Houston Astros Top 30 Prospects

In order to fully comprehend this post you might want to familiarize yourself with the term spin rate. If you remember those words you’ll be just fine. Why? Because today we’re digging into an Astros farm system built on spin rate the way Starship built a city on rock and roll. Only less big hair and more accusations regarding the use of foreign agents.

Tyler Bauer aside, the ‘Stros have certainly built a program that any rival GM could be jealous of. Not only have the Astros won on the highest level, they’ve done it with a home grown core of players, astute trades, good signings, and a development track record as good as there is in today’s game. The Houston organization has been on the cutting edge of today’s metrics and scientific based scouting, obsessing over spin rates, exit velocities, and other Trackman data. Going as far as defining their archetype pitcher by a high spin rate fastball paired with a duo of breaking pitches. Think I’m joking? Read below, you’ll have thought this system was created in a lab. That said, this is one of more exciting systems I’ll cover. It features a group of top-notch, close-to-the-majors talent, with eight of their top ten likely to see major league time in 2019. The Astros have printed money on their farm in recent years. Stick around and read about their newest $100 dollar bills y’all!

1. Forrest Whitley, RHP

Age: 21

Highest Level: AA

26.1 IP, 3.76 ERA, 3.34 FIP, 11.62 K/9, 3.7 Bb/9, .158 BAA

The top overall pitching prospect in baseball, and there’s not much debate about it. Even a very disjointed 2018 couldn’t unseat Whitley as the highest rated arm in the minors. His rare combination of size, feel to pitch, a deep arsenal of pitches, and elite stuff separate him from all other arms in the minors. His 2017 was one of the strongest performances by a prep arm in his first full season in recent memory. Over 18 starts that season Whitley dominated, striking out 143 while walking just 34 over 92 1/3 IP. A season that spanned across three levels of full season ball and put him into the discussion of best arm in the minors. 

Expectations were high heading into 2018, but a 50-game suspension for a drug of abuse, a five-week DL stint for an oblique injury, followed by a minor DL stint for a lat issue limited the righty to just 26 1/3 innings. He returned strong in the Arizona Fall League, earning rave reviews including this write up from Jason Pennini detailing Whitley’s AFL debut.

On the mound Whitley’s 6-foot-7 height is a major advantage, as he uses his high arm slot and long levers to build lots of plane on his pitches. He mixes five different offerings, led by his four-seam fastball that sits 93-96, topping out at 97. JP in the aforementioned article details the advanced feel on the heater, noting his ability to find higher velocity on command in high leverage situations. What separates Whitley from his peers is his deep arsenal of secondaries. The best of which is his changeup with defined depth and run away from lefties. His curveball sits in the low 80s with big 11-5 shape, often garnering plus grades. He features a cutter and a slider with distinctly different shape. JP went as far as to say that Whitley’s secondaries are so strong that he could alternate lead secondaries from start to start. A trait that will keep hitters who game planned off balance with different looks. There’s not much to dislike about Whitley, he pairs ceiling and floor in the most exciting of ways. ETA: 2019

2. Kyle Tucker, OF

Age: 21

Highest Level: MLB

.332/.400/.590, 24 HR, .258 ISO, 155 wRC+, 18.1% K%, 10.3% Bb%, 20 SB

One of the top hitting prospects in the minors, Tucker had another stellar year at Triple-A Fresno. The left-handed hitting outfielder finished near or atop the PCL leaderboards in several statistical categories, including 3rd in batting average and runs (.332)(86), 5th in home runs (24), 4th in RBI (93), 7th in steals (20), and 3rd in wRC+ (155). This is the type of all-around offensive production Tucker has long been billed for at the MLB Level. While his first taste of the bigs didn’t go as expected there’s still a tremendous amount of baseline skills that should ensure future success. 

Tucker’s swing has long been a topic of debate. It has an unusual bat path, geared toward launch almost to an extreme. He swings hard, getting the most of his lower half, but he will chase and can get twisted up on good spin. His first taste of the big leagues has led to some questions about his ability to hit major league pitching. But a deeper look shows there’s not much to worry about in his profile. His 18% strikeout rate and 8% walk rate were both respectable, as were his 10% swinging strike rate and 25% O-Swing rate. His ground balls did rise by 10% with the jump in level. But this all came with an exceptionally low BABIP of .176. Long story short, don’t get caught up in a small sample. I loved Tucker coming out of Plant High School in Tampa, and I’ve loved him throughout his minor league career. I fully buy that he develops into an all-star performer at the MLB Level. ETA: 2019

3. Yordan Alvarez, 1B/OF

Age: 21

Highest Level: AAA

.293/.369/.534, 20 HR, .242 ISO, 139 wRC+, 24.3% K%, 11.1% Bb%, 2 SB

A combination of plus power, feel to hit, and approach, have long made Alvarez one of the more sought after prospects in dynasty leagues. In real life he’s just as appealing checking all the boxes for a future impact bat. Positionally he’s likely slated for first base or DH, even if he’s played a majority of his games in the outfield to date. His big 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame allows him to generate plus power from the left side with ease. He starts from a slightly open stance, hands held high by his head. He transitions well through his hips, engaging his lower half with a slight leg kick. His swing can get long, and he’s prone to getting caught on his front foot from time to time. After further study I noted that he’s prone to getting beat by good velocity down and in. Conversely he murders the outer-half of the plate and can drive velocity up in the zone with ease. His plate coverage is impressive. He can battle deep into counts with his ability to beat balls off the plate, grinding out tough at-bats. His polish and poise are truly exceptional and define Yordan’s game. Alvarez should see significant time at Triple-A in 2019 with a chance he’s in the mix for MLB bats late in the year. ETA: 2019 

4. Josh James, RHP

Age: 25

Highest Level: MLB

114.1 IP, 3.23 ERA, 3.11 FIP, 13.46 K/9, 3.86 Bb/9, .189 BAA

What a difference a good night’s sleep can make huh? James’ Cinderella story and massive jump in stuff, has been credited to his use of a CPAP in order to treat his sleep apnea. This additional strength has seen the former 34th round pick’s fastball velocity jump from the low-90s a year ago to high 90s to lighting up MLB guns with triple digits. He mixes a plus changeup that graded out well at the major league level, generating the most whiffs in his arsenal as well as a 70%+ ground-ball rate. His slider also flashes plus, getting lots of swings and misses tunneling well with his fastball. It’s a nasty three pitch mix. One I’m willing to bet on for the next several years to play a impact role at the big league level. Where James gets into trouble is his inconsistency in repeating his mechanics. An admitted area in need of improvement and one James is working on. ETA: 2019

5. Corbin Martin, RHP

Age: 22

Highest Level: AA

122.0 IP, 2.51 ERA, 3.07 FIP, 9 K/9, 2.5 Bb/9, .199 BAA

A Texas boy through and through, Martin was a High School Star in the Houston area before attending Texas A&M. He dominated on the summer league circuit as a reliever, but could never replicate his success with the Aggies in any role for a sustained period of time. The stuff, prototypical size, and delivery hinted at an untapped talent primed to be groomed by the right organization. In stepped Houston, with a plan to develop Martin as a starter, and a track record of getting the most from their arms. So far, so very good, as Martin dominated in his first full season, striking out a batter a frame while holding opponents to a .199 batting average against across 122 innings split between High-A and Double-A. 

His smooth effortless mechanics are a joy to watch. He works 92-95, topping out at 96 with some life when he works down in the zone. (It might actually be a two seamer.) Late in some of his starts he’ll begin to lose his release point and his pitches start to run up in the zone. Though he’s comfortable working up in the zone, changing eye levels, and attacking hitters with his fastball. He mixes three secondaries led by a plus slider in the mid-80s, an above-average curveball in the 80-83 range he relied on as an amateur, and a changeup that flashes above-average potential from time to time against lefties. Check out this changeup to Buddy Reed in the linked gif. In closing I firmly believe that Martin will find his way into the Houston rotation (or somewhere else) by mid-2020, if not earlier.  ETA: 2020

6. J.B. Bukauskas, RHP 

Age: 22

Highest Level: AA

59.0 IP, 2.14 ERA, 2.51 FIP, 10.83 K/9, 3.66 FIP, .198 BAA


We’ve known about Bukauskas for awhile, he first burst onto the scene as a starter with Stone Bridge High in Ashburn, Virginia. He honored a strong commitment to UNC, asking teams not to draft him. Despite his request, the Arizona Diamondbacks took Bukauskas in the 20th round of the 2014 draft. The righty stuck to his word scorning the defiant D-Backs, heading instead to Chapel Hill to start his collegiate career. Once on campus Bukauskas shined, compiling a 21-6 record over 42 starts with a  3.18 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 10.8 K/9, and a 3.5 BB/9. He won ACC Pitcher of the Year his junior season, and was named a Baseball America First Team All-American. Concerns about Bukauskas’ 6-foot frame, and high effort delivery might have hurt his stock a little as he fell to the Astros at 15. It felt like an excellent fit for both team and player at the time.

With a fastball that sits 94-97 with run and some downhill plain despite his shorter stature. He actually features two versions of the fastball, a two-seam sinker, and a four-seamer he uses up in the zone. Either fastball pairs well with his plus, flashing double plus slider, with two-plain break and good depth. His changeup is a work in progress, but showed glimpses in the Arizona Fall League. 

Bukauskas is an odd study, his nasty fastball-slider combo can be devastating, but his lack of a third pitch and small frame leave him a player with questions. ETA: 2020

7. Seth Beer, 1B/OF

Age: 22

Highest Level: A+

.304/.389/.496, 12 HR, .192 ISO, 155 wRC+, 16.6% K%, 8.4% Bb%, 1 SB

In classic Catholic School girl fashion we all discovered Beer his Freshman year of college. But the Seth Beer we’ve known has long left us intoxicated with his power potential, and above-average contact hitting for a power bat. Unfortunately, much like the hottest girl on your dorm hall, Beer never found his freshman form. That’s not to say the final two seasons at Clemson were bad, far from it. We just never saw a sequel to a historically great season that saw him slash .369/.535/.700 with 18 homers and an absurd 70 RBI in 62 games. While Beer is a future first baseman only, it’s not a major concern with the profile. He fits the prototypical left-handed hitting power bat that defines the position. Houston has had a relatively sterling track record in terms of high end development. That said, they’ve been unable to get significant major league production from previous first base power hitting prospects Jon Singleton and A.J. Reed. Matt Thompson dug into Beer in this post-drfat profile. ETA: 2020

8. Cionel Perez, LHP 

Age: 22

Highest Level: MLB

73.2 IP, 2.08 ERA, 2.77 FIP, 10.87 K/9, 3.42 Bb/9, .215 BAA

The Astros must love guys that are easy mechanically, because much like Corbin Martin, lefty Cionel Perez has an easy setup and delivery, making repeating his mechanics no chore. He mixes four pitches, three grading out above average or above. He works with a fastball in the 92-96 range, popping 98 at peak. His fastball was fascinating, showing sinker shape often early in the count, but on numerous occasions I spotted a fastball he used as a put away pitch high in the zone, that got nasty flailing swings. His best secondary was his low-80s slider with tight break, his changeup flashes plus moments, playing off the fastball to right-handers, and he throws a loopy curveball. The biggest obstacle for Perez is his size. Likely stuck as tweener, making spot starts, pitching the long legs of bullpen games, or in a multi-inning relief role. Perez in many ways couldn’t have come to the bigs at a better time. With the new approaches to bullpens, players like Perez fit important roles for competing teams. Should be a valuable member of the Astros pen in 2019. ETA: 2019

9. Cristian Javier, RHP

Age: 21

Highest Level: A+

110.0 IP, 2.70 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 11.95 K/9, 4.09 Bb/9, .184 BAA

Big over the top delivery, long arm action, hides the ball well, truly a deception over stuff type, but maybe not. Javier features plus spin rates on his lower velocity fastball that sits 89-93. He mixes that with two good breaking balls, both with truly different shapes in his sweeping slider, and loopy curveball. He shows excellent command and control for all of his pitches particularly his fastball. He’ll take a little off and ramp it up inside after getting hitters off balance with his breaking pitches. I really dig what Javier brings to the table, three pitches with above average or better feel, as well as excellent understanding of sequencing and deception. Javier might not be the flashiest name but he’s certainly a player a envision with a solid mid-rotation upside. ETA: 2020

10. Freudis Nova, SS

Age: 18

Highest Level: Rk

.308/.331/.466, 6 HR, .158 ISO, 120 wRC+, 13.4% K%, 3.8% Bb%, 9 SB

If any player is likely to take a massive jump in the rankings over the next several months, I’d put my money on Nova. Originally signed by the Marlins, Nova was pinched for a failed PED test and released after signing in 2016. In the following signing period the Astros snatched him up $1.2 million, one of Jeff Luhnow’s higher international bonuses to date. He debuted in the Dominican Summer League in 2017, slashing .247/.342/.355, before coming stateside this summer for the Gulf Coast League. Once stateside, Nova showcased the level but powerful cut we’d seen in grainy scouting videos, and read first-hand accounts of. His stat line improved as well—though take rookie ball numbers for what you will—as he hit .308/.331/.466 with 6 knocks. His numbers are slightly deceiving, as he struggled mightily versus left-handed pitching, slashing .208/.286/.458, with two of his five hits versus lefties going for homers. While the power is encouraging, it’s certainly an area in need of improvement.

Nova turns 19 in January, so he’s still very much a high variance player. That said, there’s a strong foundation of hit and power to give him a projectable ceiling of an all-star, middle-of-the-order bat. The popular opinion on Nova’s future defensive home tends to be third base, but after playing some third in the DSL, he split time between short and second base, starting nine games at the keystone, and 24 at short in 2018. I’ve had very limited looks at Nova’s defensive abilities, but the prevailing thought is plus arm and average glove. At the plate Nova’s hitting mechanics are very simple, slightly closed, quick hands, and a lightning-fast bat. He shows good coverage, and elite hand eye coordination, rarely missing badly. His hyper aggressive approach will need to be toned down, as he walked just 6 times in 152 plate appearances, but there’s time to find that. In conclusion, Nova is a bat to watch, and certainly a player that should be on dynasty managers radars. ETA: 2022

11. Bryan Abreu, RHP

Age: 21

Highest Level: A-

54.1 IP, 1.49, 2.51 FIP, 14.91 K/9, 3.81 Bb/9, .174 BAA

In many ways Abreu can be a somewhat divisive prospect. There’s a lot of glowing reports, and others that are very weary of his command issues. On his good days his fastball hits 97, sitting in the 93-95 range, with two breakers that can flash above average, his curveball the better of the two. On his bad days the velocity dips a few ticks, he struggles with command, and has trouble limiting walks. That said, Abreu misses bats in bunches. Hence the 40%-plus strikeout rate this season across a few levels. Abreu fits into the mold of the Astros archetype pitcher, with a pair of breaking balls, and a high-spin fastball. We discussed this in the opening, and it’s fair to say nearly all of the aforementioned arms fit that description, perhaps with the exception of Cionel Perez, who’s fastball spins at an average or below rate of 2200.

There are certainly some relief concerns with Abreu, and he’s been piggybacked, a standard procedure for Astros starters in the lower minors. So his work load and exposure to a second time through the order is limited. Most scouting reports on his arsenal of pitches read as follows; four-seam fastball 92-94, topping out at 95, a slider 86-87, curveball 84-85, and a rarely used changeup, sitting 88-90. I love Abreu mechanically, easy athletic delivery, good extension, and some swagger on the mound. He has a knee to chest windup, before delivering the ball from a three quarters arm slot. It’s tough to know if Abreu was beating up on low level hitters or if his stuff was really as explosive as it was this year. An assignment to Fayetteville in the Carolina League will be good test for the righty. ETA: 2021

12. Abraham Toro, 3B

Age: 21

Highest level: AA

.247/.345/.435, 16 HR, .188 ISO, 119 wRC+, 19.6% K%, 11.3% Bb%, 8 SB

A switch-hitter, with good plate discipline, Toro flashes average tools across the board with only his throwing arm sticking out. I wouldn’t call Toro a contact hitter, but he doesn’t strike out much, and he has good strike zone awareness. His bat is quick, and he shows the ability to elevate particularly from the right side. I prefer the right-handed swing to the left, and the numbers bear that out, as his numbers versus left-handers were better at both levels, but significantly better at Double-A. He spent all of his time at third this year, after splitting time at third, second and catcher in 2017. His arm is strong enough to play there, but he has some time to make up defensively, one of the reasons he earned an invite to the Arizona Fall League. Toro has the ceiling of a steady hitting second division regular, but more than likely ends up a bench bat, utility type. ETA: 2020


13.  Jairo Solis, RHP

Age: 18

Highest Level: A-

50.2 IP, 3.55 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 9.06 Bb/9, 5.68 Bb/9, .257 BAA

A protectable right-hander from Venezuela, Solis started the year in extended spring before being assigned to Quad Cities of the Midwest League. There he made 11 starts, as well as a pair of relief appearances. He’s got a thin projectable frame at 6-foot-3, with the ability to add good weight. He brings a pair of potentially plus offerings in his mid-90s fastball, and a curveball in the high-70s. A developing changeup shows some fade, but tends to be firm sitting in the mid-80s. A growth spirt over the last two years, put him a little at odds with his balance, and he’ll tend to fall offline and lose his release point. This led to elevated walks. A high-upside arm with a lot to fall in love with, should return to Quad Cities for 2019. ETA: 2021

14. Framber Valdez, LHP

Age: 24

Highest Level: MLB

103 IP, 4.11 ERA, 2.93 FIP, 11.27 K/9, 2.8 Bb/9, .255 BAA

Valdez is a sinker-ball lefty with a nasty hook. He found his way to Houston toward the end of the season getting five starts in late August into September. He generates high levels of ground-ball contact, having rates well above 50% throughout his minor league career. All three of his pitches feature solid whiff rates, but his curveball at 36.8% is the standout. His fastball has two variations, a two-seam sinking fastball, his dominant pitch, and a four-seam fastball with a slightly above average spin rate. A shorter bad body frame, lends many to see Valdez as a future multi-inning reliever. I’m not sure it’s that simple. Valdez fits a Swiss army knife of sorts, that can give you a solid five innings in a string of spot starts, or give you valuable innings out of the pen. Should see a solid amount of time in Houston’s pitching corps this season. ETA: 2019

15. Rogelio Armenteros, RHP 

Age: 24

Highest Level: AAA

118 IP, 3.74 ERA, 4.42 FIP, 10.22 K/9, 3.66 Bb/9, .235 BAA

The number scouts have long loved Rogelio, but I see a different story when I look under the hood. He plays off of his deception and pitch mix to get swings and misses and create uncomfortable at bats. His high level of pitchability leads some to believe he can truly succeed with average stuff at the Major League level. Even if I don’t fall in that camp there’s a strong case to be made in favor. He changes eye levels well with his two variations of his fastball, a high-80s to low-90s offering with sink, and a low-mid-90s four-seamer with rise. His changeup is his go-to out pitch. While it often gets plus grades, I’m not sure how well it plays against the best hitters in the world. It’s not so much the movement as the arm speed and how he plays off of his fastballs. He rounds out his bag of tricks with two average breaking balls he can use effectively.

Bad body, stubby build, high three-quarters arm action, hitch in lower half when his mechanics fall off, and he falls off hard to first base side in his follow through. I’m not sure if this plays up his deception but it makes sense if it does. Armenteros has the body to handle a solid workload, at this point it’s just a matter of getting his shot. Likely profiles as a back end starter. ETA: 2019

16. Tyler Ivey, RHP

Age: 22

Highest Level: A+

112 IP, 2.97 ERA, 2.40 FIP, 10.85 K/9, 2.33 Bb/9, .203 BAA

A right-hander that left Texas A&M after his Freshman year to join Juco Grayson County in order to gain draft eligibility. It worked, as the Astros took Ivey in the third round of the 2017 draft and signed him below slot. In pro-ball Ivey has shown a collection of impressive skills, most notably a deep arsenal of above-average or better pitches. His numbers and production were phenomenal throughout his first professional season, including a swinging strike rate of 17.5% during his stay in the Midwest league. With an arsenal led by (what else) a rising four-seam fastball, two good breaking balls, and a good changeup. Ivey has the makings of an average major league starter with bat missing potential.

The mechanics are where Ivey has some questions, a high leg kick, with his knee almost at his chin, he extends pretty well, but there’s slight knee bend, some spin tilt, and a pretty serious head knock in his violent follow through. Despite all this, he repeats his mechanics pretty well, throws strikes, and works at an exhausting pace. A really interesting take on the mound. Another potential pitching gem uncovered by the Astros. ETA: 2020

17. Jayson Schroeder, RHP 

Age: 19

Highest Level: Rk

18 IP, 1.50 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 9.0 K/9, 4.5 Bb/9, .213 BAA

One of the highest drafted players ever selected from the Washington Prep ranks, Schroeder brings a pro-ready body with a four-pitch repertoire. There were concerns with his delivery pre-draft, but the Astros have worked with Schroeder to address those. Personally I didn’t see a ton of issues mechanically. His release point was inconsistent, but his extension wasn’t bad, and he didn’t have a ton of moving parts. If anything, I felt his release point was easy to pickup, but the heavy sink on his fastball in the low-mid-90s is tough to square up for quality contact. He has two breaking balls, a curveball with 11-5 shape, and a sweepy slider. He’s working on a changeup, but I haven’t seen much of it on video.

A player with a lot of possible outcomes at this point. I’m comfortable labeling mid-rotation upside, but we’ll learn a lot more in the next two years once Schroeder touches full season leagues. ETA: 2022

18. Brandon Bailey, RHP

Age: 24

Highest Level: AA

122.1 IP, 2.80 ERA, 3.72 FIP, 10.01 K/9, 3.83 Bb/9, .201 BAA

The return in the Ramon Laureano deal, Bailey caught the Astros eye due to his high spin rates according to Driveline’s Kyle Brody. A sub 6-foot right-hander, Bailey doesn’t fit the prototypical MLB starter mold, but he fits the Astros aforementioned archetype. He mixes a high-spin fastball in the 92-94 range, a plus changeup that plays well off his fastball, and a pair of average breaking balls, the curveball being the better of the pair.

With shorter stature, and command that can come and go, many project Bailey in a pen role. With his bat-missing stuff it seems like a role he could potentially strive in. ETA: 2020


19. Jonathan Arauz, SS

Age: 20

Highest Level: A+

.229/.305/.373, 8 HR, .144 ISO, 92 wRC+, 15.1% K%, 9.4% Bb%, 8 SB

Part of the Ken Giles/Vince Velasquez deal, Arauz is player you need to project to get excited about. There are some nice baseline tools in the profile, particularly his plate discipline and linear swing geared toward line drive contact. He’s been aggressively assigned the last two years, having been an average of 3-4 years younger than the median age of competition.

He has quick strong wrists, that drive his above average bat speed. He works from a slightly open stance with an Eiffel Tower base, and a big leg kick in his load. He’s adapt at getting the bat on the ball all over the zone, and it might just be a matter of adding strength and catching up age wise to his competition before finally taking off. For now he’s a shortstop with average tools in the field, not sure if he develops into more than that. The bat will carry the profile. ETA: 2021

20. Garrett Stubbs, C

Age: 25

Highest Level: AAA

.310/.382/.455, 4 HR, .145 ISO, 120 wRC+, 15.6% K%, 10.3% Bb%, 6 SB

An athletic backstop with above average defense, other-worldly range on fly balls, and a good throwing arm to keep the running game in check. At the plate Stubbs is no slouch either, he’s a contact first hitter, with excellent strike-zone recognition and plate discipline. He has below-average raw power, but makes up for it with good foot speed on the bases, and astute baserunning. Stubbs has the skills to be an MLB platoon catcher in 2019, with the ability to provide value on both sides of the ball. His smaller stature ultimately limits his power, and calls into question his ability to handle the lead catching role on a major league club. ETA: 2019

21. Myles Straw, OF

Age: 24

Highest Level: MLB

.291/.381/.353, 1 HR, .062 ISO, 105 wRC+, 17.1% K%, 12.2% Bb%, 70 SB

Okay, so let’s all look at that stolen base number for a minute. Yes 70, seven-zero. That’s the type of number that might make fantasy baseball managers jump. It will however, not win him an everyday gig any time soon in my estimation. Straw seems like the perfect bench weapon for a competing team. He brings the ability to play all three outfield positions, he can lay down a bunt, steal a base (of course), and take a walk. He’s also adept at going the opposite way, almost to an extreme with oppo% nearly 50% at AAA. Straw had a brief cup of coffee in the majors, and shockingly he homered (1) more times than he struck out (0). How juiced are these balls? ETA: 2019

22. J.J. Matijevic, 1B/OF

Age: 23

Highest Level: A+

.277/.350/.538, 22 HR, .261 ISO, 147 wRC+, 26.2% K%, 10.2% Bb%, 13 SB

A college standout at Arizona that played all over the infield. Matijevic has really hit so far in pro-ball. He features a quick swing from the left side, that’s a little long, but he really gets his body into. Hands are a little busy pre-load, but he shows quick hands as he lets the ball travel before driving it. Matijevic has a plan at the plate consistently showing the ability to take a walk, though he has a propensity to chase outside. His foot speed is above average, particularly for a first baseman or corner outfield profile. He showed well in his first full professional season through two levels of A-ball. It will be interesting to see how he fares once tasked with Double-A pitching. A name to watch for fantasy baseball owners, as Matijevic can really hit. ETA: 2020

23. Brandon Bielak, RHP

Age: 22

Highest Level: AA

117 IP, 2.23 ERA, 2.94 FIP, 10.08 K/9, 3.0 Bb/9, .225 BAA

A fast riser that already reached Double-A, Bielak attacks hitters with an unusual combo of a high arm slot that plays up his downhill plane, but his fastball sits 91-94 with rising action. Astros love them high spin rates. His best secondary is a changeup that keeps lefties at bay. Features two breaking balls that are a work in progress. ETA: 2020

24. Alex McKenna, OF 

Age: 21

Highest Level: A-

.311/.394/.512, 7 HR, .201 ISO, 164 wRC+, 21.3% K%, 7.4% Bb%, 6 SB

Matt and I ranked McKenna 99th in our First Year Player Draft Top 100 two weeks ago. Here’s what I said then. “A hidden gem? McKenna is the type of hitter I'm skeptical on until I've seen production at the higher levels. Showed well in Rookie ball, following a successful career at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. Nice combination of power, speed, with feel to hit.” ETA: 2021

25. Dean Deetz, RHP  

Age: 24

Highest Level: MLB

40.2 IP, 0.89 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 13.94 K/9, 5.09 Bb/9, .189 BAA

A nasty right-handed reliever that mixes a four seamer high in the zone with average spin rates of 2400+, and a curveball with sharp break low in the zone with spin rates in the 2500+ range. He saw some time in the Houston pen last year, and should find himself there this year for the majority of the season. Can’t wait to hear all the Deetz nuts jokes… ETA: 2019

26. Joe Perez, 3B

Age: 19

Highest Level: Rookie

A former second round pick out of the Florida prep ranks, Perez required TJ after being draft and debuted this season in the GCL. He played just four games, so it’s really hard to project at this point, but at the time he was drafted his calling card was plus raw power. If 2019 is the year we get a glimpse of that it remains to be seen. That said, I hold out hope he can make a full recovery and develop into a power-hitting corner infielder. ETA: 2022

27. Ronnie Dawson, OF

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

.258/.333/.428, 16 HR, .170 ISO, 114 wRC+, 26.1% K%, 9% Bb%, 35 SB

Another solid hitting athlete with good production in the professional ranks, and a future as fringe starter platoon player. He gets the most of his above-average speed, with good instincts on the bases, and above average raw pop. Likely a future fourth outfielder, but one with some offensive upside. ETA: 2020


28. Heitor Tokar, RHP

Age: 18

Highest Level: Rk

43.1 IP, 1.66 ERA, 2.78 FIP, 7.27 K/9, 1.25 Bb/9, .178 BAA

A 6-foot-7 beast signed out of Brazil for $300,000 during the International signing period of 2017. Tokar is yet to come stateside, but reports put his fastball in the 89-92 range with sink, a slider, curveball, and a changeup. The tape I’ve watched he’s actually very athletic and smooth in his delivery with a knee to chest windup, getting great extension releasing the ball from a low three quarters arm slot. Not only does he win the Oddities award for the Astros system, he might take the Name crown too. ETA: 2023

29. Peter Solomon, RHP

Age: 22

Highest Level: A+

100.2 IP, 2.32 ERA, 2.40 FIP, 10.19 K/9, 2.86 Bb/9, .210 BAA

Another arm with a four pitch mix, and an inconsistent college career. Solomon was a top Prep prospects coming out of Maryland, but instead committed to Norte Dame. A breakout performance on the Cape during the summer of 2016 put him on the radar as a day one pick, but a rough Junior season saw him drop in the draft. Blessed with three pitches that project out above-average or better. His fastball sits mid-90’s and he mixes it with two hard breaking balls that can flash plus, as well as an average changeup he’s shown feel for. Another arm that righted the ship his first year with the Astros program. Keep an eye out for Solomon as he moves up over the next year. ETA: 2021

30. Jeremy Pena, SS

Age: 21

Highest Level: Short-Season

.250/.340/.309, 1 HR, .059 ISO, 100 wRC+, 12.2% K%, 11.5% Bb%, 3 SB

If I had to play the word game with Pena, the word would be “Athletic”. A third rounder out of the University of Maine, Pena showed well on the Cape over the Summer of 2017. He gained traction for his prospect status with a strong final season with the Blackbears slashing .308/.393/.469. His profile is led by his slick fielding, though that didn’t manifest itself during his first taste of pro-ball. He has excellent range and can make just every throw asked of a shortstop. I think he sticks at the position. His plate approach is solid, showing the ability to take a walk and use his plus speed and instincts on the bases. In batter’s box he hasn’t showed much in the way of power, but his batter ball profile points to something more. He consistently put the ball in the air, and when you watch his swing you can see why. He has a big uppercut swing with a bat path that slices through the zone. He has solid bat speed, and is athletic a smooth in his motions. This is certainly non-traditional for a player with Pena’s profile, but it makes him interesting to watch. If he taps into even 45 power there’s a good chance he can carve out a niche as a utility guy at the big league level. ETA: 2021