball has potential to be great but he still needs to refine his command. 

2019 Stats: 7 G, 5.27 ERA, 13.2 IP, 8 H, 15 BB, 16 K

27. Brandon Bailey, RHP

Bailey was acquired in the trade that sent Laureano to Oakland. He is a smaller guy but can really rack up the strikeouts. He started this year in AA and so far has 70 K in 69.2 innings with a 3.49 ERA. He fits the mold of the high spin rate curveball and can spin it for strikeouts.

2019 Stats: 17 G, 3.49 ERA, 69.2 IP, 54 H, 31 BB, 70 K

26. Joe Perez, 3B

Perez was drafted by the Astros in the 2nd round of the 2017 draft. Most thought he would be a pitcher but the Astros wanted to use him as a third baseman. He missed the majority of the 2018 season due to Tommy John surgery but has came back this year healthy. He has played in 21 games posting just a .581 OPS but the tools are there for him.

2019 Stats: 21 G, .208 BA/.256 OBP/.325 SLG, 4 2B, 3B, HR, 7 RBI, 2 SB

25. Ross Adolph, OF

Adolph was a 12th round pick by the Mets in the 2018 draft and traded to the Astros in the Davis deal this last off-season. He played in short season ball in 2018 but showed his ability posting a .857 OPS with 9 2B, 12 3B, 7 HR, 14 SB and a 147 wRC+. It appears the reason he fell was some past medical history but he was healthy this past season. He has plus raw power and speed. He started the season slow but after he got it going in Quad Cities, he earned a promotion to High-A. In 20 games with Fayetteville he is hitting .321 with .901 OPS.

2019 Stats: 91 G, .241 BA/.378 OBP/.408 SLG, 16 2B, 6 3B, 7 HR, 29 RBI, 10 SB

24. Jonathan Arauz, SS

Arauz was acquired in the deal that also netted Ken Giles. He has always been young for his league, though it hasn’t translated to success. He started 2018 well but tapered off. After a slow start to 2019, Arauz has hitting a lot better. Overall he is having .256 with a .719 OPS. He is still young for his league should fill in more as he gets older.

2019 Stats: 85 G, .256 BA/.325 OBP/.395 SLG, 19 2B, 8 HR, 40 RBI, 5 SB

23. Alex McKenna, OF

McKenna was a 3rd round pick in 2018 and hit well following the draft slashing .311/.394/.512. He started this year with Quad Cities but for some reason, he keeps getting hurt and they have led to nagging injuries. He is finally back healthy this season and is hitting .264 in 37 games. He has yet to tap into the power but he has the tools to do so.

2019 Stats: 37 G, .264 BA/.358 OBP/.310 SLG, 3 2B, HR, 14 RBI, 3 SB

22. Grae Kessinger, SS

Kessinger was the Astros 2nd round pick in this summer’s draft out of Ole Miss. He hit .330 as a junior. He is a solid defender at short and has a quality bat to go with it, including some untapped power. MLB.com notes he may be more of a second baseman than a shortstop, but there was enough there with the bat for the Astros to take him in the second round.

2019 Stats: 31 G, .220 BA/.289 OBP/.321 SLG, 8 2B, 1 HR, 11 RBI

21. Brett Conine, RHP

Conine was drafted by the Astros in the 11th round of the 2018 draft. He made the transition from reliever to starter in the pros and the transition has went well. He owns a career 2.27 ERA in the minors with 149 K in 119 innings. After dominating QC early this year he was promoted to High-A where he has continued pitching well. He has a fastball, slider, curveball, and improving changeup. For more on him, check out this interview.

2019 Stats: 19 G, 2.37 ERA, 87.1 IP, 65 H, 19 BB, 112 K, 5.9 K/BB

20. Colin Barber, OF

Barber was drafted by the Astros in the 4th round of the 2019 draft as a big overslot guy getting a $1,000,000 bonus. He has a quick bat with plus raw power from the left side. He also has solid speed and arm strength to play all the outfield positions, if he doesn’t stick in center for some reason.

2019 Stats: 14 G, .220 BA/.339 OBP/.360 SLG, 4 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI

19. J.J. Matijevic, OF/1B

Matijevic was drafted by the Astros in the 2nd round in 2017. He had a very good 2018 season slashing .277/.350/.538 with 22 HR in 101 games. He started the year in AA and struggled hitting just .240 with 2 HR in 19 games. Unfortunately, he was suspended 50 games for drug abuse violation. He has since came back from the suspension and hit .253 with 7 2B, 4 HR, 13 RBI in 25 games since returning.

2019 Stats: 48 G, .255 BA/.311 OBP/.463 SLG, 13 2B, 8 HR, 22 RBI

18. Jairo Solis, RHP

I want to have him higher but he will be recovering from TJS and will miss all of this season. He pitched in Quad Cities last year as an 18 year old and struck out 55 in 50.2 innings. He will only be 20 when he makes his return.

2019 Stats: N/A

17. Peter Solomon, RHP

Solomon was another high upside pick in 2017. A guy who had electric stuff but control issues. In 2018 he had a 2.32 ERA with a 2.40 FIP and 114 K in 100.2 innings. He quickly moved up the rankings thanks to this performance. He pitched in two games this year in High-A striking out 14 in 7.2 innings before landing on the 7-day injured list. I haven’t heard an update yet, but hopefully it’s not serious.

2019 Stats: 2 G, 2.35 ERA, 7.2 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 14 K

16. Ronnie Dawson, OF

Dawson was the Astros 2nd round pick in 2016 and he has all the tools to be a big league player. For him, it’s just putting them together on the field. After a solid season in 2018, he started this year back in AA. Dawson started slow this year but has picked up the power numbers recently as he is up to 18 2B, 17 HR with .770 OPS. He is 24 years old but a power/speed combo from the left side will keep him around a while.

2019 Stats: 83 G, .222 BA/.327 OBP/.443 SLG, 18 2B, 17 HR, 44 RBI, 12 SB

15. Enoli Paredes, RHP

Paredes has been in the system since 2016 and possesses an electric arm. He is smaller in stature but has a mid 90s fastball that can blow guys away. He was very good last year with a 1.43 ERA and 90 K in 69 innings. This year has been more of the same with 111 K in 82 innings and a 2.85 ERA. This includes and impressive 52 K in 38 AA innings. He is electric when he is on. Its just about finding consistency for him now.

2019 Stats: 18 G, 2.85 ERA, 82 IP, 47 H, 36 BB, 111 K

14. Rogelio Armenteros, RHP

Armenteros really broke onto the scene in 2017 when he dominated across AA and AAA posting a 2.04 ERA with 146 K in 123.2 innings. Armenteros spent the entire 2018 season in AAA and struck out 10.2 per 9 innings but had a 3.74 ERA. He has struggled in 2019, like some other pitchers in AAA, posting a 5.80 ERA with 64 K in 59 innings. He did post a 1.93 ERA in 14 innings with the Astros before going back down to AAA. 

2019 Stats: 15 G, 5.80 ERA, 59.0 IP, 71 H, 22 BB, 64 K

13. Garrett Stubbs, C

Stubbs has worked his was through the system after being drafted in 2015. He is an athletic catcher with a strong arm. His offensive profile is intriguing too. He has a little pop but doesn’t strikeout at all. He has struck out just 183 times in 333 games. He got a little time in Houston when Stassi was injured but has since gone back down to AAA.

2019 Stats: 47 G, .241 BA/.345 OBP/.421 SLG, 8 2B, 6 HR, 17 RBI

12. Luis Santana, 2B

The 19 year old infielder was signed by the Mets as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2016 as one of their more expensive signings and traded to Houston this off-season. Santana was ranked among the Mets’ top 30 prospects at the time of the trade. In his short time in pro ball thus far, he has posted the following slash line: .329/426/.465 with a 64BB/52K ratio. He spent some time in AA hitting .228 before being assigned to Tri-City where he has hit .247 in 27 games.

2019 Stats: 45 G, .239 BA/.321 OBP/.275 SLG, 5 2B, 6 RBI, 11 BB/17 SO

11. Cristian Javier, RHP

Javier has posted great numbers during his minor league career, and has done so with solid but not great stuff. After a 2.70 ERA last year between A/A+, he has made it up to AA this season. Overall in 2019 he has a 1.87 ERA with 123 K in 86.2 innings. While the stuff he possesses isn’t elite, he has consistently put up good numbers thanks to high spin rates and solid breaking balls. If he finishes this way in AA this season, he will continue to rise.

2019 Stats: 20 G, 1.87 ERA, 86.2 IP, 40 H, 46 BB, 123 K, 12.8 K/9

10. Jordan Brewer, OF

Brewer was the Astros 3rd round pick in the 2019 draft. He spent two years playing at a community college before transferring to Michigan and having a breakout season slashing .338/.396/.586 with 19 2B, 12 HR, 24 SB. He has above-average speed and power and could be a 20-20 threat. He might play center for the Astros but can play all outfield positions.

2019 Stats: N/A

9. Jeremy Pena, SS

I’ll be honest, I didn’t imagine Pena moving up this quickly but his performance can’t be ignored. After being drafted by the Astros in the 3rd round last year, he hit .250 in 36 games. His calling card was his glove at shortstop, but he has hit very well this year. In 66 games he has 5 HR, 41 RBI, 17 SB while hitting .293 with .810 OPS (137 wRC+). He was promoted to High-A where he has been even better hitting .333 with 150 wRC+. Elite defense and this offensive performance has him flying up the list.

2019 Stats: 92 G, .308 BA/.386 OBP/.460 SLG, 17 2B, 7 3B, 7 HR, 52 RBI, 20 SB

8. Tyler Ivey, RHP

Ivey was a high upside selection in the 2017 draft. He initially attended Texas A&M before transferring to Grayson Community College. In 2018, Ivey had a 2.07 ERA with 135 K in 112 innings. He started the year in AA and pitched well early on posting a 0.72 ERA with 9 BB/37 K in 25 innings. Ivey missed some time with an injury but recently rejoined the Hooks where hopefully he can replicate his early success. 

2019 Stats: 10 G, 0.54 ERA, 33.1 IP, 13 H, 15 BB, 49 K

7. Brandon Bielak, RHP

Bielak was drafted out of Notre Dame in the 11th round following a really rough junior season. The Astros were aggressive with his minor league placement and it paid off as he had a 2.23 ERA with a 2.94 FIP across A+/AA last season. Bielak started back in AA this season posting a 3.75 ERA with 33 K in 36 innings. This earned him a promotion to AAA. After a couple rough outings in AAA, he has a 2.20 ERA over his last six starts. 

2019 Stats: 18 G, 4.18 ERA, 92.2 IP, 73 H, 42 BB, 84 K

6. Abraham Toro, 3B

Toro was drafted by the Astros in the 5th round of the 2016 draft. He made his full season debut in 2017 and made it up to AA in 2018. Toro has a very strong arm and good power, while being a switch hitter. He has put together a really good season as a 22 year old in AA posting a .875 OPS. He has already moved up a bunch but could see his stock sore even higher if he continues this pace.

2019 Stats: 96 G, .295 BA/.386 OBP/.489 SLG, 21 2B, 4 3B, 14 HR, 64 RBI, 48 BB/77 K

5. Bryan Abreu, RHP

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 started the 2019 season at High-A but only pitched in 14.2 innings as he struck out 25. He was promoted to AA where he has a 5.17 ERA, but he has had plenty of strong outings in AA so far.

2019 Stats: 18 G, 4.86 ERA, 70.1 IP, 54 H, 38 BB, 92 K, 11.8 K/9

4. Korey Lee, C

Lee was drafted by the Astros in the first round, 32nd overall, in the 2019 draft following a great junior season where he slashed .337/.416/.619 with 15 HR in 51 games. Lee has above-average raw power and arm strength. He should also be able to stick behind the plate as he has the arm to control the running game.

2019 Stats: 33 G, .270 BA/.358 OBP/.383 SLG, 3 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 6 RBI

3. Freudis Nova, SS

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 was assigned to Quad Cities this season at just 19 and has held his own hitting .250 with 13 2B in 44 games.

2019 Stats: 46 G, .258 BA/.286 OBP/.388 SLG, 15 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 4 SB

2. Kyle Tucker, OF

Tucker came into the 2018 season as one of the best prospects in baseball, and he did nothing to dispute that ranking. He got a short promotion to the MLB where he had just 9-for-64. Tucker started the 2019 season slow going 4-for-42 in his first 12 games. Since then, he has hit .320 with 1.177 OPS and 15 HR in 34 games (177 wRC+). At some point he will get another chance in the pros this season, and hopefully he makes the most of it. He still has all the tools to be an impact player at the major league level.

2019 Stats: 96 G, .260 BA/.344 OBP/.561 SLG, 21 2B, 3 3B, 27 HR, 75 RBI, 23 SB

1. Forrest Whitley, RHP

Whitley really broke onto the scene with a dominant 2017. He missed time last year with injury and suspension but still showed his abilities. This year the Astros started him in AAA, an aggressive promotion. Unfortunately the numbers haven’t been very good as he has posted a 12.21 ERA (5.42 xFIP) in AAA and has since made a few rehab starts following a shoulder injury. The only positive really is the 41 K in 32.0 innings. Luhnow has mentioned recently that his stuff is still very good, its more about him refining his command. Also, the PCL and all of AAA has seen a huge uptick in offensive performance. He is still just 21 years old.

2019 Stats: 11 G, 10.97 ERA, 32.0 IP, 40 H, 25 BB, 41 K

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**Photo Credit: Round Rock Express**

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