Aside from maybe Jose Urquidy, the rookie righthander who snuck onto the Astros’ American League Division Series roster with a standout September, no Astros prospect authored a more meteoric ascent this season than Cristian Javier.
The 22-year-old righthander began the year at high Class A Fayetteville and will all but certainly end it on the Astros’ 40-man roster. Houston named the Dominican Republic native its minor league pitcher of the year, an award he accepted at Minute Maid Park in late September.
“We love his stuff,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said at the time. “In fact, there were several people on our staff who were advocating for us to add him to the (40-man) roster this September because they feel he can get big league hitters out—and good big league hitters out.”
Javier’s emergence as one of the organization’s top prospects is crucial after Houston’s trade deadline deal for Zack Greinke.
Javier was promoted three times during the season, ending his year with Triple-A Round Rock. He amassed a 1.74 ERA in 113.2 innings across three levels, which ranked second among all minor league pitchers with at least 100 innings. His .130 opponent average was the lowest of any minor league pitcher in that category.
Javier went from Opening Day starter in the Carolina League to part of Round Rock’s playoff rotation. In 11 innings in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, Javier did not shy from the strike zone, punching out 16 while walking just four. He yielded just three extra-base hits.
Javier struck out 170 in 26 games across three levels. His fastball sits at 91-93 mph but with command that is almost unmatched by any Latin American arm in the Astros’ organization. A slider is his most used out pitch, but Javier credited consistent development of his changeup for most of his success during the season.
The Astros are expected to add Javier to the 40-man roster in November, making him ineligible for the Rule 5 draft.