Houston Astros Top 20 Prospects 2015

by Daniel Levitt | Posted on Friday, January 23rd, 2015
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The calendar has flipped and spring training is fast approaching once again, meaning it is time for the baseball world to go crazy over prospect rankings for the forthcoming season. Based primarily on stats and potential, below is our list of the Houston Astros Top 20 prospects for 2015.

1. Carlos Correa SS: When the Astros drafted Correa 1st overall in 2012 out of Puerto Rico, they knew they were drafting a special player. How special? They still don’t know. Correa is arguably the best prospect in the game, as the right-hander can simply do it all – both his offense and defense is plus-plus.

Correa spent his first two years in rookie leagues, and has spent his last two in full-season Single A ball. In those 179 games, the 20 year-old has averaged .322, while hitting 15 home runs and stealing 30 bases. He was not known for his speed coming out of the Draft, but has shown comfort on the base paths. Correa will start 2015 in Double A and expect to see him by 2016.

2. Domingo Santana OF: At number 2 on our list is Domingo Santana, a right-handed hitting outfielder from the Dominican Republic. The 22 year-old was originally signed as an international free agent by the Phillies in 2009, and has been on a fast-track to the majors ever since. Santana proved to the Astros front office that he is done with the minor-league ranks last year, and is ready to prove himself on the big stage.

Santana boasts a laser arm, powerful bat and speed in the outfield. He has also shown an ability to hit for average in the minors, though that ability failed to translate in the majors last year. In a brief six-game stint with the Astros in 2014, Santana failed to record a hit in 17 at bats, striking out 14 times. He’ll be ready to go again out of spring training, but will need to be more consistent at the plate to last.

3. Teoscar Hernandez OF: Hernandez is similar to Santana in that the 22 year-old outfielder can run, throw and hit for power. Signed in 2011, Hernandez is a year behind his fellow prospect, yet has made his way up the ranks very quickly as well. Hernandez was born in the Dominican Republic.

Hernandez spent 2014 between Single and Double A, and produced magnificent results. In 119 games combined, the right-hander slugged 21 home runs, 37 doubles, stole 33 bases and averaged .292. Hernandez runs slightly better than Santana, and will hope to join his compatriot at the highest level in a couple of years.

4. Brett Phillips OF: Continuing the outfield theme on this list is Brett Phillips. Drafted in the 6th round in 2012, Phillips started his professional career rather slowly, but had a breakout year in 2014. The 20 year-old hits and runs well, and has a strong arm ideal for an outfield position.

Phillips throws with his right and bats from the left. His breakout year consisted of a .310 average, 17 home runs and 23 stolen bases for the Single A Quad Cities River Bandits and Lancaster Barnstormers. The thought of having any two of Phillips, Hernandez and Santana play in the outfield with current Astro, George Springer, is an extremely exciting one. It may just come true in the next couple of years.

5. Mark Appel RHP: Appel was considered the best prospect for two drafts in a row, and finally went number 1 overall in 2013. His stock has dropped however, as the 23 year-old righty has struggled thus far in professional baseball. Some Astros coaches are concerned with the heavy workload already exhibited by Appel  from his four years at Stanford. He also had an appendectomy in January of last year, causing him to miss the start of 2014.

His struggles were apparent. The 6’5 hurler posted a terrible 9.74 ERA in 12 starts for the Single A Lancaster Barnstormers, but then resurrected his season with a change of scenery at Double A. For the Corpus Christi Hooks, he pitched in 7 games and produced a much better 3.69 ERA. Appel will hope to continue where he left off to start 2015 and, if he does, Astros fans may see him by the end of the year.

6. Colin Moran 3B: Moran has all the tools necessary to hold the hot corner at the highest level for the Astros. He is sure handed on defense and has above average power and hitting ability with the bat. Moran was originally signed 6th overall by the Marlins, but came to the Astros in the Jarred Cozart deal.

Moran spent 2014 split between Single and Double A and accumulated a .296 average in 117 games, slugging 27 doubles and 7 home runs. He’ll look to repeat his stellar form to start 2015, with the 22 year-old’s eyes on Triple A by the end of the season.

7. Michael Feliz RHP: Feliz has all the pitches needed to confuse hitters of the highest level, he just needs to put them all together for a complete season. Signed as an international free agent back in 2010, the 21 year-old’s fastball runs in the mid-90s and has above average slider and changeup offerings.

His performance in 2014 was a solid one, however he will want to deflate his 4.03 ERA this season. His 111 strikeouts were above one an inning, but his 37 walks led to a WHIP of 1.37. Feliz is expected to start with the Corpus Christi Hooks.

8. Vincent Velasquez RHP: Another international free-agent signing, Vincent Velasquez has the three above-average pitches needed to make it as a major-league starter. His fastball runs into the upper 90s, and his curveball and changeup cause a lot of swings and misses by opposing hitters.

The 22 year-old spent 2014 in Single A and, combined over two levels, posted a 3.52 ERA in 18 games over 64 innings. Velasquez will look to continue where he left off in 2015, and hope to fast track himself to Triple A by the end of the season.

9. Derek Fisher OF: Another talented outfielder in the Astros’ farm system, Derek Fisher was drafted 37th overall in 2014 and started playing pro ball the same summer. For the Single A short Quad Cities River Bandits, Fisher hit .303, 2 homers and stole 17 bases in 41 games.

Fisher’s offensive tools outshine those on his defensive side. The 21 year-old hits for power and average, and is capable of stealing 30 bases a year. He will look to start his 2015 campaign in the upper ranks of Single A, and continue his ascent to the majors. However, with three other highly regarded outfield prospects already ahead of him, Astros fans may have to wait to see Fisher in their colors.

10. A.J. Reed 1B: A.J. Reed isn’t your typical first baseman. Able to hit double digits in home runs, Reed is as good on defense as he is on offense. In fact his arm is that good, that the White Sox may consider a switch to third base in the future. Drafted in the 2nd round in 2014, Reed is proving his value already.

A year ago, split between two Single A levels, the 21 year old combined to hit 12 home runs and a .289 average in just 68 games. The lefty also drew 30 walks, raising his OBP to .375. In 2015, Reed will look for a promotion to at least Double A by season’s end.

11. Tony Kemp 2B: The 23 year-old former Vanderbilt star had a monster year in 2014, splitting time between Single and Double A. The second baseman accumulated an average of .316, OBP of .411, hit 8 home runs and stole 41 bases in 131 games.

Kemp defends second base at a high level as well and, together with his offensive production, will look to start the season in Triple A. With Jose Altuve just coming off an AL batting title in the majors for the Astros, it may be a while before fans see Kemp in a Houston uniform.

12. Max Stassi C: Originally drafted in the 4th round in 2012 by the Oakland Athletics, Max Stassi was brought to Houston as part of the trade that sent Jed Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez out west. Since then, Stassi’s career has been marred with injuries, but has performed solidly when he has been healthy.

The 23 year old made a brief 20 at-bat appearance with the Astros towards the end of last year, and performed sterlingly. His 7 hits gave him a .350 average and positive praise throughout the organization. The catcher will compete for a spot on the active roster out of spring training, but will face tough competition with the recent additions of Hank Conger and Evan Gattis.

13. J.D. Davis 3B: Drafted in the 3rd round of last year’s draft, J.D. Davis tore up opposing pitching in his 73 games in Single A in 2014. The third baseman combined for a .293 average and slugged 13 home runs. Houston’s front office believes there is substantial power to tap into.

The 21 year-old plays well on defense and has a strong arm, capable of making outs across the diamond easily. Having failed to fail thus far in his professional career, the Astros will want to test Davis in 2015. However, with Colin Moran firmly established as the top prospect at third base, Davis will have to produce spectacular numbers once again in Single A to start the year.

14. Ronny Rafael OF: Rafael was signed out of the Dominican Republic last summer for a signing bonus of $1,500,000. Scouts love his athletic ability in the outfield, and poise when making routes on fly balls. The 17 year-old plays great on both offense and defense.

In the outfield, Rafael has above average speed and arm strength, meaning no batter or base runner is safe. At the plate, the right-hander applies his power and agility to hit home runs and average. Rafael is a 5-tool talent and the Astros won’t look to hurry their star man along too quickly.

15. Franklin Perez RHP: The Astros signed two of the top international talents in the 2014 class: Rafael and Franklin Perez. The Astros signed Perez for his potential on the mound as opposed to at third base, where he switched from at former major-leaguer, Carlos Guillen’s, academy in Venezuela.

Perez is armed with a fastball that has topped 93mph, and a curveball-changeup combo that also has the projectability of being a major-league offering. For a 17 year-old, Perez has significant tools. He will get to work in 2015, with Rafael, at the Astros’ academy.

16. Preston Tucker OF: Yet another outfield prospect in the Astros’ farm system – six on our list – Preston Tucker faces stiff competition for a place on the active major-league roster. Despite the uncertainty of his future with the Astros, the left-hander put together a fine season in 2014. In 138 games split across Double and Triple A, the 24 year-old slugged 24 home runs, batted .282 and hit 35 doubles.

There are no levels left for Tucker to prove himself in other than the big-leagues. Spring training will be the most important two months of his career thus far, as he vies to separate himself from the plus-plus outfield talent that already exists for the Astros.

17. Harold Arauz RHP: Signed as a non-drafted free agent out of Panama in 2011, Harold Arauz has overpowered hitters wherever he has pitched. Just 19 years of age, Arauz still has time to add arm strength and polish to his supporting pitches.

In 2014, the righty pitched in 53 innings across 14 games for a 5-2 record, including 68 strikeouts. Arauz doesn’t get the acclaim that some of the other pitching prospects receive, but Arauz has quietly positioned himself as a top prospect. His stock within the organization will grow if he can transfer his success to the full-season format.

18. Josh Hader LHP: Drafted in the 19th round back in 2012, Josh Hader was traded to the Astros as part of the Bud Norris deal in 2013. He has pitched more like a 5th rounder in his three professional seasons, as opposed to the 582nd pick overall. In those three seasons, Hader has an ERA of 2.92, 17-9 record and 279 strikeouts in 259 innings. Put all of that together and you have an impressive resume.

The 20 year-old did struggle slightly however at the Double A level towards the end of 2014, exhibiting a 6.30 ERA in 5 games for the Corpus Christi Hooks. The left-hander has been a starter for most of his pro career, and will continue to do so in 2015. However, a move to the bull pen may also be an option in the future.

19. Miguel Angel Sierra SS: In an international class loaded with quality shortstops, the Astros signed Miguel Angel Sierra, who was among the best. Sierra possesses great hands and footwork, and has great range as a consequence. Sierra isn’t expected to hit for great power, however he has a great feel for the bat and plus speed.

In 2015, Sierra is expected to start the season in the Astros’ academy. The 17 year-old will have plenty of time to adopt and apply the daily instruction that he will receive, before making the jump to American soil. One to watch out for.

20. Troy Scribner RHP: Each time a player goes undrafted, they’re likely to play with a chip on their shoulder throughout their professional career. That is the case with 23 year-old Troy Scribner, who was not selected in the 2013 Draft, but later picked up by the Astros.

Since then, Scribner has pitched in 34 games, 18 being starts, and has a 14-7 record, 2.27 ERA and 180 strikeouts in 134.2 innings. If there’s anything that Scriber is not, it’s stupid, and the righty knows what goes on before the Draft – see this article by MiLB. He finished 2014 with the Double A Corpus Christi Hooks, and will likely start there again in 2015, with an eye firmly on the major leagues.


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Daniel Levitt
About the Author

Daniel has been following the minor-leagues since 2012, and is BHC's go-to guy for all things prospects. Daniel is eager to enthral you all with his love and passion for baseball. Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanielLevitt32. http://daniellevitt32.com/

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