Houston Astros 2021 Pre-Season Top 50 Prospects

Fifty Astros' prospects...gulp...listed for dynasty owners.

As we prepare for the season ahead, the Pitcher List staff will be creating profiles for every fantasy-relevant player for 2021. Players will be broken up by team and role through starting pitchers, bullpen, lineup, and prospects. You can access every article as it comes out in our Player Profiles 2021 hub here.

 

Brutal. This is an absolutely brutal system to figure out in regards to dynasty rank, especially if you don’t care for pitching prospects who struggle to throw strikes, hitters who lack contact skills, and/or “tweener” pitchers in hard-to-project future roles. This list may be my dirtiest Pitcher List endeavor yet. That’s not to say it isn’t talented, because it is, it’s just not a fun place for dynasty speculation.

Complicating things for dynasty owners, Houston deploys a tandem starter development program, which often includes former closers trying their hands as starters or multiple inning guys. They also like arms big and wild, with far less weight put on strike-throwing ability, which is far from the type of pitching prospect I’m attracted to. They have also attained very tooled-up hitting prospects with significant contact problems, which is again, not my cup of tea.

Frankly, this system is a nightmare for dynasty owners. It is better suited for a real-life organization. As we saw in 2020, the Astros were able to piece together an amazing performance by rookie pitching, helping them get to and advance in the playoffs. It seems the Astros bet on their ability to develop, which is fair, but not so much fun for us.

The conviction I have for the numbers next to these players is very low. In my opinion, you could throw a dozen guys in a hat and draw the number one prospect. Throw the next twenty-five in a randomizer and it may be wiser than what I have here. There are big leaguers in here, but the waters are murky. Proximity and squinting to see everyday players…these were my guiding lights.

Forrest Whitley…despite being the number one prospect in this organization for years by most, is not for me. I don’t see the use of owning him other than potential trade fodder, and that is not something I want to include in my list attempting to prioritize actual dynasty value. He can’t throw strikes and serves as my contemporary cautionary tale on investing heavily in prep pitching prospects.

There are a handful of prospects I find to be better options for dynasty owners here, again though, not by much, and I’m far from slamming my fist on the table over anything. If I sound like I’m excited about anyone, it’s in a deeper league sense.

 

(* means the player is currently on the 40-man roster)

 

1. RHP Tyler Ivey*

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: Double-A (TL)

A 2017 third-round pick out of JC (TX) (spent his freshman season at Texas A&M), Ivey has produced gaudy pro numbers. In 46 Double-A IP, he gave up only 8 ER, striking out 61 while only walking 16. At 6’4″ and 195 pounds, with a high spin fastball sitting mid-90s, an above-average curveball, throwing in some developing changeups and sliders, the foundation of a starting pitcher is there. Ivey does have durability concerns and a funky delivery he’ll have to push through. As with every pitcher listed here, the possibility of a bullpen role is there, but the strike-throwing and late riding fastball/plus curveball combo may be the most attractive profile here for dynasty owners. A profile like this being this high on the list….yeah, this is tricky.

ETA: 2021

 

2. CIF/COF Taylor Jones*

 

Age: 27

Highest Level: MLB

A 2016 19th round pick out of Gonzaga, the 6’7″, 225-pound hitter got his first taste of the bigs in 2020, going 4 for 21 with a HR. Jones is athletic for his size, capable of playing a plus 1B and a fine COF or 3B. Jones was initially a pitcher at Gonzaga, so he has the big arm in the field. Offensively, Jones ran into his power during Double-A and Triple-A breakouts in 2018 and 2019.  Jones is a patient hitter who will draw walks, but his length may lead to some swing and miss. I do not advocate an aggressive dynasty approach, but a player with offensive upside who may have a chance to carve out an everyday role soon is good enough for me in this spot.

ETA: 2020 debut

 

3. SS Jeremy Pena

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: Single-A+ (Car)

Pena (6′, 202 pounds) has made developmental strides since drafted out of Maine in the 3rd round of the 2018 MLB draft. He’s added strength and offense. The son of former big-leaguer Geronimo Pena may be gearing up for a big-league debut after an impressive 2020 DWL where he hit .306 with 3 HR and 7 SB in 121 AB. Pena is a solid defensive shortstop whose offense has exceeded expectations. Pena is an above-average runner who may swipe some bags with questionable power starting to show up some. Whether or not he’s everyday caliber or major league bench type is YTD, but reports from fall instructs were positive he’s carving out a chance. Pena has improved every season as a pro and I’m anxious to see if 2021 unlocks another level of development. Dynasty owners may have an ascending player here, but it’s hard to tell what the ceiling is at this point. What once seemed like a potentially better real-life over fantasy player is starting to interest dynasty owners more.

ETA: 2021-22

 

4. C Korey Lee

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Short Season (NYP)

The 32nd pick of 2019 draft out of Cal, Lee may be proving the Astros’ hunch that there was everyday catcher material in him true, which was not the consensus at the time. At an athletic 6’2″, 210 pounds, with a big arm and some pop to go with it, Lee may prove fantasy worthy. Reports were positive from instructs; he may be knocking on the door of bigger opportunities.

ETA: 2023-24

 

5. OF Chas McCormick*

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: Triple-A (PCL)

The 2017 21st-round pick out of Division II is knocking on the big league’s door. The 6′, 208-pound outfielder has proven himself at upper levels and even made the postseason roster in 2020, but did not appear. McCormick spent the 2020 winter in La LIDOM, going 7-for-26 with 1 SB. In 2019 McCormick walked more than he struck out between Double-A and Triple-A. With an advanced approach, high contact skills, average power, plus defense in the corner outfields, and capable of playing a fine center field, McCormick has blossomed into a great fourth outfielder candidate who could push for more if the offensive production continues. Steals may never be a big part of McCormick’s game, but he’s able to chip in some. There is an interesting asset in deep leagues here, especially those playing specific outfield positions.

ETA: 2021

 

6. RHP Forrest Whitley*

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: Triple-A (PCL)

It’s been three years since Whitley has looked like a future ace. Three years as the consensus Astros’ number one prospect. Three years of other Astros’ pitching prospects leaping him into MLB success. The 6’7″, 238-pound former prep (TX) pitching prospect has the raw makings of a major league starting pitcher…except maybe one vitally important one: control. There have been numerous other chapters in the saga; performance-enhancing drugs, injury, and flashes of brilliance, but the control issues have remained there. The truth is, at 23, you have probably well passed the prime developmental years, and it’s time to call a spade a spade. I still have hope the raw stuff will land Whitley a major league role, maybe even as a reliever, but if it wasn’t for a lack of better options, I’d have him buried even further. Whitley is not a dynasty owner’s best bet in this system and probably never was. The Astros bet on their ability to develop here and may have lost.

ETA: 2021

 

7. IF Grae Kessinger

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: Single-A (MWL)

The Astros selected the Ole Miss shortstop with the 68th pick of the 2019 draft. Kessinger had a great collegiate career but may be capped as a pro. He is 6’2″ and 204 pounds and capable of playing anywhere in the dirt, he may be best suited for 2B or 3B because of limited range. Kessinger does not possess any extraordinarily loud tools, but he does have a knack for making hard contact. Kessinger’s raw power is limited to probably below average. Kessinger isn’t a burner and isn’t blessed with over-the-top athleticism, but he is lauded as being a “ballplayer.” Perhaps best suited for a utility role in the majors, the hit tool could carry him further as a high-OBP, top-of-the-lineup second baseman.

ETA: 2021-22

 

8. MIF Luis Santana

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: Double-A (TL)

Santana, a 2016 Dominican J2 signee, has been on my dynasty watchlist for a few seasons now, after putting three seasons worth of gaudy rookie league numbers up in the Mets organization. Santana was sent to Houston as part of the J.D. Davis trade in 2019. At 5’8″ and 175 pounds, Santana doesn’t possess, nor probably ever will, much power, but he is a projectable-plus major league hitter. A fine runner, but steals may never be a part of his game and defensively he is probably best suited for 2B. The Astros gave him an aggressive assignment to start 2019 as a 19-year-old in Double-A. It only lasted 18 games, though, and he was sent to Class-A Short Season. I’m anxious to see where Santana is developmentally in 2021.

ETA: 2023

 

9. RHP Bryan Abreu*

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: MLB

A Dominican 2013 J2 signee, the 6’1″, 204-pound righty struggled in a brief 3.1 MLB IP 2020 showing, to the tune of 7 walks. Abreu’s greatest assets are two breaking balls, with the slider being a plus-plus offering. Control is a problem, though. If Abreu can harness and control his stuff, adding the breaking balls to his mid-90s fastball and a little-used changeup arsenal, there is a MLB starter here, but that may be a big if.

ETA: 2019 debut

 

10. SS/3B Freudis Nova*

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: Single-A- (MWL)

2021 may be a crossroads for Nova. The 2016 J2 signee out of the DR has long been billed as a 5-tooled prospect, but the 6’1″, 190-pound shortstop seems to have lost his shine. Reports from instructs have questioned if his athleticism has been tamed as the speed has gone away with some growth, and if the approach and pitch recognition is there for major league success. Nova is not a refined hitter and if the other tools are not there in spades, it’s going to be a tough road for the 21-year-old.

ETA: 2021-22

 

11. 2B Shay Whitcomb

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: N/A

Another small school prospect out of Division II UC-San Diego, the 6’3″, 200-pound infielder was the last pick of the 2020 draft. Whitcomb turned scouts’ heads when he hit .303/.371/.606 with 8 HR during the 2019 Cape Cod season. Whitcomb has above-average power, is an average runner, and probably best suited defensively at second base. He’ll have to prove the hit tool against better competition, but if it shows, Whitcomb could become an attractive investment for dynasty owners.

ETA: 2022-23

 

12. OF Colin Barber

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: Rookie (GCL)

Barber was a 2019 4th-round pick out of HS (CA) who is starting to get some attention. 2019 was a nice debut, hitting .263 with 2 HR and 19 walks to 29 K in 99 AB. Barber was the youngest player at Houston’s alternative site in 2020 and also participated in fall instructs.  At 6′ and 194 pounds with a fast bat, plus defense in center, a lot of contact, and a little speed, Barber is an intriguing projectable prospect.  Strikeouts are a concern, but still a work in progress and there may be some misleading strikeout ratios.

ETA: 2023

 

13. MIF Dauri Lorenzo

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: N/A

A 2019 J2 signing out of DR, the 6′, 195-pound Lorenzo reportedly held his own during fall instructs. He is lauded for a mature and advanced approach and able to make a lot of contact. Even with growth to come, he doesn’t project for a ton of power. Lorenzo possesses solid speed and a decent arm. He is probably best suited for 2B, but I’m eager to see him in 2021 after the long layoff and physical growth.

ETA: 2025

 

14. OF Zach Daniels

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: N/A

Daniels was a tooled-up collegiate player waiting to break out and the shortened 2020 may have been the beginning, as he was on a 3/4/7 slash run. The Astros added another talented but lacking contact skills player in the 4th round out of Tennessee. He is 6’1″ and 210 pounds with plus raw power, plus-plus speed, and athletic. It’s an enticing package for dynasty owners if the swing-and-miss concerns can tamper as a pro.

ETA: 2022-23

 

15. OF Pedro Leon

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: N/A

The Astros didn’t have a lot of money committed to this year’s J2 class, so they reached a $4 million deal with a Cuban lacking a lot of pro experience. A muscular 5’9″ and 185 pounds and reported to possess plenty of raw power, there is lots of uncertainty surrounding Leon. I have a little skepticism given how some recent older Cuban signings have faired for some organizations and given the profile of hitter the Astros seem to be going after. I will not invest at all in Leon during this FYPD season. That being said, he can still turn into a big dynasty asset. I just need to see him play more.

ETA: 2022-23

 

16. RHP Tyler Brown

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: N/A

Brown was a successful closer at Vanderbilt and the 3rd-round pick of the Astros during this June’s draft. At 6’4″ and 242 pounds, Brown may be stretched out as a pro. He wasn’t a traditional power closer in college, with a fastball sitting low-90s and average to above-average secondary offerings, including a slider, changeup, and curve. I imagine he will be thrown into the Astros’ tandem starter program, and without a pro look, projecting what may be had here for dynasty owners is tricky.

ETA: 2023

 

17. RHP Shawn Dubin

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: Single-A+ (CAR)

I love the small school guys and Dubin was definitely that as a 2018 13th-round pick out of NAIA Georgetown (KY). In 2019, at Single-A+ Fayetteville, Dubin tossed 132 Ks in 98.2 IP. Possessing a 92-96 mph fastball, a big slider, solid curve, an OK change, with fringe-average control, he may be better suited for the pen at the highest level. Dubin’s delivery is unorthodox, which may lead to the fringe control problems, but I have contemplated picking him up several times in my 30 team leagues. He is perhaps a very deep league think for dynasty owners. If a big-league shot is coming, I imagine it is soon.

ETA: 2021-22

 

18. OF Jordan Brewer

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: Short Season (NYP)

Brewer was a standout at Michigan and the Astros took the 6’1″, 195-pound outfielder with their 3rd-round pick in 2019. Brewer’s pro debut was only 19 games in 2019, as he needed knee surgery 16 games into the season.  Brewer is another power-speed threat in this organization, but he is a project at the plate, probably needing a swing change to find success. If Brewer starts to produce like a pro, he will gain quick fantasy appeal.

ETA: 2022

 

19. OF Kenedy Corona

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: Short Season (NYP)

Corona, along with Blake Taylor, was traded for Jake Marisnick last winter. A 2019 signing of the Mets who played stateside during his pro debut, Corona put up impressive numbers in the GCL, slashing .311/.401/.483 with 5 HR in 151 AB. He also went 7-for-22, including a HR in the Venezuelan winter league while almost 8 years young for the league. Corona was not a highly touted international signing, but it appears maybe he should have been. Corona is one of the biggest pop-up names for me from the 2019 J2 class. He is very under the radar, as some outlets don’t even have his position correct, and I want to see more in 2021.

ETA: 2022-23

 

20. RHP Peter Solomon*

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: Single-A+

We haven’t seen Solomon since early 2019 as he needed Tommy John surgery, but he had started to look like a viable major league option. Taken in the 4th round of the 2017 draft out of Notre Dame, Solomon showed well in his first full-season go, tossing 100.2 IP with a 1.093 WHIP, sub-3 BB/9, and 10+ K/9. Solomon is another attempt by the Astros to stretch out a college closer, but with his mid-90s riding fastball, a decent curve, and few other fringy secondary pitches, perhaps he can start. A talented arm, but tough to gauge how he may help dynasty owners and how he may come back in 2021.

ETA: 2021-22

 

21. RHP Valente Bellozo

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: Single-A (MWL)

Bellozo was a 2017 J2 signing out of Mexico and has an impressive pro career thus far, posting a 1.72 ERA across 110 IP. Bellozo is small at 5’10” and 170 pounds, which doesn’t seem to bother the Astros as they have lots of smaller pitching prospects. Bellozo is an oasis for plus control and command in this system. Bellozo induces a lot of weak contact and has yet to give up a HR. I’m looking forward to seeing him, hopefully in the upper levels in 2021.

 

ETA: 2022

 

22. RHP Alex Santos

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: N/A

Santos is a tough fantasy asset to gauge. We know a prep pitcher, especially a 2nd-round prep pitcher, is rarely worth the risk. Throw on top the fact Santos is a northern prep (NY) pitcher who hasn’t been the most visible prospect, it’s even trickier. At 6’3″, 215-pounds, he has a projectable starter’s frame. Without a lot of looks, there is a debate where his fastball currently sits, but he did throw with Rapsodo technology and the Astros must have liked what they saw taking him with the 72nd pick in this June’s draft. Santos as has a developing changeup and curve. The range of outcomes is huge and I’m just gonna sit him here until I know more.

ETA: 2025

 

23. OF Ross Adolph

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: Single-A+

Another part of the J.D. Davis trade, the Mets 12th-round pick in 2018 out of Toledo has all the goods, except the one the Astros seem to ignore (or try and develop) contact skills. Strikeouts are a problem, but there is a legit power/speed threat in there. His plus-plus speed and strong arm make him an exciting defensive centerfield prospect as well. His 6’1″, 203-pound frame and swing probably have more pop than his minor league numbers suggest, but he needs to put more bat on the ball.

ETA: 2022

 

24. RHP Brett Conine

 

Age24

Highest Level: Double-A (TL)

Conine may be a success story from Houston’s attempts of taking college closers and turning them into short starters, or multi-inning opener types. It’s hard to say exactly what the future entails for a lot of their pitching prospects. A 2018 11th-round pick out of CS-Fullerton, the 6’3″, 210-pound righty deploys a nice four-pitch mix, including a 90-95 mph fastball, solid curve, and some fringe offerings in a changeup and a slider. Conine throws strikes, unlike a lot of pitchers in the system. The combo of plus control and pitch mix could land him in the backend of the rotation someday.

ETA: 2021

 

 

 

25. RHP Jairo Solis*

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: Single-A- (MWL)

Solis is a 2016 J2 signee out of Venezuela. The 6’2″, 209-pound righty needed Tommy John surgery and did not play in 2019, so 2021 will be a long-awaited look at a young pitcher lauded for his polish. Before his injury, Solis’ fastball sat mid-90s. He also offered an above-average changeup, a curve, and a slider. Like most young developing pitchers, strike-throwing was an issue at times, but here is a talented arm 2021 will tell us a lot about.

ETA: 2023

 

26. 1B/OF/DH Rainier Rivas

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: Rookie (GCL)

A 2017 J2 signee out of Venezuela by the Angels, Rivas was part of the 2019 Max Stassi trade. That season, he slashed .344/.429/.471 across three teams/leagues. Rivas is a 6’3″, 220-pound power lefty and DH-type who could maybe get by at 1B. The power is raw and hasn’t shown up as a pro yet, but reports indicate that it’s in there. Rivas will have to produce at a very high clip to make the majors and avoid the high strikeout rates which often plague young power hitters, which he has done well against older competition thus far.

ETA: 2024

 

27. COF Matthew Barefoot

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Short Season (NYP)

A 2019 6th-round choice out of Campbell, Barefoot, at 6′ and 205 pounds, is a bat-first prospect with a plus hit tool, which is rare in these parts. Barefoot does have an unconventional swing that produces fringy power, though. A below-average runner and being limited to left field narrows his path even more. His 2019 pro debut only consisted of 23 games, so I’m anxious to catch a look at this bat in 2021.

ETA: 2024

 

28. COF/1B Justin Dirden

 

Age: 23 

Highest Level: N/A

The undrafted 2020 signee out of SE Missouri St. caught my attention during the abbreviated 2020 college season, hitting 9 HR during a 29-for-70 start. The 6’3″, 215-pound Dirden doesn’t have a long track record after missing the majority of 2019 with a wrist injury. Dirden is a patient hitter, taking his walks. Selling out at times to tap into the big raw power, Dirden does have some swing and miss to his game. An average runner at best, Dirden may be confined to corner outfield duties or maybe even first base. Lots of ways it could go as a pro, but I’ll be watching.

ETA: 2023-24

 

29. RHP Hunter Brown

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Short Season (NYP)

The 2019 5th-round pick out of Division II Wayne State stood out during instructs. At 6’2″ and 203 pounds, with a mid-to-upper 90s fastball touching triple digits and a hard plus curveball, Brown has some electric makings of a major league pitcher. Toss in a developing slider and change, and maybe there is a big-league starter to be had. Brown’s control is well below average, though, adding another tease of a dynasty prospect in the mix here.

ETA: 2022

 

30. RHP Jairo Lopez

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: Short Season (NYP)

The 2017 J2 signee out of Venezuela has put up some gaudy pro numbers. In 2019 the 5’11” 150 lb Lopez had a 1.41 ERA across 51 IP with 61 Ks. Another example of the Astros not putting too much weight in the size of the pitcher and weight into the loud stuff. Lopez has a big fastball sitting mid-90s, a plus curve, and developing changeup, an arsenal perhaps capable of starting on the regular, but for now, he is part of the tandem development. Walks have not been out of control, but it remains to be seen if the max effort delivery leads to more of them down the road.

ETA: 2023

 

31. RHP Blair Henley

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: Short Season (NYP)

Henley had a very impressive 2019 pro debut after being selected in the 7th round out of Texas. In 36.2 IP, mostly out of the bullpen, as he is being developed as such, the 6’3″ 190-pound righty only gave up 6 ER while striking out 12.27/9 and walking just 8 batters. Henley was a solid three-year starter in college featuring a slider gaining 3K+ rpm.  But as his arsenal may be capped at his low-90s fastball and a plus slider, a potential high-leverage reliever may be in the making.

ETA: 2023

 

32. RHP Jojanse Torres

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: Single-A+(Car)

6’1″ 185 pounds and signed at 22 years old out of the Dominican Republic, Torres’ fastball regularly touches 100 mph. He has a good feel for his changeup which has a good velocity differential. The breaking ball is inconsistent and he needs to command and control better to push as a big-league late-inning power arm. Torres has been pitching older than the competition given the course of his career, so hopefully, we get to see him against more of his age peers in 2021.

ETA: 2022

 

33. RHP Manny Ramirez

 

Age21

Highest Level: Single-A- (MWL)

The Astros signed another smaller pitcher with loud stuff during the 2017 J2 period out of the Dominican Republic, the 5’11” 170 lb Ramirez. Consistency is an issue as he has varied from being unhittable to out-of-hand outings. Ramirez’s fastball sits 95-97, but he lacks feel and command for a breaking ball. There may be a chance for average control, but Ramirez remains a project pitcher with a big fastball for now.

ETA: 2023

 

34. OF Bryan de la Cruz

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: Double-A (TL)

de la Cruz may have a chance to squeak into the bigs. The former 2013 J2 signee out of the Dominican Republic has proved himself at upper levels and possesses a hit tool capable of making him a fourth outfielder type asset. His 6’2″ 175-pound frame doesn’t pack much punch though, and he’s more of a top-of-the-lineup, high-contact hopeful who lacks big speed. de la Cruz could maybe chip in some steals, but it’s not gonna be a big part of his game.

ETA: 2021-22

 

35. RHP Austin Hansen

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: Single-A+ (Car)

An 8th-round pick out of Oklahoma during the 2018 draft, Hansen has put up some good pro numbers. In 2019, while in single-A+ Fayetteville he went 13.07 K/9, but also walked 5.5/9. He features a low to mid-90s fastball that can tick up to 98 in short stints. His strikeout pitch is a wipeout slider. Hansen also tosses in a curve and change which both leave much to be desired. 6′ 195 pounds, Hansen is another one of these tweener pitchers in the system probably best suited for relief work, as he is mostly a two-pitch pitcher with command issues to work on.

ETA: 2022

 

36. RHP Nivaldo Rodriguez*

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: MLB

Rodriguez was pushed into some big league innings in 2020 he probably wasn’t ready for. The 2016 J2 signing out of Venezuela has been lauded for his good control but it escaped him during his 8.2 MLB IP. Rodriguez lacks a plus pitch but the mix of his 91-95 mph fastball and the above-average slider has brought him success. The third pitch, a changeup, is not a big-league pitch, so Rodriguez may be capped as a two-pitch relief pitcher.

ETA: 2020 debut

 

37. OF Jose Siri

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: Triple-A (IL)

The 6’2″ 175-pound Siri has come with a five-tool dream since signing during the 2012 J2 period out of the DR by the Reds. The Reds gave up their Siri dream, the Mariners and Giants also picked him up on waivers for a look and the Astros seem set to try their hand at the project next. Siri’s strikeout rates are through the rough, and his 100% sell-out approach caps him as a hitter. The Astros seem to believe they can work with these types. I’m skeptical.

ETA: 2021-22

 

38. C Juan Santander

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: N/A

Santander is a 2019 J2 signing out of Venezuela yet to make his pro debut. A big catcher at 6’2″ 190 lb, Santander will need to watch his size. The appeal for dynasty owners is his offensive projectability, as he could have some big raw power with a developing hit tool. There will be plenty of time to watch and find out before making any sort of commitment.

ETA: 2026

 

39. 2B Enmanuel Valdez

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Single-A+ (CAR)

Valdez, a 2015 J2 signing out of the Dominican Republic had a great 33 games in 2019 single-A-, then scuffled some after a promotion to single-A+. There isn’t a lot of pop in his 5’9″ 171-pound frame, but he makes hard contact and doesn’t strikeout an obscene amount. Valdez is a good runner, but it remains to be seen if stolen bases will be a big part of his game. Probably limited it second base because of a mediocre arm, Valdez is a name to watch as he gets another shot at upper levels.

ETA: 2022

 

40. C Nathan Perry

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: Short Season (NYP)

A 2017 5th-round prep catcher (VA) started to get some attention in 2019. The 6’2″ 195-pound Perry hit .244 with 12 HR in 234 AB. Perry’s work defensively is questionable, but he may be a left-handed bat on the rise. There are some swing and miss concerns but he has a nice approach and will take some walks. The defense will have to improve or the bat will really have to take off for Perry to become a dynasty asset.

ETA: 2024

 

41. RHP Angel Macuare

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: Short Season (NYP)

The 6’2″ 188 lb 2016 J2 out of Venezuela has a big fastball and a big WHIP in 100 pro IP. Another young arm with big stuff being developed in the tandem starter plan, we’ll have to see what 2021 brings.

ETA: 2023

 

42. 1B J.J. Matijevic

 

Age25

Highest Level: Double-A (TL)

The 75th pick of the 2017 draft out of Arizona feels like a quadruple-A type at this point. The 6′ 206-pound first base/DH type has plus power potential but sells out for it, shown by his 97 K in 281 double-A AB. Matijevic will have to completely mash or adjust his approach to make a path.

 

43. OF Alex McKenna

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: Single-A- (MWL)

McKenna has had a pretty pedestrian pro career since being made the Astros’ 2018 4th round out pick out of Cal Poly. Nicely sized at 6’2″ 200 pounds, McKenna has struggled with strikeouts. If he can gain a better approach and clean up the swing and miss there may be a chance to carve out a fourth outfielder type role.

ETA: 2022

 

44. 3B Joe Perez

 

Age21

Highest Level: Short Season (NYP)

2021 is probably the make or break year for the 2017 2nd-round prep (FL). A strong 6’2″ 215 lb strong-armed 3B lauded for his plus raw power has only 192 pro games under his belt because of injury. He struggled in fifty 2019 short season games hitting .188 with 7 HR striking out 54 times in 181 AB. We’ll see if the extended chance at some development came in 2020 or not.

ETA: 2023

 

45. RHP Joe Record

 

Age: 26

Highest Level: Single-A+ (FSL)

A 2020 minor league Rule 5 selection from the Twins who drafted him during the 28th round of the 2017 draft out of UC- Santa Barbara. The 6’3″ 232-pound relief pitcher struck out 52 batters in 46.2 2019 Florida State League IP while keeping the walks down to 2.89/9. Record will have to prove durability and the power stuff playing at higher levels to have a chance.

ETA: 2022

 

46. LHP Juan Pablo Lopez

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Single-A- (MWL)

Signed out of Mexico in 2016 the 6’4″ 170-pound lefty (which is very rare in this system) had a bit of a breakout in 2019. In 54 NYP league IP, he used his fastball/curve combo to a tune of 9.44 K/9 2.98 BB/9. Another pitcher in this system hard to decipher as far as future role, but with only a two-pitch arsenal, the bullpen may be the best fit.

ETA: 2022

 

47. RHP Jayson Schroeder

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: Single-A- (MWL)

Schroeder is another former prep (WA) draftee in this system whose career has not gone as hoped. The Astros made him their 2nd-round pick in 2018. At 6’2″ 195 pounds, he has a nice frame to start games, but he’s only logged 43 pro IP thus far and there is a grotesque 9.62 BB/9 attached to those.  Schroeder’s fastball sits 93-95, ticking to 97.  His curve could be above average and his changeup is developing. Schroeder is another on the long list of Astros’ pitchers hard for dynasty owners to gauge, but until the walks come down and he gets on the mound more, we don’t need to worry about it.

ETA:  2024

 

48. OF Richi Gonzalez

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: Rookie (DSL)

Gonzalez is a nice-sized kid; 6’3″ 185 pounds, strong build.  A 2019 J2 signee out of the Dominican Republic, there is power speed projectability here, but the swing is raw and ill-sequenced, at least the video I have seen, which admittedly, I don’t know the age of. Gonzalez is a name I will be watching though, as the athleticism and bat speed is intriguing.

ETA: 2025

 

49. RHP Seth Martinez

 

Age: 26

Highest Level: Double-A (TL)

The 6’2″ 200-pound Martinez was another minor league Rule 5 selection this December from A’s.  The former 17th-round pick out of Arizona St. showed well during 28.2 IP of Double-A ball in 2019. Martinez will continue to push for MLB consideration as a bullpen arm.

ETA: 2021

 

50. RHP Willy Collado

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: Double-A (TL)

Collado is a 2016 signee out of the Dominican Republic.  His 10.74 K/9 and 2.88 BB/9 over 146.2 relief pro appearances are impressive. We will have to see if he can maintain production as he continues to try his hand at upper levels, but if he does, he may start to become a major league bullpen possibility, and relatively soon.

ETA: 2021-22

 

Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire | Design by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)

Nate Handy

Nate enjoys picking up the prospect scraps, turning over rocks to share what muddy treats he can find. Residing high up the Rocky Mountains with his wife and children, trying to stay cool, getting a broader view. A fan of the underappreciated, overlooked and disregarded. A true mud person trying to make informed mistakes.

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