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UPDATED LIST: Astros’ top 30 prospects for 2021

According to MLB Pipeline, Forrest Whitley is the best prospect in the Astros organization for the third year in a row.

2021 Houston Astros Photo Day Photo by Adam Glanzman/MLB Photos via Getty Images

On Monday night, MLB Pipeline unveiled the top 30 prospects for every organization in the American League West entering the 2021 season. For the third year in a row, the Astros have righty starting pitcher Forrest Whitley as the first name on the list.

Whitley —who suffered a UCL sprain and could be on the verge of Tommy John Surgery— is followed by newly-signed Int’l CF Pedro León, RHP Hunter Brown, IF Jeremy Peña, and C Korey Lee, a group we are yet to see in the Majors.

Putting Whitley on the top is the logical choice. Even though his present is uncertain at this point due to the new injury that’s threatening his season, we all know what kind of stuff Whitley has. Despite all the struggles, he’s somehow kept himself among baseball’s top 100 prospects for a while now. In fact, this year he’s the only Astro to appear on that list (41 overall).

The 23-year-old has three of his pitches —fastball, curveball, changeup— graded as 60, something that we’re not used to seeing nowadays. And his other deliveries —cutter and slider— reached 55 on the scouting scale that goes from 20 to 80. To this point, it seems it’s still a matter of staying healthy and consistent, which has been a major roadblock for him.

Then we move to Cuban center-fielder Pedro León. Although he’s been an Astro for less than two months after signing as an int’l prospect, he’s not too far from the Big Leagues, according to scouts. According to MLB Pipeline, his MLB debut will happen at some point in 2022.

When you look at León’s grades, you’ll quickly notice his 80 arm. Let me tell you it’s not easy at all to be ranked 80 in any aspect of your game. So even though we have not seen it yet, León’s throws from center field should be something special. He combines that tool with a 60-grade speed.

Those two, along with his 55-grade fielding, should make everyone feel safe about him as the future and long-term center-fielder for the Astros. He projects as a power hitter (55) that can hit line drives. For you to have a reference, León (now 22) slashed 383/.467/.789 with 15 homers in 33 games in Cuba’s top league as a 20-year-old in 2018-19.

Lower on the list is Hunter Brown. The 6-2 right-hander flashes a 65-grade fastball that can be consistently around 96 miles per hour. It’s his heater, combined with his 60-grade curveball, what can get him into high-leverage spots in the future if he winds up in the bullpen.

Regarding Jeremy Peña, He is a legitimate shortstop (60-grade fielding) with a quick first step and plus range, thanks also to his 55 running. Though there have been questions about his hitting, Peña has been way better than expected, as he was a .303/.385/.440/.825 hitter between Class-A and Class-A advanced in 2019 (109 games) and slashed 306/.349/.430/.779 last year in the Dominican Winter League (30 games) with older competition.

And last but not least, there’s Korey Lee. The 22-year-old has yet to play above A-, but he’s expected to be the future everyday catcher for the Astros. As a hitter, Lee has some pop (55) and could develop into a decent hitter (45), but his arm is his best tool, with a 65 grade. As for now, his estimated time of arrival is 2022.

The complete list:

  • RHP Forrest Whitley
  • CF Pedro León
  • RHP Hunter Brown
  • SS/2B Jeremy Peña
  • C Korey Lee
  • RHP Luis García
  • IF Freudis Nova
  • OF Colin Barber
  • RHP Tyler Ivey
  • RHP Alex Santos
  • RHP Shawn Dubin
  • OF Zach Daniels
  • RHP Bryan Abreu
  • RHP Peter Solomon
  • SS/3B Grae Kessinger
  • OF Jordan Brewer
  • OF Chas McCormick
  • RHP Tyler Brown
  • RHP Jojanse Torres
  • 1B/OF/3B Taylor Jones
  • SS Dauri Lorenzo
  • RHP Brett Conine
  • RHP Austin Hansen
  • RHP Jairo López
  • RHP Nivaldo Rodríguez
  • RHP Blair Henley
  • C/1B Nathan Perry
  • OF Ronnie Dawson
  • 3B Joe Pérez