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  1. 1. Korey Lee | C
    Korey Lee
    Born: Jul 25, 1998
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 210
    Drafted/Signed: California, 2019 (1st round).
    Signed By: Tom Costic.
    Minors: .277/.340/.438 | 11 HR | 4 SB | 329 AB

    BA Grade: 55/High

    Track Record: Fourteen years after the Astros drafted and developed Stanford product Jason Castro as their catcher of the future, another California-based backstop is following a similar path. The Astros surprised the industry by selecting Lee in the first round of the 2019 draft at No. 32 overall. Many teams thought Lee would be available in later rounds, but the Astros pounced due to their confidence in a bat that showed promise in his final collegiate season at California hitting behind Andrew Vaughn. The team hoped Lee’s athleticism would pay dividends behind the plate. He signed for $1.75 million and delivered a solid, if unspectacular, debut season in Rookie ball in 2019. The upside and potential Houston saw finally manifested in Lee’s first full minor league season in 2021. Lee hit .277/.340/.438 with 11 home runs in 88 games and reached Triple-A Sugar Land during a revealing campaign that included noticeable adjustments to both his batting and catching stances. He continued to make contact and control the strike zone across three minor league levels while distinguishing himself as a defensive standout. The Astros exposed Lee to both first base and third base in 2021, but his short-term future is behind the plate, where his athleticism is obvious and an opportunity for imminent major league playing time looms.

    Scouting Report: Making so many adjustments left Lee somewhat inconsistent throughout the 2021 season, but his upside is apparent. He now catches in a one-knee stance to generate quicker releases with a plus-plus throwing arm. He produces pop times as low as 1.8 seconds in the one-knee stance. He shortened his arm slot to help the throws, too, but it has led to some accuracy issues. The two major changes sometimes leave Lee looking ragged behind the plate but his consistency and work ethic outweigh the occasional off days. He’s developed into a better receiver but still needs work. Concerns still surround Lee’s bat, but scouts believe he can hit enough to become an everyday catcher. He hit far too many ground balls to his pull side during his first minor league season, necessitating a few stance alterations. Lee came into pro ball with a busy batting stance—complete with a long stride and too much pre-pitch movement. Lee is far more stable and quiet now, which allows him to use his whole body, drive the ball more frequently and hit line drives. Lee can still tap into more of his above-average power, and the strides he made in 2021 portend well for the future.

    The Future: Lee is the Astros’ catcher of the future and is nearly ready for the major leagues. Both Castro and starter Martin Maldonado are signed only through 2022 and the team traded longtime third catcher Garrett Stubbs to clear a space on the 40-man roster and at Triple-A Sugar Land, where Lee should spend most of 2022. His MLB debut could come during the season.

    Scouting Grades: Hit: 50. Power: 50. Speed: 40. Fielding: 55. Arm: 70.

  2. 2. Jeremy Pena | SS
    Jeremy Pena
    Born: Sep 22, 1997
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 202
    Drafted/Signed: Maine, 2018 (3rd round).
    Signed By: Bobby St. Pierre.
    Minors: .297/.362/.579 | 10 HR | 6 SB | 145 AB

    BA Grade: 55/High

    Track Record: Even after fracturing his left wrist while diving for a ball in April, Peña cemented himself as the Astros’ heir apparent to Carlos Correa at shortstop during the 2021 season. He returned from a four-month absence to abuse pitching at Triple-A Sugar Land, collecting 16 extra-base hits in a 30-game cameo with the Skeeters. The Astros included Peña on their playoff taxi squad before he departed for a winter ball assignment in the Dominican Republic. Peña drew rave reviews from major league coaches and players for his presence and makeup during his time on the taxi squad and was added to the 40-man roster in November.

    Scouting Report: Known as an above-average defender since his third-round selection in the 2018 draft, Peña is making the offensive strides and showing a power surge that will make him an everyday major league option. He came back from a four-month injury absence with more muscle and tapped into the power some waited long to see. Peña’s power may come at the expense of strike-zone control and an ability to hit for average, but his transformation from a handsy college hitter to one who can unearth more power is evident. Peña’s body and build have generated praise from across the sport, but he has not sacrificed plus defense at shortstop, where he shows one of the organization’s best infield arms. His major league bloodlines—his father, Geronimo, played seven major league seasons—influence a makeup about which many rave.

    The Future: Peña’s offensive adjustments make him a potential everyday regular at shortstop. He should start the 2022 season at Triple-A Sugar Land and, provided he produces similar offensive numbers, will be in position to make his major league debut during the season.

    Scouting Grades: Hit: 50. Power: 45. Speed: 55. Fielding: 60. Arm: 60.

  3. 3. Hunter Brown | RHP
    Hunter Brown
    Born: Aug 29, 1998
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 203
    Drafted/Signed: Wayne State, 2019 (5th round).
    Signed By: Scott Oberhelman.
    Minors: 6-5 | 4.04 ERA | 131 SO | 50 BB | 101 IP

    BA Grade: 55/High

    Track Record: Brown burst onto the draft scene in 2019, striking out 114 batters in 85.1 innings as a junior at Division II Wayne State. The Astros took him in the fifth round that June and signed him for $325,000. Brown’s first full minor league season in 2021 featured much of the same traits that attracted the Astros. He struck out 131 batters in 101.1 innings with a 4.04 ERA between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Sugar Land. The performance put Brown, a Detroit native who grew up idolizing Justin Verlander, in the thick of conversations to join him in the Astros’ rotation.

    Scouting Report: Brown relies on a power four-seam fastball that sits in the mid-to-upper 90s and can reach 99 mph. He can elevate the pitch when needed and misses bats due to the late riding life it generates. Brown possesses two breaking pitches, a spike curveball in the low 80s and a sweeping slider that generates swings and misses. Both his four-seamer and curveball are major league-caliber, but a lack of consistency prevents Brown from being a bona fide, big-league starting pitching prospect. He is frequently unable to repeat his delivery and has the occasional propensity to lose his release point. His fastball command issues are apparent and must be solved for him to stick as a starter, although he could still be dominant in the bullpen.

    The Future: Brown should begin 2022 at Triple-A Sugar Land, where perhaps a year of seasoning will yield the breakout season many within the organization envision.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 70. Slider: 50. Curveball: 60. Changeup: 50. Control: 40.

  4. 4. Pedro Leon | OF/SS
    Pedro Leon
    Born: May 28, 1998
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'9" Wt.: 185
    Drafted/Signed: Cuba, 2021.
    Signed By: Charlie Gonzalez.
    Minors: .220/.339/.369 | 9 HR | 18 SB | 255 AB

    BA Grade: 45/High

    Track Record: The Astros invested $4 million in Leon as the crown jewel of their 2020 international signing class, stating their belief the Cuban center fielder could be a “rapid mover” to the majors. He had a 1.098 OPS in two seasons in Serie Nacional, including an all-star appearance as a 20-year-old. The pandemic prevented Leon from playing in 2020 and a visa issue delayed his arrival to spring training in 2021, but he still jumped straight to Double-A to begin his professional career. The Astros informed Leon he would see loads of time at shortstop upon signing him and, despite not playing the position since childhood, Leon made 48 of his first 71 minor league starts at shortstop.

    Scouting Report: Leon has enough athleticism and defensive aptitude to handle both center field and shortstop. He flashes plus-plus speed and has plus arm strength, as evidenced by a throw clocked at 98 mph from center field in spring training. However, many of the plus tools promised before Leon’s arrival never materialized during his first minor league season. He has a long swing and struggled first with velocity at Double-A and then with breaking pitches in the Arizona Fall League. Though strong in his frame, his small stature and contact concerns preclude him from having more than fringe-average power. Leon’s learning curve is steep, but his makeup and initial adaptation are encouraging. After striking out 33 times in his first 85 plate appearances, he posted a .766 OPS the rest of the season while earning a promotion to Triple-A.

    The Future: Leon’s best path to the big leagues is in center field, but he must continue to adjust offensively to be an everyday player. He is widely viewed as a future utilityman.

    Scouting Grades: Hit: 45. Power: 45. Speed: 60. Fielding: 50. Arm: 60.

  5. 5. Joe Perez | 3B
    Joe Perez
    Born: Aug 12, 1999
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 215
    Signed By: Charlie Gonzalez.
    Minors: .291/.354/.495 | 18 HR | 3 SB | 430 AB

    BA Grade: 45/High

    Track Record: The Astros drafted Perez in the second round and signed him for $1.6 million in 2017 knowing he’d need Tommy John surgery. He had it one day after his selection, starting a circuitous career that finally seems on track. His Tommy John recovery, a shoulder surgery in 2018 and the coronavirus pandemic limited Perez to just 209 professional plate appearances prior to the 2021 season. He lost around 15 pounds during the pandemic to become more durable and reached Double-A Corpus Christi during his first full minor league season. Perez posted an .849 OPS and showed serviceable enough defense at third base to earn a spot on Houston’s 40-man roster.

    Scouting Report: Perez isn’t an excitable player but boasts an offensive skill set many feel will give him a chance to make the major leagues. He is still a power-over-hit offensive prospect, but he demonstrated a better ability to use the opposite field in 2021 while making far more contact and staging competitive at-bats. Perez’s swing can still get too long, but he has enough strength to produce above-average power. The Astros will keep pushing him at third base—where a plus arm can compensate for a lack of range—but could expose him to left field to increase his value.

    The Future: Perez reshaped his body and refined his focus to put himself back on the map in 2021. Having another season similar in 2022 at Triple-A Sugar Land would make him an intriguing bench option in the major leagues.

    Scouting Grades: Hit: 50. Power: 50. Speed: 40. Fielding: 45. Arm: 60.

  6. 6. Alex Santos | RHP
    Alex Santos
    Born: Jan 1, 0001
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 0'0"
    Drafted/Signed: HS--Bronx, N.Y., 2020 (2nd round supp).
    Signed By: Bobby St. Pierre.

    BA Grade: 50/Extreme

    Track Record: The Astros selected Santos No. 72 overall in the 2020 draft despite him missing his entire senior high school season due to the pandemic. Rapsodo data from Santos’ bullpen sessions during the shutdown, coupled with his continued presence on the showcase circuit, gave Houston confidence in its selection. Santos did not appear in a professional game until 2021, when he threw 41.2 innings for Low-A Fayetteville and demonstrated some of the potential that tantalized the Astros.

    Scouting Report: Santos sits in the low-to-mid 90s with a high-spin four-seam fastball that can sneak up on hitters and always seems to miss bats. His fastball is usually 91-93 mph, but can touch 95 in spurts. Santos’ ability to spin both the four-seamer and a plus curveball align well with the Astros’ pitching philosophies. His confidence is growing in a fading changeup that he barely threw in high school, and it now has average potential. Continued progression of the changeup and a slider will serve Santos well if he hopes to start in the major leagues. Santos’ arm action and failure to repeat his delivery consistently leave some wondering whether he’s better suited as a reliever, but his strike-throwing ability stood out throughout the draft circuit.

    The Future: Perhaps no young pitcher in Houston’s system has more upside as a potential starter than Santos. He’ll need to refine his repeatability and curtail some of his bouts of bad command, but hope is high given his age and relative inexperience.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 55. Curveball: 60. Changeup: 50. Control: 50.

  7. 7. Tyler Ivey | RHP
    Tyler Ivey
    Born: May 12, 1996
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 195
    Drafted/Signed: Grayson (Texas) JC, 2017 (3rd round).
    Signed By: Jim Stevenson.
    Minors: 0-1 | 4.15 ERA | 16 SO | 9 BB | 13 IP

    BA Grade: 45/High

    Track Record: Ivey is a Rowlett, Texas, native who made his major league debut during a spot start at the Rangers’ Globe Life Park in May 2021. The emotions of a hometown debut, coupled with a family tragedy and an elbow injury he hid from the organization, caused the lanky righthander to take four months off from baseball. Ivey was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, but he did not require surgery and made one minor league rehab appearance in the Florida Complex League in late September. Coupled with persistent elbow pain in spring training and in May at Triple-A Sugar Land, Ivey threw just 17.2 innings all season.

    Scouting Report: Ivey has a herky-jerky delivery and a high leg kick that generates most of the attention. The Astros have made some minor adjustments so he can better control the running game, but by and large allow Ivey to continue his unorthodox ways given his good command. He averaged just 90 mph with his four-seam fastball during his major league debut due to his injured elbow. When healthy, Ivey is in the low-to-mid 90s with the pitch and can touch 96. His delivery affords some deception on the fastball, which Ivey elevates well, and a high-spin curveball that pairs effectively with it. Ivey’s changeup is still evolving to go along with a slider that can have cutter-like tendencies. Ivey has demonstrated the command and control some scouts doubted he’d discover due to his delivery and now has fringe-average control overall.

    The Future: Ivey is a potential middle-to-back-of-the-rotation starter candidate if he can stay healthy. With two elbow injuries in three seasons, that’s a big if.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 50. Slider: 50. Curveball: 60. Changeup: 45. Control: 55.

  8. 8. Jaime Melendez | RHP
    Jaime Melendez
    Born: Sep 26, 2001
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'8" Wt.: 170
    Signed By: Miguel Pintor.
    Minors: 4-6 | 3.57 ERA | 90 SO | 33 BB | 58 IP

    BA Grade: 45/High

    Track Record: Melendez signed for $195,000 out of Mexico in May 2019 as a slender prospect known more for his craftiness and pitchability than overpowering stuff. He appeared in 11 complex league games upon his arrival and did not pitch in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Melendez added more than 20 pounds to his frame and upped his velocity to ascend three levels of the minors during a breakout 2021. He reached Double-A Corpus Christi for his final three appearances of the season.

    Scouting Report: Melendez draws comparisons to a fellow Mexican Astros pitcher: Jose Urquidy. Melendez throws from a high slot and is armed with a sneaky fastball that has substantial carry. After sitting 87-91 mph when he signed, Melendez now sits at 91-93 mph with his fastball and touches 95 on occasion. He generates swings and misses up in the strike zone, aligning perfectly with the Astros’ organization-wide pitching philosophy. His changeup has developed into one of the organization’s best. It has a similar spin rate to his fastball and some two-seam action. He throws a short slider with late break that has plus potential along with a curveball seen as average. His deception, ability to mix all four of his pitches and average control make him an intriguing starting candidate.

    The Future: Melendez has four average pitches that he mixes and commands well, but durability remains a concern. He has the upside to be a starter but some evaluators feel he’s destined for middle relief. A full season at Double-A in 2022 may help clear up his future.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 55. Slider: 50. Curveball: 45. Changeup: 55. Control: 50.

  9. 9. Tyler Whitaker | OF
    Tyler Whitaker
    Born: Aug 2, 2002
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 190
    Signed By: Ryan Leake.
    Minors: .202/.263/.327 | 3 HR | 8 SB | 104 AB

    BA Grade: 50/Extreme

    Track Record: In their final draft without a first- or second-round pick as punishment for their electronic sign-stealing scandal, the Astros took Whitaker 87th overall and praised him as a potential first-rounder who fell into their lap. Houston paid Whitaker $1.5 million—more than $800,000 over slot value—to break his commitment to Arizona. Whitaker played primarily right field during his senior season due to a team need, but the Astros view him as a center fielder long term. He started in center field in 19 of his 29 games in the Florida Complex League in his pro debut.

    Scouting Report: Whitaker is toolsy and raw, but exudes enough energy and athleticism to portend well for his future. He has room to add more size and muscle to his lanky 6-foot-4 frame, and his athleticism is apparent. He has plus-plus speed and plus raw power, but his grooved swing produces too many swings and misses. He struck out 40 times in 114 plate appearances in the FCL and projects to be a below-average hiter. Whitaker has enough tools to play all three outfield positions. His plus arm profiles in right field ,but his enticing speed will keep him in center field for now.

    The Future: Whitaker needs more seasoning and playing time, but he stands out as a bright spot in a system light on young position player talent. His first full season in 2022 should start in Low-A Fayetteville.

    Scouting Grades: Hit: 40. Power: 55. Speed: 60. Fielding: 45. Arm: 55.

  10. 10. Peter Solomon | RHP
    Peter Solomon
    Born: Aug 16, 1996
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 201
    Drafted/Signed: Notre Dame, 2017 (4th round).
    Signed By: Nick Venuto.
    Minors: 8-1 | 4.70 ERA | 112 SO | 42 BB | 98 IP

    BA Grade: 45/High

    Track Record: Solomon and Astros teammate Brandon Bielak played together at Notre Dame, where Solomon struggled as a starter and was relegated to the bullpen. The Astros turned him back into a starter after selecting him in the fourth round of the 2017 draft. He thrived before Tommy John surgery sidelined him for most of 2019 and the pandemic prevented him from pitching in 2020. Solomon put it all together in 2021, making his major league debut as a fill-in long reliever while demonstrating his potential future as a back-end starter with an impressive season at Triple-A Sugar Land.

    Scouting Report: Solomon’s four-seam fastball only averages 92 mph and is too straight at times, but it generates late ride that helps him miss bats at its best. He can run his four-seamer up to 96 mph in short spurts out of the bullpen. Solomon pairs his fastball with a new cutter he developed prior to Tommy John surgery that hovers around the mid 80s and proved effective in a short major league cameo. His slider is fringe-average and takes a back seat to a downer curveball and changeup that both continue to creep toward above-average

    The Future: Solomon showed enough command and durability in 2021 to project as a back-end starter. He should begin the 2022 season in Sugar Land as a depth option for the Astros rotation.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 50. Cutter: 45. Curveball: 55. Changeup: 55. Control: 50.

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