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Track Record: After being one of the fastest-moving prep pitchers in recent history in his first full pro season in 2017, Whitley's climb to the majors slowed to a crawl in 2018. A 50-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug held him out until June. Upon returning to Double-A Corpus Christi, he was pulled from an early July start with an oblique injury that forced him to miss the Futures Game. He missed more than a month and then was shut down again in late August with a lat muscle injury. He made an impressive return in the Arizona Fall League (in one outing, he struck out eight of the first nine batters he faced) but his injuries meant he threw fewer than 60 innings all year. Scouting Report: It's hard to remember that Whitley once raised concerns from scouts because of his poor conditioning. He slimmed down as a high school senior and continues to be long, lean, athletic and limber. Whitley gets plenty of angle on his fastball thanks to his height and an over-the-top release point. His delivery is relatively clean, but his arm is so fast that his delivery has recoil even though he has a long deceleration into his finish. Whitley's stuff is as good or better than any other minor league pitcher because he has so many quality offerings. He has a chance to be the ultimate rarity--a pitcher with five plus-or-better offerings. It all begins with a 93-97 mph fastball he can run and cut. It has touched 100 mph in shorter outings, but the movement he gets on it makes it a plus-plus pitch. He also throws a plus, 90-92 mph cutter that is a distinctly separate pitch, with enough late movement to shatter bats and sometimes miss them. Whitley uses both a high-spin curveball and high-spin slider, both of which are plus pitches with power and depth, but his best secondary pitch is a plus-plus, 83-85 mph changeup with separation and outstanding late drop. He can throw it either for strikes or as a chase pitch and should be equally effective against righties and lefties. The Future: Like any young pitcher, Whitley has to stay healthy, but if he does, he has No. 1 starter potential. He's the best pitching prospect in the minors and some scouts say he is the most promising pitching prospect they have seen.
Track Record: Nicknamed "Ted"for his resemblance to a young Ted Williams, Tucker even took swings as Williams for a PBS documentary on the Splendid Splinter. With a need in left field, the Astros called Tucker up in early July. But when he went 7-for-55 (.141/.203/.236), the Astros ended the experiment and demoted him at the end of July. He was brought back twice more to play off the bench. Scouting Report: Tucker finally found a level that he wasn't ready for when he reached Houston. He had dominated every level of the minors with plus, all-fields power and excellent hand-eye coordination that allows his swing to work. In the big leagues, he proved an easier-than-expected mark for quality breaking balls. Despite his big league hiccup, Tucker projects as a middle-of-the-order bat who can be a plus hitter with plus power. He has already started to slow down, and opposing coaches and scouts were not always impressed with Tucker's effort level, noting that he often jogged down the line. His once-average speed slid to below-average in 2018, though he did steal 20 bases. That limits him in the outfield, but he should be average in either corner. His average arm is playable in right field. The Future: Tucker should get another shot to be the Astros' everyday left fielder as a 22-year-old in 2019. He has very little left to prove in Triple-A.
Track Record: The Astros acquired Alvarez in the 2016 Josh Fields trade before he had ever played a pro game. In the two seasons since, he has made two Futures Game appearances. Alvarez's biggest issue has been staying healthy. He had wrist injuries each of the past two seasons that have slowed him down, and he has also battled a knee injury. Scouting Report: Alvarez is big, strong and surprisingly athletic, though his speed burst is more apparent on the basepaths than in left field, where he is a below-average defender thanks to poor routes and reads. Most scouts say that he fits better at first base, but even there, he'll struggle to unseat the nimble Yuli Gurriel anytime soon. Alvarez is at his best in the batter's box. He has the strength to clear the fence to all parts of the park--nine of his 20 home runs in 2018 were hit between center and left field, eight went to left field or left-center and another three cleared the center field fence. For a tall, long-limbed hitter, Alvarez has excellent plate coverage, in large part because of strike-zone knowledge and an all-fields approach. He has a chance to be an above-average hitter in addition to having plus power, which could lead to 30-homer seasons. The Future: Alvarez reached Triple-A before he turned 21, so he's ahead of a normal developmental schedule. Alvarez will return to Triple-A Round Rock, but his combination of power and plate discipline could help Houston at some point in 2019 if injuries arise.
Track Record: James didn't strike out a batter an inning in junior college, but Astros scout Jim Stevenson liked his arm. Still an organizational arm after four pro seasons, a sleep apnea diagnosis changed his life. Once James started getting restful sleep, his fastball jumped three grades in 2018, when he ranked fourth in the minors in strikeouts (171) and seventh in opponent average (.191). Scouting Report: James pitched at 88-92 mph in 2017 but now sits 95-97 mph and can ramp up to 103 mph, even working as a starter. When he had to learn survival skills with a fringy fastball, he developed a plus changeup. Now that he can blow hitters away with his fastball, his change is a double-plus, 87-90 mph offering with deception. He can drop it off the table or run it away from lefties on the outer half of the plate. The development of James' inconsistent slider will be key to determine just how dominant he can become. He has shown an 87-89 mph Frisbee at times with tilt and power that could be a third plus weapon, but he lacks confidence in the pitch because he tends to hang it. James has fringe-average control but worse command, and his delivery doesn't lend itself to precise control. That will have to improve if he's going to be a successful starter long-term. The Future: James will have to prove he can hold the gains he made in 2018, but his stuff is good enough to work as a mid-rotation starter.
Track Record: As Martin prepared for his junior season at Texas A&M, he was penciled in as the club's closer, hoping to put the wildness that had ruined his sophomore season behind him. He had worked as a reliever in two years with the Aggies and in the Cape Cod League, but A&M moved him to the rotation as a junior. He quickly became the club's ace. As a pro, he's been one of the fastest-moving pitchers from the 2017 draft, reaching Double-A by May and posting a 2.97 ERA in a league where the average ERA was 4.17. Scouting Report: It's hard to believe that Martin was ever viewed as a reliever or that he battled control issues. Now, he is a starter with excellent feel for pitching, plenty of polish and a mastery of the details like holding runners and fielding his position. Martin sits 93-95 mph and touches 97 mph. His plus fastball earns those grades for his above-average command and control as much as the pitch's velocity. He locates well to all four corners of the zone. Martin mixes in a slider and curveball. Both earn above-average grades on his best days, with his slider being a little more consistent than his curve. His changeup improved this year from being a below-average to a potentially average pitch. The Future: The Astros have pitchers with better stuff and other pitchers who are nearly as refined, but Martin is the best combination of the two. Martin combines stuff and refinement like no other Astros pitching prospect and is a future mid-rotation starter. He will start the 2019 season at Triple-A, but he could work his way into the Astros' big league plans at some point in 2019.
Track Record: Bukauskas' 2018 season was derailed from the start. He was in a spring training car accident, though nothing seemed to be wrong at the time. But Bukauskas started to feel pain when he went to low Class A Quad Cities. Eventually he was diagnosed with a bulging disk in his back and was sidelined for two months. Scouting Report: Bukauskas' fastball/slider combo is still his calling card, but the cutter he has developed as a pro has helped give him better survival skills as a starter. Bukauskas' 93-96 mph fastball has gained life as a pro, helping him develop it into a plus pitch. His plus-plus slider has sharp, late tilt that makes it one of the best in the minors. But Bukauskas' slider is mainly an out-of-zone chase pitch, and he struggles to control his fastball. When he's not throwing his fastball for strikes, his cutter gives him another pitch he can locate in the zone. His changeup is a fringe-average pitch that he doesn't seem to throw with much confidence or conviction. The Future: Bukauskas' repertoire has invited bullpen projections, but he has shown better-than-expected starter traits as a pro. He's a potential mid-rotation starter who likely will swing from dominating to surviving based on how well he's locating his fastball.
Track Record: Valdez didn't sign his first pro contract until he was 21, and teams shied away because of concerns about his elbow. Healthy since signing, he has shot from the Dominican Summer League to the majors in a little over three years. Scouting Report: Valdez is largely a two-pitch lefthander. His plus curveball is good enough to allow him to succeed despite a lack of confidence in his below-average changeup. Valdez attacks hitters with two- and four-seam fastballs at 92-95 mph. His two-seamer has good sink down in the zone, but his above-average fastballs are mainly setting up his 78-82 mph curveball. Valdez's curve has plenty of depth, and he can sweep it across the strike zone thanks to his three-quarter arm slot. He can tighten it or loosen it and throw it in or out of the zone. Valdez nibbled against big league righthanders and will need to either improve his changeup or develop a cutter. His delivery is relatively clean and his control is average. The Future: Valdez's solid work as a starter late in the 2018 season gives him the opportunity to battle for a job in the 2019 rotation.
Track Record: Nova was supposed to be the Marlins' big splash on the international market in 2016, but a positive test for a performance-enhancing drug quashed that deal and led to the Astros signing him for less than half of Miami's offer. Nova made his U.S. debut in 2018 as one of the more productive hitters in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast league. Scouting Report: Nova showed bat speed, above-average bat-to-ball skills and above-average raw power in the GCL, but he needs plenty of refinement. Right now he has just enough power to get himself into poor habits, and he spent too many at-bats looking for a pitch he could yank down the line, rarely working advantageous counts. He had as many home runs (six) as walks (six). Nova's hand-eye coordination made it work, but he's going to have to improve his selectivity and patience. Defensively, Nova has all the tools to be an above-average shortstop. He's athletic with soft hands and an improved first step, though he's working on his reliability. His plus arm helps him make plays to his back hand, the play that many shortstops struggle to make. The Future: Nova has the tools to be a shortstop who can hit enough to be an everyday regular, but he has years of work ahead of him to put it all together. A jump to low Class A Quad Cities would be a big step up in competition level, and it's more likely that Nova will spend one more year in short-season ball.
Track Record: Beer is the rare player who was never draft-eligible in high school. That's because he enrolled at Clemson six months early, so when his high school class was graduating, Beer was wrapping up an outstanding freshman season in the Atlantic Coast Conference. As a pre-teen, Beer was an elite swimmer. As a 12-year-old, he set a national age group record in the 50-yard backstroke, but he eventually opted to focus on baseball over swimming. So far, it's been a wise choice. Beer finished his college career with 56 home runs and nearly twice as many walks (180) as strikeouts (98). Scouting Report: Beer has an excellent batting eye to go with the plus power that gives him the potential to hit 25-30 home runs. He demonstrated that power in his first two pro stops, helping alleviate some of the concerns that revolved around his struggles to hit with a wood bat in summer ball during college. Once he reached high Class A, Beer got too aggressive and chased too many pitches, but he should draw plenty of walks to post high on-base percentages. His batting averages likely won't reflect that, as his average will suffer from bottom-of-the-scale speed. His lefthanded power profile makes shifting on him an easy call, and a second baseman playing in short right field will be able to cut off some hits that otherwise would fall in. What kept Beer from going higher in the draft was his lack of a clear defensive position. He will likely only get slower from here. He is a heavy-footed, well below-average left fielder with a below-average arm and is worse at first base because of poor footwork. The Astros have to hope he can become a below-average defender, but he fits best as a DH. The Future: Beer moved quickly in his pro debut and should make it to Double-A in 2019. His bat could be ready for Houston before too long, but unless he shows significant improvement defensively, he'll be the rare young player who tries to break into the majors as a designated hitter. His attributes are similar to long-time Astros minor league slugger A.J. Reed, but the Astros have to hope he can make a bigger MLB impact.
Track Record: The Astros excel at finding low-cost pitchers on the international market. Abreu is another prime example. He sat 84-86 mph before he signed, but he showed an ability to spin a breaking ball. The Astros have watched him fill out and blossom. He jumped to the Midwest League in 2018 and finished with 14.9 strikeouts per nine innings. Scouting Report: Abreu is now a broad-shouldered, athletic righthander. He can run his plus, four-seam fastball up to 96 mph and he sits 93-94 mph. He is generally around the zone with his fastball, but his command needs refinement. He falls off the mound to the first base side, which affects his fringe-average control. Abreu's curveball is already the best in the organization. It has 12-to-6 shape, excellent depth and elite rotation at more than 3,000 revolutions per minute. He throws his curve for strikes, and it eludes bats even in the strike zone. Abreu also mixes in a slider and changeup, but both are below-average pitches. The Future: Abreu's two-pitch combo would move quickly as a reliever, but he has the frame, intelligence and aptitude to start. Added to the 40-man roster, he's ready for high Class A Fayetteville.
Track Record: Solis got a velocity bump almost immediately after he signed and developed into one of the most refined young arms in Houston's system. Solis was rolling until he left an early August start with an elbow injury, and he ended up needing Tommy John surgery. Scouting Report: Solis walked 12 in his first 12 innings, but then settled down to show the polish, stuff and strike-throwing that encourages scouts. Solis sits 93-95 mph and has touched 98 mph with a plus fastball. His above-average, 82-85 mph changeup has developed into a weapon, and he mixes in both a curveball and slider, both of which have at least average potential. Solis' delivery finishes into a somewhat stiff front side, and he did have some outings where he struggled to throw strikes, but scouts believe Solis will be develop at least average control. The Future: Solis will spend all of 2019 rehabbing and will not get back into an official game until 2020. If he can make a full recovery, he's one of the highest-ceiling arms in Houston's system.
Track Record: Perez was one of the best young pitchers in Cuba's Serie Nacional as an 18-year-old. The Astros ended up slashing Perez's bonus from $5.15 million to $2 million because of a concern about his elbow. The elbow hasn't been an issue since, and Perez made his major league debut in July. Track Record: Although he primarily started in the minors, the skinny Perez fits best as a reliever with the ability to work multiple innings if needed. He attacks hitters with a swing-and-miss, plus-plus fastball that sits 94-96 mph and touches 98 mph, although it sometimes tails off in longer outings. His fastball pairs well with a mid-80s, above-average breaking ball that he manipulates. When he wants to, he can sweep it across the zone early in counts, and he can also throw it with a shorter, harder downward break when he is later in counts or facing a lefthanded. Perez's changeup doesn't do much. It lacks separation or late movement and is a show-me pitch thrown away to righthanded hitters just to set up inside fastballs. Perez had some bouts with wildness, but he generally throws strikes and projects to have average control. The Future: Perez should fit into the big league bullpen. He has the arm and feel to be a high-leverage reliever because of the quality of his fastball.
Track Record: Dawson was both a football and baseball star in high school. He could have played either in college, but he chose baseball and quickly proved it was a wise choice as he became an immediate contributor and eventually the star of the Ohio State lineup. Scouting Report: At Ohio State, Dawson was a left fielder. But given a chance to play center field, Dawson has blossomed. He's only an average runner, but his reads and routes are excellent, allowing him to be an above-average center fielder who earns some plus grades. His arm is fringy. Dawson's swing and approach have changed, and scouts are less enamored. His swing has gotten steeper and more pull-oriented. Dawson has above-average power to do damage, but evaluators are concerned that his current swing will limit his hard contact rate and fringe-average hitting ability unless he tones it down. The Future: Dawson is an interesting collection of tools and skills. As a lefthanded-hitting center fielder with power potential he could develop into an everyday regular, but he still has plenty of offensive refinement ahead. He'll return to Double-A Corpus Christi to start 2019.
Track Record: Stubbs is one of the smallest and skinniest catchers in the game, but he brings a rare athleticism for the position. Stubbs led all Pacific Coast League catchers by throwing out 45 percent of basestealers, and the Astros added him to their 40-man roster after the season. Scouting Report: Stubbs is a better hitter than slugger, and he's athletic enough to play a little bit of everywhere if needed. He runs better than most catchers and has successfully swiped 22 bases since his last caught stealing. Stubbs' low target and athleticism help his ability to block pitches in the dirt, and his receiving is viewed as average. He has an above-average arm and it's accurate. Stubbs uses the entire field when he's locked in at the plate. He's an above-average hitter who could post .300 averages in his best years, although his power is limited to lining balls to the gaps and the sporadic yanked home run. The Future: Stubbs' biggest remaining focus area to be big league ready is to get stronger, which probably relies on him getting a little bigger. His defense and bat are ready if the Astros need a backup.
Track Record: Straw and Rays prospect Nate Lowe formed an exceptional combination at St. John's River (Fla.) JC. As a pro, Straw has stood out for his blazing speed and ability to hit for average. He led the minors in batting in 2016, when he hit .358, and led the minors in 2018 with 70 steals. He earned his first big league promotion in September and a spot on the Astros' Division Series roster as a pinch-runner. Scouting Report: Straw's opposite-field approach rarely makes him a threat to hit the ball over an outfielder's head. That approach has worked so far, and he's steadily drawn walks despite lacking the power to frighten pitchers who are behind in counts. Straw handles velocity and doesn't get the bat knocked out of his hands despite his bottom-of-the-scale power, projecting as an above-average hitter. His 70-grade speed helps him beat out infield hits and makes him a threat to steal anytime a base is open. He can play all three outfield spots in part thanks to a plus-plus arm. In center field, he's an above-average defender excellent coming in on balls, but he needs his speed to make up for slower reads on balls over his head. The Future: Straw's lack of power limits him, but his speed, arm, defense and bat control give him a shot to be a useful big leaguer. He'll head to spring training with a shot to make the Astros' roster.
Track Record: The Astros have long had success finding gems from junior colleges. Toro appears next in line. He earned a bump to Double-A Corpus Christi in early July after emerging as the top hitter at high Class A Buies Creek, and he followed up with a loud performance in the Arizona Fall League. Scouting Report: Toro is only a .248 career hitter, but scouts consistently cite him as one of the best hitters in Houston's system. Toro has short legs and his movements and mannerisms appear choppy and unathletic. But watch him over the course of a series or longer and it becomes apparent that he's a better athlete than he looks. Toro has some length to his swing, but he has the bat speed and whip to make it work. He projects to hit 15-20 home runs over a full season and has an average bat as well. There are many more questions defensively. He makes the routine play at third base and has an above-average arm, but his range is limited and he doesn't run well. Houston tried him at catcher in 2017, but that didn't stick. The Future: Toro's bat will determine if he becomes an everyday player or an up-and-down player. His defense likely won't cut it as a full-time bench option. He'll start 2019 back at Double-A.
Track Record: The Mets' international scouting department took the unusual step of signing Santana for $200,000 based on only one look. His bat looked that convincing. Signed just shy of his 17th birthday, Santana spent two years in the Dominican Summer League before embarking on an assignment to Rookie-level Kingsport in 2018. He hit .348 to rank fifth in the Appalachian League while placing third with a .446 on-base percentage. The Mets traded Santana, Ross Adolph and Scott Manea to the Astros for J.D. Davis and Cody Bohanek in January. Scouting Report: Santana may be 5-foot-8, but he trained in both baseball and boxing in the Dominican Republic and plays with his hair on fire. His bat-to-balls skills, fearlessness and hitting rhythm give him a ceiling of a plus hitter. Scouts marvel at his ability to be in good hitting position and on time to rifle the ball to all fields. He won't reach big home run totals, but his gap power and high contract rate will keep defenses honest. Santana is an average runner who doesn't steal many bases. He is a reliable defender at second base with average range and an average arm. The Future: Santana plays with flair and if anything will need to keep his energy focused to reach his ceiling. After an eye-opening U.S. debut, he is firmly on the organization's prospect radar as he eyes an assignment to low Class A in 2019.
Track Record: Arauz's career has already been quite eventful. He was traded from the Phillies to the Astros in the Ken Giles trade and introduced himself to his new club inauspiciously by being suspended 50 games after testing positive for methamphetamine. After an excellent first half at low Class A Midwest League, he was the worst hitter in the high Class A Carolina League in the second half of the season. Scouting Report: Arauz was viewed as more of a bat-first middle infielder who might be stretched at shortstop when he signed. Now, he's improved his glove but faces questions about how much he'll hit. At his best, Arauz shows fringe-average power to go with solid ability to manipulate the barrel. Arauz showed little ability to make adjustments from at-bat to at-bat, and when he did make contact, they were defensive swings that did no damage. Defensively, he has improved, showing a better first step and soft hands to go with excellent timing and an average arm. He is an average runner. The Future: The Astros opted not to add Arauz to the 40-man roster, taking the risk that Arauz's not-nearly-ready bat would keep teams from picking him in the Rule 5 draft. He needs to return to high Class A to work on putting together better at-bats.
Track Record: Schroeder was the best prep pitcher in the Northwest in 2018, impressing scouts with his fast arm and advanced feel for three pitches. The Astros signed him for $1.2 million to forgo a Washington commitment. Schroeder didn't pitch much after he signed, but he impressed in short stints. Scouting Report: Schroeder showed plenty of velocity and promise as an amateur, but as Astros pitchers often do, he's already throwing harder as a pro. Schroeder sat 93-95 mph and touched 97 mph for the Astros this summer in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. His fastball has plenty of life up in the zone, and he's also shown he can sink it. His curveball has also shown plenty of promise as he has an excellent feel for spinning it. While it's not consistent yet, it has the potential to be a plus strikeout pitch as he refines it. His changeup has further to go, but it is also promising. The Future: The Astros do an excellent job of taking pitchers and either adding or refining pitches. Schroeder has all the building blocks to be a potential mid-rotation starter.
Track Record: After two successful seasons at Notre Dame, Bielak more than doubled his ERA as a junior, posting a 5.55 ERA. He slid to the 11th round because of that, but quickly proved as a pro that he's better than those numbers suggest. His 2.23 ERA was the best in Houston's system in 2018. Scouting Report: It's hard for hitters to get comfortable against Bielak because he throws four pitches for strikes and has the confidence to use them in almost any count. His delivery is simple, efficient and repeatable. He challenges hitters down in the zone with a heavy, 91-94 mph fastball. Bielak works comfortably to both sides of the plate. His fastball, curveball, slider and changeup are all potentially average. The Future: Bielak has a career 1.91 ERA, but his approach is one that eats up less-experienced hitters The challenge will get tougher as he heads to Double-A Corpus Christi for an extended look.
Track Record: Ivey was a part of Texas A&M's weekend rotation as a freshman and held that role into the conference schedule. But he eventually moved to the bullpen and opted afterwards to transfer to Grayson (Texas) JC. After a rough debut, Ivey pitched to a 2.97 ERA at the Class A levels in 2018. Scouting Report: Ivey is a lanky righthander. His gangliness is magnified by his effortful delivery, which begins with an exaggerated gather. He uses a big leg kick and a high hand break and often finishes with a modest head whack. There's also some length in his takeaway, but his arm is on time and he is consistently around the zone with above-average control. Ivey is always working to get to his breaking balls. His downward-breaking curveball is a plus pitch, and his slider will flash above-average as well. Ivey relies on the breaking balls, but his 89-93 mph fastball could develop into an average pitch as well. It shows some finish when he elevates it. His low-80s changeup is a distant fourth pitch he rarely throws. The Future: Ivey has the building blocks to be a back-of-the-rotation starter, especially if he fills out and adds a tick or two to his fastball. He'll compete for a spot in Double-A Corpus Christi's rotation.
Track Record: Solomon was expected to be the Irish ace for his junior year, but instead he was moved to the bullpen after just four starts. Much like his Notre Dame and Astros teammate Brandon Bielak, the Astros were confident Solomon could be an effective starter, and so far he's rewarded that faith. Scouting Report: While he had his biggest success in college as a reliever, Solomon's well-rounded arsenal and approach works well as a starter. He doesn't have a plus pitch yet, but he has an above-average, 92-94 mph fastball that will touch higher in short stints and a 12-to-6 curveball he has a lot of trust in that will flash above-average. He's added a promising cutter as well. His changeup is a below-average pitch that he's yet to show much confidence in. Solomon's delivery is clean and he projects to have average control. The Future: The Astros have moved Solomon slower than Bielak, but he has a pretty similar profile with a little firmer stuff. Solomon has a realistic shot of reaching Double-A in 2019.
Track Record: Signed for a modest $40,000 out of Cuba in 2014, Armenteros has proven to be a reliable and durable starter. He handled the picher-destroying Pacific Coast League in 2018, going 8-1, 3.74 for Triple-A Fresno. The Astros rewarded him with a 40-man roster spot after the season. Scouting Report: Armenteros carried a little more weight in 2018 and coincidentally or not, he didn't throw as hard as he did in 2017. His fastball, which got to 93-95 mph pretty regularly last year more generally sat 90-92 mph in 2018. It played more as a fringe-average pitch as well, but what Armenteros does is use his fastball to set up an outstanding plus changeup that draws comparisons to Chris Devenski's. The pitch is Armenteros' bread-and-butter in part because his curveball and slider are below-average. The two blend together at times, but neither is sharp enough to be a weapon. The Future: Armenteros went to the Dominican Winter League and pitched well. He's ready to be a fill-in starter/long-reliever for the Astros in 2019.
Track Record: The Astros believe in drafting bats, even if sometimes there are open questions about where the hitter can play passable defense. It was true when they drafted Tyler White, Abraham Toro, Seth Beer and Matijevic. Matijevic was seen as a solid hitter, but scouts saw him as a below-average defender at first base with few other defensive options. So far, that's been an accurate assessment. Matijevic's 22 home runs in 2018 with high Class A Buies Creek were third-most among Astros farmhands, but his defense remains a question. Scouting Report: Matijevic has an all-power, all-the-time approach as he looks for balls to hit over the fence. He makes it work with an eye to get pitches to hit, and he did show a better approach as the season wore on. Matijevic has plus power potential, but his sellout approach means it comes with below-average hitting ability. He has to do damage at the plate because Matijevic fits best as a designated hitter. A fringe-average runner, Matijevic's defense in left field is below-average at best and some scouts slap a 30 grade on it. He does have an average, accurate arm. The Future: Matijevic will head to Double-A Corpus Christi looking to work on improving his defense. If he can improve to fringe-average, he would be able to make a much better case for a big league job.
Track Record: After missing time with Tommy John surgery, Deetz was a teammate of fellow Astros draftee and now A's outfielder Ramon Laureano at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M JC. The Astros added Deetz to their 40-man roster before the 2017 season and kept him there even after he was suspended 80 games for testing positive for a PED. Deetz made his MLB debut as a September callup. Scouting Report: Deetz is the epitome of a wild, hard-throwing, power reliever. He attacks hitters with a plus-plus, 94-99 mph fastball and a plus, 85-88 mph slider. Deetz can toy with the break and depth of his slider. When he's trying to finish off a hitter it will dive out of the zone, but he can also tighten it up for a shorter break when he's trying to keep it in the zone. Deetz's control is often as wild as his stuff is impressive. He walked 5.1 batters per nine innings last season, and overall he has firmly below-average control. The Future: Scouts see potential for a high-leverage role, but Deetz's control troubles mean he's still a risky bet. The Astros currently have a very deep bullpen, so he's stuck battling for a spot in 2019.
Track Record: Pena grew up around the game as the son of longtime Cardinals second baseman Geronimo Pena. He has a chance to be an even better defender than his father. At Maine, Pena was the team's shortstop from the day he arrived to the day he was drafted in the third round by the Astros. His bat steadily improved in his time with the Black Bears, but even as a junior he was primarily a singles hitter, something that was also true in his pro debut. He walked nearly as much as he struck out but posted an .059 isolated power mark before going down with a leg injury at short-season Tri-City. Scouting Report: Pena immediately became one of the best defensive shortstops in Houston's organization. He made 10 errors in 36 games at Tri-City, but he has good hands, smooth actions and an above-average arm. He projects as an above-average defender at shortstop. Pena is also an above-average runner and an adept basestealer. As a hitter, Pena doesn't try to do too much, as he looks to spray hits and work counts. He understands a walk is a useful part of his offensive game, but he's a bottom-of-the-order hitter who doesn't make pitchers sweat because of well below-average power. The Future: Pena will jump to low Class A. His glove is an asset, but he'll work to improve at the plate.
Track Record: McKenna has a lengthy track record of being a productive hitter. He hit .347 over his final two seasons at Cal Poly and also showed he could handle a wood bat by hitting .298 in the Cape Cod League in the summer before his junior season. That feel to hit was also apparent in his pro debut. Scouting Report: McKenna is the kind of well-rounded player who gets the most out of a solid but unspectacular set of tools. He's strong, athletic and an above-average runner. The Astros will have to help him unlock power that isn't always as apparent in games as it is during batting practice. McKenna has a high handset and a modest load to start his swing with an all-fields contact-oriented approach, but he can show off above-average raw power when he really squares one up. Defensively, McKenna is reliable in all three outfield spots and has a solid-average arm, but his range is a little limited for center field. The Future: McKenna is the kind of player who sometimes exceeds expectations. If his power develops, he could be a regular. If not, he has enough athleticism and hitting ability to be a fourth outfielder.
Track Record: Signed for a modest $50,000, Ramirez has quickly proven to be an astute signing. Pitching in Houston's tandem-starter system, he allowed zero or one run in eight of his 12 outings, but when he struggled, he really struggled, leading to an inflated 4.76 ERA in the Gulf Coast League. Scouting Report: Ramirez is undersized without much room to fill out further, but his arm strength is big league-caliber. He already has a plus, 95-97 mph fastball that can blow hitters away. He generates velocity from a compact, fluid motion. His inexperience is much more apparent when he breaks off his curveball. He flashes an ability to spin it, but his control of the breaking ball wavers and he mixes loopy, slow curves with harder, tighter, power breakers. Ramirez's control also has a ways to go, but with his delivery, he has the building blocks to develop at least average control. The Future: Ramirez is far from Houston, but he has the foundation and arm of a future power reliever. He'll likely begin the 2019 season in extended spring training.
Track Record: When Guduan signed with the Astros, Ed Wade was still the team's general manager, and Jose Altuve had yet to play a game in full-season ball. It's been a long road from there to here, but Guduan has managed to make 25 appearances for the Astros over the past two seasons. Scouting Report: There is no subtlety to Guduan's approach. He attacks hitters with a 95-98 mph plus fastball from the left side. There's not much of a Plan B. He has improved his confidence and feel for his sweepy slider, which is an average pitch, but he struggles to locate both. At this point, it's hard to envision Guduan developing even fringe-average control, as his scouting report (outstanding fastball, below-average control) is the same as when he signed nearly 10 years ago. The Future: Guduan's control troubles keep him from filling a high-leverage role, but the quality of his arm will keep giving him chances. He fits best in a more modest relief job.
Track Record: Adolph tied a Toledo school record with 15 home runs as a junior in 2018, when the Mets made him a 12th-round pick. He played above his draft status in his pro debut by ranking third in the short-season New York-Penn League in slugging (.509) and OPS (.857). The Mets traded Adolph, Luis Santana and Scott Manea to the Astros for J.D. Davis and Cody Bohanek in January. Scouting Report: Adolph showed a discerning eye in college and began unlocking power as he put in time in the weight room. He hit all seven of his home runs in his pro debut on the road, away from Brooklyn, a notoriously tough park for lefthanded power. He led the NYPL with 13 triples, an indicator of his plus speed and ability to drive the ball to the gaps. Adolph is the system's best defensive outfielder thanks to all-out abandon, plus athleticism and above-average range in center field. He uses his speed to steal bases effectively The Future: The Mets were excited by what they saw from Adolph in his pro debut. If he can develop an average bat with average power, he could have a long career as an extra outfielder or possible starter. He's ready for full-season ball in 2019.
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