The Astros have a nice mix of young, ultra talented outfield prospects drafted out of Georgia high schools and older, more polished college outfielders. Guys like Jay Austin and Telvin Nash are young and have time to progress. College guys like Adam Bailey and Jacob Goebbert are more polished, but have shorter prospect time-frames. Austin Wates is the perfect combination of the two groups. He is young and "toolsy." And he also has college experience. Add another category: young guys signed out of the Domincan Republic. We are all familiar with Ariel Ovando, but another guy, Emilio King, seems determined to make a name for himmself this season.
Emilio King is an outfielder who was drafted out of the Dominican Republic in 2006. Recently, he has made a splash in Lexington by smacking 5 hits, including two homeruns and a double in his first two games. This is a bit perplexing because in nearly 600 professional at bats with the organization prior to this season, he hit only 4 homeruns and has posted a career .325 SLG percentage. He did show potential defensively last year in Greenville, where he had 14 assists in 63 games in RF. However, he has shown little offensively prior to this season to warrant a promotion to A ball. King’s power surge may be flukey, but if it is not, Lexington has another potent bat to add to an already imposing lineup.
Another interesting guy at Lexington is Adam Bailey. Bailey, a former Cornhusker, was drafted in the 23rd round last year. He has opened this season by hitting 8 homeruns in his first 29 games. The trouble with Bailey is that he is already 23. He is a bit too old for his level and there is a log jam of outfielders ahead of him in the higher levels. For him to be considered a legitimate prospect, he would need to continue on his current tear all season, and somehow work his way up to Corpus Christi this year. There are plenty of other outfielders in the system in Bailey’s situation of being a bit old, but productive. Brandon Barnes and Daniel Adamson are both also at least a year too old for their current level. Barnes is already 25 at Oklahoma City, and Adamson is 23 at Lexington.
Jacob Goebbert may be in a slightly better situation because he has hit his way to Corpus Christi by his age 23 season. He belted 10 homeruns and 48 doubles last year at Lancaster. He seems to have found a away to generate more homerun power this season. He hit 5 homeruns in 26 games at Lancaster before being promoted to double A. His team mate, JD Martinez, who has hit at least .340 every year as a pro, seems to have earned the inside track to Carlos Lee’s job whenever it becomes available. Goeberrt has an opportunity this season, in my opinion, to situate himself right behind Martinez.
If there are openings in Houston’s outfield in the next few years, it is likely that guys like Barnes, Martinez, Goebbert, or Bailey may bridge the gap between the current Astros outfield and the more exciting prospects who should make their way to Houston in 3 or 4 years. It is also possible that some of these older prospects become more than a bridge. Or, maybe run out of time without getting a shot.