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Weekly MiLB Discussion: Top Pitching Prospect

The minor league team discusses who the top pitching prospect in the Astros system...and it's not Mark Appel.

Jennifer Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports


Baseball Prospectus recently released their updated Top 50 Prospect list for the mid-season. Mostly it was a removal of graduated prospects and some minor re-arranging. (Recent draftees not included).

On that list, there was just one Astros prospect thanks to the graduation of Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers. That prospect is Mark Appel, making him the top pitching prospect and overall prospect in the system.

Due to recent internal discussion at TCB, I'd say that is probably unlikely to be the case in our eyes. In your opinion, who is the top pitching prospect in the Astros system? Is it Appel? I'm going to say no. The issue of whether Vincent Velasquez keeps his eligibility will likely make this a more difficult discussion.


Joe Musgrove...and frankly, that might be my answer even if Velasquez retains his eligibility. I know a lot of people would disagree with that, but I haven't yet seen three consistent pitches from Velasquez, he works slowly, he can nibble at times...he needs more work.

That's not to say that he won't be better, or that Musgrove is a finished product. But unlike McCullers (who has indeed lost eligibility), I haven't seen enough polish in VV's game for me to clearly rank him above other people. I think he's in over his head in the Majors right now, and the raw stuff and MLB hitters having never seen him before is what's keeping him from getting beat up a lot.

But enough on Velasquez. Musgrove, well, plus velocity and plus movement makes it an almost plus-plus heater in my eyes. Plus-plus control as well. Misses bats, gets grounders, never walks anyone, sturdy 6-5, 230 pound frame...I mean, what more do you want? Reports I've seen said he was throwing in the upper-80's last year after those injuries had taken their toll. He had to learn how to survive with mediocre-at-best stuff, he was forced to rely more and more on off-speed stuff, and he did. His secondary arsenal took a big step forward. Now fully healthy, the stuff is back, and the lessons he learned have been combined with that. Now he's got a nasty fastball and a refined secondary arsenal, and he knows how to use it. It's little surprise he's jumped up two levels already and we've got a good two months left to go in the Minor League season. Appel's ceiling is still probably a bit higher, but there seems to be less and less chance he'll reach it. I'm all in with Joe.


It's easily down to VV and Musgrove as you point out. I think I have to lean to VV over Musgrove though. The fact that he's been able to show that high quality stuff at the major league level. His off-speed is much more proven than Musgrave's. Musgrove has been able to climb back into the ranks with regaining his fastball velocity and relies heavily on the velocity and fastball movement.

VV has a more well-rounded repertoire at this point. Despite his sub-par usage of his variety of pitches at this point, that is something that can often be improved with coaching.


I have to echo the sentiments towards Vincent Velasquez. He showed some plus stuff in the bigs. It's hard to argue with that. For a guy, that's had a rocky road to get there, I like what I saw. That fastball already has elite rise to it for the big leagues. When he's able to refine his change up to get lefties out, he could pile up some insane strikeout numbers. I know we have mentioned that Velasquez needs to learn how to sequence better and trust his offspeed offerings. The rise on that fastball should help those both play up if he can properly tunnel that curve and change. 

If Velasquez doesn't count, then the top prospect is clearly Joe Musgrove. It's nearly impossible to argue against him. I would like to throw a sleeper pick in for a guy that could be in this conversation in a calendar year, Akeem Bostick. He's barely 20, not walking anyone, seems to inducing weak contact (via the shady batted ball statistics on various minor league sites), and he's striking out plenty (especially swinging). He comes from an athletic family, so he will be an interesting case that rapidly ascend.

It's 2-1 VV for us. What say you? Velasquez better than Musgrove?