Results tagged ‘ Houston Astros ’

Astros camp extras

The Astros prospect package is live! Here’s my report from Spring Training, their new Top 20 list and Bernie Pleskoff’s look at how the system addresses short- and long-term needs.

For your viewing pleasure, the video piece from camp as well:


Some good extras from my conversations, especially with GM Jeff Luhnow. I had one Q&A left over from my chat with George Springer:

Everyone talks about all the prospects in the Astros system. As a group, are you excited collectively to get to the big leagues and help turn things around?

Springer: As players and kids, the dream is to play professional baseball at the highest peak, to get there. At the same time, you still have to have the utmost respect for the guys who are in the clubhouse now, who have gone through the struggles, who’ve had success and not had success, guys like Castro, Altuve. That’s something to honor. As a player, it shows how they’re able to handle failure, adversity and success at the same time. I think for kids who are coming up, that’s something to look up to.

Now, on to my conversation with Luhnow. We’ll start with continuing on what he was saying in the story about wanting to maintain a top level system.

Luhnow: [We hope] we can consistently maintain it in the top 10-15. Obviously, as you graduate players to the big leagues, you lose some of that. I think we’re well-positioned to do that because we have an interesting system. We’ve got players that are top prospects that are both pitchers and position players. We also have players that are spread throughout the life cycle. We’ve got really good players in rookie ball, A ball, Double-A, Triple-A. They’re not all going to show up all at one time and then we’re going to have a barren system after that.

The other thing I think we’re counting on is our second tier prospects, if you will, being good major league players. When I was in charge of the Draft and player development in  St. Louis, there were a lot of players that were considered second-tier prospects, like Daniel Descalso, Jon Jay, Allan Craig, Lance Lynn, even. None of these guys ever made the Top 100 prospects. They were good players, performers in the Minor Leagues. Ultimately, those are the guys that created a ton of value when it came to the 2011 World Series and the last couple of years. I think we’re seeing a bunch of guys like that, that are sleepers in our mind. Guys like Preston Tucker, Nolan Fontana, guys that aren’t sexy because they don’t wow you with blinding speed or awesome power, but consistent performers that are going to go out and do the job. Brady Rodgers, Andrew Thurman, guys like that, who we feel are a big part of our system right now.

One of the biggest changes we’ve realized, in doing the Top 20, is how much more talent there is at 11-20. It used to be hard to come up with 20 guys, now players are being left off who are pretty good.

Luhnow: The depth is important to us. There are going to be injuries, there are going to be poor performances. That’s just part of the nature of what happens in baseball. Also, some guys are going to step up and surprise. Jonathan Meyer is a perfect example. He’s re-establishing himself. This is a big year for him. He’s either going to make himself into a Major League player or drop off people’s radar. Even those guys not on any list (he mentioned Jio Mier as one) still have the chance to bounce back. That’ll be fun to watch this year.

We talked about camp standouts and while I went with Preston Tucker in the story, Luhnow had a lot of good things to say about Mike Foltynewicz impressing in camp as well.

Luhnow: [Major League pitching coach Brent] Strom doesn’t have a lot of history with him and then you see a guy throwing 100, who’s got that good delivery and good mentality, it’s easy to be impressed with a guy like that. I do think he has the chance to break through that last barrier and get to the big leagues and be a pretty dominant pitcher. We balance the speed to the big leagues with role in the big leagues. He could probably get there quickly as a reliever, but we really feel we want to continue to give him the chance to be a starter. So far his outings have been pretty impressive.

He’s starting to develop a repertoire that’s effective. His curveball, you used to see it at times, it’s now becoming more consistent. He has a changeup that we spent a lot of time last year trying to convince him to throw it. When you throw 100, you don’t really want to throw a changeup that much, but he’s doing it and he’s having more success with it. As he develops the repertoire, he’s going to realize in Triple-A and in the big leagues that you need a full repertoire to get guys out. It’s not just about throwing gas.

And, finally, my One More Guy:

It has to be the guy who I listed as the camp standout, Preston Tucker. I really like the Allen Craig comp Luhnow made in terms of them both having been college senior signs, later in the Draft, who just went out and hit. Craig hit his way to the big leagues and an All-Star appearance. Whether Tucker can reach those heights remains to be seen, but his .303/.373/.506 so far as a pro is certainly a very good start.

Tri tri again with prospects

Our most recent Pipeline Perspectives is up on the MLBPipeline.com now. Jim Callis and I debate which teams have the best trio of prospects in the game. I went for the Cubs combination of Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Albert Almora. Jim advocated for the Twins trio of Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Alex Meyer.

As we’ve tried to get in the habit of doing, both of us are blogging about the subject as well. Jim ranked his favorites. By now, you know me… I like using our Prospect Points system to see how things shake out. So I took the top trio from every organization that had three or more prospects in the Top 100 (the Red Sox could have had three trios, for example, but I only took one) and ranked them using our points system. A quick refresher: 100 points for the No. 1 prospect, 99 for No. 2, all the way down to one point for the last prospect in the Top 100. Here’s what the “standings” look like:

Rank Trios Org Points
1 Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Alex Meyer MIN 270
2 Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora CHC 269
3 Carlos Correa, Mark Appel, George Springer HOU 257
4 Gregory Polanco, Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow PIT 247
5 Xander Bogaerts, Henry Owens, Jackie Bradley BOS 238
6 Kyle Zimmer, Yordano Ventura, Raul Alberto Mondesi KC 205
7 Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, Rafael Montero NYM 185
8 Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Eduardo Rodriguez BAL 184
9 Jonathan Gray, Eddie Butler, David Dahl COL 177
10 Francisco Lindor, Clint Frazier, Trevor Bauer CLE 172
11 Corey Seager, Joc Pederson, Zach Lee LAD 170
12 Andrew Heaney, Colin Moran, Jake Marisnick MIA 158
13 Austin Hedges, Max Fried, Matt Wisler SD 158
14 Oscar Taveras, Kolten Wong, Stephen Piscotty STL 144
15 Archie Bradley, Chris Owings, Braden Shipley ARI 142
16 Jorge Alfaro, Rougned Odor, Michael Choice TEX 133
17 Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, Roberto Osuna TOR 132
18 Jake Odorizzi, Hak-Ju Lee, Taylor Guerrieri TB 69

A 2014 Mock Draft Top 10

Our first look at the Class of 2014, a Draft Top 50, is live and ready for your perusal over on Prospect Watch. You can also read Jim Callis’ look at the class and my feature on No. 1 prospect Carlos Rodon over on MLBPipeline.com.

Just for fun, Jim and I decided to do a quick Top 10 Mock Draft. Yes, we realize it’s a fool’s errand. Yes, we understand that a whole lot can and will change in the spring. But we figured, why not? It’s a fun exercise. Check out Jim’s Top 10 at Callis’ Corner and compare to mine here. You can check out the full Draft order as well.

So here it goes…

1. Houston Astros: Carlos Rodon, LHP, NC State: About as no-brainer as it can be at this point, it’d be more of a surprise if he didn’t go No. 1.

2. Miami Marlins: Alex Jackson, C/OF, Rancho Bernardo HS, Calif.: The top high school player in the class and the Marlins haven’t shied away from taking exciting young bats (see Yelich, Christian).

3. Chicago White Sox: Jeff Hoffman, RHP, East Carolina: The White Sox like their athletes, but they also like big, strong starting pitching. After Rodon, Hoffman is the best in the class.

4. Chicago Cubs: Trea Turner, SS, NC State: How about a future left side of the infield featuring Kris Bryant, the No. 2 pick in the 2013 Draft, and Turner, a leadoff type with 80 speed?

5: Minnesota Twins: Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt: A former first-round pick back in 2011, look for Beede to answer questions about his command this spring and be among the top college arms taken in June.

6. Seattle Mariners: Jacob Gatewood, SS, Clovis HS, Calif.: The power is more than legit, but there are some questions about the hit tool… not enough to keep him out of Top 10 consideration.

7. Philadelphia Phillies: Michael Gettys, OF, Gainesville HS, Ga.: The Phillies have taken a high schooler with their first pick in each of the last six Drafts. They seem to like toolsy position players and Gettys fits that description perfectly.

8. Colorado Rockies: Aaron Nola, RHP, LSU: After nabbing Jonathan Gray at No. 3 in 2013, adding Nola could give them a very nice 1-2 punch that could get to Coors Field in a hurry.

9. Toronto Blue Jays: Tyler Kolek, RHP, Shepherd HS, Texas: It might be too easy to give the Blue Jays the top high-ceiling high school arm available, but they don’t shy away from rolling the dice in that fashion.

10. New York Mets: Derek Fisher, OF, Virginia: After going the high school position player route in the first round for the last three Drafts, maybe the Mets go for a more advanced player. If not a pitcher, then a bat like Fisher, relying on the fact that UVa. bats tend to perform better in the pro game. (more…)

OMG: The AL West

Sorry for the short delay, but it’s now time to take a look at the AL West prospects. As always, here are the links to the organizational previews and the Top 20 lists, followed by the OMG (One More Guy) from each team in the division:

Astros: Preview | List

Angels: Preview | List

A’s: Preview | List

Mariners: Preview | List

Rangers: Preview | List

And now, here’s the OMG, aka Prospect No. 21, for each system:

Astros — Jio Mier, SS — Still young and talented enough at a premium position to not give up on. There are other SS now in the system, so he’ll have to get it going.

Angels — Natanael Delgado, OF — 16-year-old signed this summer, chance to be RF type. May take a long time, but considerable upside.

A’s — David Freitas, C — Offensive-minded backstop came in the Kurt Suzuki trade, hit well following bump to Double-A post-trade.

Mariners — Patrick Kivlehan, 3B — Rutgers football standout decides to play baseball again as a senior; wins Big East Triple Crown, then Northwest League MVP. Raise your hand if you want to see more.

Rangers — Hanser Alberto, SS — That’s right, another shortstop prospect in this system (though he has played a little 3B). He’s gotten Elvis Andrus comparisons, surprise… and earned a promotion to the Carolina League before he turned 20

Beyond the Top 100

After any Top 100 prospects list comes out, there’s going to be outrage, disbelief, dismay (there’s also some triumph, jubilation, celebration, but that doesn’t fit into the subject of today’s post). The list gets pored over and complaints about snubs come pouring in. You thought people were upset that Ben Affleck didn’t get a Best Director nod for “Argo”? You should talk to Astros fans about Delino DeShields Jr. Sheesh.

So, I thought it a good idea to throw out a Nos. 101-110 list. Yes, this could open a pandora’s box if guys aren’t on that list who you think should’ve been on the Top 100 to begin with. But I can deal with that. I’m happy to keep the conversation going. And keep in mind, the team Top 20s start rolling out on Monday, so there’ll be more fuel for the fire soon enough. Keep in mind, this next 10 isn’t a guaranteed list of who’ll be the first to move in when guys graduate as 2013 gets started, but clearly some names will come from this list onto the top 100 during the season. No time for expanding on this list, so here it is:

101. Dan Straily, RHP, A’s

102. Delino DeShields Jr., 2B, Astros

103. Luis Heredia, RHP, Pirates

104. Daniel Corcino, RHP, Reds

105. Brett Jackson, OF, Cubs

106. Marcell Ozuna, OF, Marlins

107. Michael Choice, OF, A’s

108. Tyler Thornburg, RHP, Brewers

109. Corey Seager, 3B/SS, Dodgers

110. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP, Cubs

Who’s next: The outfielders

The final positional list went up on Monday, and it was a doozy. The Top 10 outfielders is jam-packed with talent and the second 10 is probably better than the top 10 at some other positions. As always, you can read the story or go right to the list.

Nos. 11-15 in the outfield department is a very strong list, perhaps with only the RHP 11-15 list coming close to competing. Here it is:

Jorge Soler, Cubs
Brian Goodwin, Nationals
Rymer Liriano, Padres
George Springer, Astros
David Dahl, Rockies

I think the names speak for themselves. The next set of names shows you just how talent-laded the position is. Without giving it all away (you have to check out the Top 100 list tomorrow and all the team lists, after all!), names like Gregory Polanco, Courtney Hawkins and Jake Marisnick are not too far behind.

Looking forward to seeing/hearing/reading everyone’s reaction to the Top 100 tomorrow. Be sure to tune in to MLB Network or MLB.com at 9 p.m. ET. And we’ll be live tweeting during the show, using #mlbpipeline. We’ve got some great prospects lined up to participate: Taijuan Walker, Archie Bradley, Tyler Skaggs, Mike Zunino, Billy Hamilton, Mike Olt and Zack Wheeler (listed in no particular order). So be sure to join us there and interact with some of the game’s top prospects. And if you’re not doing so already, follow @MLBPipeline for all of your prospect info!

At some point tomorrow, I’ll be back with a scorecard of sorts of how all 30 teams fared in regards to placement on the Top 10 by position lists. Does it lead to any conlcusions? Not necessarily, but I always like to add more fodder for debate.

Who’s Next: The first basemen

Hey all –

Have to be quick today as we’ve got the big Top 100 reveal tomorrow (MLB Network and MLB.com at 9 p.m. ET!!). Besides, coming up with 5 more first basemen isn’t exactly. But here’s a list of names. I’ll be back later today with the much easier to come up with outfielders.

Nate Freiman, Astros

Ricky Oropesa, Giants

Christian Walker, Orioles

Neftali Soto, Reds

Jesus Aguilar, Indians

 

If you have suggstions for other first basemen to consider, by all means, let me know.

 

Who’s Next: The third basemen

Much like I said when I discussed the Nos. 11-15 catching prospects the other day, coming up with the next set of prospects at the hot corner isn’t the easiest exercise in the world.

You can read the story about the Top 10 third basemen or go straight to the list itself.

Here are some thoughts on who could be 11-15, wiht the admission that it’s very difficult to come up with a set ranking with this group:

Miles Head, A’s — He hit for average and power while reaching Double-A in his first full season with the organization, coming from the Red Sox in the Andrew Bailey deal. Whether he stays at third remains to be seen.

Garin Cecchini, Red Sox — He stayed healthy in 2012 and showed he can really hit and play third. He even stole 51 bases. And I thought his younger brother Gavin was the one with the wheels!

Richie Shaffer, Rays — The first-rounder out of Clemson is an advanced bat with power. He’s playing third right now, but obviously with Evan Longoria entrenched, he’ll have to move to first or the outfield to get his bat into the lineup.

Rio Ruiz, Astros — Houston’s creativity in the Draft allowed them to aggressively pursue Ruiz and his outstanding left-handed bat. He gets comps to Eric Chavez.

Patrick Leonard, Rays — Sure, Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi get all the attention, but Leonard could end up being a very good part of that package for James Shields and Wade Davis the Rays got from the Royals (This my wild card pick).

What to make of the Jonathan Singleton suspension

These days, I spend most of my time working on MLB.com’s 2013 Prospect Watch lists. Top 10 by position, Top 100 overall and, of course, Top 20 per team. The lists are more or less done and we’re in the content-writing stages now.

Any time there’s news regarding a prospect, I’m going to take notice. That’s true any time of year, as we try to keep things up to date. Now, though, I’m on hyper-alert for anything that could cause a change in rankings.

So when news came out about Astros first base prospect Jonathan Singleton’s 50-game suspension for testing positive for a “drug of abuse,” the alarms went off. I’m not exactly giving anything away by telling you that Singleton was set to be highly rated on the 2013 lists. He is, after all, currently No. 25 on the Top 100, No. 1 on the Astros’ Top 20 and the top-rated first baseman as well. He came in at No. 6 on my AFL Top 25. Here’s Singleton at the 2012 Futures Game:

I can, at this point, shift things around as needed for the 2013 lists. Nothing is set in stone as of now. So I sent out a quick survey to a number of scouts, the very ones I poll to generate the Top 100 rankings and asked a simple question:

Jonathan Singleton gets a 50-game suspension for a “drug of abuse.” What does that do to his prospect status?

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of response. This was by no means a thorough and scientific poll. But I did hear back from six, all of whom gave me some variation of “Not much.”

A couple said that the only way it would really impact him is if it turned out he had a truly bad addiction to something (most feel the “drug of abuse” was marijuana), and that it had a negative impact on his performance. One pointed out that had it been a suspension for a PED, that would be different, since it could be argued that use of that substance led to his placement as a top prospect.

Two said it would lessen his value a bit to other clubs, that perhaps other teams would be less interested in acquiring him as a result.

But, for the most part, even if they gave Singleton demerits for being stupid, it wouldn’t really impact his status as a prospect. Why? He’s only 21 and even after serving his 50 games, he’ll still spend more than half of the season in Double or Triple-A as one of the younger regulars at that level. Prospects have missed more than that much time with an injury, one scout pointed out, and came back just as good. With no injury here, there’s no reason not to think Singleton will be fine on the field once he comes back.

So, maybe it slows Singleton’s path to the big leagues a bit, one that wasn’t necessarily blocked by anyone long-term (Carlos Pena, Brett Wallace and Rule 5 pick Nate Freiman are the in-house options at first as Spring Training approaches). But other than that, assuming Singleton can avoid such tresspasses in the future, most think he’ll be just fine.

AFL Reports: A’s and Reds

The Oakland A’s AFL report focuses on Grant Green. The video report looks at Green, James Simmons and Max Stassi.

I haven’t posted the Reds’ AFL video report on here. This might surprise you, but it talks about Billy Hamilton, along with Didi Gregorius and Donald Lutz.

 

And here are your Stars of the Day for Friday and Saturday:

 

Friday: Astros prospect George Springer had a perfect day, going 3-for-3 with  a pair of homers and two walks. He went 20-30 during the regular season and after a homer on Monday, he has four homers and five steals this fall.

Saturday: I don’t often give a Star to a pitcher who gives up a run, but I’ll make an exception here. Robbie Erlin of the Padres gave up a run on five hits over four innings, but he didn’t walk anyone and he struck out eight. He’s now second in the AFL in strikeouts with 25.

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