Astros Minor League Review: Nolan Fontana, SS, Lexington Legends

Bob Levey - Getty Images

A look at what Astros prospect Nolan Fontana did this year and where he'll land next year.

Drafted out of the University of Florida, Nolan Fontana signed quickly with the Astros. The Astros aggressively placed him at A ball with the Lexington Legends, Fontana showed us why the Astros drafted him in the second round of the 2012 draft, with their third pick.

Offense

In 222 plate appearances with the Legends Fontana hit .225/.464/.338 in 49 games. That .464 on base percentage comes with an absolutely ridiculous 29.3% walk rate. It's pretty safe to say that walk rate will come down, but I've never seen a player put up that kind of on-base percentage in the Minor Leagues before. The only prospect I could liken him to is J.B. Shuck, who has walked more than he's struck out, but even he never posted an on-base percentage above .400 or even a walk rate that high, in his Minor League career.

One of the other positives about Fontana's offense is his base running which appears to be a plus. In 14 chances this season Fontana stole 12 bases. In about half a season worth of at bats that's pretty good and likely means he has 20-30 stolen base potential, with a very sabermetric friendly stolen base percentage.

Walking and running aside, the batting average and slugging percentage are concerns, but it was an aggressive placement by the Astros, so it's not surprising that he's struggled to hit for average, and he was never going to be a power guy anyway. At best he was pegged as a doubles power hitter, and nothing he's done so far changes that assessment. Another year of Minor League data will give us a clearer picture regarding what type of offensive player Fontana can be for the Astros. For the time being, we can be encouraged by the on-base percentage and base running ability.

Defense

There's been mixed reviews regarding Fontana's defense. Some have suggested he'll need to move to second base, while others think he'll do well enough at shortstop. Watching him during this years college season I thought he had a chance to stick at short. After seeing him in person I've adjusted my assessment of his defense a bit.

I got to see him towards the end of July when the Lexington Legends took on the Greenville Drive. He looked okay at the position, but had a couple miscues. On one play in particular he struggled to handle a tough bounce, while on another he airmailed a throw into the stands, on a routine grounder.

This is only one game though and I was informed by Bryan Trostel of Astros County, who went to the same series, that he looked a lot better in the other games. So for the time being I'll stick with him at short, but I'm beginning to see why there's some mixed reviews about his defense.

Statistically speaking, Fontana was given six errors in 233 chances this season with the Legends at shortstop.

Conclusion and Where To Go From Here

Nolan Fontana is not a top 10 prospects with all the new found talent in the system, however, it's fair to say that he's a top 20 prospect. He's already excelling at two areas in walk rate and base running ability, which is refreshing to see after watching so many "toolsy" players fail in the Astros farm system. He's a low ceiling, high floor prospect, meaning he has a good chance to make the majors but likely isn't going to be a superstar. Still that's not a bad player to have in the system.

It'll be interesting to see where the Astros decide to place Fontana, either Lancaster (A+) or Corpus Christi (AA). Jonathan Villar is likely heading to Oklahoma City next year and with Jiovanni Mier struggling with injuries this past seasons it's possible that Mier stays at Lancaster and Fontana leap frogs him to AA. Then again the Astros may want to see Fontana hit before they challenge him at a higher level. Either way, barring injury, I expect Fontana to be in AA before the Minor League season is out next year.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join The Crawfish Boxes

You must be a member of The Crawfish Boxes to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Crawfish Boxes. You should read them.

Join The Crawfish Boxes

You must be a member of The Crawfish Boxes to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Crawfish Boxes. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker