With the minor league rosters set, it is time to take a closer look at each team's players and who to keep an eye on this season. Here I will list two hitters and two pitchers from each affiliate to watch during the 2017 season. I will also try to avoid the obvious guys to watch like Martes, Fisher, Laureano, Stubbs, Tucker, etc.
Fresno Grizzlies (AAA)
Hitter - A.J. Reed, 1B
This one seems pretty obvious. Reed started the 2016 season in AAA and had a solid first three months in which he hit .266 with 19 2B, 11 HR in 59 games. He earned a promotion to Houston but struggled. The Astros sent him back to AAA where he hit .436 with 4 HR, 14 RBI in 11 games, earning a promotion back to Houston. As we all know, he had a rough rookie season hitting .164 in 122 at-bats. There are some reasons to be optimistic about Reed in 2017 as detailed here. Overall, his 2016 season in AAA wasn't terrible and many people have soured on his stock. If he hits well in AAA again, he will get another shot.
One More: Colin Moran, 3B
Pitcher - Brady Rodgers, RHP
The easy choice here is Martes but I wanted to go in another direction. Rodgers was a 3rd round pick out of Arizona State in 2012. After a great showing in rookie ball he had a couple rough season but always had the potential to breakout, and he did just that this season. He posted a 5.14 ERA in April but dominated the rest of the season posting a 2.43 ERA with 102 K in 111 innings. He also showed off very good control walking just 23 in 132 total innings. Rodgers pitched 8.1 innings for the Astros last season. He might be one of the first guys to come up if there is an injury.
One More: Reymin Guduan, LHP
Corpus Christi Hooks (AA)
Hitter - Drew Ferguson, OF
Ferguson has drafted out Belmont University after hitting .395 with 26 2B, 11 HR, 60 RBI, 26 SB and just 24 K in 58 games. Ferguson played for Tri-City and Quad Cities in 2015, hitting a combined .297. Ferguson started the 2016 season with Lancaster and was eventually promoted to Corpus Christi late in the season. He finished slashing .315/.408/.541 with 17 HR, 76 RBI, 30 SB in 105 games between both levels. Ferguson profiles as a corner outfielder but has good speed and has shown some pop. If he hits in Corpus like he did last year, he won't be in Double-A long.
One More: Bryan Muniz, 1B
Pitcher - Dean Deetz, RHP
While Deetz had a good season in 2016, there is still more potential for him to grow. He possesses a big-time fastball and a very good curve. Deetz was drafted by the Astros in the 11th round of the 2014 draft. He had a very good 2015 season posting a 1.70 ERA over 63.2 innings. In 2016 he improved his strikeout rate averaging nearly 9 per nine innings. He was eventually promoted to Double-A where he made two starts and dominated allowing zero runs and 2 BB/17 K in 12 innings. Deetz is a very athletic pitcher at 6’1″ 195 lbs. Deetz has a mid 90s fastball and a smooth delivery. He has a wipeout slider but still, struggles with his command at times.
One More: Trent Thornton, RHP
Buies Creek Astros (A+)
Hitter - Osvaldo Duarte, SS/OF
Duarte is a prospect filled with a ton upside. He has plus speed and the ability to play both shortstop and center field. He is a line drive hitter who started to show some pop in 2016. In 76 games with Quad Cities, he hit .272 with 20 2B, 7 3B, 3 HR. He was promoted to Lancaster where he hit another 7 HR. He has some swing and miss in his game but will be just 21 years old in the 2017 season. He has the tools to be a guy who can make his name heard.
One More: Ryne Birk, 2B
Pitcher - Franklin Perez, RHP
The Astros signed Perez in 2014 at just 16 years old. He made his Astros system debut in 2015 pitching between the DSL and the Gulf Coast League Astros striking out 61 batters in 50 innings at just 17 years old. In 2016, at just 18 years old, Perez made his full season debut with Quad Cities proving why the Astros signed him. He had a 2.84 ERA with 19 BB/75 K in 66.2 IP. While Perez doesn’t have the high 90s fastball, he works it 92-94 MPH (touching 95) while mixing in solid offspeed pitches (curveball, changeup) with the changeup being the best. He has very advanced pitch ability for his age and will be just 19 in 2017.
One More: Riley Ferrell, RHP
Quad Cities River Bandits (A)
Hitter - Anibal Sierra, SS
Another international signing by the Astros, Sierra agreed to a $1.5 million deal in 2016. He has a quick bat and solid raw power for a middle infielder. He played this season with the DSL Astros, though he was older for the league (22). He did hit .316 with a .465 OBP in 23 games. He will be 23 in 2017 and I expect the Astros to be fairly aggressive with him given his age and bonus amount. Scouts say he has the intriguing offensive potential for a shortstop and could develop into a 15 HR guy who uses the whole field. He will be making his full-season debut in 2017.
One More: Daz Cameron, RHP
Pitcher - Hector Perez, RHP
Perez was an international signing by the Astros out of the Dominican Republic in 2014. Perez pitched with the DSL Astros and Greeneville in 2015 posting a 1.64 ERA with 50 K in 55 IP. Perez had a semi-breakout 2016. He started the season with Tri-City and had a 1.57 ERA with 12 BB/36 K in 28.2 IP. He was promoted to Quad Cities where he struck out 44 in 31.1 IP, though he walked 22. Perez possesses a mid-90s fastball and a very good slider. He also has a curveball, though the slider is his best secondary pitch. His control still needs work but he is just 20 years old and has a good pitcher’s build at 6’3″ and 190 lbs.
One More: Jorge Alcala, RHP
In This Stream
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