FanGraphs' Bryan Smith has a post up today on the Astros "Must-Follow Prospect," Jordan Lyles. First, though, your obligatory "Houston's farm system sucks" qualification:
Cynically, it’s hard for me to see more than one must-follow prospect in the Astros farm system. This is an organization that didn’t value the draft prior to 2010, failing to sign numerous players that went on to be drafted highly elsewhere, and then put together a 2010 draft that I don’t think valued upside properly. The team is starting to build a nice bit of pitching depth, and should one day be able to field an above-average rotation. But for spots on a down-the-line depth chart to be depended on acquired talent from outside the organization is damning.
On Lyles and that rumored September Call-Up:
It was a benefit to the fan base that Lyles struggled by traditional numbers in a six-start trial at Triple-A, because before then, his manager was talking about a potential September call-up. The team correctly resisted that urge, and they must do the same out of Spring Training to ensure the pitcher is around in 2017. It might only be until then, said without snark, that the team is contending again.
I believe in Jordan Lyles, because I believe a change-up might be the best second option a prospect can have, and Lyles has one of the best. He’s also a potential innings eater and a guy with fastball command. Give me those three things, and it’s really easy to plot a path toward 3 WAR, and not impossible to project a season or two around 6 WAR. His upside is limited because he’ll never threaten to strike out a batter per inning or post a groundball rate of 50%, but he’ll reach the Major Leagues at 20 with command-in-tow, and that makes him a special prospect.
Oh, there's a whole bunch in between, which is very much worth your time.