Some of the best and brightest constellations in the vaunted skies of the Astros Minor League system are being funneled directly through the proving grounds of Davenport, Iowa, this season. Here's a look at some of the more notable names on the Opening Day roster.
The highest profile names on the roster include fellow prep outfield top draft picks in 2015, Daz Cameron and Kyle Tucker. They are commonly presumed to profile as center field and right field, respectively, though it is certainly notable that in at least one game already this young season, Cameron was seen in right field and Tucker was seen in center field.
Cameron profiles as a player with at least functional tools across the board, while lacking any standout, elite tools. He profiles as a future starter in the major leagues, if not a star. Kyle Tucker's ceiling leaves plenty for prospectphiles to dream on, with at least the potential to become a middle of the order monster for opposing pitchers to have to face. Both, like most of the Quad Cities roster, are at least two years away from the Major Leagues.
But beyond those two very well known young players, both of whom we profiled in our annual top prospects write-up here at the Crawfish Boxes, what else does the Quad Cities roster have to offer Astros fans?
Let's take a look.
Sporting a career 2.61 ERA in 28 career games – including his scoreless debut at full season ball on April 8th, 2016, but otherwise limited to 27 career short season appearances – spanning two full seasons before 2016, Albert Abreu also boasts 112 career strike outs to 51 career walks in 117.1 career innings pitched. He's been overshadowed a bit in the Astros system with the emergence of several other high quality pitching prospects like Lance McCullers and Francis Martes and Joe Musgrove, but Albert Abreu's stuff has the potential to be as good (or even better, especially with regards to Joe Musgrove) as any of theirs.
Abreu was listed as the a top ten or fifteen prospect in the Houston Astros system by more than one publication this year, including in this piece on prospect361.com from January 2nd of this year, who listed him as our tenth best prospect – just behind Musgrove, at ninth. Abreu has an athletic, project-able body type with a fastball that currently sits in the 92-94 mile per hour range (topping out at 96 miles per hour) with room for even more velocity with more development. He boasts a good curve and change as well. He is definitely a pitcher Astros fans should keep an eye on this season as he looks to move through at least two (if not three) levels of the system.
There are several additional talented pitchers on a very deep staff for Quad Cities this season, highlighted by Rogelio Armenteros, Reillocity's minor league pitching primer if you're looking for more information. Agapito Barrios, Matt Bower, Jacob Dorris, Ralph Garza, Sebastian Kessay, Kevin McCanna, Chris Murphy, Andrew Thome, and Adam Whitt round out the remainder of a very strong pitching staff., Ryan Deemes, and Alex Winkelman – all of whom you can read about in
The aforementioned Tucker and Cameron, seemingly joined at the hip since being drafted 32 picks apart in 2015, highlight the position players for Quad Cities...but there are several other notable players as well. Christian Correa (no relation to God) and Anthony Hermelyn will handle the catching duties. Hermelyn was drafted in 2015 out of Oklahoma University, where he played all over the field and was considered a leader for the Sooners. Correa is a well-regarded defender who pairs with former Nicholls State University batterymate and fellow 2015-addition Ryan Deemes at Quad Cities this year.
Around the infield, Bobby Wermes had a good showing in 188 at bats with the short-season New York Penn League Tri-City Valley Cats, posting a .346/.434/.388 slash line. He was notably missing a power stroke, with only eight extra base hits (all doubles) as a professional last year. He'll likely be looking to prove in a promotion to full season ball that his 6'3", 200 pound frame has more pop in it that that. At twenty-two years old, he will be a possible candidate for a Lancaster promotion in reasonably short order if he is able to establish an ability to handle the pitching at a high level at Quad Cities.
Shortstop Osvaldo Duarte is off to a red hot start for the Bandits, going 5-9 thus far (.556 batting average) while spending some time in the lead off spot. He has a triple and almost as many total bases (seven) as he has at bats. It's the ultimate short sample size, of course, but the very early results have been exciting. It is doubtful that he maintains his 1.333 OPS all season, of course.
Middle infielders Brooks Marlow and Antonio Nunez are joined by first baseman Dex McCall in rounding out the infield.
Besides Cameron and Tucker in the outfield, Pat Porter brings his 2015 OPS of .724 with him from the Tri-City Valley Cats. He is joined by Aaron Mizell, who posted a .751 OPS across two levels last season, and Johnny Sewald, who also posted an OPS over .750 (.754) last season.
One thing that is a common theme across the entire roster is the lack of experience at the level. Not a single position player played in Quad Cities last year, and the pitching staff logged a combined total of 28 innings at the level in 2015. This might explain a somewhat lackluster first few games in 2016, but once these talented players settle in, the rest of the league better watch out.