Prospect Notebook: Max Stassi, Carlos Correa Keep Astros Rolling On The Farm

Max Stassi, c, Astros: Stassi will hate to see July disappear, but he sent it out with yet another big day at the plate.

The Astros’ Double-A catcher went 3-for-4 with a triple and a home run on Wednesday. It was Stassi’s 11th home run of July, as he finished with a .333/.404/.782 line for the month. Stassi had a five-game home run streak at one point and he finished the month with five home runs in his final eight games.

Acquired from the A’s in the Jed Lowrie trade, Stassi is an average defender at catcher with a good enough arm to overcome some occasional struggles with the speed of his release. He’s thrown out 12 of 36 attempted basestealers this year (33 percent) and has only allowed two passed balls in 37 games behind the plate.

But Stassi’s biggest challenge, like that of many catchers, is staying healthy over the grind of a long season. He’s topped 100 games played only once since he was drafted in the fourth round in 2009 and he will not reach that mark this year, as he missed all of April with a sports hernia.

Carlos Correa

Carlos Correa (Photo by Mike Janes)

Carlos Correa, ss, Astros: It’s been a good year on the farm for the Astros with the continued development of Mike Foltyniewicz, the ascent of Jarred Cosart and now Brett Oberholtzer to the big league rotation, the arrival of Jonathan Villar as the club’s new big league shortstop and solid seasons by a number of other prospects. But for the long-term success of the franchise, no one’s season has been more important than Carlos Correa’s excellent full-season debut.

The shortstop doubled on Wednesday, extending a modest six-game hitting streak. Correa is now hitting .316/.401/.461 for low Class A Quad Cities. Scouts debate whether he’ll end up as a shortstop or third baseman over the long term, much like they did with Manny Machado a few years ago, but few debate whether he’s going to be an impact big leaguer wherever he plays.

Maikel Franco, 3b, Phillies: Franco continued to make his case to be considered in the Minor League Player of the Year race with a long home run against Erie on Wednesday. Franco’s eighth home run since he moved up to Double-A Reading appeared to clear the seats in left field. It gave Franco 24 home runs this season. Overall this year, he’s hitting .324/.365/.583 between high Class A Clearwater and Reading. He ranks 11th in the minors with 24 home runs and ninth in the minors in slugging percentage.

Marcus Stroman, rhp, Blue Jays: In his first start of July, Stroman tied a New Hampshire Fisher Cats record with 13 strikeouts. To finish off the month, he equalled his own record. Stroman struck out 13 Bowie hitters in 6 2/3 innings of work on Wednesday. It was the third time in July that he reached double digits in strikeouts. His 10.89 strikeouts per nine innings would rank second in the Eastern League among starting pitchers (behind the Red Sox’s Matt Barnes) if not for the fact that he doesn’t have the required innings yet thanks to his 50-game suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.

At 6-2, 2.96 in 14 Double-A starts, it’s fair to start wondering when Stroman will be sent to Triple-A. Despite his lack of stature, his plus fastball (91-96 mph) and potential for three average secondary pitches (curveball, slider and changeup) should have him battling for a spot in Toronto’s rotation either at the end of 2013 or by early in 2014.