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2020 Astros Minor League Thread

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by tellitlikeitis, Dec 15, 2019.

  1. texans1095

    texans1095 Member

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    Oscar Colas (was being talked about earlier in this thread) was being described as a guy who isn’t in very good shape. He certainly doesn’t have a very athletic looking body, but in this video he legs out a triple and looks fairly quick around the bases. Also has a pretty sweet swing.

     
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  2. J.R.

    J.R. Member

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    Yeah, uh huh, OK...

    https://theathletic.com/1627844/2020/02/28/keith-laws-prospect-rankings-houston-astros/

    The Astros’ system has been gutted not just by trades, but by the inevitable results of trying to draft without scouts, which has filled the system with a lot of very low-ceiling college performers. The strength here now is the international class, including a slew of hard-throwing right-handers from Latin America.

    The Top 10

    1. Forrest Whitley, RHP (Top 100 rank: No. 14)

    From the Top 100: Whitley will pitch at 22 for all of 2020, yet it seems like there are already people within the industry questioning how good he’s going to be. Some of it is unsurprising given how bad his 2019 season was; he got to Triple A and bombed, probably with help from the Happy Fun Ball, giving up four or more runs in more than half of his outings — including relief outings designed to help him right the ship — and allowing nine homers in 24 1/3 innings for a 12.21 ERA. The ball wasn’t the only problem, as he was falling behind in counts too often in Triple A. So the Astros gave him a break, tried to work on his mechanics, and had him essentially rehab in the GCL and High A before he finished with a month in Double A (where he still walked too many guys) and six starts in the Arizona Fall League (where he finally had some success, with a 2.88 ERA and 9 walks in 25 innings). His stuff was as good as ever in October, 91-97 mph with a plus cutter and plus-plus changeup as well as two breaking balls that were more average, although on other days his curveball and slider have shown plus. It’s an absurd collection of pitches, but he has to repeat his delivery better so he can throw more consistent strikes, especially early in the count. His upside is unchanged — a No. 1 starter who can give you 200 innings — and we’ll see shortly if the mechanical tweaks he’s made this winter get his delivery to where it needs to be.

    2. José Urquidy, RHP

    Formerly known as José Luis Hernandez, Urquidy is a depth starter/long reliever who’s ready for the majors right now, getting swings and misses on his slider and curve, both grade 55 pitches, but with an ordinary four-seamer that gets hit hard and that prevents him from being more than a fourth starter in a best-case scenario. He has an above-average changeup as well and throws a lot of strikes, so any pitching plan that gets him away from his fastball will probably make him more effective in any role.

    3. Luis Garcia, RHP

    Garcia’s stuff climbed over the course of the year to the point where he was 93-97 mph as a starter with a 70 changeup and two average breaking balls, showing improved command and good feel to use all his pitches. He’s only about six feet tall but has a thick build and looks like he could start; with this stuff and feel he’d be a mid-rotation arm.

    4. Freudis Nova, SS

    Nova signed in 2016 for $1.2 million and just made his full-season debut last year in Low A at age 19, although his approach wasn’t quite ready for Midwest League pitching. He makes good contact when he puts the ball in play, and his bat plays up a little because he’s a 60 runner. He’s still developing at shortstop but has a 70 arm and the athleticism to stay there. There’s huge power potential here, but he’s a few years from getting to it.

    5. Cristian Javier, RHP

    Javier gets high swing-and-miss rates — he had the second-best strikeout rate of any minor league starter in 2019 — on a bucket of grade 50/55 pitches, with good deception and excellent feel for mixing and matching his various offerings. Scouts question whether better hitters will continue to miss at these rates given how much he works out of the zone, and those high walk rates limit him to a back-end starter role.

    6. Jose Rivera, RHP

    Rivera has been up to 100 and can sit at 96 as a starter with a hard slider and plus splitter. He’s lanky with a loose, quick arm, with some effort in the delivery but enough of an arsenal to keep him as a starter for now. He signed at 19 in 2016, ‘old’ for a Dominican amateur player.

    7. Hunter Brown, RHP

    Drafted out of Division II Wayne State, Brown can hit 100 as a starter and flashes a plus slider and above-average curveball, along with a changeup that was much better in pro ball than it was in the spring, when he barely used it. He’s built like a starter but hasn’t shown that kind of command or control yet, either in school or in the minors. If that comes with time and pro coaching, he could be a No. 3 or better.

    8. Bryan Abreu, RHP

    Abreu works with an above-average fastball and two plus breaking balls in the curve and slider; his curve’s spin rate in the majors last year was just short of 3,000 rpm, putting him near the top of the scale. Strikes have been a problem for him for most of his brief career and his changeup isn’t that effective because it’s too firm. You can’t rule him out as a starter yet given his age and the No. 2 upside, but the odds are higher than he’s a dominant reliever who misses bats with his breaking stuff.

    9. Abraham Toro, 3B

    Toro has a knack for putting the bat on the ball and has average power, but he doesn’t have a clear position, needing work to be adequate at third and lacking experience (or perhaps the agility) for second.

    10. Tyler Ivey, RHP

    Ivey has a violent delivery but misses bats with his solid-average fastball and above-average breaking ball, throwing more strikes than you’d expect but still most likely ticketed for the pen. He missed time in 2019 after he was suspended for having a foreign substance in his glove.
     
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  3. J.R.

    J.R. Member

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    The next 10

    11. Korey Lee, C

    Lee was the Astros’ first-round pick in 2019, a surprise selection of a player most teams didn’t see as a day-one pick. He’s apparently a great framer, and definitely has a plus arm, but his swing isn’t going to produce enough line drives to project him as a regular; he played 64 games in short-season ball and had a 52.3 percent groundball rate there.

    12. Colin Barber, OF

    Barber was the Astros’ fourth-rounder last year and the first high school player they chose, an above-average runner with a chance to stay in centerfield. He has a balanced swing for contact but would need a fair amount of work on his swing path to get to power.

    13. Brandon Bielak, RHP

    Bielak seems like a low-ceiling, high-floor guy in a system full of future relievers; he doesn’t have a knockout pitch but his curve and slider are above-average and if he throws a few more strikes he’d be a good fourth or fifth starter.

    14. Jairo Solis, RHP

    Solis missed the year due to Tommy John surgery but was up to 100 prior to the injury with a solid delivery and hit 97 in the team’s Dominican instructional league while he was rehabbing. He’d be an arm to watch if he comes back healthy, as he has more upside than almost any arm in the system.

    15. Jordan Brewer, OF

    Brewer was the Astros’ third-round pick, a 70 runner who didn’t play center field much at the University of Michigan but is more than fast and athletic enough to try it. He was a two-sport prospect in high school, also playing football, and has above-average raw power he doesn’t get to in games right now.

    16. Garrett Stubbs, C

    Stubbs is really small for a catcher but has very good command of his small strike zone, rarely punching out and walking enough to have value as a backup; his frame may not permit him to be much more.

    17. Shawn Dubin, RHP

    Dubin was a 13th-rounder in 2018 out of Georgetown … no, Georgetown College, in Kentucky, an NAIA school that has never produced a big leaguer and hadn’t even had a player drafted since 1997. He signed for $1,000 as a senior and has seen his velocity improve to where he was now 93-97 in the playoffs last year with a four-pitch mix that misses a lot of bats. He’s no more than 5′11″ and is listed at 154 pounds, so he has to fill out a lot to hold up as a starter, but he has the pure stuff to do it.

    18. Luis Santana, IF

    Santana was part of the return for J.D. Davis and struggled to elevate the ball in the New York-Penn League; he rarely strikes out and has some latent power but hits the ball on the ground or as low line drives too often.

    19. Jeremy Pena, SS

    The Astros’ third-round pick in 2018, Pena can really play shortstop but there’s no impact with the bat thanks to a severely grooved swing, and he’s probably no more than a defensive replacement.

    20. Nivaldo Rodriguez, RHP

    Rodriguez was just added to their 40-man roster this winter after a solid year at both full-season A-ball stops, working with three average pitches and good control, with a fifth starter ceiling and a solid middle relief floor.

    Others of note

    Mexican lefthander Juan Pablo Lopez was 89-94 with a promising slider and has some projection left to his 6′4″ frame, trending towards becoming a back-end starter prospect… Right-hander Enoli Paredes is clearly a reliever with a max-effort delivery that has missed bats so far up through Double A, especially against right-handers. He was more effective in relief last year as well and this is probably the right time to move him there permanently… Right-hander Angel Macuare works with a four-pitch mix with fringe-average stuff but nothing plus, with a promising delivery, but his command and control really lag behind his stuff right now and he has yet to pitch above short-season ball … Right-hander Jojanse Torres is up to 100 mph but he’s a rock-thrower without feel and with no third pitch … The Astros’ second-round pick last year, Grae Kessinger never strikes out but collapses his back leg in his swing, so he can’t get to power, and I don’t think he can stay at short. … Eighteen-year-old Jairo Lopez was 92-95 in relief for Tri-City with a plus curveball and average changeup, but is really small to end up a starter.

    2020 impact

    It’s time for Whitley to step up and join the rotation after what was supposed to be his debut season in 2019 went off the rails; he’ll join Urquidy, who seems to already have a spot. Stubbs would be a quality backup catcher right now, maybe more if his small frame holds up. Toro should be on the bench as well, backing up at multiple spots.

    The fallen

    Their second-round pick in 2019, high school right-hander Jayson Schroeder, walked 37 guys in 25 innings last year even though the Astros demoted him twice to try to straighten things out.

    Sleeper

    Garcia has everything you’d want to see in a future starter except for size. Another year of proving it in Double A will put him squarely on the top 100.
     
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  4. Snake Diggit

    Snake Diggit Member

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    He's way too low on Urquidys upside, I think he’s selling Toro and Lee short, and his comment about drafting without scouts is a stupid snipe. But otherwise I don’t think there’s much to argue with about his assessment. I’ll be watching Brown, Solis, Rivera, Garcia, and Dubin for massive breakouts.

    It’s clear Houston thinks they’ve identified a market inefficiency in pitchers who lack stature but have velocity and spin. It also looks like they think bat-only international prospects are undervalued.
     
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  5. Nook

    Nook Member

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    I am very familiar with Javier. The article posted is worth reading but it is too limited. His fastball has really good movement (the right type of movement), it tends to move late in the zone and he hides his pitches well. However his fastball isn't even his best pitch, and his fastball is so nasty in large part because of his other pitches.

    He has a fastball that players consistently swing under. His change up looks like his fastball leaving his hand. The fastball and change up are indistinguishable in many cases until late in the zone. He will sometimes throw his fastball at 89-90 MPH and then mix in his change up at 87-88 mph.

    The fastball has movement so guys swing under it. His change up tends to "bleed" late in the zone. As a result a hitter essentially has to guess and when that happens he then will pump in some 92-94 MPH fastballs........ confusing things further, he has two off speed pitches that he throws with the same arm speed and release as his fastball and change up....... his slider is another pitch that sort of bleeds late in the zone and generates a lot of swings and misses......

    His best pitch isn't his fastball.......... it is his curve ball and it is really nasty and is the glue that makes his fastball so hard to hit. He has a looping curve ball that is very hard to make solid contact off of. He can throw it up or down in the zone, and it tends to set up his fastball and change. He sometimes will not throw it the first time through the order if he has command of his change up. He then will mix it after throwing several sliders.

    His success is going to rely on his change up..... it has been improving, but it is the bridge between the fastball and curve..... he can be prone to walking guys when the change up isn't successful because hitters can identify off speed more easily then. If he gets mastery of his change up, he will be very successful.

    I haven't seen any discussion of it anywhere, but he also has been throwing a cutter. He will use the cutter prior to the slider to freeze hitters, and also will use the cutter to then back door his 4 seam fastball. The cutter has little movement, and when guys sit dead red they often are fooled by the cutter.

    I have seen some scouts confuse his cutter with his change up or even a misplaced 4 seamer. You can tell it is his cutter because he always throws it at 90 mph and sometimes will drop his arm angle. Then the next time he throws the cutter, not drop his arm angle.

    This isn't a junk ball pitcher trying to fool people like I have seen some publications or even opposing scouts say. This is a guy with an elite pitch (curve), an above average fastball and two other useful pitches. His stuff is like a puzzle that fits really well together.
     
    #145 Nook, Feb 28, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2020
  6. Snake Diggit

    Snake Diggit Member

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    Astros related from Longenhagen chat:


    2:22
    PicktoClick: Christian Javier looks nasty thins Spring. Why’s he so hard to hit? Sustainable over a full season, or does the novelty wear off?



    12:24
    Eric A Longenhagen: Now *that* dude has elite spin. 2500ish rpm on the heater, it’s a well-designed 4-pitch mix out of the bullpen.



    12:24
    Jojanse Torres: Have you seen me live? How good am I going to be?



    12:25
    Eric A Longenhagen: Yes. Slider-first approach, probably a middle relief fit, non-zero chance at later/high leverage innings but I think it’s unlikely.
     
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  7. Redfish81

    Redfish81 Member

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    I saw Javier pitch twice in Corpus last year. In one game he struck out 10 in 4 innings. I think that was his last AA start before moving up to AAA. The other game I went to he struck out a bunch but had some command problems and walked 3 guys in 3 innings.

    He's got a little Framber in him, but when he is in the zone it is special.
     
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  8. jiggyfly

    jiggyfly Member

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    Dam everybody is getting in there shots at the Astros.

    So I guess we are supposed to be able to trade for pitchers of the caliber of Cole and grienke while playing in the WS 2 out of 3 years and still have a top 5 farm system.

    Seems legit.

    What the hell was up with that no scouts blast?
     
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  9. Snake Diggit

    Snake Diggit Member

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    Part of why many people in the baseball world had it out for Luhnow was because he let a lot of traditional scouts go and replaced them with data analysts. IMHO it was massively overblown but so are a lot of aspects of how baseball media have portrayed Luhnow and the Astros.
     
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  10. Joe Joe

    Joe Joe Go Stros!
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    Not sure about Law specifically (though this articles suggests it), but a lot scout friendly media types got their undies in a twist when the Astros went video/statcast heavy for scouting. As such, Astros are stuck having Bregman, Alvarez, Tucker, Verlander, Greinke, Lee, Toro, Stubbs, Whitley, Urquidy, Javier, and James instead of having upside guys still in minors. The horror. The horror.
     
  11. No Worries

    No Worries Contributing Member

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    The Astros are known for scouting pitchers by sending out a video tech with a high speed camera. The Astros are looking for elite spin rates.
     
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  12. Nook

    Nook Member

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    Baseball is made up of clusters of tight knit people that stick together and protect each other. They hide under the “tradition and this how the game is played”. The reality is all these groups of people are very specialized and do not typically have skills that allow lateral moves into other professions.... so scouts and those friendly with scouts are going to slight anyone that downplays their importance.

    Do you think Keith Law likes the realization that a video camera and someone sitting behind a desk can scout 4 times as many players and do a better job? If you go back and look at Law’s comments on Astros picks like Bregman and compare them to production, you will see who is better.

    As for Keith, he was offered head of the Astros scouting department years ago and turned it down.
     
  13. Joe Joe

    Joe Joe Go Stros!
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    So does the myth that Astros can't develop pitching die this season or get cemented as law?

    I think Astros will be division winners and end the season with 3 homegrown starters and at least 1 homegrown high leverage reliever.
     
  14. Nook

    Nook Member

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    Somewhere in the middle. McCullers is homegrown and Urquidy as well. The Astros intend on getting a starter near the deadline again if possible.
     
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  15. Joe Joe

    Joe Joe Go Stros!
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    I think adding a starter at deadline is a fine goal. Though, I'm guessing Astros rotation doesn't make it unscathed to the trade deadline/end of year. I expect at least one homegrown starter that isn't LMJ and Urquidy starting at the end of the year whether or not the Astros add a starter.
     
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  16. Snake Diggit

    Snake Diggit Member

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    I consider it more likely this season than previous seasons that at least 1 new SP emerges from the farm. The AAA staff will have too many guys with legitimate stuff for all of them to bust. Whitley, Abreu, Javier, Bielak, and Perez all have MoR upside and all are major league ready.

    Armenteros, Emanuel, and Hartman are the Brady Rodgers types who’ve made up the majority of the depth the last few seasons.

    Would be great for James or Valdez to emerge now so that Abreu and Javier can be optioned and continue to develop.
     
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  17. Buck Turgidson

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    Can LMJ take over the innings that Miley pitched?
     
  18. Redfish81

    Redfish81 Member

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    Not all of them.
     
  19. bobrek

    bobrek Politics belong in the D & D

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    He can pick up the ones up until his disastrous finishing stretch.
     
  20. Redfish81

    Redfish81 Member

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    Incorrect. Miley was so bad in September he only pitched 11 1/3 innings over 5 starts. That means he pitched 156 innings at the end of August with a 3.06 ERA before he fell apart. McCullers is very unlikely to take on that work load considering his career high is 136 innings and that was without coming off TJ surgery.
     

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