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Enoli Paredes Emerges As Rotation Depth

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Since the Astros executed the Zack Greinke trade and started a new search for upper-level starting pitching depth, a focus has honed on previous international signing classes.

Jose Urquidy made a fast rise this season and appears primed to join the 2020 big league rotation. Bryan Abreu got his feet wet in the big league bullpen, even cracking the team’s American League Championship Series roster. Cristian Javier was the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year.

Righthander Enoli Paredes seems next in line.

The 24-year-old Dominican authored a quick ascent up the lower levels of the minor leagues in 2019, his final season with Rule 5 draft exemption. The Astros must add him to the 40-man roster this offseason to keep it that way.

In 94 innings across high Class A Fayetteville and Double-A Corpus Christi, Paredes struck out 12.3 per nine innings and posted a 2.78 ERA. He played just 12 games at Double-A but was the team’s unquestioned ace by the end of the season.

The Astros signed Paredes for $10,000 at age 19 in 2015, on the same day they nabbed countryman Jorge Alcala—whom they shipped to the Twins in 2018 for all-star reliever Ryan Pressly.

Paredes’ arm speed is renowned within the organization, which helps compensate for his otherwise unimposing 5-foot-11, 168-pound frame. He has experienced a velocity uptick in four pro seasons, upping his four-seam fastball to 95-97 mph from 91-93.

Paredes deploys a four-pitch mix—fastball, slider, curveball and a changeup he isn’t afraid to throw to lefthanded hitters. His slider is farther along than his curveball, according to one member of the Astros organization, but both pitches are viewed as plus.

Houston enters the offseason with six open spots on its 40-man roster. Javier’s rise cemented him a spot to protect him from selection in the Rule 5 draft. Paredes has provided the Astros another compelling case for inclusion.

SPACE SHOTS

— Oz Ocampo, the Astros' director of international operations from 2012 to 2017 who was a special assistant to the general manager in 2018 and 2019, is leaving the organization. Ocampo was influential in the signing of Yuli Gurriel, Cionel Perez, Framber Valdez and Franklin Perez, among others.

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