Part four of our series will focus on a strikeout specialist and a young catcher.
Ian Foggo is a six-foot-one, 200 lb. right-handed relief pitcher from Hilton Head Island, SC. Born on Jun 1, 1998, Foggo played for three schools over his four season collegiate career: Lenoir-Rhyne, Charleston Southern, and Citadel. In what would be a recurrent theme through his still-nascent career, Foggo struck out 55 batters in only 42 1⁄3 innings, but also walked 44 through his 41 total appearances.
Foggo also frequented summer leagues aplenty, participating in five between 2017 and 2021. The totals, 66 walks and 101 strikeouts in 61 frames.
Foggo’s concerning control problem was enough to see the MLB Draft come and go without his selection, but his swing-and-miss stuff was tantalizing enough for Houston to give him a contract through free agency on August 16, 2021. In six appearances with the FCL Astros to close out that season, Foggo struck out 14 and walked four in seven innings.
Initially assigned to the High-A Asheville Tourists to start out the 2022 campaign, Foggo was sent down a level to the Low-A Fayetteville Woodpeckers without making an appearance.
Foggo has made it hard for us to suss out whether he is a ground-ball or fly-ball pitcher with his performance thus far. In five innings over four appearances with Fayetteville, he struck out 14 and walked 11 while allowing three hits. The four pitches that resulted in either a hit or an out were evenly divided, with two grounders and two flies.
Foggo’s pitch-location unpredictability no doubt led to the roster move on June 6, when he was sent back down to the rookie level with the FCL Astros Orange. Another 27 1⁄3 innings pitched, nine wild pitches, another 25 walks, and 37 K’s.
Foggo’s swing-and-miss stuff is intriguing, but his wildness seems to be systemic. It’s likely he progresses past Low-A, but only if he learns how to control his wacky unhittable stuff.
Jancel Villarroel is a five-foot-eight, 176 lb. catcher from Porlamar, VZ. Born on January 17, 2005, he signed his first professional contract on August 3, getting assigned to the DSL HOU Orange the very next day in the rookie-level Dominican League.
At 17-years-old, the jury is very much still out on Villarroel. What I can tell from the scant information available is that the kid can hit. I know it’s a small sample size (only 12 rookie level games), but he’s slashing .333/.529/.583 for a heady 1.113 OPS.
Look at that middle figure in the slash line for a moment. Yeah — missed that for a sec didn’t you? Villarroel drew 10 walks in only 35 plate appearances, while also collecting five singles, a double, a triple, and a homer.
Defensively, Villarroel has spent 40 innings behind the plate without a passed ball. True, he’s only thrown out one-of-nine base stealers, but he’s also taken 50 chances without an error. Still in a very early state of development, the quickest timeline would see him join the Astros sometime in 2027.
Thanks for stopping by. Check back tomorrow for another pair of prospects that you may (or may not) have heard of.