The other day I posed a question on Twitter about ideas for upcoming articles. Someone mentioned looking back at past prospect lists to see where the prospects are now. I think this is a great idea and decided to start with the top Astros prospects from 10 years ago. I will be using Baseball Prospectus’ list from 2009.
1 - Jason Castro, C
Castro was the Astros first round pick (10th overall) in the 2008 draft. Heading into the 2009 season he was ranked the #53 overall prospect by Baseball America. Castro had a great 2009 season in the minors and he continued his rise making his MLB debut in 2010. He ended up missing all of 2011 due to an ACL tear but came back in 2012. In 2013 he had his breakout season hitting .276 with .835 OPS, 35 2B, 18 HR, 130 OPS+ and 4.1 WAR. He looked like a building block for the future of the Astros. Unfortunately he never came close to replicating those numbers and ended up signing with the Twins prior to the 2017 season. He is currently still under contract with Minnesota.
2 - Brian Bogusevic, CF
Bogusevic was the Astros 1st round selection in 2005 as a pitcher. He pitched in the minors from 05-08 before fully making the transition to outfield in 2009. He ended up making his debut in 2010 in the Astros depleted outfield. Brian looked the part standing at 6-3, 215 lbs. He really struggled with the Astros though playing in 252 games and hitting just .227 with 80 OPS+. He signed a minor league deal with the Cubs in 2012 and played 47 games with them in 2013. He bounced around a bit before joining the Phillies in 2015 and playing in 22 games. That was his last MLB appearance as he finished with a career 87 OPS+ in 321 games.
3 - Jordan Lyles, RHP
Lyles was another first round pick of the Astros in 2008 (38th overall). He joined the Astros system at 17 years old and made his full season debut at 18 posting a 3.24 ERA with 167 K in 144.2 innings. This got him on the Baseball America top 100 (#91) heading into 2010. In 2010 he split time between AA and AAA at 19 years old and had a 3.57 ERA. He jumped all the way to the #42 prospect after this performance. He made his debut with the Astros in 2010 and had a 5.36 ERA. For the next few years, he would bounce back and forth between AAA and MLB. He would show signs of breaking out (7 IP, 0 ER, 10 K against Seattle) but then would struggle again. The Astros ended up trading him to Colorado in the Fowler deal. He then played with Colorado, San Diego, Milwaukee and is now part of the Pirates organization. He has a career 5.28 ERA in 8 seasons.
4 - Bud Norris, RHP
Norris was the Astros 6th round selection in the 2006 draft. He made an early impact in the Astros system striking out 119 in 102.2 innings in his first full season. He was solid in AA the next season and then pitched really well in AAA (2.63 ERA in 120 IP) earning a callup to Houston. He pitched in 11 games as a rookie and had a 4.53 ERA. He had his best year with the Astros in 2011 when he had a 3.77 ERA with 176 K in 186 innings. During the trade season of 2013, Norris was traded to Baltimore for Josh Hader and a first round pick. Norris has since played for 6 other teams and moved to a relief role in 2017. He is currently a free agent and holds a 4.45 ERA in a little over 1200 innings.
5 - Chris Johnson, 3B
Johnson was a 4th round pick by the Astros in 2006. He had his breakout minor league season in 2008 when he hit .299 with 13 HR, 67 RBI between AA and AAA. The following season he made his debut playing in just 11 games. He got his first extended big league time in 2010 when he played in 94 games and hit .308 with 22 2B, 11 HR and a 121 OPS+. He struggled in 2011 and in 2012, after a solid start to the season, he was traded to the Diamondbacks for Bobby Borchering and Marc Krauss. He ended up playing with Atlanta and had a few solid seasons. He last played at the pro level in 2016 but just recently signed a minor league deal with the White Sox for 2019.
6 - Ross Seaton, RHP
Seaton was drafted by the Astros in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft out of Second Baptist in Houston. After his first full season, in which he had a 3.29 ERA over 136.2 innings, it looked like the Astros may have found something. The next two years a 6.64 ERA and 5.23 ERA respectively. Seaton would eventually reach AAA but bounced between AA and AAA in the 2012-2014 seasons. He pitched in the Tigers organization in 2015 and Independent League in 2016 an 2017. He hasn’t pitched since, so I’m assuming he has retired.
7 - Sammy Gervacio, RHP
Gervacio was signed by the Astros as a free agent. He first pitched in the Astros system in 2005 and had a solid debut striking out 64 in 43.0 innings as a 20 year old. He had a 2.58 ERA in 2006 and a 2.31 ERA in 2007 making it all the way to AA. In 2009 he had a 3.93 ERA but still had 96 K in 73.1 innings and made it to AAA. In 2009 he was called up to the Astros and had a 2.14 ERA with 25 K in 21 innings. He ended up only pitching in 3.2 major league innings for the remainder of his career. Following the 2011 season, Gervacio played in Mexico and in Independent Leagues.
8 - Drew Sutton, 2B
The Astros drafted Sutton in the 15th round of the 2004 draft. Initially it looked like it might have been a steal given how low he was selected. In his first full minor league season he hit .274 with 24 2B, 16 HR in 105 games between A/A+. His best year in the minors was in 2008 when he hit .317 with 39 2B, 20 HR, 20 SB in 133 games for AA Hooks. Sutton was trade to Cincinatti in the Keppinger deal prior to the 2009 season. He would end up playing in 128 total MLB games between 2009-2012 with a .708 OPS. He played in the Red Sox system in 2013 before announcing his retirement in 2014.
9 - Felipe Paulino, RHP
Paulino was signed by the Astros and he debuted in the system in 2003. In his third year in the system, 2005, he had a combined 2.95 ERA over 55 innings with 64 K. In 2007 he had a 3.62 ERA in AA and was strong enough to earn a call-up by the Astros. He would bounce between the minors and majors during the 2007-2010 seasons. The Astros traded him to Colorado for Clint Barmes in 2010. He would pitch for Colorado, Kansas City and the White Sox before moving to the Mexico Leagues and Independent Leagues. In 2018 for the Sugar Land Skeeters, he posted a 1.18 ERA with 72 K in 53.1 innings.
10 - Chia-Jen Lo, RHP
Lo signed with the Astros in 2008. He debuted in 2009 splitting time between A+ and AA while having a 2.10 ERA with 75 K in 64.1 innings. Lo struggled staying healthy but eventually debuted in 2013 and had a good performance with a 3.24 ERA in 16.2 innings. In May of 2014 Lo was released by the Astros. He played with a foreign league in 2018 but hasn’t came close to the MLB again.
This was a rough time for the Astros. The system was weak and this top 10 list combined for one All-Star appearance. Castro was the best of the bunch but he really had one good season, though he was serviceable. None of the other prospects helped the Astros much at all, but a couple were used in trade. All I can say is, thank you Jeff Luhnow