"You can never have too many pitching prospects," so they say (or is this some confused combination of "you can never have enough pitching," and "there is no such thing as a pitching prospect"?). The good news for Astros fans is that this statement is actually somewhat relevant to our organization now. We don't necessarily have tons of sparkle at the top, but in making this list of 25 pitching prospects, I was encouraged by the depth of our system.
1) Jarred Cosart - Conroestro has the goods on Cosart here. Good stuff, and strong at inducing grounders. It would be great to see his strikeouts increase and walks decline in a breakout year next year.
2) Lance McCullers, Jr. - We paid him a big signing bonus because he has the talent to become a dominant starter. Did fine in his first season at the lower levels.
3) Nicholas Tropeano - I have him ahead of Foltynewicz because his strikeout numbers were better, and he made a mostly successful adjustment to Lancaster mid-season. His fastball numbers have been higher than anticipated.
4) Mike Foltynewicz - Good scouting reports suggest that he still has room to improve, especially with his strikeout rate.
5) Vincent Velasquez - There is a big jump from #4 to #5, in my estimation. Velasquez was treated carefully since he was coming back from surgery, and a late season injury slowed him down some too. The potential is there though.
6) Asher Wojciechowski - Bonus points if you can spell his name. His peripheral numbers are not dominant, but he is getting solid results at the higher levels.
7) Brett Oberholtzer - The ERA's weren't pretty this year, but he shows potential of being able to make the transition to the big leagues within the next year or so. WHIP numbers were solid.
8) Adrian Houser - This longer term project held his own at Greeneville.
I feel pretty good about my first 8 choices. It gets more hazy after that - you could move a number of these guys up or down a half dozen spots. More after the jump . . .
9) Joe Musgrove - An even longer term project, this placement is a bit of a guess. 19 to 4 K to BB in a very small sample size this season.
10) Rudy Owens - His year was summarized nicely by clack here. We can hope that his performance at OKC after the trade was just an anomaly and that he will be ready to contend for an MLB spot next season.
11) Jose Cisnero - Lots of talent, but still needs to harness it more. The rough start to his AAA career suggests that he will need more time before being ready for a big league shot.
12) Brady Rodgers - After a late season fade he finished with a strong outing in the final playoff game.
13) Ross Seaton - I'm not sure he would have made this list about halfway through the season, but he finished strong and gives enough glimpses of potential to be interesting.
14) Kevin Comer - Shows good control, though his low strikeout rate in his 49.1 innings at a low league this year does give pause.
15) Aaron West - Similar to Rodgers, he tailed off towards the end before a convincing final start for the Valley Cats in the playoffs. He was a much lower draft pick than Rodgers, but his results were more impressive in his first year.
16) Brian Holmes - This lefty starter knew how to shut down hitters (only 39 hits in 66.2 innings, along with 65 K's). He does walk hitters, but not at a high enough rate to cause concern.
17) Rob Rasmussen - Steady numbers across the board - no dominant stat stands out.
18) Michael Feliz - Dominated in the GCL before coming back down to earth at Greeneville. Still very young.
20) Jason Stoffel - I'm not high on relief pitching prospects as a general rule, but Stoffel is the most polished of the bunch - strong numbers in AA this year (including a 0.98 WHIP and nearly a strikeout per inning).
21) Matthew Heidenreich - He is fairly young for his level yet has still acheived good outcomes. Doesn't have overwhelming stuff, but is getting the job done with good control.
22) Jack Armstrong - This mystery man has not been healthy since we drafted him 1 1/2 years ago, but the potential is still there.
23) Kenny Long - Shuts down left-handed hitters like few others. Was an older draftee this year.
24) Bobby Doran - He has always been a bit under-the-radar, but he put up good numbers in an offensive environment at A+ and was respectable after his promotion to AA.
25) Paul Clemens - He was overmatched at AAA but salvaged the last part of the season in 41.2 innings at AA.