The Crawfish Boxes is happy to kick off it’s annual Top 30 preseason prospects list. Click here for the last published list, from midseason 2016.
As usual, the rankings are based on an average of scores from 0 to 10 compiled by TCB’s entire staff. This season, fifteen writers contributed to these scores. Roughly, the scores correspond to the following descriptions:
The staff graded ninety-nine prospects this year.
30. Dean Deetz, RHP [3.94, C prospect]
93.1 IP (23 G, 16 GS)
4.24 ERA (4.93 FIP)
12.0 IP (2 G, 2 GS)
0.00 ERA (0.85 FIP)
A former 11th-round pick from the Oklahoma Junior College circuit, Deetz was a prospect that Nolan Ryan was said to be very high on when he was drafted.
An athletic 6'1" righty, Deetz can run his fastball into the mid 90s and has the potential to miss some bats with his breaking ball, giving him more of a power profile.
He has made strides with his command, an issue for him early in his professional career, and was able to reach Corpus Christi last season, where he performed outstandingly in a small sample after posting respectable numbers in The Hangar.
A Tommy John survivor, Deetz is a bit less experienced than most prospects his age and likely has more untapped potential. His top-end projection is that of a #3 starter, but he could also make for a nice bullpen piece given his velocity. - Spencer
29. Brady Rodgers, RHP [3.96, C prospect]
132 IP (22 G, 22 GS)
2.86 ERA (3.20 FIP)
8.1 IP (5 G, 1 GS)
15.12 ERA (5.31 FIP)
Brady Rodgers was drafted in the third round of the 2012 draft by the Astros. Prior to being selected, Rodgers managed to have one of the lowest ERA's in Sun Devil history over the course of his collegiate career.
Since being drafted by the Astros, Rodgers has been an innings eate, and rose quickly through the ranks of the system. Last season Rdogers’ work paid off as he won the 2016 PCL pitcher of the year and one start for the big league club. - Stephen
28. Jonathan Arauz, SS [4.03, C+ prospect]
.249/.323/.338 (87 wRC+)
2 HR, 1 SB
8.3 BB%, 19.7 K%
Arauz was acquired by the Astros in the trade that brought Ken Giles to Houston. Arauz is still very young, playing at just 17 years old in 2016, but he already has two seasons stateside.
While he doesn't have a certain tool that stands out, his tools across the board are at least average. He is a switch hitter with a line drive approach. Scouts see him as a definite shortstop ranking as an above average defender.
At just 16 years old he made his stateside debut hitting .254 in 44 games in the GCL. In 2016, he played with Greeneville and hit .249 in 53 games.
Arauz still has the frame to add more bulk, which could lead to more power. He will likely play for Quad Cities this year making his full season debut at just 18 years old.
27. Brendan McCurry, RHP [4.17, C+ prospect]
39.2 IP (28 G, 0 GS)
2.27 ERA (2.80 FIP)
42.1 IP (28 G, 1 GS)
3.83 ERA (3.68 FIP)
Relief-only prospects rarely gain notice unless they light up the radar gun. McCurry proves the rare exception, earning prospect love by posting consistently excellent stats at every minor league stop.
Acquired from Oakland when the Astros moved Jed Lowrie, McCurry dominated Double A with the Corpus Christi Hooks, posting a 0.91 WHIP and striking out 50 in 40 innings. Unfortunately, McCurry was suspended in December for 50 games after a positive drug test. He won't have a chance to help the Astros major league bullpen until later in the season. - soxandstros
26. Colin Moran, 3B [4.18, C+ prospect]
.259/.329/.368 (88 wRC+)
10 HR, 3 SB
9.2 BB%, 24.3 K%
.130/.200/.171 (3 wRC+)
0 HR, 0 SB
4.0 BB%, 32.0 K%
How the tables have turned. The 2016 season was a huge chance for Moran; following a spike in walk rate and a modest jump in ISO that saw him post a 136 wRC+ in 2015, Moran needed only continue that level of production to earn a long, hard look in the Majors.
Instead, he collapsed in Triple-A, seeing his strikeout rate soar and ultimately compiling a career-worst 88 wRC+. Alex Bregman blasted past him and claimed third base as his position in the near, and likely far, future.
Now Moran, with medicore-at-best power and defense for a corner guy, is a man without a future in one of the few clubs that really valued him as a potential everyday player. His best hope at this point is likely a deadline trade, if he can restore his value. - Brian Stevenson
25. Trent Thornton, RHP [4.19, C+ prospect]
89.2 IP (17 G, 14 GS)
4.12 ERA (4.36 FIP)
46.0 IP (7 G, 7 GS)
2.35 ERA (3.40 FIP)
The lack of love for Thornton is a bit puzzling. He literally has "Thor" in his name, what more do you people want?
He was dominating the Double-A Texas League less than 18 months after he was drafted, with a 2.35 ERA and a staggering 7.0 K/BB ratio in seven starts there late in the season.
Thornton’s fastball reached 95 and his cutter 93. Those are two of his five pitches, three or which could become plus in the future. His mechanics are funky enough to provide deception, but so far they haven't affected his control at all, and he has a strong frame that should provide plenty of durability once he finishes filling out.
He's no future ace, but the upside for a solid, durable #3 starter is absolutely present, and his quick and successful ascent through the minors thus far bodes well for that potential future. - Brian Stevenson
23T. J.D. Davis, 3B [4.21, C+ prospect]
.268/.334/.485 (134 wRC+)
23 HR, 1 SB
8.3 BB%, 26.5 K%
Though Davis has been overshadowed by A.J. Reed for the majority of his minor league career, he has been posting very solid numbers since his debut.
At 6'3", 225 Davis possesses a lot of raw power and translates it into live play well, recording 48 home runs across the last two seasons. Davis is a bit different from Reed in the sense that he does have quite a bit of bat speed, but his swing takes a longer path- he will likely never hit for average in the majors.
However, if he is able to stick at third base- where he shows good hands but below average range- his offensive profile could play. - Spencer
23T. Stephen Wrenn, OF [4.21, C+ prospect]
.282/.365/.544 (169 wRC+)
9 HR, 8 SB
10.5 BB%, 23.4 K%
.236/.277/.393 (96 wRC+)
3 HR, 7 SB
4.7 BB%, 25.3 K%
One of the more intriguing selections in 2016's draft, Wrenn was a sixth-round pick with second-round, or better, tools. Speed is the most eye-popping of these, with plus or even plus-plus wheels depending on who you ask.
With at least an average hose as well, plus defense in centerfield is a real possibility, not to mention 30+ steal ability if he gets on base enough.
The hit tool is the question; he impressed in the Cape Cod League, showing solid hitting ability and some pop, but things fell apart after he fractured multiple bones in his face prior to the college season, and he dropped to where the Astros took him.
It could pay off big for Houston; Wrenn has the upside of an above-average regular at a premium position if the bat comes around. - Brian Stevenson
22. James Hoyt, RHP [4.23, C+ prospect]
55 IP (49 G, 0 GS)
1.64 ERA (1.85 FIP)
22 IP (22 G, 0 GS)
4.50 ERA (4.92 FIP)
If success in Triple-A always translated to success in the Majors, Hoyt might be fighting for the closer's role in Spring Training right now.
In parts of two seasons with Houston's Triple-A affiliate, the throw-in of the Evan Gattis trade made use of a high-octane heater and a nasty splitter to post a 5.3 K/BB ratio and a FIP under 2.00.
It's no stretch to say he was the most dominant reliever in the Minors during that time. His transition to the Majors in 2016 wasn't as smooth; while he continued to generate swings and misses, his 4.92 FIP was less than stellar.
The good news there is that it seemed largely due to a hugely-inflated HR/FB%, and if that comes back to Earth, he could certainly be a fine middle relief option for the Major League club. At seven months shy of his 31st birthday, he needs to take advantage of any opportunity immediately. - Brian Stevenson
21. Jake Rogers, C [4.31, C+ prospect]
.253/.369/.425 (142 wRC+)
2 HR, 0 SB
12.5 BB%, 17.3 K%
.208/.305/.319 (89 wRC+)
1 HR, 1 SB
9.8 BB%, 30.5 K%
The Astros took Texas native Jake Rogers in the 3rd round of the 2016 draft, but not because of his bat, it was because of his advanced skills behind the plate.
After being heralded as one of the best defensive catchers in college baseball, his arm behind the dish would help lead him to professional ball.
After being drafted, the Astros sent Rogers to low A, were he hit for a nice line of .253/.369/.425, earning him a fairly quick promotion to high A. There, Rogers was lost at the plate, hitting .208 with only 1 home run.
But what many people in the Astros organization were looking was not the bat, it was his arm. Rogers threw out 36% of would be base stealers this year, a very impressive rate for a person at his level. Many scouts grade his arm as a 60.
He will have to improve his overall hit tool if he wants to be an everyday major league player. If not, I can see him being a very serviceable backup catcher. - painting_the_corners404