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Quick Hits on Astros Prospects in Spring Training

Short form notes on every minor leaguer in Astros camp

Milwaukee Brewers v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Spring Training games are often the first time that many fans see their favorite club’s minor leaguers in action. Roughly half of the Astros’ roster for spring is made up of prospects, so let’s take a quick look at each and what to expect from them in the team’s upcoming contests.

Bryan Abreu - A highly athletic righty hurler, Abreu can touch the upper 90s and sports two different swing and miss breaking balls. His stuff is of a front of the rotation quality, but Abreu has never developed the necessary control for that role, and now projects as a bullpen contributor.

Ronel Blanco - Already 27, Blanco is an old prospect who is mainly known for his arm strength. He’s pretty far down the potential bullpen pecking order in 2021, but with a fastball up to 96 and some solid MiLB results, he can’t be ruled out as a potential callup at some point.

Hunter Brown - A 2019 draft pick from Wayne State, Brown was utterly dominant at the D-II level and has the stuff to pass the eye test as well. He sports a high level fastball/slider combination out of a simple, if slightly stiff, delivery. Brown has serious momentum entering 2021 and has a real chance to develop into a big league starter.

Brett Conine - A reliever in college ball for Cal State Fullerton, the Astros shifted Conine to starting, where he has excelled in the minors all the way up to Double-A. He sports a broad, four pitch arsenal but mainly works off his changeup, which has developed into a potentially plus pitch. He projects as a #5 starter type.

Shawn Dubin - Despite a rail-thin frame, Dubin has held up well pitching multiple innings in the minors and has a devilish fastball/slider combination that rivals any 1-2 punch in the system. He projects as a late inning relief weapon, potentially a closer or multi-inning type.

Kent Emanuel - The third round pick in the Mark Appel draft, Emanuel has changed his approach a lot since being drafted and now throws all of his stuff with heavy life. He faced a lot of struggles earlier in his career but has reinvented himself to a point that he could have a future in middle relief.

Riley Ferrell - A star closer for TCU in his college days, Ferrell still has a late inning quality fastball/breaker combo but has struggled with injuries and control, and hasn’t thrown live action in some time now.

Austin Hansen - A bigger relief prospect, Hansen has been utterly dominant at the minor league level with a hard fastball, variety of offspeed stuff headlined by a slider, and below average command. He projects as a setup man.

Ryan Hartman - A finesse arm, Hartman works with a low 90s heater that has remained effective in the minors thanks to its ride. He also employs a cutter and slurvy breaker, and mainly excels with command. He’ll most likely top out as an emergency starter type.

Blair Henley - An off-the-wall selection out of the University of Texas, Henley is best known for a high spin curveball that he pairs with a fringy fastball. He has a chance to emerge as a serious prospect if the fastball life can improve some, with a fallback as a curveball-heavy relief arm.

Tyler Ivey - The man with the weirdest mechanics in the system, Ivey makes it work with a four-pitch arsenal headlined by an old-school 12-6 curveball. Despite the funk, Ivey can really locate and could well have a future as a long-term starter if he can stay healthy.

Carson LaRue - A former 14th rounder, LaRue has had a steady climb up the minor league ladder despite light stuff, eventually reaching Triple-A in 2019. He’s bullpen insurance for the upcoming season.

Seth Martinez - Plucked from Oakland in the minor league phase of the Rule 5, Martinez will make his first official appearances with the Astros organization this spring. He reached Double-A in 2019, where he struck out 33 in 28 and 23 frames.

Alex Santos - The prize of the Astros’ 2020 draft class, Santos has a long way to go to reach his ceiling but could be a mid-rotation starter with his athletic delivery and spinny fastball/breaking ball combination.

Kit Scheetz - Signed years ago as an undrafted free agent, Scheetz’ results have long outpaced his stuff. Despite no real carrying pitch to speak of, Scheetz is able to effectively mix a variety of offerings to keep hitters off balance and could surprise all the way to a big league relief role.

Jojanse Torres - A superb athlete who can reach 100+ MPH with his fastball, Torres struggles with control but has the potential to be a late inning reliever. The heater is backed up by a rock solid slider that also comes in with plenty of power.

Jairo Solis - Already 40-manned despite no experience above Low-A, Solis is a highly talented young starter with nascent command of a fastball that can get into the mid-90s and potential plus curveball. Tommy John and COVID kept him on the shelf a long time but his ceiling is that of a mid-rotation starter.

Peter Solomon- Solomon struggled with his control at Notre Dame but was successfully reined in by the Astros, and sports a firm fastball to go with a variety of effective secondaries. He’s been held back by injuries but has the stuff to settle into the back of the rotation or a setup role.

Forrest Whitley- Most are aware of Whitley, formerly ranked as the #1 pitching prospect in all of baseball. His health and command have wavered, but he still has top flight stuff headlined by a plus fastball/curveball combination. He’s still working to apply wholesale mechanical changes to his game and is fully healthy entering 2021.

Korey Lee- The last first round pick made by the organization, Lee hit behind Andrew Vaughn at Cal and has a balanced game with some contact skills, solid raw power and an all-around defensive game. He could be the Astros’ catcher of the future.

Scott Manea- Acquired in the J.D. Davis trade, Manea is getting old at age 25 but has put up wRC+s over 100 at his last three stops. He’s mostly known for his power and arm strength but also has some decent on base skills and could be a bench catcher type down the road.

Michael Papierski - A switch-hitting backstop who came to the Astros as a 9th round pick out of LSU, Papierski is a glove first catcher with a patient, power-oriented plate approach. Like Manea he projects as a potential bench catcher long-term.

Lorenzo Quintana- Quintana is already in his 30s after signing late out of Cuba, and is known as a bat-first catcher with questionable defensive ability, though there have been some promising reports about his progress with the mitt. He mashed Double-A back in 2019 and has a free-swinging approach.

Colton Shaver- Drafted as a corner infield masher with big power and patience, Shaver has shifted to catcher, where he’s worked tirelessly during COVID limbo. If he can transform into a playable catcher, his modest offensive abilities could become quite intriguing at the position.

Alex De Goti- One of the longest tenured players in the system, De Goti is a solid but unspectacular offensive performer who has some infield versatility and will continue to serve as emergency depth.

CJ Hinojosa- An ex-Houston area prep star and Texas Longhorn, Hinojosa has a contact oriented offensive profile to go with an ability to fit up the middle defensively. Like De Goti, he’s a low ceiling depth option for the infield.

Grae Kessinger- The club’s second rounder in 2019, Kessinger has big league bloodlines and plays with savvy on the infield dirt. His range is limited at shortstop but his actions mitigate that, and he has some impressive contact skills. The Astros will hope to help him get to more of his solid raw power in games.

Freudis Nova- A tooled up infielder, Nova has big power and speed and feel for contact within the strike zone, but has a lot of issues with his free-swinging approach that have prevented him from really getting close to his ceiling. He currently plays short but will likely need to move to third or outfield long term.

Jeremy Pena- Since his college days, Pena has transformed his body, adding power to his game. He’s best known for his silky shortstop play, but nowadays looks to have some real offensive potential to boot, and he could be an every day player or super-utility.

Colin Barber- An overslot get in the 2019 draft, Barber had a strong debut in rookie ball and has rapidly ascended organizational rankings. The youngster has plus speed to go with solid average power and an impressive hit tool for his age, with room to improve. He may or may not fit in center field long term.

Zach Daniels- Owner of perhaps the best power/speed combination in the system, Daniels erupted for Tennessee in the 2020 college season but has a very short track record of performance. He’s the type of player who could play every day if he hits just .250.

Ronnie Dawson- A second rounder out of Ohio State what feels like ages ago, Dawson can do a bit of everything on the diamond and stands out most for his rangy outfield defense. At the plate he can get to a fair amount of his big pop, but he has severe strikeout issues that limit his upside. He should fit as a long term bench piece best known for his glove.

Bryan De La Cruz- An older prospect, De La Cruz is a skills-first guy who stands out for his contact ability and solid defense. With Springer in Toronto, there’s a shorter path to the majors for De La Cruz, who could probably handle himself fine at the highest level without much more experience.

Pedro Leon- Recipient of a $4 million bonus this past offseason, Leon is something of a man of mystery but sports massive tools headlined by power and arm strength out of a compact 5’9” frame. Evaluators have been hands-off in trying to project his hit tool to the MLB game given the lack of data.

Chas McCormick- A great day 3 draft find out of the northeast, McCormick has developed steadily since being drafted and now projects as a long term big leaguer. He has some solid speed that helps him run down balls over the outfield, and his defense is perhaps his best trait. He also has a mature, patient approach that helps him get on base and make the most of his wheels.

Jake Meyers- A former two-way player in college who bats righty and throws lefty, Meyers is an athletic outfielder who hasn’t been able to put up more than modest offensive production thus far since being drafted in 2017, but has a strong base of defensive ability.

Jose Siri- A new face in the system, Siri spent a lot of time in the Reds organization before eventually being picked up on waivers by Houston. He’ll wow you with his athleticism, able to handle center field and crank homers to deep parts of the park, but his strikeout rates in the minors have been astronomical. He’s a longshot post-hype sleeper.