With the draft over, I thought it might be a good idea to revisit our top prospects list. We'll do a more extensive one after the minor league season is over and the draft picks have all signed or gone back to school. For now, let's look at what's going on in the minors.
First off, this is mainly my opinion. I asked native_astro for his input, and we have only differed in a few areas. I know some of you have also put together lists, so feel free to pick mine apart. I'm sure things will change between now and the end of the season.
1) Jonathan Villar, SS, Corpus Christi - He was the second-ranked prospect heading into the 2011 season, and Villar has done nothing to dispute that at both Lancaster and Corpus Christi. His numbers aren't great, but they're much improved over his stats from the past, which is a big reason why I chose to move him up to the top spot. Villar is a toolsy guy who's talent has never translated to numbers, but he's getting there this season. He's fast and I could now see him becoming a little like Elvis Andrus.
Native_astro's ranking: 2 - Villar is an above average defender and an above average runner. His numbers this year aren't that jaw dropping, but the talent is there and he could project as above average shortstop.
2) George Springer, OF, unsigned - I was very tempted to put him at No. 1, like native_astro did. But, since Villar is doing his thing at Double-A, Springer got dropped a spot. He's still a very, very big talent and that power potential means he could actually be a middle-of-the-order impact bat for Houston, something this system just lacks. Sounds like the Astros won't be in a hurry to sign him, but I expect he'll get to Tri-City before too long.
Native_astro's ranking: 1 - Five Tool Potential! It's been a long time since the Astros have really had a five tool type player in their system. Spinger has plus power, an above average arm, and can flat out fly. If George Springer signs, Houston could have a very good prospect in their system that should fly through the system.
3) Ariel Ovando, OF, Greeneville - Again, I'm higher on Ovando than most of you probably are. I think he's got the potential that Springer does of being an impact bat. We just haven't seen anything from him yet, because he hasn't played yet. We'll know more after seeing what he can do in Greeneville, but for now, I'm still holding out hope that Ovando will match Springer for power.
Native_astro's ranking: 7 - Ovando could move up this list fairly quickly with a little more exposure. Ariel is still very raw, but there is no doubting his tool set.
4) Delino DeShields, Jr. 2B, Lexington - I know he's been disappointing this season. His batting average is down and he's struggling in the field. He's still doing quite a bit, though, as one of the youngest players in the South Atlantic League. He's hitting for power, but it's mainly doubles and triples right now. He's also getting on base at a better clip than I expected, so if his average nudges up, that OBP will be quite respectable.
Native_astro's ranking: 3 - DDJ is the wild card in the Astros system. He's an all around athlete that could hit for a little power, above average runner, and hit for average at the next level. He still needs to figure out the glove at 2B and could possible move back to CF in the future.
5) Jose Altuve, 2B, Corpus Christi - This is probably my biggest change from before. I think what Altuve is showing this season makes this a no-brainer. We're seeing the first glimmers that an exciting young player might actually have what it takes to play in the big leagues. How many other players on this list are guaranteed to play for the Astros? That's why I think Altuve deserves this high spot, just like he deserves to get a shot at second base next spring training. Why not?
Native_astro's ranking: unranked
6) Austin Wates, OF, Lancaster - A season after playing in college, Wates has done nothing to disprove the fact he could be a very quick-moving bat in the system. He's a good defensive outfielder, capable of playing all three positions. He won't be a Gold Glover in center field, but the offense he brings to the position will more than make up for it. I expect he'll finish this season at Corpus.
Native_astro's ranking: 6 - Austin Wates could be the heir apparent to Michael Bourn in CF, and could possibly start the year in AAA next season. Wates has an above average bat, but probably lacks the power for a corner outfield position.
7) J.D. Martinez, OF, Corpus Christi - Another guy I'm higher on than some people. Like with Altuve, there are certain players who defy all "toolsy" labels and just get it done. Martinez is a good, solid hitter who should have a good, solid MLB career. That gets him up this list, but his ceiling keeps him from jumping some of these other names. With him and Altuve on the major league roster soon, joining Jason Castro and Jordan Lyles, this team could get exciting in a hurry.
Native_astro's ranking: 9 - J.D Martinez is starting to show a little more power this year, but he might be better suited for a DH role or a LF in Minute Maid Park. He doesn't move well and this could limit his range defensively.
8) Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Lexington - Yes, he's had a down year, but the talent is still there. He's also playing at a level where he's one of the younger guys, and he's a cold weather prospect. He should take a little time to develop. The frame and stuff are still there for him to be a big-time pitcher down the road. We can wait on the results for a while longer.
Native_astro's ranking: 4 - Foltynewicz could project as a top of the rotation starter for the Astros. He has an above average fastball, but still needs to work on his command and being more consistent.
9) Jiovanni Mier, SS, Lexington - He's having a nice bounce-back year, but I've dropped him some here because he's repeating a level. If he gets up to Lancaster and is still having this kind of impact at the plate, I'll be more convinced. For now, though, he's battling to stay on this list.
Native_astro's ranking: 5 - Jio has made the best of repeating Single-A Lexington. His Walk and HR numbers for the most part are up from last year, but still needs to cut down on the strikeouts. Out of the shortstops in the system, Mier probably has the biggest ceiling and could turn into an above average every day shortstop at the next level.
10) Jack Armstrong, RHP, unsigned - Another one where I'm going off the board. I'm not entirely convinced that Armstrong signs, but he's got plenty of potential once he gets into the system. As a polished arm who's got a silly-good fastball, he could fly through the system. If he doesn't make it as a starter (where he's got the ceiling of a No. 2 or possibly ace), he could be the second coming of Brad Lidge or Billy Wagner as a closer. Really, really excited to get him in the system.
Native_astro's ranking: unranked
Native_astro's rankings (that I didn't include):
Jimmy Paredes, No. 8 - Paredes is switch hitting 2B with a plus speed that could hit at the top of the order at the next level. The Astros are still unsure of what position he may play and has seen time at 2B and 3B this year.
Mike Kvasnicka, No. 10 - Kvasnicka probably projects higher for me as Catcher, but the Astros are determined to stick with him at the hot corner. He has an above average, but does not hit for a lot of power.