With January being almost a no-news month for the Astros, I was honestly excited about mlb.com’s slow tease of their top 100 prospects. They started, last week no less, with the top 10s at each position. Then they took a break last weekend, recommenced on Tuesday, and finished on Thursday. Tonight they announced the top 100 live.
The Astros placed six, and two in the top 10: Bukauskas (97), Corbin Martin (81), James (62), Alvarez (44), Tucker (8), and Whitley (7). The top three really weren’t a surprise. James wasn’t either. Although he’s older, almost 26, he K’d 13.5/9 in AAA last year, the best rate for any SP. And he throws 100. Barring injury or forgetting how to sleep, he’s a lock for the rotation. Martin’s easy to forget about. A 2nd rounder who only needs 19 IP to breeze through two levels of full-season A-ball is quite impressive.
The mlb.com team gave commentary on some but not all of the players in the top 50. They said nothing about Alvarez, little about Tucker, but gushed about Whitley. Nobody in the minor leagues has four plus pitches, and the changeup got the highest reviews. They did mention innings though. I’m wondering if Luhnow & co. did something after the AFL to see if they could get Whitley built up a bit more. Even if he can throw 150 IP this year, it’s basically a waste to have him throw 80 of those in AAA, especially if he seems ready in Spring Training.
The MLB website is lagging behind the the live video rollout, as some of the links don’t work as of this typing. The Padres lead with 11 top 100 prospects, followed by the Braves (8). The Rays and White Sox also placed six. One notes that, except for the Braves, the rest of those teams are bad.
Of former Astros, Franklin Perez remains a top 100 prospect, and Jake Rodgers was selected to the prospect all-defensive team.
James will lose prospect eligibility in April, and Tucker will also lose it in 2019, although perhaps they’ll hold him down until June. It will be interesting to see whether Bukauskas or Martin take a step forward and become top 50 guys at midseason. It will also be worth watching whether young talents like Freudis Nova or Jason Schroeder break out, or Beer mashes in AA to become a top 100 guy.
Although the stove is cold, the prospect pipeline remains warm and will help the Astros remain in position to compete for championships well into the future. Fangraphs gives the best free analysis of prospects, especially now that Minor League Ball is in limbo. Unfortunately their Astros list won’t drop until March at the earliest.
Find MLB’s full list here.