During the lean years of the Astros, the minor league system gained a lot of attention, and rightfully so. Most fans were watching the progress of guys like George Springer, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and many more. The system was well known. But with the Astros MLB club being extremely successful, less attention has been given to the minor league system. I believe this has led to a few guys being underrated by some of the fans. Here are a few guys I think should be receiving some more attention.
A lot of people know Alvarez, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t underrated. The Astros #3 prospect was acquired back in 2016 for reliever Josh Fields. This trade is looking like a steal. At the time, Alvarez was a big, raw lefty hitter with a lot of potential but little playing time professionally. He has made his way through the system and has posted back to back excellent seasons. In 2018 he started in AA and hit .325 with 12 HR, 46 RBI in 43 games for a 168 wRC+. He was promoted to AAA where he had a .801 OPS with 8 HR in 45 games and a 111 wRC+.
He did this at just 21 years old. Coming into this season he played just 90 games stateside and has already made it up to AAA and performed at a level above his peers. In AAA he also had a very good 12.2 BB% and for a power guy, a solid K rate at 24.9 K%. Alvarez won’t be 22 until June but has 45 AAA games under his belt and has played in multiple big league spring training games. He is another prospect in the Astros system that should make an impact over the next year or two.
Matijevic was a second round pick by the Astros in 2017. He played in his first full season in 2018 and saw some success. After quickly destroyed the Midwest League (1.155 OPS in 13 games), he was promoted to High-A Buies Creek. He finished out the season there posting a 136 wRC+ in 88 games. While the overall numbers look solid, its the way he ended the season that should get more attention.
Over the last 34 games of the season, Matijevic slashed .287/.380/.612 with a 175 wRC+. This also came with a 13.3 BB% and a reasonable .333 BABIP. He showed tremendous power with a .326 ISO as well. Matijevic projects as a corner outfielder at this time, but no matter where he plays, his bat is going to be what carries him up the system. I will have more on Matijevic later this week.
Like Matijevic, Solomon was a relatively high pick, 4th round in 2017. Despite being selected high in the draft, I feel his 2018 season flew under the radar a bit. Solomon started the season with Quad Cities and was very good posting a 2.43 ERA and 2.63 FIP with 10.2 K/9. He was promoted to Buies Creek in July and was even better.
He finished out the season in Buies Creek striking out 26 in 23 innings while posting a 1.96 ERA, 1.62 FIP and a 25.6 K-BB%. These numbers were good for a 2.32 ERA and 2.40 FIP with 114 K in 100.2 innings. Solomon was just 21 years old in 2018. Solomon will most likely start in High-A but if he pitches well he could find himself in AA shortly into the season.
You won’t see his name on any top 30 lists, at least not yet, but that isn’t due to a lack of quality numbers. Donato was an 11th round pick in 2016 but missed some time due to injuries. He came back healthy in 2018 making his debut in June and showing what he had to offer.
Donato pitched in 16 inning for Tri-City with 0.00 ERA before being promoted to Quad Cities. There he struck out 77 over 61.2 innings with a 2.04 ERA. For the season he had a 1.62 ERA with a 2.18 FIP and 25.4 K-BB%. Donato has a low 90s fastball and a solid curve. He will be 24 this June and will most likely be making a jump up to AA at some point.