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Baseball Prospectus looks at the 11 best Astro farm hands

The list, by Kevin Goldstein, of Baseball Prospectus (full article here):

1. Jason Castro, C
Three-Star Prospects
2. Brian Bogusevic, CF
3. Jordan Lyles, RHP
4. Bud Norris, RHP
5. Chris Johnson, 3B
6. Ross Seaton, RHP
Two-Star Prospects
7. Samuel Gervacio, RHP
8. Drew Sutton, 2B
9. Felipe Paulino, RHP
10. Chia-Jen Lo, RHP
11. Jay Austin, CF

I'll give you a hearty paraphrase from the article of the top three, but I encourage anyone who wants to read some top notch commentary like this (not to mention their array of proprietary stats and PECOTA projections), to consider getting an early Christmas present of a BPro subscription.

1) Castro: Goldstein notes that the good news about Castro is, "he's a good hitter who has a patient approach and a quick bat, with gap power to all fields. A solid defender with a plus arm," but the bad news is, "but he needs to improve his footwork behind the plate."  So not a lot of bad.  After Goldstein derided Castro's drafting, at the time, it seems that Castro has erased doubts in the more sabermetrically oriented scouting community.  He's wasn't given an ETA, but we were warned to hold his numbers next year at High-A in context because it's a power inflationary park.

2) Boguesevic: Goldstein was very, very praiseworthy of Boggie, "He has a quick, quiet swing, with gap power that many believe will increase based on what they saw from his Tulane days. Once a burner, he's now a slightly above-average runner who plays a solid center field with an above-average arm."  I mean, that's saying a lot; Goldstein also went into a lengthy discussion of Boggie's transition and how easy seems to have been.  Boggie get's an ETA of sometime in 2009 -- Michael Bourn, get busy or get out.

3) Lyles: This is the guy I was most interested in reading about, because no one really knew about him on draft day.  Goldstein's "the good" was very positive, "His fastball sits at an average velocity of 89-91 mph right now, and projects for plus, and he also has some feel for a curve and a changeup. His easily repeatable mechanics make for above-average command and control."  The bad, was of course that he's a high-school pitching prospect, and this is the organization that coined the phrase, "TINSTAAP" (there is no such thing as a pitching prospect).  Apparently the Astros are going to throw Lyles to the wolves at Low-A next year because we're taking an organizational approach to be more aggressive with our young arms.  Goldstein, with the qualifier that's really too early to tell much, that Lyles should turn out to be a mid-rotation starter in a perfect world.

Interesting notes on some of the players (this was really hard to do, Goldstein just has so much insight to offer):

On Johnson

He has excellent instincts at third base, with above-average range, soft hands, and one of the system's better infield arms.

On Seaton:

Seaton will join Lyles at Low-A Lexington, making the Legends rotation one to watch in 2009.

On Sutton:

 "He'll begin the year at Triple-A, and because of the contract situations at the big-league level, chances are good that he'll start his career as a utility player."

Goldstien's final thoughts on the state of the Astros farm system:

The Astros system is one of the worst in baseball, but the addition of Bobby Heck from Milwaukee to head the scouting department and an intriguing 2008 draft gives reason for hope. True impact help from the system, however, is going to take years.

Finally, here's a link to a great interview on BPro radio with Bobby Heck providing additional insight our Top 11 prospect.