The Astros minor league system is not what it once was, but there are still some solid prospects in this bunch. On Wednesday, Fangraphs.com released their updated top 100 prospects list (although they ranked 133 of them). Let’s take a look at some of the Astros prospects that made the list. You can find the full list here.. Fangraphs Top 100.
#66 - Jeremy Pena, SS
The top rankned prospect according to Fangraphs.com is Jeremy Pena. Pena has been in the Astros system following his selection in the 3rd round of the 2018 draft. After a breakout 2019 season where he had a .825 OPS with 35 XBHs over A/A+, the pandemic put his rise on hold. But Pena is still a very good prospect. He was seen as maybe the best defensive college player in the 2018 draft and he has lived up the hype. They also note that he has a swing similar to Yuli Gurriel and could be a 12-15 HR guy with elite defense at shortstop. 2021 should be a big year for him as he moves into the upper minor league levels.
#106 - Forrest Whitley, RHP
Whitley has bounced around as a top prospect from unranked following the draft, to ranked the #5 prospect in baseball following the 2018 season. Unfortunately, he has yet to live up to the hype following that ranking and has seen his top prospect status fall due to a mix of suspension, injuries, and poor performance. Fangraphs note that he still has the stuff to be a potential #1 starter but he has earned an “injury prone” tag on his name which is what is keeping his ranking down. Whitley really needs to have a good season and get his chance in the big leagues this year. Despite being in the Astros system since 2016, he is still only 23 years old.
#120 - Hunter Brown, RHP
Brown was the Astros 5th round selection in the 2019 draft. The reports are Fangraphs are pretty glowing noting that in the fall instructs he was up to 99 MPH with his fastball and two breaking balls with impact potential. They even went far enough to say that the report’s on his stuff is similar to Walker Buehler when he returned from Tommy John. It was also noted that he has seen a change in his physique due to professional strenght and conditioning in the Astros organization. I’m excited to see what he can do in 2021.
So while the system isn’t as heralded as it was a few years ago, I still think the Astros have a good group of prospects who can make some noise in 2021 and jump up the prospect rankings.