ESPN senior baseball writers’ annual Top 100 baseball prospects list measuring sticks for any team’s future. The Houston Astros continue their strong showing on the list with four players in the top 80 with RHP Forrest Whitley (No. 78), Franklin Perez (No. 66), OF Kyle Tucker (No. 57), and Francis Martes (No.37).
The Astros had four players on the 2016 list, Alex Bregman and A.J. Reed graduated last season while Martes (No. 40 in 2016) and Tucker (67) both moved up on the list.
There was one step back. Daz Cameron was noted as a player that just missed the Top 100 last season, but he was not included on the 2017 list in either the Top 100 or the 2017 players that just missed the Top 100.
Whitley was 1-2 with a 4.82 ERA in eight games (six starts) with GCL Astros and Greenville Astros. He struck 26 and six walks in 18 2/3 innings. At Greenville, Whitley was 0-1 with 3.18 ERA in four starts.
Law said of Whitley in his 80-61 portion of his rankings:
He’s ginormous -- sorry to use the technical scouting term there -- at 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds, but unlike a lot of kids his height, he is pretty coordinated and can repeat his delivery already. He’s atypical of high school pitching drafts -- there’s nothing substantial that has to change or develop here, other than the sort of adjustments every player has to make when facing better competition at each level.
Perez was 3-3 with a 2.84 ERA in 15 games (10 starts) Single-A Quad Cities in 2016. He struck out 75 and 19 walks in 66 2/3 innings.
Law said of Perez in his 80-61 portion of his rankings:
The Astros did baby him last year -- he had at least six days between all of his starts -- but I imagine this year we’ll see just how good Perez is over a longer period. He offers a good No. 3 starter package now, with his ability to become more than that a function of how well his secondary pitches evolve.
Tucker batted .285 (123) with 56 runs scored, six home runs, 69 RBIs, and .798 OPS. He had 81 strikeouts and 50 walks in 117 games between Single-A Lancaster and Quad Cities.
Law went into detail on Tucker in his 60-41 portion of his rankings:
(Tucker) showed a great feel for hitting and baserunning in 2016, especially in his approach at the plate, and though his power output was modest, his swing is definitely geared to produce more extra-base hits and around 20 homers a year when he fills out.
Martes was 9-6 with 3.30 ERA in 25 games (22 starts) with Double-A Corpus Christi in 2016. He had 131 strikeouts and 47 walks in 125 1/3 innings.
Law said of Martes in his 40-21 rankings:
Martes gets a lot of Johnny Cueto comparisons, which fits both in terms of his physical appearance and his style of pitching, which is very aggressive and has him throwing both his fastball and breaking ball for strikes.
These comments are only a portion in-depth coverage from Law in his top 100 rankings. You will need an insider subscription but its worth the cost.