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Houston Astros 2011 Minor League Review

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America:

2011 (26) | 2010 (30) | 2009 (30) | 2008 (29) | 2007 (22) | 2006 (20) | 2005 (22) | 2004 (29)

2011 Affiliate Records

MLB: [56-106] NL Central

AAA: [68-75] Pacific Coast League – Oklahoma City

AA: [50-90] Texas League – Corpus Christi

A+: [55-85] California League – Lancaster

A: [59-79] South Atlantic League – Lexington

A(ss): [33-42] New York Penn League – Tri-City

R: [25-43] Appalachian League – Greenville

The Run Down

Having revamped their amateur scouting department in 2008, Houston finally seems to be on a better track with their farm system.  After the previous administration yielded miserable draft class after miserable draft class, it appears that Scouting Director Bobby Heck has rejuvenated their Minor Leagues with four consecutive nice drafts.  Now, this is all very good news for the real life Astros and their fans.  For us in fantasyland, however, Houston’s farm system is too youthful to generate much excitement in 2012.  Due to their extraordinary lack of genuine big league talent, the Astros graduated an unusually high number of prospects, leaving the heights of their farm system a bit depleted.  I’d love to discuss some of their most exciting prospects (DeShields, Wates, Mier, Fotynewicz, to name a few), but they’re simply too far from fantasy relevance to be included just yet.

Arizona Fall League PlayersSalt River Rafters

Dallas Keuchel (LHP); Jason Stoffel (RHP); Josh Zeid (RHP); Jason Castro (C); Kody Hinze (1B); Jay Austin (OF); Jake Goebbert (OF)

Graduated Prospects

Jose Altuve (2B); J.D. Martinez (OF); Jimmy Paredes (3B); Brian Bogusevic (OF); Carlos Corporan (C); Jordan Lyles (RHP); Aneury Rodriguez (RHP); Henry Sosa (RHP); Enerio Del Rosario (RHP); Fernando Rodriguez (RHP)

Players of Interest

Hitters

Jake Goebbert | OF:

Goebbert spent most of 2011 at Corpus Christi where he slashed .305/.368/.456 with 27 XBH in 304 PA, including 5 HR.  After promotion to Oklahoma City, he posted .283/.345/.415, while maintaining a similar XBH rate (10 XBH / 106 PA).  With nice plate coverage, few strikeouts, and developing power, Goebbert is a young lefty who could work his way into the Houston’s 2012 outfield.

J.B. Shuck | OF:

Shuck appeared in 37 games for the big club in 2011 and he has a shot at a roster spot out of camp in 2012 due in large part to his outstanding plate discipline.  He has okay speed (21 SB, 11 CS at AAA), he doesn’t hit for power, and his defense is replacement level.  But Shuck’s on-base skills (.398 OBP at AAA, .359 OBP at MLB) are an asset at the big league level and could warrant regular playing time in the Houston outfield.

Pitchers

David Carpenter | RHP – RP:

Using him often in September, the Astros showed some faith in Carpenter.  In return, Carpenter showed promise with decent numbers:  2.93 ERA in 27.2 IP, with 29 K’s and one save.  The right-handed relief pitcher was converted from catcher to pitcher by Saint Louis in 2008 (the Cardinals like to do this and it sort of seems to work – see Jason Motte).  Carpenter is a fastball/slider guy, with a heater that touches 96 and a slider in the mid-80s.  For the time being, he’s behind a few guys, but he could get a chance at saves during some point in 2012.

Juan Abreu | RHP – RP:

Acquired from Atlanta in the Michael Bourne trade, Abreu showed filthy stuff during a limited stint with the Astros in 2011.  The righty brings his fastball upwards of 96 and changes speeds with a curveball in the low-80s.  He’ll sprinkle in a few changeups, too.  It’s difficult to ignore that kind of velocity, making Abreu a relief arm to keep an eye on in 2012.

Honorable Mention

Hitters

Jonathan Singleton | 1B:

Singleton joined the Houston system via Philadelphia after the Hunter Pence trade.  Perhaps something clicked for the 20-year-old first baseman following the trade, as he slashed .282/.385/.411 with Philadelphia’s high A affiliate in the Florida State League, versus .333/.405/.512 at Houston’s high A club in the California League.  Another post-trade stat to note is Singleton’s .448 BABIP at Lancaster – the dude was murdering the ball.  He likely won’t arrive until 2013, but look for more exciting Minor League numbers from Singleton in 2012, as it seems he figured something out at the tail end of his first full pro season.

Adam Bailey | OF:

Bailey played at three levels in 2011, spending the bulk of the season at low A and finishing up with stints at A+ and at AA.  The 23-year-old lefty was able to move up the ladder thanks to nice numbers at every stop, including a slash line of .323/.333/.495 at Corpus Christi and an overall HR total of 24.  Bailey isn’t a touted prospect, but his 2011 numbers and his rapid advancement through the Houston system should speak volumes about the Astros’ thoughts on the outfielder.  Their opening day outfield is wide open at this point, and with a good showing at spring training I don’t consider it a tremendous leap to think that Bailey could be included.

Luis Durango | OF:

Houston claimed Durango in June after San Diego placed the speedy switch-hitter on waivers.  Durango can fly.  There’s no doubt about that.  While the rest of his skill set remains very raw, Durango’s speed could earn him a starting role in Minute Maid Park’s expansive centerfield.  If he can improve his plate discipline and occasionally find himself on base, he could be a threat to steal 20-30 in 2012.

  1. Tarasco's Secret Stash says:
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    Hey, any intel on their 1st rounder George Springer out of UConn? Dude looks like he could be a potentially delightful power/speed combo OF w/ minimal minors time (college senior/already 22).

  2. Racehorse says:
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    Scott,

    Adam Bailey is a name that I hadn’t seen before, so thanks for bringing him to light. I’ve now added him to my dynasty depth chart with the requisite hyperlink…

    Do you have any thoughts on RHP Jarred Cosart? I saw a recent write-up on him that said his fastball “consistently touches 97-99″ and both his “curveball and changeup flash as plus”. However, the same write-up also notes that Cosart is inconsistent in every sense of the word. Too me, all that sounds Ubaldo-like. But what do I know, I’m just a big dummy. What say you?

    Thanks!

  3. Stephen says:
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    @Scott: re:Jonathan Singleton: Houston’s High-A farm team plays in a very hitter-friendly ball park, not to mention, entire league. I believe some of Singleton’s improvement was going from one of the worst hitting leagues (Florida) to the best (California).

    Also, the Astros graduated most of the fantasy relevant prospects they had in the minors this past year in Lyles, Altuve, JD Martinez, Pareds, Rodriguez and Bogusevic.’

    Another good article.

    @Racehorse: Cosart: As always, the inconsistency of Casart will limit his ceiling. Also, his ratios this year weren’t very good. For throwing that hard, his strikeout rate is a minuscule 6.3 K/9 in 2011.

  4. Scott Evans

    Scott Evans says:
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    @Tarasco’s Stash: Couldn’t agree more regarding Springer’s tools & athleticism. But the fact that he signed so late hurts his chances of playing big league ball next year. As it stands, his professional experience consists of only 33 LoA plate appearances. I think Astros are going to want to see him put up numbers at HiA and/or AA before they call him up. But given their already inexperienced outfield, it’s probably fair to put Springer on the radar.

    @Stephen: No doubt, ballpark/league trends played a role in Singleton’s post-trade spike. Valid point, indeed.

    @Racehorse @Stephen: I was tempted to include Cosart based on his stuff, alone. But his inconsistency is no secret, and as Stephen noted, his 2011 line is rather ugly. At 21-years-old, though, he has plenty of time to hone his command and I don’t think Houston will rush him along. Look for Cosart to spend 2012 in AA.

  5. ltf says:
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    If you want to see why the Astros minor league is so poor, just look at their 2007 draft. It really looks the entire organization was asleep at the wheel until they decided on Ed Wade as GM. The only guys they did hit on, aren’t even in the organization; Chad Bettis looks like a solid SP, and Derek Dietrich is a very nice 2B option in the Rays’ system. I’m a big fan of the Jake Hager/Ryan Brett combo the Rays have in Princeton. Dietricj needs to work on getting a better base this winter because he gets left front-footed. It might just be preference because I’d rather he have a wider batting stance instead of a timing mechanism moving his lead foot forward. It’s too much rocking when he starts his swing. He’s hit at every level, so look for him to improve his BB%, K%, HR%, or the Rays might move off of him and just start grooming thee Princeton duo. Rays got Deitrich because they couldn’t sign Diekroger. I like Deitrich as a sleeper, but Deikroger is a better player. Rays should have paid up.

    Astros should have gotten more from the Phillies. Singleton is your typical power prospect limited to 1B, add in Ryan Howard and his contract, and you realize Philadelphia couldn’t have been too invested in his future. You’re looking at someone similar to Paul Goldschmidt. Big power swing with big holes. He’s going to need to put up big numbers to stay relevant as a 1B prospect.

    Cosart has great stuff but watch him pitch. His legs have a lot of vertical movement, and he’s putting a lot of torque on his back and especially his arm to compensate. It’s going to be hard to stay a SP because there’s no way he can get near 200 IP with his delivery. He profiles better as a RP.

    Jake Buchanan is a nice Astros prospect just to remember his name once he hits MLB. Solid back of the end SP who won’t have a high K%.

  6. Scott Evans

    Scott Evans says:
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    @Itf: Great mechanical insight, man. I appreciate your input.

  7. Daniel says:
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    Think you meant bourn

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