Houston Astros Top Five Pitching Prospects For 2022
Now that 2022 is here, it is time to start looking at the top three prospects at each position as we lead up to the Astros top 30 prospect list. With these rankings, I will focus on prospects who primarily played this position. This week I will be looking at the pitchers in the system.
Previous Top Three:
1. Hunter Brown (AAA)
Brown was drafted by the Astros in the 5th round of the 2019 draft out of Wayne State University. He only pitched in 23 innings following the draft but he has shown enough to deserve a high ranking. Brown runs his fastball up to 98 (despite throwing mid 80s in high school) and has shown the ability to maintain his velocity in multiple innings. He also possesses a big breaking curveball and sharp slider, which both flash above average. Brown probably has the highest upside of any arm in the system and the makings of a top of the rotation pitcher. He has a great pitcher’s build and has had some success going deeper into games this season. In 2021, his first full season, Brown struck out 131 batters in 100.1 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. You can read more about him here.
2021 Stats: 24 G, 4.04 ERA, 100.1 IP, 92 H, 45 ER, 50 BB, 131 K, 11.8 K/9
Hunter Brown is going to be a prospect that should be able to contribute to the big league club in 2022. Finished the year strong in AAA including his 10 strikeouts in 5.1 innings in this outing. #Astros pic.twitter.com/T1B6pPZtxE
— Astros Future (@AstrosFuture) December 2, 2021
2. Alex Santos (A)
Santos was drafted by the Astros in the 2nd round of the 2020 MLB draft. Due to COVID, he was unable to make his professional debut. Santos has a mid 90s fastball with a high spin rate and pairs that with two solid secondary offerings, a curveball and a changeup. He also is a good athlete at 6-3, 215 lbs. Santos has an extremely high ceiling and started to show that in 2021 pitching in full season baseball at just 19 years old. He was up and down in his performance but flashed his potential throughout the season. He will be 20 in 2022 and has a chance to make it up to Double-A.
2021 Stats: 12 G, 3.246 ERA, 41.2 IP, 31 H, 16 ER, 30 BB, 48 K, 10.4 K/9
— Astros Future (@AstrosFuture) August 7, 2021
3. Peter Solomon (MLB)
Solomon was a high upside pick in the 2017 draft out of Notre Dame. A guy who had electric stuff but control issues. He came into the Astros system and had a great 2018 season (2.32 ERA, 114 K in 100.2 IP). Unfortunately he got hurt early on in 2019 after two starts and missed the rest of the year after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. He has came back in 2021 and had a great year striking out 112 in 97.1 innings in Triple-A and even made his MLB debut allowing just 2 runs in 14 innings. Solomon has multiple solid pitches including an fastball that can sit mid 90s. I think he will have a big role for the Astros in 2022.
2021 Stats: 21 G, 4.70 ERA, 97.2 IP, 89 H, 42 BB, 112 K, 10.3 K/9
The #Astros rotation will have reinforcements next year with one being Peter Solomon. He struck out 112 in 97.2 innings this year in AAA, including this 9 K in 6 IP performance in Albuquerque. He was also named Triple-A West pitcher of the year. pic.twitter.com/fhJc7Qjjga
— Astros Future (@AstrosFuture) October 12, 2021
4. Forrest Whitley (AAA)
At this point, everyone knows who Forrest Whitley is. After a dominant 2017 which saw him strike out 143 over 92.1 innings while reaching AA at just 19 years old, he has struggled a bit to recapture that magic the last couple seasons. A suspension and a few nagging injuries has held him back. Whitley possesses a fastball that has nice life and gets up to 98 MPH which he pairs with a devastating changeup. He also has a very good curveball and above average slider. Forrest had Tommy John surgery ending his 2021 season but appears to be on track to pitch in 2022. I still believe in his upside and despite the setbacks, he is still only 24 years old.
2021 Stats: N/A
5. Shawn Dubin (AAA)
Dubin was drafted by the Astros in the 13th round of the 2018 draft after attending two different JuCo schools. He is smaller stature listed at 6-1, 155 lbs but he has added about 20 lbs and is sitting around 175 now. His fastball sits in the mid 90s, touching 99, and he has a plus slider. After a dominant 2019 season, Dubin put together a great 2021 showcasing his abilitiles with 69 K in just 49.2 innings. Dubin has enough pitches to be a starter but if the Astros decide to use him in the pen, he could be electric running it up to triple digits. You can read my interview with Dubin here.
2021 Stats: 16 G, 3.44 ERA, 49.2 IP, 35 H, 19 ER, 19 BB, 69 K, 12.5 K/9
I hope we get to see Shawn Dubin in the #Astros bullpen next season. He has some nasty stuff.
As a reliever he struck out 33 in 21.2 innings and allowed just a .164 BAA. He also allowed just 2 ER over his final 19 innings of the year
— Astros Future (@AstrosFuture) November 19, 2021
**Photo Credit: Ken Valliere**