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Houston Astros' Top 10 Prospects for 2014

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2014

Houston Astros' Top 10 Prospects for 2014

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    The long, winding road to respectability is going to take a couple more years, but the Houston Astros are starting to become one of the most interesting franchises in Major League Baseball. 

    General manager Jeff Luhnow has been building toward the future since the day he took over in 2011. He's basically turned over the entire MLB roster through trades, acquiring young talent and stop-gap players in the process. 

    It should come as no surprise that Luhnow has put all his focus on the farm system, even at the great expense of the MLB club, because this was a team that ignored the minor leagues for years under the previous regime.

    Luhnow built his resume in St. Louis, overseeing drafts and international signings that have helped lead the Cardinals to two championships in the last 10 years.

    He's brought that expertise to Houston, focusing more on the draft in the last two years than former GM Ed Wade did in five seasons. 

    Those efforts are going to start yielding results in 2014, as top prospects like George Springer, Jonathan Singleton and Mike Foltynewicz graduate to the big leagues. Gradually over the next two seasons, the entire MLB roster is going to be awash in top-flight prospects. 

    This is an exciting, deep system of talent that gives Astros fans something to look forward to. It's going to be a few years before contending is possible, but they're certainly headed in the right direction. 

    Here are the Astros' top 10 prospects heading into the 2014 season. 

    Note: All stats courtesy of MiLB.com unless otherwise noted. Scouting reports and rankings are based on personal evaluations/opinions. 

No. 10 Rio Ruiz, 3B

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    Position: 3B

    DOB: 05/22/1994 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 215 pounds

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted: Fourth round, 2012 (Bishop Amat HS, CA)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Exciting young hitter who adjusted well in full-season debut; turned it on in second half of 2013, posting .875 OPS; good feel for hitting; still adjusting to off-speed stuff; crushes fastballs anywhere in the zone; big raw power that's already playing in games; high-impact offensive ceiling. 

    Below-average runner; solid baserunning instincts; average defensive profile; plus arm strength and improved accuracy; good footwork and lateral movement; range is solid; hands can get a little hard at times. 

     

    Projection: First-division regular

    Risk: High

    Video via Jayne WTH

No. 9 Delino DeShields, 2B

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    Position: 2B

    DOB: 08/16/1992 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 5’9”, 205 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: First round, 2010 (Woodward Academy HS, GA)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Dynamic athlete who continues to impress; lacks impact profile due to limited power but has shown enough ability to project as fringe-average home run hitter; underrated hit tool; makes solid contact; good gap-to-gap approach; game-changing speed; causes havoc on bases; still learning to read pitchers when stealing bases. 

    Still learning to play second base; arm is more than strong enough and accurate for the position; range is tremendous; can make up for some poor initial reads with foot speed; raw tools starting to turn into baseball ability. 

     

    Projection: First-division regular

    Risk: Moderate

    Video via RYKosh007

No. 8 Vincent Velasquez, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 06/07/1992 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 203 pounds

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted: Second round, 2010 (Garey HS, CA)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Projectable right-hander grew into frame last year; stuff and control took steps forward; excellent arm speed; hides ball well in delivery; plus velocity on fastball; control continues to impress; command still coming back after 2012 Tommy John surgery. 

    Off-speed stuff needs to catch up; will rely too much on fastball, allowing hitters to time it; curveball can flash average but is slow and has big loop that advanced bats can tee off on; feel for changeup coming back; good mid-rotation upside; big risk due to elbow surgery. 

     

    Projection: No. 3 starter

    Risk: High

    Video via Jayne WTH

No. 7 Domingo Santana, OF

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    Position: RF

    DOB: 08/05/1992 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’5”, 230 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Signed: March 2009 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Toolsy outfielder; big power profile and projection; will struggle to make contact against velocity; long swing with no patience; aggressive hacker; not likely to post average OBP totals; plus arm strength; surprising speed for big outfielder. 

    Range and arm better than typical right fielder; hit tool is concerning, but plus power that's hard to find; still raw in some aspects of game; adjusting to off-speed stuff and taking a couple pitches will lower risk. 

     

    Projection: First-division regular

    Risk: Moderate

    Video via Wicked24Seven

No. 6 Lance McCullers, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 10/02/1993 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 205 pounds

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted: First round, 2012 (Jesuit HS, FL)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Pure power pitcher; questions about ability to start due to max-effort delivery and lack of control; has improved arm action out of high school; premium fastball velocity; showed better movement and life in 2013; curveball flashes plus with hard snap down in zone; better feel for changeup but still below average at present. 

    Ultimate role still in doubt; must throw more quality strikes to project as 180-plus innings pitcher; ability to attack hitters and aggressive mentality would fit perfectly in bullpen. 

     

    Projection: No. 2 starter

    Risk: High

    Video via Reds Minor Leagues

No. 5 Mike Foltynewicz, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 10/07/1991 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 200 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: First round, 2010 (Minooka Community HS, IL)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Elite arm strength; works with one of the best fastballs in the minors, regularly touching triple digits; arm speed is incredible; little effort in delivery and clean mechanically; big size and strength to be workhorse. 

    Secondary offerings are problematic; curveball doesn't show consistent bite; changeup doesn't have much separation from heater; will lose control of heater at times; off-speed stuff needs to evolve to reach ceiling. 

     

    Projection: No. 3 starter

    Risk: Moderate

    Video via Baseball Instinct

No. 4 George Springer, OF

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    Position: CF

    DOB: 09/19/1989 (Age: 24)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 200 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: First round, 2011 (Connecticut)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Tremendous upside in all areas; performance in minors continues to get better; four above-average or better tools; plus defensive center fielder; above-average arm strength and accuracy; covers ton of ground with plus-plus speed; smart, instinctual player who reads ball well; great baserunner. 

    Offensive upside is questionable; plus raw power has played in minors; huge swing and inability to cut down with two strikes leads to high strikeout totals; not likely to make enough contact to hit for average; power may not play up to potential; works deep counts and takes walks; could be star if hit tool plays average. 

     

    Projection: First-division regular

    Risk: Moderate

No. 3 Jonathan Singleton, 1B

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    Position: 1B

    DOB: 09/18/1991 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 235 pounds

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted: Eighth round, 2009 (Millikan HS, CA)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Solid, disciplined hitter; plus hit tool; excellent patience at the plate; can get beaten on the inner half; plus raw power; drives ball to all fields; dangerous when arms get extended; plenty of bat speed; generates power from strong lower half; more speed than average first baseman but not stolen base threat. 

    Solid-average defensive profile; doesn't have to be great defender; bat will play at any level; some length to swing will lead to strikeouts; makes enough solid contact that average and power will be fine. 

     

    Projection: First-division regular

    Risk: Low

    Video via MLB Prospect Portal

No. 2 Mark Appel, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 07/15/1991 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’5”, 190 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: First round, 2013 (Stanford)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Consistent, improving right-hander; dazzled in senior season at Stanford; stuff took huge step forward; fastball command has become huge weapon; heater still too straight but not as easy to see out of hand; slider is a beast with excellent velocity and late tilt; changeup has good fade; plus projection. 

    Good size and athleticism; repeats simple mechanics well; overall command is just average; very polished and won't need much time to develop; if command/control improve once again, ceiling could be huge. 

     

    Projection: No. 2 starter: All-Star potential

    Risk: Moderate

    Video via Pastime Athletics

No. 1 Carlos Correa, SS

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 09/22/1994 (Age: 18)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 205 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: First round, 2012 (Puerto Rico Baseball Academy)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Special hitter; dominated full-season level at young age; shows incredible feel in the box; more present power than expected; will grow into more as long frame fills out; knows how to find the barrel of the bat; drives everything; patient approach; pitch recognition is top-notch; still shows some immature skills, especially on bases. 

    Alleviated some questions about ability to play shortstop; average speed helps range; could slow down when body gets bigger; arm will play on left side of infield; good instincts on the diamond; solid footwork. 

    Will have no problems hitting for average, power; could be one of the best hitters in baseball. high ceiling and mature approach; should move through the system quickly. 

     

    Projection: First-division regular: All-Star potential

    Risk: Moderate

    If you want to talk baseball, hit me up on Twitter. 

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