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2023 Astros Minor League Thread

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by tellitlikeitis, Dec 1, 2022.

  1. tellitlikeitis

    tellitlikeitis Canceled
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    AAA Opening Day is March 31, with the lower leagues starting a week later on April 6.

    - Sugar Land starts their 2023 season in El Paso.

    The other three teams open at home:

    - Corpus Christi vs. Arkansas
    - Asheville vs. Bowling Green
    - Fayetteville vs. Carolina

    As usual, the three questions for the start of every minor league thread:

    1. Breakout pitcher/position player

    Drew Gilbert - don't think a top-5 prospect in the system qualifies, but I think Gilbert tones down the aggressiveness just enough to really shine. I think he finishes the year in Sugar Land.

    Tyler Guilfoil - think he'll be the fastest mover out of all the pitchers from the Astros' 2022 draft class.

    2. Guys facing make-or-break seasons

    Angel Macuare - has made it to AA, but has yet to put everything together

    Forrest Whitley - the reasons are pretty obvious at this point

    Grae Kessinger - wasn't thrilled with the pick at the time and still very pessimistic. Finding some power was an encouraging sign, but with Will Wagner, Joey Loperfido, and J.C. Correa (among others) coming up and Shay Whitcomb as his direct competition, he needs to get a move on.

    Shay Whitcomb - had that nice start but struggled badly the rest of the way. He'll also need to pick up the pieces in a hurry.

    Freudis Nova - To be fair, Nova's 2022 ended before it even began (torn ACL), but he has to get out of Class A this year.

    3. Sleepers

    Two position players, two pitchers for me... one from each group spent all of 2022 in a complex league.

    Nolan DeVos
    Jose Fleury - old for the DSL, but struck out 60 (against 4 walks) in 38 innings
    Collin Price
    Richi Gonzalez - was already being lauded for his defense (Baseball America rated him as the best OF arm in the 2021 Prospect Handbook before he ever played a game), took a step forward with the bat in the FCL

    My Top 15

    1. Hunter Brown
    2. Yainer Diaz
    3. Drew Gilbert
    4. Pedro Leon
    5. Korey Lee
    6. Colin Barber
    7. Jacob Melton
    8. Ryan Clifford
    9. Justin Dirden
    10. Jaime Melendez
    11. Miguel Ullola
    12. Spencer Arrighetti
    13. J.P. France
    14. Kenni Gomez
    15. Edinson Batista

    Next 30, no particular order

    Luis Báez
    Carlos Calderón
    Zach Daniels
    Shawn Dubin
    Tyler Whitaker
    Andrew Taylor
    Michael Knorr
    Adrian Chaidez
    Misael Tamarez
    Corey Julks (if he survives the Rule 5 draft)
    Zach Daniels
    Colton Gordon
    Will Wagner
    J.C. Correa
    Alex Santos
    Alimber Santa
    Tyler Guilfoil
    Logan Cerny
    Quincy Hamilton
    Luis Santana
    Joey Loperfido
    Diosmerky Taveras
    Valente Bellozo
    Rhett Kouba
    Luis Encarnación
    Dauri Lorenzo
    Sandy Gaston
    Alejandro Nuñez
    Wilmy Sanchez
    Raimy Rodriguez

    Speaking of Asheville, 2023 may be the final season of Minor League baseball in Asheville unless the Tourists make drastic improvements to their home, McCormick Field, the 3rd-oldest ballpark in the minors (opened 1924). The stadium's last round of renovations occurred in 1992. I got this email the other night from the Tourists (I bought a couple of hats from the team store online, which is why I get emails from them):

    upload_2022-12-1_15-42-43.png
     
  2. Marshall Bryant

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    I wonder if they need a new home, if SE Texas is an option? The old Texas League tradition seems to have moved west.
     
  3. htownbball

    htownbball Member

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    Does anyone have advanced stats on Pedro Leon and why he isn't able to hit .250 at his age and the hype that was surrounding him? Last year was a mulligan given it was his first year in the states and they stuck him at SS, but man I really thought he'd be the CF of the future. Great tools, if he can cut down on the strikeouts he could be a monster

    Hoping Jacob Melton can keep it up and Zach Daniels really took a huge step this year too. He also needs to tone down the strikeouts, but the talent is evident. Joe Perez just needs to stay healthy for once and he might be a future 1B candidate too.
     
  4. HTown2017Champs

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    I like Melton as a 1B candidate - lefty, athletic, good height, and has experience there in college. Love his bat, too and was excited when they drafted him. I would like to see him get more time there next year especially since there's a lot of OF depth at all levels.
     
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  5. xcrunner51

    xcrunner51 Contributing Member

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    No. They're part of the South Atlantic league (HiA), which is mostly teams on the East coast or adjacent states. If they re-locate it'll be somewhere in the league's general vicinity for travel purposes. None of the other HiA or LoA leagues are anywhere near Texas.

    As you're probably aware, Texas has both AA and AAA teams.
     
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  6. Marshall Bryant

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    Yeah. But they are all toward Central Texas now. There used to be teams in Beaumont, Corsicana and other cities in Eastern Texas. Houston had a Cardinals minor league team for years before we got a Major League team. Dallas too.

    https://www.texasalmanac.com/articles/the-minor-leagues-in-texas
     
    #6 Marshall Bryant, Dec 1, 2022
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2022
  7. tellitlikeitis

    tellitlikeitis Canceled
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    So you decided to ignore the sentence "None of the other HiA or LoA leagues are anywhere near Texas."
     
  8. Marshall Bryant

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    I guess I did ignore them and moved on to classes below A from the past. Thank you for setting me straight on current leagues as I reminisce about bygone days.
     
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  9. Snake Diggit

    Snake Diggit Member

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    Breakout: Drew Gilbert, Andrew Taylor

    Make-or-break: Grae Kessinger, Forrest Whitley

    Sleepers: Will Wagner, JP France

    My rankings:
    Grade 55:
    1. RHP Hunter Brown
    Grade 50:
    2. OF Drew Gilbert
    3. C/1B Yainer Diaz
    4. OF/IF Pedro Leon
    5. OF/1B Jacob Melton
    6. C Korey Lee
    7. RHP Forrest Whitley
    Grade 45+:
    8. 3B Joe Perez
    9. OF Colin Barber
    10. RHP Andrew Taylor
    Grade 45:
    11. RHP Jaime Melendez
    12. RHP Alex Santos II
    13. OF/1B Ryan Clifford
    14. RHP Shawn Dubin
    15. RHP Spencer Arrighetti
    16. RHP Jayden Murray
    17. OF/IF Tyler Whitaker
    18. OF/3B Corey Julks
    19. OF Justin Dirden
    20. OF Kenni Gomez
    21. OF/1B Luis Baez
    22. IF Cristian Gonzalez
    23. RHP Misael Tamarez
    24. RHP Miguel Ullola
    25. RHP JP France
    26. RHP Adrian Chaidez
    27. LHP Colton Gordon
    28. LHP Julio Robaina
    29. RHP Angel Macuare
    30. RHP Tyler Brown
    31. IF Grae Kessinger
    32. IF Will Wagner
    33. IF Luis Santana
    Grade 40:
    C: Miguel Palma, JC Correa, Cesar Salazar, Luke Berryhill, Juan Santander, Sandro Gaston, Collin Price
    IF: Shay Whitcomb, Dauri Lorenzo, Alberto Hernandez, Joey Loperfido, Zach Dezenzo, Tim Borden II, Freudis Nova
    OF: Logan Cerny, Quincy Hamilton, Jordan Brewer, Kenedy Corona, Zach Daniels, Ross Adolph, Marty Costes, Alex McKenna, Scott Schreiber, Matthew Barefoot
    P: AJ Blubaugh, Valente Bellozo, Tyler Guilfoil, Diosmerky Taveras, Jonathan Sprinkle, Rhett Kouba, Carlos Espinosa, Carlos Calderon, Ryan Gusto, Alimber Santa, Edinson Batista, Christian Mejias, Brett Conine, Jacob Coats, Jimmy Endersby, Matt Ruppenthal, Nolan DeVos, Michael Knorr, Trey Dombroski

    Farm is very strong at C, OF, and P but weak at 1B/3B and very weak at 2B/SS. Overall I’d rank them in the 14-22 range making them average to below average. If you were to add back the 4 lost draft picks this would be a very good farm. When you factor in the strength, depth, and outlook of the big league roster, the farm should have plenty to do it’s part to keep the big league team contending for at least another 4-5 years.
     
  10. Screaming Fist

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    How would we rate the AFL compared to AA? Maybe slightly above AA or is there a bigger difference in the quality of the two leagues?

    Asking in part due to Wagner's pretty incredible performance in the AFL this season where he blew away his AA stats.
     
  11. Marshall Bryant

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    Just asking for a comp of PAs to judge the small sample size distortions as well.
     
  12. prospecthugger

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    Wagner was actually really good after his first month in AA. From July 6th to the end of the year, he hit .283/.409/.452 in 205 PAs for a 127 wRC+ with an excellent strikeout to walk ratio. Even when he was bad, he kept his strikeouts in check and walked at a decent clip. With Dubon covering SS, Wagner could arguably be a better fit than Hensley as a utility player, given his handedness, but he'll need to show he can handle AAA first.
     
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  13. xcrunner51

    xcrunner51 Contributing Member

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    AFL might average out to AA but you gotta take the AFL stats with a large grain of salt. There'll be players from A+ to AAA in that league. Some are going to be fatigued from a long minor league season, some are rehabbing injuries and aren't at full production.

    With a generally small sample size it's best not to make too much of the AFL stats one way or the other.
     
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  14. Joe Joe

    Joe Joe Go Stros!
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    Brown far and away the best prospect in the system. There's always a chance a prospect busts, but there isn't a pitching prospect with better odds at starting Game 1 of a World Series.

    Leon and Diaz both likely play in majors this year. I think Diaz could become like Contreras. Leon, I think he's been banged up the past couple of years (he'll go great for a month or 2 and then go Castro on one knee bad for a month). I'm a little worried about his injury history, but if he stays healthy (assuming the dog **** months are not representative of him when he's healthy), he has the upside to make an impact like Pena did last year in the regular season.

    Gilbert....He's got a ways to go. I could see him being a fast mover and I hope he plays well enough to be the Astros Number 1 prospect within the year. Great bat to ball skills, a good eye, and hits the ball hard. If he starts to elevate more, he'll be an all-star. If he doesn't, even Derek Bell had a few good years hitting a lot of hard liners before Operation Shutdown.

    Dubin, Tamarez, France, and Paredes should give the Astros a stable full of potential relievers.

    Lee is looking like a backup catcher that provides thump in between long periods of silence with the bat.

    Melton, Clifford, Gomez, Whitaker, and Santos are young guys to follow.
     
    #14 Joe Joe, Dec 2, 2022
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2022
  15. Snake Diggit

    Snake Diggit Member

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    With the big league team looking like they’ll add at least 2 more position players, I am very optimistic about how stacked the AAA lineup could be:

    CF Leon
    2B Wagner
    DH Diaz
    1B Matijevic
    LF Dirden
    SS Hensley
    RF Julks
    3B Perez
    C Lee

    With Machado, Salazar, and Costes on the bench. That is a really deep lineup.
     
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  16. prospecthugger

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    I'll try and choose a few different names here.

    Breakout players:

    Colin Barber: this is a critical year for Barber. The 2019 draftee has missed time due to the pandemic, a 2021 season ending surgery after 16 games, and another injury this season. He's performed well when he can stay on the field, and should be ready to start in AA. Teams are incentivized to start MLB ready top 100 prospects on the OD roster, so a strong 2023 would give him a shot to make the 2024 squad. I think he could be a Benintendi esque OF.

    AJ Blubaugh: Blubaugh was an unheralded high school prospect who took his only D1 scholarship (not unlike Hunter Brown) and started throwing harder in college. At 6'2" 180, he has a mid 90s FB already, and could potentially take off in a professional setting. After giving up 6 runs in his first game as a woodpecker, he came back and threw two impressive outings to end the season, striking out 16 of the 33 batters he faced over 10 innings, allowing 1 run on 2 hits and 1 walk.

    Make or Break:

    Shawn Dubin: he has already used his first option, has now spent 2 years being more solid than good in AAA, and turned 27 at the end of last season. Right now he looks to compete with Paredes and Blanco for the next pen arm up, but with the depth of the pen, his path to Houston looks cloudy.

    I almost put Jayson Schroeder, but he might already be broken.

    Joe Perez/Korey Lee: I'm lumping them together, and like Dubin, they have used an option year already without taking a step forward to establish a place in the team's future. Both could find their paths thoroughly blocked if the Astros do, in fact, sign Contreras. Lee hit well after being sent down, and Perez had a really good final month of the season, so there's some hope for next year, but if either wants to be a starter for the Astros, they need to convince the Astros this season.

    Sleepers:
    Alimber Santa: he throws over 100 mph, but has all of 20 minor league innings.

    Blair Henley: missed 2022 due to TJ, but was pretty good prior to the injury. Low 90s FB with a plus curve prior to the injury.

    Joey Loperfido: interesting combination of speed/power/hitting ability. He can 2B, 1B, and every OF spot. He crushed the lower levels. Might be hard to stand out in the glut of interesting LHH OF the Astros will have.

    Luis Encarnacion:
    I wanted to pick a guy who should make a full season debut, so I went with Encarnacion. He's hit on both complexes, with great K/BB rates. His HR total increased from 1 to 5 upon moving stateside. He's a bit odd of a prospect, listed at 5'8" and splitting time nearly evenly between C, 1B, and 2B. Still, a teenager who can hit, and potentially play 2 up the middle positions is interesting.
     
  17. BlindHog

    BlindHog Member

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    AFL seldom gets the best pitching prospects but usually gets the best position players. Think of it as equal to average AA pitching and better than average AAA position players. Comparing to either is uncomfortable at best.
     
  18. RunninRaven

    RunninRaven Contributing Member
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    When you guys say "make or break season", what does that mean? Does that mean if the prospect doesn't perform, the team would release them, possibly? Are we really at that point with guys like Forrest Whitley?
     
  19. Snake Diggit

    Snake Diggit Member

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    I always looked at is as “if this prospect doesn’t do well this season they will almost completely fall off the radar.

    Whitley is coming up on his last option year. If he doesn’t make it in 2023 he will almost certainly be DFA/traded/released next offseason.
     
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  20. vince

    vince Member

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    A lot of moving up in the minor league system is because players have influential advocates within the system. At a make or break point, it means that said players is likely losing all significant support, thus they are losing the lobbying support. Essentially that player is left on an island, that even if they do something notable, it’s not going to move any needles. That player would need to start performing consistently showing monumental progress to get back on the radar of the front office.
     

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