John Sickles top 20 Astros prospect list

This is John's list as posted on


1.Jason Hirsh, RHP, Grade A-

2.Troy Patton, LHP, Grade B+

3.Hunter Pence, OF, B+

4.Jimmy Barthmaier, RHP, B+

5.Fernando Nieve, RHP, B

6.Brian Bogusevic, LHP, B

7.Eli Iorg, OF, B

8.Ben Zobrist, SS, B-

9.Felipe Paulino del Guidice, RHP, C+

10.Matt Albers, RHP, C+

11.Justin Towles, C, C+

12.Juan Gutierrez, RHP, C+

13.Koby Clemens, 3B, C+

14.Chance Douglass, RHP, C+

15.Josh Flores, OF, C+

16.Brooks Conrad, 2B, C+

17.Luke Scott, OF, C

18.Tommy Manzella, SS, C

19.Mitch Einertson, OF, C

20.Ralph Henriquez, C, C

This is a system with an intriguing top tier but less depth than the most elite systems. Hirsh took a huge step forward last year and I personally believe he will be able to maintain his progress. Patton looks great to me, granted all the standard young pitcher caveats. Barthmaier is underappreciated.
Hitting talent in this system has questions. Pence has impeccable statistics but will have to prove himself against advanced pitching. Iorg is very toolsy but there are doubts about his ability against higher-level breaking balls. Zobrist has played well but has been moved too conservatively through the system. . .we're not exactly sure how good he really is.

Keep an eye on Grade C+ guys like Albers, Towles, and Douglass, all capable of taking major steps forward soon.

And this is my opinion of the list.

Overall the system has improved in the last two drafts. As far as being graded this system takes too much of a hit for not progressing players through the minors fast enough. I think it is a need by need basis that they use. They want to keep confidence in the players and develop in the lower levels. This is evident when they draft a 3 year college player and in the first full year they do great ending in high A, then they are said to be too old because they will be 23 at the begining of next season. At what speed should they progress then? First season at Rookie ball then the next at low and high A seems fine to me.

I think that Nieve, Conrad, Flores, Zobrist, and Scott are undervalued and graded. I did not think of Scott as still a prospect and if I graded him he would have been near the top of position players. He could be one of the best fourth outfielders in the game if not a starter on a club this year.

Nieve dropped too much after giving up 92 hits in 82Ip at AAA. All other numbers were great.

All in all there are many players that have something to prove this season in the 10-30 range that could be average, good, or great. I do think that the top 5 or 6 guys have tremendous potential and expect them to be very good major leagers in the coming years.

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