We continue our look at the top three prospects at each position moving to the center field position this week.
Top Three Prospects By Position:
1. Kyle Tucker (AA)
Tucker has steadily moved up the prospect rankings and his stock got even higher this year. He started the season with Buies Creek (High-A) and made quick work of the Carolina League hitting .285 with 9 HR, 43 RBI in 48 games with a 159 wRC+. He was promoted to Corpus Christi and spent the remainder of the season. In 72 games with the Hooks, Tucker hit .265 with 16 HR, 47 RBI and a 129 wRC+. While his walk rate dropped, he actually cut down on his K rate a bit. Overall Tucker had a very good season combining for 25 HR, 90 RBI and a 141 wRC+ as a 20 year old. Tucker had the 6th highest ISO (.247) in all of AA with at least 300 PAs. The only notable above him was Rafael Devers, the rest were 23+ years old. Tucker isn’t a burner but has some speed on the bases evident by his 71 stolen bases in 300 minor league games. He may end up in one of the corners but for now he is on the center field list.
2017 Stats: 120 G, .274 BA/.346 OBP/.528 SLG, 33 2B, 5 3B, 25 HR, 90 RBI, 21 SB, 46 BB/109 SO
2. Gilberto Celestino (Rookie)
The Astros signed Celestino for $2.5 million back in 2015 and was the #7 international prospect that year according to MLB. Celestino is very athletic and a good defender in CF. In 2017 he played for the Greeneville Astros and hit .262 but showed some of his offensive tools with 10 2B, 4 HR in 59 games. Baseball America rated Celestino’s arm as the best defensive arm in the Astros system. He has above average tools in his arm, speed, and glove (BP) and while he doesn’t have a ton of power, he still has room to grow. He will be 19 in 2018 and should start with Quad Cities.
2017 Stats: 59 G, .268 BA/.331 OBP/.379 SLG, 10 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 24 RBI, 10 SB, 22 BB/59 SO
3. Myles Straw (AAA)
Straw had somewhat of a breakout prospect in 2016 when he hit .374 in 68 games for Quad Cities (.358 overall). Straw started the 2017 season with Buies Creek and continued to swing the bat well hitting .295 with a .412 OBP in 114 games for BC. He posted a phenomenal 16.3 BB% and 13.1 K%. Straw is also one of the fastest runners in the Astros system and he showed it on the bases in 2017 stealing 36 bases for Buies Creek. He was promoted to AA and played in 13 games there hitting .239 with a .340 OBP. Overall he had 94 BB/79 SO and was 38/47 in SB in 127 games. He is good defensively and should be able to stick in center field with his mix of speed and defense.
2017 Stats: 127 G, .290 BA/.405 OBP/.360 SLG, 17 2B, 7 3B, 1 HR, 44 RBI, 38 SB, 94 BB/79 SO
Drew Ferguson (AAA) - Ferguson has flown under the radar during his Astros career, most likely due to draft position (19th round) and age (now 25) but he has produced at every level. In 2017 he started the season with Corpus Christi and hit .292 with 18 2B, 8 HR, 15 SB in 84 games, good for a 133 wRC+. He was promoted to AAA and hit just .223 but maintained solid walk and strikeout numbers. He has a little power and some speed so it will be interesting to see what he can do in the PCL.