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Astros Minor League Position Review: Shortstop

See how the shortstops played down on the farm.

Corpus Christi Hooks v Amarillo Sod Poodles
AMARILLO, TEXAS - APRIL 14: Shay Whitcomb #9 of the Corpus Christi Hooks runs to third base during the game against the Amarillo Sod Poodles at HODGETOWN Stadium on April 14, 2023 in Amarillo, Texas.
Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

Now that the season is over we will review each position in the minor league system during the 2023 season. This week we will look at the shortstop position.

Previous Positions:

Catcher

First Base

Second Base

Third Base


TOP PERFORMERS

Shay Whitcomb

Whitcomb had quite the season in 2023. The fifth round pick from 2020 started the year in Double-A and had 12 homers with a .886 OPS in 46 games before being promoted to Triple-A. For Sugar Land, he played in 87 games connecting on 23 homers which led the team. The 35 homers overall led all of minor league baseball. He also drove in 102 runs.

2023 Stats: 133 G, .240 BA/.301 OBP/.470 SLG, 19 2B, 35 HR, 102 RBI, 20 SB

Grae Kessinger

Kessinger put together a strong 2023 season showing off why he was a second round pick back in 2019. In Triple-A, Kessinger slashed .283/.397/.435 in 54 games earning him a chance with the big league team. He played in 26 games including some crucial playoff games.

2023 Stats: 56 G, .283 BA/.397 OBP/.429 SLG, 10 2B, 6 HR, 35 RBI, 2 SB


THE REST OF THE PACK

Chad Stevens

Stevens was an 11th round pick by the Astros in 2021. The 24-year-old played the full season in Double-A and hit .220 with 19 doubles, 15 homers and 23 stolen bases. He had some strikeout issues but did damage at times during the season.

2023 Stats: 122 G, .220 BA/.333 OBP/.397 SLG, 19 2B, 5 3B, 15 HR, 60 RBI, 23 SB

Leosdanis Molina

Molina is a great defender but has struggled with the bat. In 2023, the 23-year-old played the full season in Single-A posting a .560 OPS with just 10 XBHs in 96 games.

2023 Stats: 96 G, .211 BA/.273 OBP/.287 SLG, 4 2B, 6 HR, 30 RBI, 17 SB

Jackson Loftin

Loftin was drafted in 2022 and had an interesting 2023 season. He started the year in Single-A but got off to a rough start. He moved up to Triple-A for depth and found his swing posting a .720 OPS over the final 77 games. He led the Astros system with 60 stolen bases too.

2023 Stats: 120 G, .213 BA/.331 OBP/.325 SLG, 17 2B, 9 HR, 47 RBI, 60 SB

Tommy Sacco

Sacco played the full season in High-A and had some decent numbers. The switch-hitter posted a .736 OPS with 16 doubles, 12 homers and 16 stolen bases. He should be in Double-A in 2024.

2023 Stats: 104 G, .225 BA/.354 OBP/.382 SLG, 16 2B, 12 HR, 47 RBI, 16 SB

Brice Matthews

Matthews was the Astros first round pick in 2023 after a standout career at Nebraska. The power-speed threat played in 33 games in Single-A posting a .740 OPS with 4 homers, 16 stolen bases. He will probably start 2024 in High-A.

2023 Stats: 35 G, .208 BA/.365 OBP/.352 SLG, 6 2B, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 18 SB


2024 OUTLOOK/CONCLUSION

It appeared the Astros had the long term answer at shortstop with Pena following the 2022 season. Despite some regression, Pena was still an above average player in 2023 and put up 3.8 bWAR. The Astros have some depth in Kessinger and some upside with Whitcomb. Matthews is arguably their top prospect so he will be one to watch this season.