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Astros MiLB Position Review: Relief Pitching

A review of the relief pitching in the Astros minor league system.

MLB: Houston Astros-Media Day
Feb 24, 2016; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Houston Astros pitcher Brendan McCurry (70) during media day for the Houston Astros at Osceola Heritage Park. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

This will be the last of the position reviews as we take a look at how the relief pitchers performed in 2017.

Here are the previous position reviews:


First Base

Second Base

Third Base


Left Field

Center Field

Right Field

Starting Pitching


Riley Ferrell

Ferrell was a 3rd round selection of the Astros in the 2015 draft out of TCU after dominating there for 3 seasons. Early into his 2016 season, Ferrell had surgery to remove an aneurysm in his throwing shoulder ending his season. He started the 2017 season with Buies Creek and pitched 2 perfect innings there with 5 K before being promoted to AA. Overall with Corpus Christi he had a 3.81 ERA with 55 K in 52 innings, but he was better than that line indicates as he finished the season great. From July 6th to the end of the season Ferrell had a 2.08 ERA with 4 BB/30 K in 21.2 innings. If he continues this next season, he could find himself in Houston very soon.

2017 Stats: 2-2, 3.67 ERA (2.58 FIP), 54.0 IP, 51 H, 22 ER, 14 BB, 60 K, 10.0 K/9

Nick Hernandez

Hernandez was drafted by the Astros in the 8th round of the 2016 draft out of the University of Houston. After a solid showing in his draft year in 2016, he put together a very good 2017 season making it to AA. He started the year with Buies Creek and had a 1.59 ERA with 11 BB/48 K in 34.0 IP. That also included a dominating stretch where he tossed 22 straight scoreless innings allowing just 8 hits and 6 BB/33 K. AA was a little rougher on him with a 5.84 ERA but he did have 22 K in 24.2 innings.

2017 Stats: 1-3, 3.38 ERA, 58.2 IP, 35 H, 22 ER, 26 BB, 70 K, 10.7 K/9

Sean Stutzman

Stutzman was signed as an undrafted free agent but has been a good find for the Astros thus far. In 2017 the lefty pitched across three levels working his way up to AAA. He bounced around this season pitching with Buies Creek where he had a 1.10 ERA with 39 K in 32.2 innings. He also spend some time in Corpus Christi where he had a 3.51 ERA with 30 K in 25.2 innings. In his limited time in AAA he allowed 3 ER in 8.2 innings. Surprisingly, he was actually dominant against RHB holding them to just a .586 OPS.

2017 Stats: 3-2, 2.28 ERA, 67.0 IP, 49 H, 17 ER, 23 BB, 72 K, 9.7 K/9

Jacob Dorris

Another undrafted free agent find by the Astros. Dorris has steadily moved through the system and pitched at AA and AAA in 2017. He started the season with Corpus Christi and posted a 3.99 ERA with 15 BB/47 K in 38.1 innings. He was promoted to AAA where he had a 1.87 ERA with 28 K in 33.2 innings. Dorris doesn't throw hard but he has an unorthodox delivery and keeps hitters off balance.

2017 Stats: 4-2, 3.00 ERA, 72.0 IP, 60 H, 24 ER, 28 BB, 75 K, 9.4 K/9

Carlos Sierra

Sierra was an under the radar signing out of Cuba but has pitched well in his time with the Astros organization. Carlos began the season with Quad Cities where he had 1.93 ERA in 9.1 innings earning a quick promotion to Buies Creek. With BC, he went 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA and 49 K in 48 innings, all in relief. He wasn't the closer but pitched very well in middle relief.

2017 Stats: 3-2, 2.83 ERA, 57.1 IP, 39 H, 18 ER, 24 BB, 60 K, 9.4 K/9


Salvador Montano

Montano is another hard throwing left in the Astros system that struggles with control, like Reymin Guduan. The 22 year old spend the entire season with Quad Cities. On the bright side, he had a 2.89 ERA with 68 K in 53.0 IP. Unfortunately that came with 41 walks (7.0 BB/9). Though he did hold lefty hitters to a .146 BAA.

2017 Stats: 8-4, 2.89 ERA, 53.0 IP, 35 H, 17 ER, 41 BB, 68 K, 11.5 K/9

Erasmo Pinales

I don't know much about Pinales at this point but he pitched well in 2017. He started the year with Quad Cities and had a 3.32 ERA with 36 K in 38 innings. He was then promoted to Buies Creek where he had a 3.52 ERA and 27 K in 23 innings. 2018 will be interesting for him as he moves up to AA.

2017 Stats: 4-3, 3.39 ERA, 61.0 IP, 43 H, 23 ER, 26 BB, 63 K, 9.3 K/9

Brendan McCurry

McCurry missed the beginning of the season due to a suspension. When he came back, he pitched pretty well for Fresno. While the ERA wasn't ideal at 4.43, he had a solid 12 BB/52 K in 44.2 innings. He showed a stretch of dominance though posting a 0.44 ERA with 6 BB/29 K in 20.2 IP from June 20th to August 4th.

2017 Stats: 4-2, 4.43 ERA, 44.2 IP, 51 H, 22 ER, 12 BB, 52 K, 10.5 K/9


While there might not be any top prospects on this list, there is solid depth in the system. Ferrell was very highly regarded coming out of college and appears to have regained his form in 2017. He could be in the mix for a bullpen spot at some point in 2018. The Astros also have a few interesting lefty options to watch next year in Stutzman and Montano.