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The Astros Breakout Candidate

What if I told you the Astros have a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate not named Jordan Lyles? No, I don't mean the Astros team Rookie of the Year award, I mean a bonafide Major League candidate.

It's true. A few things would have to break his way, but that's part of what baseball is about.

In his first eight games as an everyday player, he hit .217/.357/.435 at High A, but that wasn't in Lancaster. It was in Salem, Virginia. He was then promoted to Corpus Christi where he posted a .371/.447/.556 line in 42 games. The following season, in 138 games, he put up a .271/.342/.365 line at Triple-A.

If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm talking about Brian Bogusevic, the converted pitching prospect.

After making the switch away from the mound and after some early success at the plate, many top 10 lists included Bogusevic's name right under Jason Castro as the second best prospect in the farm system. Since then, he's fallen out of the Top 5 and, for some, out of the Top 10. While some of that could be attributed to his performance in both Double- and Triple-A, it's possible that there's just more talent in the farm system now. A 27-year old outfielder who's only posted a .772 OPS in 1,331 minor league plate appearances isn't a very sexy pick as a top prospect.

There is hope though for Mr. Bogusevic. A positive trend he has.

Last year at Round Rock, he posted a line of .277/.364/.414. Yes, I know, "meh," but those number represent a six point increase in batting average, a 22 point increase in on-base percentage (OBP) and a 49 point increase in his slugging percentage (SLG) from his 2009 numbers. He doubled his home run production, going from six in 2009 to 13 in 2010. That's pretty impressive for a guy who only two and half years ago was trying to strike batters out.

He also appears to be a heads-up runner on the bases, swiping 54 bags in 59 attempts in the minors. That's a 91 percent success rate, people. To put it into perspective, Michael Bourn had a 83 percent success rate in his time in the minors. He doesn't have the speed to steal 50-plus bases like Bourn, but 20-30 isn't out of the question.

To steal bases, a player needs to get on base, and Bogusevic does a decent enough job of it. His 11.7 percent BB rate and a 21.5 percent K rate at Triple-A in 2010 isn't impressive, but it is comparable to what Bourn posted in the minors. It may send some fans into a fit, but it's a godsend for a team starving for players who can get on base regularly.

His defense in the outfield also appears to be solid, for a guy who was at one time ducking infield pop ups. He's probably not going to be able to handle Minute Maid Park's vast center field, but he could be sufficient in right field, and would provide positive value in left. That'd be a huge boost to a defensive team that was considered below average last season.

For Bogusevic to bust it out, there are pieces that will need to fall into place. Carlos Lee will have to move to first, which means Brett Wallace tanked this spring and would be starting the year in Oklahoma City. Even then, Mills may choose to start Jason Michaels over Bogusevic, at least to start the season. Obviously, he has to make the 25-man roster, and with a good spring he could position himself for a starting gig. So far, those results have only been okay.

He is not done developing, and heading into what many consider the prime years of a player he has an opportunity to really surprise some people.

After all, we said the same thing about Chris Johnson a year ago.