2019 Houston Astros Top 10 MLB Prospects Chat

Image credit: Forrest Whitley (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

To see the Astros Top 10 prospects, click here

2019 Houston Astros Top 10 Prospects Chat

Ryan DeRouen (Houston): 

    What’s your take on Toro?

J.J. Cooper: Scouts really like him. He will be not far from this top 10. Toro is one of the better hitters in the system (admittedly the system is stronger in pitching than it is in hitting). He’s a better player than he looks, which may sound a little strange, but I guess I could describe it better this way: some players make it look easy. Toro doesn’t glide and doesn’t make it look easy, but he does seem to make it work.

Zac (NYC): 

    What are your thoughts on Cristian Javier and do you think Jairo Solis has a chance to be a frontline starter if he can stay healthy? Were either close to the top 10?

J.J. Cooper: If not for Solis’ Tommy John surgery, he could have been at the back of the 10. Javier will rank a little further away from the top 10. The Astros have a lot of pitchers in their system and as impressive as his year was, they have pitchers who had similar type seasons with better stuff.

Ray (Houston): 

    Houston’s 2017 draft has produced quite a few college pitchers that had great success this past season (Bukauskas, Martin, Ivey, Solomon, Bielak). Are the latter three legitimate prospects given their stuff and results?

J.J. Cooper: Yes…All 3 you just listed will make the top 30 for the Prospect Handbook and two will likely be in the top 20. Bielak doesn’t have wow-you stuff, but everything works well and scouts like his delivery. There’s a lot to like there. The Astros did a good job of scouting Solomon as he went from expected ace at Notre Dame to kinda buried as a junior. He’s back to the form he had showed heading into his junior year. And Ivey has a pair of promising breaking balls with enough fastball.

Jeff (Houston, TX): 

    Thoughts on Jayson Schroeder? At draft time he looked like a typical high-end high school arm that was projectable and would take some time, but his small sample size seemed really impressive and maybe show he’s a little further along the normal HS Pitcher?

J.J. Cooper: I’d say your initial assessment is more accurate. He’s got some projection left and he is promising, but I don’t think he’s going to be a particularly fast mover. The Astros do an excellent job with pitch development so I would expect that Schroeder’s stuff would continue to get better, but the NY-P or maybe the MWL would be where I’d expect him to play in 2019.

Kyle (Dallas, TX): 

    What were scouts saying about Ronnie Dawson this past year? What does he need to work on most?

J.J. Cooper: Dawson is another guy who didn’t miss the Top 10 by much…In fact I had him in the 10 in one early iteration. He’s gotten better and better defensively as he’s turned himself from a corner outfielder into a legitimate center fielder. His power numbers were dinged by playing at Buies Creek, where balls seemed to regularly die in the power alleys.

Bob (RD1): 

    What are your thoughts about Rogelio Armenteros? Will he get a chance to start in Houston this year? How close was he to the top 10?

J.J. Cooper: That window is going to be a small one. I don’t see the Astros going into the season with many starts projected for in-house rookies next year for a team that expects to contend for a World Series title. There surely will be some because of injuries/unexpected needs, but Armenteros’ biggest selling point for starts in Houston right now is that he’s more MLB ready than Corbin Martin/J.B. Bukauskas/Forrest Whitley. By midseason that is probably not enough to hold them off, and we haven’t started talking about Framber Valdez and Josh James yet both of have MLB starts under their belt. Armenteros will be more in the 15+ range I would expect.

Ryan (Atlanta): 

    Do you know what’s going on with Joe Perez? After sitting out to heal from TJ, he came out hitting and then all of a sudden was never to be heard from again.

J.J. Cooper: Further injuries (plural from what I can gather in my reporting). None are supposed to be that serious, but he’s struggled to stay healthy enough to get on the field, which is a problem for a hitter who will need plenty of ABs. The hope is that with a full offseason to recover and prepare, he’ll take advantage of a fresh start in 2019, but he’s already 600 at-bats or more behind his 2017 draft contemporaries.

Mike (Tampa, FL): 

    How close was Celestino to your top 10, and could he conceivably finish out next year at Hi-A?

J.J. Cooper: I’ve got bad news for you…he’s a Minnesota Twin. He was part of the Ryan Pressly trade.

Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): 

    Talking about Yordan Alvarez and “poor routes and reads”… is this a skill that is pretty well set, or is it something that can be substantially improved with coaching and practice?

J.J. Cooper: Can improve in my opinion if there is both a significant desire to improve and there isn’t an underlying issue that can’t be corrected (like a vision issue, etc.).

Bob (Texas): 

    The Whitley scouting report is certainly about as good as you can expect. How do would you handle his transition to the majors? Due to the suspension and injuries he only got ~55 IP including the AFL. Maybe ~80 IP as a starter in AAA and then 20-40 IP working out of the pen in Hou depending on how far into Oct the Astros go? It would be a shame to have to shut him down next fall.

J.J. Cooper: I’d expect Whitley will make starts in Houston next year. He’s too good not to. Yes, the innings will be an issue, but I think 120 IPs with many of them in Houston is a reasonable expectation. The Astros considered using him in 2017, so I don’t think his lack of innings/experience is going to be a major issue in 2019 when he has further AA experience and AFL time.

Todd (Englewood, NJ): 

    Do AJ Reed, JD Davis, and Derek Fisher have any trade value left? It is clear that they have no place on the Astros.

J.J. Cooper: I’d say Fisher definitely does, Davis has some and Reed has the least. The big problem for Reed is that he has no clear path to a big league job in Houston and he now carries the tag of being a 4A player. Now maybe Reed proves he’s better than that with a change of scenery, but there’s very little reason for another team to pay significantly to find that out when the most likely expectation is that Reed is not going to play for Houston and therefore will eventually be DFA’d. Fisher is a pretty useful fourth outfielder is he gets straightened up at all at the plate with a chance to be better than that. And in another organization which doesn’t have a 1B and a 3B, Davis’ power and arm at third could still have some value. The Astros understandably don’t have 250 at-bats to let guys figure things out in the big leagues right now, but there are a lot of other teams who do.

Paul (NY): 

    I know Jeff Luhnow does not like to give up his top prospects (Whitley & Tucker) Is the Astros system deep enough to pull off a trade for Realmuto & Goldschmidt?

J.J. Cooper: If you asked Realmuto or Goldschmidt I would say sure. But you typed an ampersand there. That would be tough, as I can’t imagine doing so without stripping the farm system down to its studs. The Astros have the best pitching prospect in baseball, a pair of Top 50 position player prospects and a number of other Top 100ish pitching prospects. That’s a lot, but the Marlins are understandably asking for a massive prospect haul for Realmuto (as they should, have you seen the catching around baseball?) And even with only one year left on his deal, Goldschmidt isn’t going to come cheap either. I think the Astros could put together a package to compete on either player, but it’s hard for me to predict any team will end up trading for both of them.

Todd (New Jersey): 

    What do think is Martes’ ceiling at this point? He was an untouchable prospect, followed by a poor performance at the majors, followed by surgery.

J.J. Cooper: Maybe I’m too optimistic, but in my mind he still could be a solid starter if he makes a full recovery. With where the Astros are these days, he probably fits for them better as a power reliever however, because they are in win now mode.

Super Nova (LoA): 

    Will Freudis “Super” Nova become the next in the line of elite Astros prospects? His tools seem to scream future elite prospect. I’ve seen 50/50 hit/power labeled on him from some scouts but he seems to already be displaying power for a still maturing 18 year old (6 HR in the GCL). How good can he be?

J.J. Cooper: He could, but he has work to do. It’s not ideal when you have as many home runs as walks, so becoming more selective is job 1 for Nova in 2019.

J.J. Cooper: Thanks everyone for coming out. We’ll be back with the Mariners Top 10 and chat with Bill Mitchell on Wednesday.

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