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2018 Astros Minor League Thread

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by tellitlikeitis, Nov 12, 2017.

  1. Snake Diggit

    Snake Diggit Member

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  2. Joe Joe

    Joe Joe Contributing Member
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  3. Snake Diggit

    Snake Diggit Member

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    If he dominates AA out of the gate he could be the consensus #1 prospect in baseball by June, as Ohtani is the guy right now and he will be in the majors from opening day, as will Acuna. Once they graduate, it’ll be between Whitley and just a few others (Eloy, Tatis JR, Vlad Jr).
     
  4. Joe Joe

    Joe Joe Contributing Member
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    This, plus numerous calls on Clutchfans to bring him up. Longenhagen on Fangraphs predicted he would be AL ROY before Ohtani decided on the Angels.
     
  5. Snake Diggit

    Snake Diggit Member

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    HEre's my 2013 Draft Review

    Now that 5 years have passed, we can safely grade the 2013 draft.

    Summary: Anytime you miss on a 1st overall pick, it’s going to be disappointing draft. Unfortunately, the other players chosen by the Astros in 2013 haven’t quite been able to make up for that grave mistake, so the overall grade for this group is probably a C- or D+. That said, Houston has received major league value from this group and there are still a couple of players who are still developing.

    Top 10 Rounds: MLB drafts are almost always defined by their 1st round picks, but the subsequent 9 rounds are where teams can usually find some additional measure of future major league value. After the 1st 10 rounds, teams quickly enter ‘lotto’ territory and any value found that late is considered an unexpected windfall.

    1 RHP Mark Appel: obviously a huge bust considering Appel has failed to reach the majors and was even allowed to clear waivers this offseason. When considering the other players available, there’s no way to justify this pick in hindsight. However, the pick was more than justified at the time given Appel’s pedigree, and even though Appel didn’t end up fronting Houston’s rotation, he did bring back some value as part of the trade that brought closer Ken Giles to Houston. In his 2 full seasons in Houston’s farm, Appel was never able to dominate his level or even build up a full workload. My personal feeling is that Appel’s problems were between the ears. He did show some promise in his 1st stint in AA in 2014 (3.29 xFIP, 8.7k/9 in 39 IP), but followed that up with 130 innings of very mediocre results across AA and AAA in 2015, after which he was traded to Philadelphia. With the Phillies he had another poor year in AAA in 2016 in which he was injured, then was awful last season once he returned. He was removed from the 40 man roster prior to this offseason’s Rule 5 draft and cleared waivers. It’s assumed he will begin 2018 in Philadelphia’s AAA rotation with one last gasp to save his career. He will turn 27 this season, and given his injury and performance history, the odds are heavily stacked against Appel reaching the majors, much less making a significant impact. Grade D. MLB Players drafted shortly after: 3B Kris Bryant, SP Jonathan Gray, OF Hunter Renfroe, SS Tim Anderson, SP Sean Manaea, RP Michael Lorenzen, RP Corey Knebel, OF Aaron Judge

    2 RHP Andrew Thurman: I did not like the Thurman pick at the time although I later read some things that made me understand the pick. Thurman had a good short season debut followed by a full season in 2014 in which his bloated 5.38 ERA covered up decent underlying numbers (8.3 k/9, 3.75 xFIP) in High A. That offseason he was sent to Atlanta as part of the trade that brought Evan Gattis and James Hoyt to the Astros. He spent 2 incomplete mediocre seasons in the Braves organization before being injured in a bus crash and subsequently released. As part of research for this review I saw that he was signed by the Dodgers last season and threw 33 innings across High A and AA with poor results. This pick wasn’t a total bust as Thurman contributed to the World Series as part of Gattis’ contributions. Grade C- MLB Players drafted shortly after: RP Trevor Williams

    3 LHP Kent Emanuel: I liked this pick at the time as a safe choice to contribute in the big leagues. Emanuel never put up very good strikeout numbers but until last season was very good at limiting walks. Generally he’s put up mediocre results and underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015. He was decent in AA upon his return but struggled badly in AAA last season. He was exposed to the Rule 5 draft twice and was not chosen. He is at risk of being released this season, but if he is given another chance he could end up as a lefty middle reliever or AAAA SP. Grade C. MLB players drafted shortly after: 1B Ryan Healy

    4 1B Conrad Gregor: I did not like this pick as Gregor was a defensively limited college player with almost no power. He proved this assessment accurate as he never hit more than 16 HR in a season and was strictly a 1B with a few games in LF. Plate discipline and making contact were his calling cards, and they helped him post good overall production from his short season debut through High A. However once he reached AA his lack of power became an Achilles heel as his BABIP dropped. He was released prior to the 2017 season and subsequently signed with Boston. He spent last season with their High A affiliate and posted great numbers (161 wRC+); however, that should be expected as a 25 year old repeating at such a low level. As long as a prospect is playing affiliated ball there remains some chance he’ll reach the majors but for now this pick looks like a bust. Grade C. MLB Players drafted shortly after: RP Kyle Crockett, SP Ben Lively.

    5 2B Tony Kemp: Another pick I did not like at the time, Kemp was a high floor player whose size limited him both defensively (due to a lack of range and arm strength) and offensively (no power). Kemp lived up to his high floor billing, moving quickly through the system to reach the majors in 2016. However, his limitations also held true, as he never posted a SLG above .470 and was realistically limited to 2B and LF. In 175 PA with the Astros, he carries a .217/.287/.306 slash line good for a 64 wRC+ and -.6 fWAR. That said, Kemp still probably has an MLB future as a 3rd division 2B or bench player, since he can play an up the middle position, offers value as a baserunner, and rarely strikes out. Anytime a 5th rounder reaches the majors, it’s considered a win. Grade B. The 5th round of the 2013 draft was a huge bust and Kemp may very well end up the best player chosen that round.

    6 C Jacob Nottingham: I really liked this pick at the time and was crushed when Nottingham was traded for Scott Kazmir in 2015. Nottingham was a very high ceiling HS prospect who played a premium position in which Houston had no prospects of note. He was decent in 2013 and 2014 before breaking out in a big way in 2015, hitting 14 HR in the 1st half across A and High A before being traded to Oakland. He had garnered mentions on most midseason Top 100 lists in 2015. However, the A’s traded Nottingham to Milwaukee as part of the Khris Davis deal, and he fell off in a big way in AA in 2016, where defensive questions also arose. He showed improvement in repeating that level in 2017 and while he didn’t regain his Top 100 hype, he was improved defensively and still has youth on his side. Entering 2018 at age 23 and likely slotted for AAA, he still has a good chance to reach the majors, whether it be as a backup catcher/1B with some pop in his bat, or reaching his ceiling as a good everyday backstop with average defense and double digit HR power. Regardless of his final outcome, Houston leveraged him into a ½ season of a MLB SP, so the pick is a win. Grade B+. MLB Players drafted shortly after: RP Matt Boyd, IF Adam Frazier

    7 OF James Ramsay: I liked Ramsay as a high ceiling CF prospect with a moderate floor, which is a good value in the 7th round. He put up middling performances in his time, although he did steal 34 bases in his 1st full season. He had what I hoped was a breakout in High A in 2015, posting a 132 wRC+ with 10 HR and 16 SB before failing in AA. Despite being able to keep his strikeout rate low and his walk rate high, once he got up against upper level pitching his BABIP dropped and exposed him as a weak hitter. He was released in 2016. Grade C. MLB Players drafted shortly after: RP Tyler Olson

    8 OF Jason Martin: I have been the low guy on Martin his entire tenure and really didn’t like this pick at the time despite my penchant for mid round HS guys. From the beginning I thought he’d be limited to LF without the power to make him an everyday player. For the most part Martin has proven me wrong, moving steadily through the system and even putting up 23 HR and 20 SB in a breakout 2016 season. Martin had another good season last year, again dominating High A before showing well after a promotion to AA. His 11 HR in 320 AA PA was a very good sign for his ability to sustain power at the upper levels. There’s still potential for Martin to end up as an everyday LF who can hit 15 HR and steal 20 bases with good defense. However, the likelihood is that he either flames out in the upper levels or carves out a few seasons as a 4th OF who can’t handle CF well enough to stick. Being passed over in the Rule 5 draft says a lot about what teams think of him. Grade B. MLB players drafted shortly after: SP Kendall Graveman, 1B Trey Mancini

    9 C Brian Holberton: I liked the Holberton pick as I am generally a fan of ACC guys who have success in college, especially position players who play an up the middle spot. However, despite very good k/bb ratios, Holberton never reached AA and was released in 2015. Grade C-. MLB Players drafted shortly after: SP Chad Kuhl

    10 LHP Austin Nicely: I loved this pick, and loved it even more after the Astros front office tweeted a cryptic pic indicating they were extremely high on Nicely. A HS lefty with tremendous upside, Nicely commanded an overslot bonus comparable to a pick in the 3rd-6th rd range. However, Nicely was never able to put it together, unable to post a k/9 > 5.18 in his 4 seasons. He was released prior to the 2017 season. Grade D. MLB Players drafted shortly after: SP Zack Godley
     
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  6. Snake Diggit

    Snake Diggit Member

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    Later rounds:

    Several unsigned players are active in other systems: Daniel Pinero (20th), Scott Burke (31st), Kacy Clemens (35th), James Farris (15th), Alex Schick (17th); none appear to be top prospects although most have posted successful careers so far.

    21st Round pick Jon Kemmer has been a successful pick. He consistently posted good numbers before a huge season in AA in 2015. He took a step back in 2016 before redeeming himself in a repeat of AAA last season. Kemmer is limited to corner OF and 1B and has never hit more than 18 HR in a season, but he can handle RF and makes enough hard contact to be a good MLB hitter. His age and high AAA k rates are what has kept him from reaching the majors or showing up on top prospect lists, but anytime a player posts a 142 wRC+ in AAA, he’s worth watching. The guess here is that Kemmer ends up as a bench bat for a 2nd division team.

    33rd rounder Tyler White is the gem of the late round choices, opening 2016 as Houston’s everyday 1B and posting a monster April before falling apart and getting demoted. He saw major league time again in 2017, showing much better this time with a 126 wRC+ in 67 PA. White certainly has limitations; he is really a DH who can play 1B and 3B without embarrassing himself. But the bat plays; he can hit for average (he cleared .300 in AAA last season), hit for power (25 HR in AAA last year), and take a walk (15.8% bb walk rate in AAA in 2016). White has a decent arm, but as a ‘bad-bodied’ player he doesn’t have the range to profile as a good defender at 1B or 3B and he’s too slow to play the OF. That said, his bat could be good enough to justify him as an everyday 1B for a 2nd division team; unfortunately for him, Houston has been so stacked the last 2 seasons that he is relegated to a AAAA role and likely will be again in 2018. Eventually some team is going give him 600 PA in a season and could have a really good middle of the order hitter on their hands.

    All in all it was a poor draft, easily the poorest in Jeff Luhnow’s tenure as GM. However, that’s mitigated by the fact that several players provided value via trade and by the fact that 2013 ended up being a very weak draft in rounds 2-10. But choosing Appel over future superstars in Bryant, Gray, and Judge (not to mention a dozen others who are likely to be decent major league players) makes it hard to give this draft a good grade.
     
  7. Joe Joe

    Joe Joe Contributing Member
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    2013 is my least favorite Luhnow draft. I didn't understand the second and the third picks. Usually, it is easy to see something he likes in a player even if it goes against other opinions.
     
  8. Snake Diggit

    Snake Diggit Member

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    I believe Thurman was drafted due to his Cape Cod performance and Emanuel was a high floor lefty with enough physical gifts to see some upside. I didn’t like the Thurman pick at the time but I was ok with the Emanuel pick.
     
  9. xcrunner51

    xcrunner51 Contributing Member

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    Nice review Snake. I chalk the 2013 draft up to growing pains for the front office. It was clearly an attempt to balance the prep-heavy approach of the previous year with lower-ceiling, closer to the majors prospects. They've not gone all-college in the top 5 rounds since then and I suspect they never will.

    They've since changed the type of college pitcher they draft. Instead of well-rounded guys who were successful in college by having better-than-level command and control (Thurman/Emanuel/later Eschelman), they started drafting college guys with some better stuff who weren’t as polished (Adcock, Corbin Martin).

    Every draft since then, they’ve taken an at least one upside guy in the top three rounds (prep or raw[er] collegian). If anything, they’re leaning more upside over finished-product now. They rightly recognize that finished-products bust (Thurman, Gregor) in their own way.

    Call me a homer but I think their 2013 experience really set them up to do extremely well at the top of the next 4 drafts.
     
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  10. Joe Joe

    Joe Joe Contributing Member
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    On the finished products, agree more for pitchers than hitters as it takes stuff in the majors for most pitchers. Astros have had bad luck with the low upside hitter that does well in lower levels, but there have been several of these guys become good players for other teams. That said, Astros may still get a second division starter/ decent backup or two from its stash of low upside hitters in AAA.
     
  11. xcrunner51

    xcrunner51 Contributing Member

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    They have a collection of guys whose type baseball is moving away from. Backup corner infielders with power are making way for 12th men in the bullpen and superutility players like MarGo. I wouldn't be surprised if none of AJ Reed/Colin Moran/JD Davis/Tyler White are on the 2019 squad.
     
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  12. Snake Diggit

    Snake Diggit Member

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    Excellent point. I think there will still be places for those guys, but it will be as a DH on AL teams and/or teams with versatile everyday players (like Bregman) who reduce the need for super utility bench players. I also have wondered if it might be smart for teams to start developing those types as catchers and not giving up as quickly. I’ve long thought both White and Davis could have eventually been viable catchers had they been forced to stick there. Both seemed to have the arm and IQ.
     
  13. Joe Joe

    Joe Joe Contributing Member
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    Baseball is moving away from backup corner IF. Baseball also is moving away from full time DH. Those 2 things hurt the floor of those guys, but not the upside. With the baseball traveling further, guys like Moran and White have Justin Turner offensive upside...guys with little power that figure out how to get ball in the air after first taste in majors.

    It is much more likely that 1 of those 4 guys are on the roster than none in 2019. Astros backup IF and DH will both be gone after this season with 1B the year after. Pretty sure Astros want to see if Moran and White can take over for Marwin (With Bregman, Astros don't need backup IF to play SS) and Gattis.

    Edit: Those 4 had a combined 123 RC+ in 153 PAs or in other words slightly above average offensive production for 1B last year and well above average offensive production for DHs last year.
     
    #73 Joe Joe, Jan 7, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
  14. xcrunner51

    xcrunner51 Contributing Member

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    I'm sure they could carry one as a backup but barring serious injury none of them are gonna get a legit look (>500 PA's). It sounds like the Stros are looking for creative solutions to long term holes like trading for Realmuto or signing Lucroy. That'll burn the roster that spot would go to one of those guys.
     
  15. Joe Joe

    Joe Joe Contributing Member
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    Astros are going to need people on pre-arbitration dollars very soon. Astros can try a lot of creative things, but are going to need someone cheap to offset more expensive contracts. I'm not seeing many options.

    Maybe won't get 500 PAs, but expect one to get 250 unless Fisher and Tucker both hit.
     
    #75 Joe Joe, Jan 7, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
  16. No Worries

    No Worries Contributing Member

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    As well as drafting, the front office has also likely improved their development ops.
     
  17. Snake Diggit

    Snake Diggit Member

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    I’m not too concerned about the pipeline of affordable players. If you consider the Astros are a mid-market team, they should be able to afford a roster roughly evenly broken down between pre-arb, arb, and free agent players. So as long as they have 6-10 pre-arb players on their roster they should be fine; that roughly breaks down to adding 2 guys each year. They’ve maintained that pipeline so far and provided they don’t trade away the farm it looks like they will be able to maintain it for the foreseeable future:

    2012: Marwin, Keuchel
    2013: McHugh, Peacock
    2014: Springer, Marisnick
    2015: Correa, McCullers
    2016: Bregman, Devenski
    2017: Fisher, Martes
    2018: Tucker, Whitley
    2019: Alvarez, Bukauskas
    2020: Matijevic, C Martin (of course by these years they will have added more prospects via the draft)
    2021: Celestino, J Solis
    2022: Nova, Macuare
     
  18. Joe Joe

    Joe Joe Contributing Member
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    That requires perfection (i.e. No busts) and only covers the good players. Astros had 9 guys that were on 25-man most of the season. Another 10 were up and down. It Is going to take more than adding 2 pre-arb guys/year on average.

    Astros had bad injury luck last year and still won 101 games. Most of the credit goes to the stars, but the depth kept the Astros winning except in August.
     
  19. Snake Diggit

    Snake Diggit Member

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    Nah, graduating 2 everyday quality players per year is plenty. And it doesn’t require perfection, the projected prospect pipeline I listed was just a guess; there are any number of prospects who could break out if some of the others bust. And guys on the fringes of the roster (middle relievers, bench players, AAA depth) are pretty easy to find for cheap, especially given Houston’s track record. Looking at Houston’s farm I have zero concern about replacing guys like Gattis, Marwin, Marisnick, Harris, etc. The real challenge will be finding a way to replace or extend their stars (6 guys - Keuchel, Verlander, Altuve, Correa, Bregman, and Springer - will account for ~1/2 the teams WAR). I like the odds of Whitley being able to replace Verlander (eventually) and Tucker replacing Springer’s production. Beyond that it’s hard to see any prospects who are likely to be as good as those core guys, but for the most part they’ve got time. Extending Altuve and signing Darvish would go a long way, and likely extend the window at least to the point Correa reaches free agency.
     
  20. Madmanmetz

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    Snake great breakdown on the 2013 draft, I always enjoy that type of honest review of the past.

    I agree with you on only needing to add 2 pre-arb players a season in order to keep payroll where the owners make enough to stay in business and the team can compete. I've come to grips with Dallas and Marwin will be gone once they are free agents.

    I would like to think that attendance should rise enough over the next five years that the Astros can afford to climb to the top of the mid-market teams in terms of payroll. From the 5 year span 2004- 2008 the Astros had their largest attendance, almost averaging 3 million per season (2,934,559). Those teams had star power and some post season runs. Next season should no doubt break the 2004 season record of 3,087,872.

    This is just a stab but last year 2.4 million in attendance compared to 3 million next season should provide at about $25 million in profit. (basing it on an average $40 more per fan made in profit). I'd hope that goes to the payroll.

    Hopefully they make the right choices on signings and trades because they could have a chance at 8-10 years of success at the highest level.
     
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