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Astros MiLB Position Review: Starting Pitcher

Credit: Sonny Johnston/Joe Dwyer

This week we will move onto the starting pitching position. The Astros still employ the piggyback system so some pitchers will have relief appearances as well.

Previous Position Reviews:

Catcher

First Base

Second Base

Third Base

Shortstop

Left Field

Center Field

Right Field

TOP PERFORMERS

Hunter Brown

Brown was drafted by the Astros in the 5th round in 2019 and after a very good 2021 season, he followed that up with an even more dominating 2022. Brown spent majority of the season in Triple-A and dominated hitters. The right-hander had a system leading 2.55 ERA and struck out 134 in just 106 innings. He also cut his walks down from 4.5 BB/9 in 2021 to just 3.8 BB/9 in 2022. His performance earned him a call-up to Houston where he had a 0.89 ERA in 20.1 innings. Read more on him here.

2022 Stats: 23 G, 2.55 ERA, 106.0 IP, 70 H, 30 ER, 45 BB, 134 K, 11.4 K/9


J.P. France

After a breakout 2021 season, France put together another solid season in 2022. He started the year off as a starter and after a slow start, he pitched well posting a 3.20 ERA with 61 K in 50.2 innings in the middle of the season. The Astros made the decision to use him exclusively in the pen and the results were good. The right-hander posted a 1.62 ERA with 20 K in 16.2 innings in relief to finish out the season. Read more about that transition here.

2022 Stats: 34 G, 3.90 ERA, 110.2 IP, 99 H, 48 ER, 51 BB, 136 K, 11.1 K/9


Edinson Batista

Batista has been in the system for a few years but had a breakout 2022 season. The right-hander started the season in Single-A and posted a 2.60 ERA with 113 K in 93.1 innings allowing just 59 hits. He was promoted to High-A where he had a 3.14 ERA in 14.1 innings. Overall, the 20-year-old struck out 127 in 107.2 innings with a 2.67 ERA.

2022 Stats: 24 G, 2.67 ERA, 107.2 IP, 68 H, 32 ER, 52 BB, 127 K, 10.6 K/9


Miguel Ullola

Ullola had one of the more dominant seasons in 2022. As a 20-year-old, he struck out 120 in just 72 innings, good for 15.0 K/9. On the flip side, he also walked 55 in 72 innings. That was the only downside. He was nearly unhittable allowing just 39 hits over 72 innings. As a reliever he had a 1.70 ERA with 76 K in 42.1 innings. Maybe that is where he ends up for his career, but he has the stuff to dominate at the end of the pen.

2022 Stats: 22 G, 3.25 ERA, 72.0 IP, 39 H, 26 ER, 55 BB, 120 K, 15.0 K/9


Colton Gordon

Gordon was an intriguing draft pick in 2021 after a good college career, but went into the draft after having Tommy John Surgery. After recovering and making his way back, Gordon dominated on the field this year. He started in Single-A and had a 2.21 ERA with 3 BB/27 K in 20.1 innings. He was promoted to High-A where he had a 2.66 ERA with 3 BB/29 K in 20.1 innings. Next year could be a big one for the left hander.

2022 Stats: 15 G, 2.35 ERA, 53.2 IP, 35 H, 14 ER, 8 BB, 78 K, 13.1 K/9


THE REST OF THE PACK

Spencer Arrighetti

Arrighetti put together a strong first year in the system. On the surface, the ERA may look high (though 3.67 FIP), but he pitched the majority of the season at one of the best hitting environments in baseball. Still, the right-hander led the Astros system in strikeouts with 152 in just 106.2 innings. He finished the season in Double-A striking out 28 over 21 innings with a 3.43 ERA. Next season could be a big one for the Texas native. Check out my interview with him here.

2022 Stats: 27 G, 4.73 ERA, 106.2 IP, 101 H, 56 ER, 55 BB, 151 K, 12.8 K/9


Misael Tamarez

After a strong season at the lower levels in 2021, Tamarez followed it up with a strong 2022 as well. The 22-year-old struck out 142 over 121.1 innings. He spent the majority of the season in Double-A (4.62 ERA) but posted a 2.50 ERA over 18 innings in Triple-A to finish the season. He will have to cut down on the walks but making it up to Triple-A at 22 years old shows something there for Tamarez.

2022 Stats: 28 G, 4.30 ERA, 121.2 IP, 82 H, 58 ER, 70 BB, 142 K, 10.5 K/9


Chad Donato

Donato has been in the system since the 2016 draft. The right hander pitched in 29 games for the Space Cowboys in 2022 and posted a 5.34 ERA. He struggled some with the walks, walking 60 in 124.2 innings.

2022 Stats: 29 G, 5.34 ERA, 124.2 IP, 122 H, 74 ER, 60 BB, 101 K


Jimmy Endersby

Endersby started out the year in Double-A and posted a 3.88 ERA in 72 innings before being promoted to Triple-A. With the Space Cowboys he struggled posting a 7.66 ERA in 44.2 innings. He will be 25 for the 2023 season.

2022 Stats: 28 G, 5.32 ERA, 116.2 IP, 120 H, 69 ER, 65 BB, 99 K


Alex Santos

Santos was the Astros 2nd round pick in the 2020 draft. After a solid 2021, he struggled a bit during the 2022 season. He showed positive signs but overall had a 5.99 ERA. The peripherals improved (lower walks, more strikeouts) but gave up 15 HR in 82.2 innings.

2022 Stats: 23 G, 5.99 ERA, 82.2 IP, 74 H, 55 ER, 37 BB, 104 K


Jaime Melendez

Like Santos, Melendez’s overall numbers don’t look great buy he showed great signs in 2022. The right hander had a 5.01 ERA with 106 K in 73.2 innings overall, but had a 2.01 ERA in June. He is still only 21 years old.

2022 Stats: 23 G, 5.01 ERA, 73.2 IP, 59 H, 41 ER, 51 BB, 106 K


2023 OUTLOOK/CONCLUSION

Despite losing Justin Verlander, the Astros still have one of the deepest and best rotations in baseball. McCullers, Valdez, Garcia, Javier, Urquidy are all really good starting pitchers. Hunter Brown will get a lot of time this year too and should bolster the rotation. Outside of that, the Astros have some good high upside arms like Arrighetti, Santos, Melendez, Ullola, Batista and others. Gordon showed some really good things too. As we have seen in the past, sometimes the best pitching prospects will almost come out of nowhere.

Be sure to subscribe to receive weekly updates on the Astros minor league system. Also be sure to follow on Twitter, @AstrosFuture, and like my Facebook page, facebook.com/AstrosFuture.

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