Thursday, January 3, 2013

Astros County Top 25 Prospects: 10-1

Ok, I've teased this out enough now. Let's get down to business and check out the top 10.

10.  Nick Tropeano

Tropeano took a big step forward in 2012, adding a few mph to his fastball which helps make his already good changeup that much tougher. Even more impressive was the way he excelled in Lancaster, which can chew up and spit out pitching prospects. He should get his first real test in 2013 at AA. Tropeano was a 5th round pick by Houston in 2011.

9.  Jarred Cosart

Cosart is a fiery competitor with outstanding stuff that has never consistently translated to his results. Blister problems kept him from breaking out the way many hoped he would in 2012. That said, Cosart still has a chance to quickly become a top of the rotation starter or, should that fail, a good bullpen piece. Cosart will likely begin the year in AAA, though he has an outside shot of making the big club out of spring training. He was a 38th round pick by Philadelphia in 2008 and came to Houston in the Hunter Pence trade.

8.  Nate Freiman

Freiman is a big first baseman which a very promising bat. He's consistently hit for good average with plenty of doubles, tape measure homeruns, and a respectable strikeout rate, especially for a big guy with power. As a rule 5 pick from the Padres organization, he'll be given a shot to stick on the roster out of spring training, though he's competing with Carlos Pena and Brett Wallace for playing time. Freiman was an 8th round pick by San Diego in 2009.

7.  Domingo Santana

Santana is a corner outfielder with a huge swing that generates home runs and strikeouts. Despite being roughly three years younger than his competition, he has shown marked improvement each of the last two seasons. His real test will come this season as he faces AA pitching for the first time at just 20 years old. Santana was originally signed by Philadelphia out of the Dominican Republic and came to the Astros in the Hunter Pence trade.

6.  Mike Foltynewicz

Folty made good strides in 2012 while repeating at Lexington. He's another starter who has the stuff to become a top of the rotation starter but can't quite figure out how to consistently dominate hitters. His mound presence can seem to get shaken at times, but I doubt that will be an issue going forward as he gains experience. There has been some talk that he could skip Lancaster and open the season in AA. Foltynewicz was the Astros' 1st round pick in 2010.

5. George Springer

Springer is often described as being a five tool prospect and he showed that potential in his first full season. At this point, the only real knock on his game is a high strikeout rate, although that's one fault that has ruined many a promising prospect as they face more advanced pitching. Springer will get a chance to test that theory as he starts the season in AA. Springer was the Astros 1st round pick in 2011.

4.  Lance McCullers Jr

McCullers was regarded by some as one of the steals of the 2012 draft. With a triple digit fastball and developing slider and changeup, Lance has the chance to develop into a true #1 starter with a fallback as a closer. It will be interesting to see if Houston goes ahead and gives him a shot at full-season ball this year. McCullers was a supplemental 1st round pick for Houston in 2012.

3.  Delino DeShields Jr

If not for the Reds' Billy Hamilton, DeShields would have been the biggest story in the minors this season. Not only did he steal over 100 bases, but his batting average, power, and defense at second all made significant strides in 2012. DeShields can be described as quiet but intense, though his body language can be a bit off-putting at times.  He will likely start the season in Lancaster. DeShields was a 1st round pick by Houston in 2010.

2.  Carlos Correa

I usually wait about a year before ranking any prospect this highly, but Correa has the chance to be something truly special. The size of a third baseman with the athleticism of a shortstop, combined with his big bat potential and first-class makeup should take this kid very far. It will be interesting to see how much the Astros push him through the system, as I could see him in either Tri-City or Quad Cities to start the year. Correa was the Astros 1st round pick in 2012.

1. Jon Singleton

Singleton continued his steady march towards the big leagues in 2012. We started to see the power potential materialize to match his strong batting average and walk rates. Singleton will start the season in AAA and has a good chance of seeing some time in Houston in September. He was originally drafted in the 8th round by Philadelphia in 2009 and came to Houston in the Hunter Pence trade.

So there you have it, the Astros County Top 25. I think this top 10, especially, is as strong as Houston has had in at least 20 years and should start getting the fans excited in the next couple years.