Now that 2020 is here, it is time to start looking at the top three prospects at each position as we lead up to the Astros top 30 prospect list. Helping me with these lists is Spencer Morris (@prospect_spencer). This week we will look into the shortstop position.
1. Jeremy Pena (A+)
Pena was drafted by the Astros in the 3rd round of the 2018 draft. During the draft process, Pena was seen by many as the best defensive shortstop in the class, and he has done nothing to disprove this notion. He has solid speed which leads to good range and possesses a plus arm. Pena’s bat is behind his glove, but that’s not to say he is a slouch with the bat. He has added weight and improved his power, evident by his .440 slugging last year. In 2019 he finished with a 141 wRC+ in 109 games. This was a huge step forward for what people thought was just a defensive minded shortstop. He has a solid understanding of the strike zone and has the ability to draw walks and limit his strikeouts. He might start in AA this year and if he continues to hit well, he will be a consensus top 100 prospect.
2019 Stats: 109 G, .303 BA/.385 OBP/.440 SLG, 21 2B, 7 3B, 7 HR, 54 RBI, 20 SB, 141 wRC+
2. Freudis Nova (A)
Nova has come along pretty slowly since receiving a seven figure bonus in 2016, but had a decent full season debut last year in Quad Cities where he posted a 95 wRC+ in 75 games as a 19 year old. He’s still rough around the edges and will need to improve a free swinging approach to get within reach of his considerable ceiling. Still, he offers the potential for a middle of the order bat at a left side infield spot. While he showed some power with the 20 doubles last year, he struggled with the plate discipline managing just 15 BB/68 K. For what its worth, he drew 10 walks in 26 games in August, so a nice improvement to end the season. He still has an extremely high ceiling.
2019 Stats: 75 G, .259 BA/.301 OBP/.369 SLG, 20 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 29 RBI, 10 SB, 95 wRC+
3. Grae Kessinger (A)
Kessinger’s MLB bloodlines and fundamentals have had him on the radar for awhile, but he was sliding on draft boards a bit with a slow start to his junior season. He flipped the switch in SEC play, hitting .406, and ended up being selected in the second round. Kessinger has great hands in the field and good instincts, which allow him to play a solid shortstop and project around the diamond. He hasn’t hit for much power in his career thus far, but he’s a big 6’2” and could potentially find more pop through swing adjustments. He was pushed to QC quick and still managed to post a 93 wRC+ with 11.8 BB% and 14.6 K%.
2019 Stats: 62 G, .232 BA/.333 OBP/.308 SLG, 10 2B, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 9 SB, 93 wRC+
Dauri Lorenzo - The Astros signed Lorenzo in July of 2019 for $1.8 million out of the Dominican Republic. He has yet to play minor league baseball but should debut at some point this year. Scouts noted the 17 year old a line drive stroke and drives the ball consistently to all fields. Lorenzo, a switch-hitter, has some power but should develop more. He is also an above average runner with a strong arm. He has the makings of a great prospect, it’s just a bit early to really rank him up high without even seeing him.