Another glorious day in Astrosdom. Take a gander at some newsworthy happenings down on the farm.
Best to get the bad stuff out of the way.
CF Daz Cameron out for the season
Do baseball careers begin with much more difficulty than Astros CF prospect Daz Cameron’s has? On Thursday, the Houston Chronicle reported that the speedy outfielder will miss the rest of the 2016 season after a hit-by-pitch resulted in a broken pointer finger.
Cameron started the season snail-slow after an aggressive assignment to full-season A Quad Cities, batting .143/.221/.221 (34 wRC+) in 87 plate appearances. A demotion to extended spring training to work on—presumably—baseball, earned him a spot on short-season A Tri City’s club in mid-June. There, he displayed hints of the player the Astros hoped he would be, batting .278/.352/.418 (138 wRC+) in nineteen games, with eight stolen bases and two home runs.
Alas, 2016 will be a statistical wash for the promising son of Mike. But at only 19 years old and having already graduated from Rookie-level ball, there is plenty of time for Cameron to reestablish his playing credentials and still be considered one of the most intriguing center field prospects in the minors.
Preston Tucker is mashing
After posting an impressive league-average offensive performance as a rookie left fielder for the 2015 Astros, Preston Tucker struggled out of the gate this season and earned himself a demotion to Triple A Fresno. With the excitement brought on by Tyler White’s hot April, Jose Altuve’s chase for the MVP crown, and the shiny new toy that is A.J. Reed, Tucker is seldom mentioned among the interwebs these days. But not for good reason other than being “old news”. He is SOOOOOOOO 2015, y’all.
But hello. Tucker is shredding the Pacific Coast League, and still remains a viable contender to put up well-above-average offensive numbers at the major league level.
During the past month, Tucker is hitting .327/.355/.634 (150 wRC+) with six home runs in twenty five games.
Barring a trade, it seems unlikely that Tucker sees meaningful time in the majors this season, but with current left fielder Colby Rasmus currently struggling mightily and approaching Free Agency, and with center fielder Carlos Gomez also looking for a big off-season payday, Tucker is very much in the picture for a regular gig in 2017.
Perhaps most encouraging, against left-handers at AAA, Tucker is batting an acceptable .291/.339/.382. The power isn’t there, but considering last season’s 25 wRC+ (.200/.235/.231) in the majors, one can hope that he is using this time in the minors to his advantage, to refine his approach against southpaws.
Baseball America likes Astros prospects
Much has been speculated among the proletariat about the Astros’ farm system’s demise due to player graduations and trades.
Friday, with the publication of their Midseason Top 100 prospects list, Baseball America sends a resounding “HOGWASH” to those who believe the Astros’ recent moves has compromised the quality of their pipeline.
No fewer than six Astros appear on the new list. In a fair world, if all teams were represented each would have three and one-third players on the list. (One-third of a player? Ew.) Luckily, the world is not fair, and the Astros have almost twice as many.
And the Astros’ players aren’t clustered near the bottom either, with five of the six ranking in the Top 50.
- #8 Alex Bregman, SS (preseason ranking: 42)
- #29 Francis Martes, RHP (20)
- #32 Joe Musgrove, RHP (83)
- #35 Kyle Tucker, OF (61)
- #47 David Paulino (91)
- #94 Derek Fisher (N/R)
It is certainly gratifying to see players who have been long-recognized here at The Crawfish Boxes but largely ignored by the national pundits, such as Musgrove, Paulino, and Fisher.
Removed from the preseason list are Reed, who still qualifies as a prospect but has reached the majors and so was excluded, and Cameron, who as noted above, has struggled his way out of the Top 100 conversation but has every chance to climb back in next season.
Many players climb in the rankings due to graduations of players above them. But the leap in rankings by all of these guys save Martes, who has struggled but is coming around in June and July, is a testament to the Astros’ scouting and player development.
Bregman’s play has been nothing short of a revelation, making mincemeat of both the Texas and now the Pacific Coast Leagues. Musgrove ERA and FIP isn’t as whistle-clean as it has been since 2013, but largely that is due to an unnaturally high BABIP. His walk rate is still comically low, and he’s still striking guys out at a high rate. Tucker has been among the best-performing High School draftees from the 2015 draft, batting .291/.354/.402 (with 27 stolen bases!!!) at barely nineteen years old in full-season A ball. Paulino is having a Musgrovian season (Musgrovian should be a word, by the way), with a paltry 1.86 ERA bolstered by 2.00 FIP and reasonable .287 BABIP. He has struck out more than a batter per inning and has walked fewer than 5% of the batters he has faced. Fisher is positioning himself nicely for contention for a very early season 2017 call-up to the majors to serve as the center fielder. He needs to get his strikeouts under control, but is batting .262/.392/.465 (145 wRC+) with double-digit homers and steals for Corpus Christi.
Whew! What say you? Are these rankings surprising? Appropriate? Which Astros prospects are knocking on the door?