Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (5) | 2013 (9) | 2012 (17) | 2011 (26) | 2010 (30)
2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [70-92] AL West
AAA: [74-70] Pacific Coast League – Oklahoma City (2015: Fresno)
AA: [67-73] Texas League – Corpus Christi
A+: [78-62] California League – Lancaster
A: [70-69] Midwest League – Quad Cities
A(ss): [48-28] New York-Penn League – Tri-City
This is a fun system for fantasy prospects and reminds me of the Rangers’ farm with a stud building block, toolsy outfielders, and a couple of nice arms to round things out. The Astros have talented young players surfacing on the major league team as well, with George Springer entering his sophomore season and Jake Marisnick in the mix for an outfield gig. I like Marisnick as a sleeper this year, as he’s always had that 20/20 type of profile and now finds himself in a better park for hitting. Jon Singleton needs some polish after hitting just .168 in his rookie year, but I’m still buying the 23-year-old in dynasties thanks to his power potential. Mike Foltynewicz and Rio Ruiz would have both been towards the top half of this list prior to being traded to Atlanta.
Top Ten Fantasy Prospects
1. Carlos Correa, SS | Age: 20 | ETA: 2016
Correa sits in the top ten overall of nearly every prospect list and with good reason. A broken fibula sidelined him in 2014, but he was hitting his way into a Double-A promotion prior to that. Double-A is likely where he’ll start 2015, and a September call-up to the big leagues is a possibility. Early 2016 is when we’re most likely going to see him stick in the majors though, at which point he’ll still be just 21 years old. Correa is a candidate to move off of shortstop to third, but his bat will play at either position. He’s a potential All-Star capable of .290+ averages and ~25 homers.
2. Brett Phillips, OF | Age: 20 | ETA: 2017
Phillips is a center fielder with 20/20 upside who led the Midwest League in slugging percentage in 2014. He hadn’t displayed that type of power previously (zero homers prior to 2014), so it will be interesting to see if it continues to show up against the more advanced Double-A arms later this year. I’d expect him to put up some nice stats in the Cal League to start the season, which would probably be the wrong time to buy some shares in dynasty leagues.
3. Derek Fisher, OF | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017
Fisher could become the power/speed combo outfielder that we love in fantasy. He broke his hamate prior to the 2014 draft and the Astros scooped him up at 37th overall, but he should go higher than that in dynasty first-year player drafts this year. All the tools are there to be a 20/20 outfielder, so it’s a matter of how they’ll play in games. The 21-year-old could see High-A Lancaster at some point this season which will likely give his offense a boost.
4. Mark Appel, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2016
Appel was the 1.1 darling of the 2013 draft, but got shelled at High-A Lancaster to start the 2014 season. He fared much better at Corpus Christi in his final seven games – posting a 3.69 ERA (3.07 FIP) with 38 strikeouts in 39 innings pitched. He also only gave up two homers there, as opposed to the nine he gave up in the Cal League. It’s important to note that Appel had some mechanical tweaks to make and Lancaster is a launching pad in one of the most hitting-friendly leagues in baseball, so take the early season struggle with a grain of salt or Mrs. Dash or whatever it is you put on your freedom fries.
5. Vincent Velasquez, RHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2016
While Appel pushes into #2 starter territory, Velasquez sits comfortably with #3 starter upside and shouldn’t be overlooked. He’s got Tommy John on the books already and missed some time this past year with a groin issue, so his development has been slowed a bit. But he’s got two plus pitches in his fastball/changeup and he survived a 55 inning stint at High-A Lancaster. Despite the missed time, Velasquez could see the majors quickly thanks to above average command of his fastball. If he stays healthy, he could join Appel in the rotation at some point in 2016.
6. Teoscar Hernandez, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2016
After a 23-game stay at Double-A in 2014, Hernandez will head back there to start this year. There’s some nice potential here for a power/speed combo, but there are also some contact issues with the near 28% strikeout rate. File him under “toolsy outfielder who needs some more polish”. There’s a decent gap between his ceiling and floor, as he could turn out to be a 15-homer/20+ steal guy just as easily as a fourth outfielder. Keep an eye on him this year as he gets another run at advanced Double-A pitching.
7. Colin Moran, 3B | Age: 22 | ETA: 2015
Moran came to Houston in the Cosart trade with Miami and although his tools grade as just average across the board, that will still hold value in deeper formats. His arrival may have given the Astros the flexibility to move fellow third base prospect Rio Ruiz to Atlanta in the Evan Gattis deal, and there really isn’t much standing between the 22-year-old and the third base gig in 2016. He hit well in a 28-game stint at Corpus Christi but there are still questions about how much power he’ll get to in games. The big complaint in reports seems to be his makeup, which I don’t put too much stock into when selecting fantasy prospects.
8. Domingo Santana, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2015
The good – Santana has plus power and profiles as a right fielder who could run into 25+ homers. The bad – his strikeout rate has kissed 29% in the minors in each of the past four years. The ugly – in an 18 plate appearance cup of coffee in the majors last year he struck out 14 times. Obviously the 22-year-old could use some more polishing in Triple-A to start 2015, but could also become an outfield option in Houston later this season. My Phils traded him to the Astros, so you just know he’s gonna blow up big time.
9. A.J. Reed, 1B | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017
Reed has plus raw power with a patient approach and a solid hit tool. Like Davis, he’s spent time on the mound, but the Astros will develop his left-handed bat instead. Like other first base prospects, Reed’s bat will have to carry him to the majors, but he got off to a good start with 12 dingers in his first 285 pro plate appearances. The Astros selected Reed 42nd overall in the 2014 draft, but he should go higher than that in dynasty league first-year player drafts thanks to his offensive potential.
10. J.D. Davis, CI | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017
The Astros selected Davis 75th overall in the 2014 draft and his plus raw power brings him into the ranks of this fantasy list. It’s hard to say which corner he’ll end up playing, but right now he’s a third baseman who could eventually move to first. He’s a below average runner and there might not be enough contact to get to all of the power in games, but the 21-year-old put up solid numbers between the New York-Penn and Midwest Leagues in his pro debut. He has some experience on the mound, so if the bat fails he can become another reliever for us all to ignore.