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Astros MiLB Position Review: Starting Pitchers

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A review of the starting pitching in the Astros system!

Houston Astros v St. Louis Cardinals
UPITER, FLORIDA - MARCH 20: Hunter Brown #94 of the Houston Astros delivers a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals during a Grapefruit League spring training game at Roger Dean Stadium on March 20, 2021 in Jupiter, Florida.
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Now that the season is over we will review each position in the minor league system during the 2021 season. This week I will be looking at the starting pitchers.

Previous Position Reviews:

Catcher

First Base

Second Base

Third Base

Shortstop

Outfield

TOP PERFORMERS

Jonathan Bermudez

Bermudez, a 23rd round pick in the 2018 draft. put together a dominant season in 2021. He started the season in Double-A and struck out 102 in 78.2 innings while posting a 3.36 ERA. The lefty was then promoted to AAA where he got even better posting a 3.06 ERA with 40 K in 32.1 innings. Overall on the season he 3.24 ERA with 146 K in 111 innings. He finished the season with a 3.15 FIP, 31.9 K% and 24.5 K-BB%. He was also added to the 40 man roster this off-season making him a likely candidate to debut at some point in 2022. Read more on him here.

2021 Stats: 25 G, 3.24 ERA, 111.0 IP, 93 H, 40 ER, 34 BB, 146 K, 11.8 K/9

Hunter Brown

Brown was drafted by the Astros in the 5th round in 2019. In 2021, he experienced his best season as a pro. He started the year in Double-A and 4.20 ERA while striking out 76 in 49.1 innings. He was promoted to Triple-A where he had a 3.88 ERA with 55 K in 51 innings. The 22 year old showed off his power stuff racking up 131 strikeouts total for the season. He had a 4.04 ERA overall, but a 3.33 ERA over his final 17 games between AA and AAA. He is probably the Astros best pitching prospect right now. Read more on him here.

2021 Stats: 24 G, 4.04 ERA, 100.1 IP, 92 H, 45 ER, 50 BB, 131 K, 11.8 K/9

J.P. France

France had a breakout season as he led the Astros system in innings and strikeouts. The 14th round pick from 2018 started the year in Double-A and had a 4.28 ERA with 50 K in 33.2 innings. He earned a promotion to AAA where his numbers got even better striking out 107 in 80.1 innings with a 3.59 ERA. Overall this year he went 9-3 with a 3.79 ERA and 157 K in 114 innings. That was good for 12.4 K/9 and a 33.2 K%. Check out my interview with him here.

2021 Stats: 25 G, 3.79 ERA, 114.0 IP, 95 H, 48 ER, 52 BB, 157 K, 12.4 K/9

Peter Solomon

Solomon put together a very good season, even if the final numbers don’t fully reflect it. Despite having an overall ERA of 4.70, he was dominant at home going 7-0 with a 2.66 ERA and 66 K in 61 innings. He also led the Skeeters’ pitching staff in strikeouts and was named the Triple-A West Pitcher of the Year. He should be a big league contributor in 2022.

2021 Stats: 21 G, 4.70 ERA, 97.2 IP, 89 H, 42 BB, 112 K, 10.3 K/9

Jimmy Endersby

Endersby was signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2020 and put up a solid year in his first full season in the minors. He started the year in High-A and had a 4.85 ERA (3.50 FIP) but had 43 K in 29.2 innings. He got promoted to Double-A and posted a 3.48 ERA with 67 K in 67.1 innings. He finished the season with 110 K in 97 innings, giving him the 6th most strikeouts in the Astros system in 2021.

2021 Stats: 24 G, 3.90 ERA, 97.0 IP, 85 H, 42 ER, 53 BB, 110 K, 10.2 K/9

Misael Tamarez

Tamarez had a breakout 2021 season pitching between Low-A and High-A. He started in Low-A and had a 3.98 ERA with 64 K in 43 innings. He got promoted to High-A and the numbers got even better posting a 3.48 ERA with 39 K in 33.2 innings. He finished strong with a 2.51 ERA and 65 K in 46.2 innings over his last 10 outings. Overall, the 21 year old had 12.1 K/9 and a 31.7 K% in 76.2 innings.

2021 Stats: 19 G, 3.76 ERA, 76.2 IP, 58 H, 32 ER, 38 BB, 103 K, 12.1 K/9

Julio Robaina

The Astros have another Cuban prospect in the pipeline, 20 year old Julio Robaina. He started the season in Low-A and had a 3.63 ERA with 46 K in 44.2 innings. He was promoted to High-A where he had a 3.90 ERA but an insane 7 BB/42 K in 32.1 innings. Overall he struck out 88 in 77 innings with a 3.25 FIP.

2021 Stats: 17 G, 3.74 ERA, 77.0 IP, 71 H, 32 ER, 25 BB, 88 K, 10.3 K/9

THE REST OF THE PACK

Jaime Melendez

Melendez had a strong season at just 19. He put up video game numbers in Low-A posting a 0.49 ERA with 5 BB/38 K in 18.1 innings. He was promoted to High-A where he struggled some with a 4.78 ERA. The Astros bumped him to Double-A to finish the season where he allowed 5 earned runs in 7.2 innings. Overall he struck out 90 in 58 innings at just 19 years old.

2021 Stats: 20 G, 3.57 ERA, 58.0 IP, 49 H, 23 ER, 33 BB, 90 K, 14.0 K/9

Tyler Brown

Brown was a third round pick by the Astros in 2020 after a dominant college career in relief. The Astros moved him to starter and in 2021 he pitched in 23 games and struck out 108 in 90.2 innings. He struggled though with the 6.95 ERA but this was his first year starting games since 2018.

2021 Stats: 23 G, 6.95 ERA, 90.2 IP, 97 H, 70 ER, 56 BB, 108 K, 10.7 K/9

Jayson Schroeder

Schroeder is a former 2nd round pick that has yet to put it together. In 2021 he pitched in rookie ball and Low-A and had a combined 7.83 ERA with 82 BB in 64.1 innings. I don’t know what the future holds for him, but he just turned 22 so still has some time.

2021 Stats: 22 G, 7.83 ERA, 64.1 IP, 53 H, 56 ER, 82 BB, 67 K

R.J. Freure

Freure was a 6th round pick by the Astros in 2018 and had an up and down year. He finished 8th in the system with strikeouts with 104, good for a K/9 of 11.5, but had a 5.98 ERA overall and 53 walks in 81.1 innings. He finished the year in Double-A and also pitched in the AFL.

2021 Stats: 23 G, 5.98 ERA, 81.1 IP, 76 H, 54 ER, 53 BB, 104 K, 11.5 K/9

Brett Conine

Conine had a big 2019 and I expected big things in 2021 but he struggled majority of the season in Triple-A. He pitched in 25 games for the Skeeters and had a 5.66 ERA while allowing 105 hits in 98.2 innings. He will get another chance to show something in 2022 and hopefully make his debut.

2021 Stats: 25 G, 5.66 ERA, 98.2 IP, 105, 62 ER, 43 BB, 83 K

2022 OUTLOOK/CONCLUSION

The Astros rotation has seen a lot of contributions from the system recently with Valdez, Urquidy, Garcia and Javier all making impacts. There may still be room for others to help and the Astros have a few close to major league ready in Hunter Brown, Peter Solomon and Jonathan Bermudez. France put up some dominant numbers and Forrest Whitley is getting healthy and could be a contributor. They have some young high upside arms to like Tamarez and Melendez. 2022 will be a fun year to watch these arms develop.