With the minor league rosters set (so it appears), it is time to take a closer look at each team’s players and who to keep an eye on this season. Here I will list two hitters and two pitchers from each affiliate to watch during the 2021 season.
Sugar Land Skeeters (AAA)
Hitter – Ronnie Dawson, OF
Dawson was drafted by the Astros in the second round of the 2016 draft. He has great tools but struggled in AA in 2019. Despite his struggles, he still 17 HR and 14 SB and provides above average defense in the outfield. While he is 26 this season, the Astros have already shown they will use him this season as they called him up for a short stint when five guys went on the IL. Hopefully he can put together some good numbers in Sugar Land and impact the big league club late this season.
One More: Jake Meyers, OF
Pitcher – Tyler Ivey, RHP
Ivey was a high upside selection in the 2017 draft. He initially attended Texas A&M before transferring to Grayson Community College. He has been great in the minors thus far. In 2019 Ivey put up a 1.38 ERA with 68 K in 52 innings. He faced some injuries but dominated AA when he had the chance. I truly think he is a guy who can help the Astros now and will get a chance later this season. His fastball sits in the low to mid 90s and he mixes an above-average curveball and a solid slider and changeup. Ivey has all the makings of a potential big-league starter.
One More: Shawn Dubin, RHP
Corpus Christi Hooks (AA)
Hitter – Pedro Leon, OF
The Astros were rumored to be the favorites for Leon for quite a while but COVID threw a wrench in the plans. He was eventually signed in January of this year for $4 million. He has a short and compact swing with power to all fields. He also possesses an above-average arm in the outfield and is a plus runner on the bases. James Click referred to him as a true five tool prospect. I have no clue what kind of timetable the Astros have in store for him, but he could move quickly.
One More: Grae Kessinger, INF
Pitcher – Hunter Brown, RHP
Brown was drafted by the Astros in the 5th round of the 2019 draft out of Wayne State University. He only pitched in 23 innings following the draft but he has shown enough to deserve a high ranking. Brown runs his fastball up to 99 and has shown the ability to maintain his velocity one multiple innings. He also has a sharp slider as his secondary pitch but will need to continue to work on his curveball to stick as a starter. Brown has a ton of upside though and could be a breakout guy in 2021.
One More: Parker Mushinski, LHP
Asheville Tourists (A+)
Hitter – Colin Barber, OF
Barber was drafted in the 4th round of high school in the 2019 draft. He signed for $1 million, which was almost $600k over slot. Barber has very good bat speed and a knack for making contact. The left-handed hitter has above-average raw power and plus speed to keep him as a potential center fielder. He has a ton of potential and could really climb the ranks with a good performance in 2021. The Astros starting him in High-A with no time in Low-A says a lot.
One More: Korey Lee, C
Pitcher – Tyler Brown, RHP
Brown was drafted by the Astros in the 3rd round of the 2020 draft after dominating college baseball in relief. He was a closer for Vanderbilt for the last two seasons and in 2019 he put up a really good year with 9 BB/65 K in 49.1 innings while picking up 17 saves and a 2.19 ERA. He was off to another good start in 2020 (14 K in 10.2 IP) before COVID cancelled the remainder of the season. Brown has a mid 90s fastball that he mixes with a solid slider. He is a big pitcher, standing at 6-4 and 240 lbs which leads some scouts to think he can maybe transition to a starter. He could be another fast riser as a bullpen option.
One More: Blair Henley, RHP
Fayetteville Woodpeckers (A)
Hitter – JC Correa, INF
JC Correa, the younger brother of Astros star Carlos Correa, was signed by the Astros in the summer of 2020. He doesn’t have the size of Carlos, standing at 5-11 and 180 lbs, but he put up great numbers anyways. He hit .364 in 80 games at Alvin Community College and then had a .910 OPS in 53 games in 2019. He should be playing 2B or SS. Correa will be a fun one to watch this season to see how he performs.
One More: Joe Perez, INF
Pitcher – Ernesto Jaquez, RHP
Jaquez was signed by the Astros as an international free agent in 2017 for $95,000. The last time he was on the mound was 2018 where he had a combined 1.75 ERA with 74 K in 56.2 innings while allowing just 25 hits between the DSL, GCL and Tri-City. He is 21 years old now, but I can’t wait to see what he will do finally getting a chance to pitch in a real game since 2018.
One More: Manny Ramirez, RHP