Houston Astros, World Series Champs!!! (One day we will hear this) We all know that a major key to winning a world series is building a good farm system with players who are ready to contribute year in and year out. Jeff Luhnow and company has done a great job so far turning the Astros farm system around.
Now, it is great to have top prospects and the possibility that they turn into star players but another factor is the guys who aren't top prospects turning into everyday major league players. That is where this post comes in to plays. I am going to highlight a few prospects that I believe are underrated or have a chance to breakout this season. This list will be in no particular order.
1. David Rollins, LHP, 6-1, 195 lbs, 24 years old
2013 stats: A+/AA/AAA - 9-8, 3.89 ERA, 136.1 IP, 122 H, 59 ER, 43 BB, 137 SO, 1.21 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9, 9.0 SO/9
Drafted in the 24th round out of San Jacinto College by the Toronto Blue Jays. Rollins came to the Astros in the 10-player July 2012 trade. In 2013 Rollins spent time between Lancaster, Corpus Christi and Round Rock. Rollins pitched well in the hitter friendly California League which earned him a promotion to Corpus and a spot start in OKC (6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 SO). Rollins started out hot in Corpus before hitting a tougher run towards the end of the season. His peripherals in Corpus were very good though, 2.7 BB/9 and 9.0 SO/9. He did set a career high in innings 136.1. Rollins could possibly start the season in Corpus again with a promotion to OKC later in the season.
2. Tyler Heineman, C, 5-11, 205 lbs, 22 years old
2013 stats: A+ - 104 G, .286 BA, .361 OBP, .476 SLG, 23 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR, 71 RBI, 32 BB/47 SO
Drafted in the 8th round out of UCLA by the Astros in 2012, Heineman burst onto the scene with a great showing in Tri-City. In 2013 he was promoted to Lancaster where he continued to find success. Heineman saw a nice boost in power production evident by his 40 extra base hits. Maybe one of Heineman's best tools is his plate discipline. He had a 7.5 BB% and a 11.0 K%. Heineman looks to be the starting catcher for the Hooks come 2014 which should have a great pitching staff for him to work with.
3. Andrew Aplin, CF, 6-0, 190 lbs, 22 years old
2013 stats: A+ - 128 G, .278 BA, .376 OBP, .424 SLG, 102 R, 32 2B, 7 3B, 9 HR, 107 RBI, 24 SB, 83 BB/63 SO
Drafted in the 5th round out of Arizona State by the Astros in 2012. Aplin was assigned to Tri-City where he hit well earning a promotion to A+ in his first season. Aplin spent all of 2013 in Lancaster and was a huge key to their success, driving runs, scoring runs and playing great defense. Aplin showed great plate awareness walking more then he struck out. Aplin really has a chance to breakout and get on peoples radar in 204 in Corpus Christi.
4. Danry Vasquez, OF, 6-3, 177 lbs, 19 years old
2013 stats: A - 129 G, .284 BA, .331 OBP, .400 OBP, 18 2B, 6 3B, 9 HR, 60 RBI, 11 SB, 37 BB/71 SO
Vasquez was brought over in the trade that sent Jose Veras to Detroit. Vasquez is young and still has plenty of room to grow. He ended up with 9 HR, same total as Carlos Correa. Although doesn't walk much, he doesn't strike out much either (only 71 times in 129 games). Vasquez is still raw but has plenty of potential. He could have a breakout season in the hitter friendly Lancaster in 2014.
I am sure there are more guys who are underrated or could breakout but I just wanted to highlight a few. Seems every year someone exceeds expectations and maybe one of these guys could be it. I cant wait for 2014!!!