The 2023 season is finally here. While the Astros may not have the system they once had back 10 years ago, it is in better shape right now than it was last year or the year before. The system is underrated and there are a lot of strong performers on this list. For the ranking, I try to focus on a mix of production and potential, rather than just one side of it. While I have some bias, I think the system is in a pretty decent spot and there is a lot of talent lower on the list. Below is the Astros top 30 prospects for 2023!
1. Hunter Brown, RHP
Level: MLB DOB: 08/29/98
Brown was drafted by the Astros in the 5th round of the 2019 draft out of Wayne State University. Brown runs his fastball up to 99 MPH (despite throwing mid 80s in high school) and has shown the ability to maintain his velocity in multiple innings. He also possesses a big breaking curveball and sharp slider, which both flash above average. He even ran his slider up to 95 MPH this season. Brown has the most upside in the system and all the makings to be a top of the rotation starter. The right-hander had a system leading 2.55 ERA and struck out 134 in just 106 innings in 2022. He also cut his walks down from 4.5 BB/9 in 2021 to just 3.8 BB/9 in 2022. His performance earned him a call-up to Houston where he had a 0.89 ERA in 20.1 innings. He has all the makings of a top notch starter. Read more on him here.
2. Yainer Diaz, C
Level: MLB DOB: 09/21/98
Diaz was acquired in a trade that sent Myles Straw to Cleveland. Diaz is a bat first catching prospect who has proven his ability with the bat where ever he has been assigned. In 2022, Diaz played in 105 games between Double-A and Triple-A hitting .306 with 25 HR, 96 RBI. This earned him minor league player of the year in the Astros system. Diaz has a good command of the strike zone and rarely strikes out. He has plus power and has shown the ability to drive the ball the other way at a high rate. Behind the plate he has some work to do but has solid arm strength for the position. His bat will play at multiple positions and is a good candidate to be a breakout rookie in 2023.
3. Drew Gilbert, OF
Level: Single-A DOB: 09/27/00
Drew Gilbert was drafted by the Astros in the first round of the 2022 draft, the Astros first first round selection since 2019. Gilbert is a spark plug of a player, but don’t let that take away from his skillset either. The lefty possesses really good hand-eye coordination which allows him to consistently barrel baseballs. He also flashes some power which could see him as a 20 HR guy in the bigs. Gilbert has plus speed which he uses to his advantage on the bases and also in center field. He is currently a center field and projects to stay there at the big league level. As a junior at Tennessee, the lefty .362 with 21 2B, 11 HR, 70 RBI in 58 games. He is a fiery competitor and leaves it all out on the field. He started well in Fayetteville before an injury set him back but he appears to be the future at center field.
4. Jacob Melton, OF
Level: Single-A DOB: 09/07/00
Melton was drafted by the Astros in the 2nd round of the 2022 draft out of Oregon State. Melton had a standout junior year in college slashing .360/.424/.671 with 22 2B, 17 HR, 21 SB as he earned Pac-12 player of the year honors. Melton is a left handed swinging outfielder who stands at 6’3” and 210 lbs. Melton has an advanced approach at the plate and has above average power with the potential to be plus as he also makes a lot of contact. The lefty is a plus runner on the bases and in the outfield and should stick in center field defensively. He also performed well in his limited time in Fayetteville last year (1.001 OPS in 19 games).
5. Pedro Leon, OF
Level: Triple-A DOB: 05/28/98
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 2021 for $4 million. Despite his lack of size, Leon has shown power to all fields. He also possesses an above-average arm in the outfield and is a plus runner on the bases. The Astros have used him at SS but he makes the most sense in the outfield. While he has some swing and miss to his game, he has been able to get on base and still hit for power too. Leon has the potential to be an impact player at the MLB level and he has shown it already in the minors with the power and speed combination including 17 HR and 38 SB in 2022.
6. Korey Lee, C
Level: MLB DOB: 07/25/98
Lee was the Astros first round pick in 2019 out of California. Lee is a strong athlete with a strong lower half and shows solid across the board defensive skills and above average arm strength, projecting as a solid average catcher at the highest level. With the bat, Lee has shown the ability to drive the ball to the pull side at a high rate. Lee projects as a potential 20+ home run threat down the line. With the ability to hit for average and get on base from the backstop position, this gives Lee a strong shot to be a plus at the MLB level. Read more on Lee here.
7. Colin Barber, OF
Level: High-A DOB: 12/04/00
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 possesses above-average raw power and plus speed to keep him as a potential center fielder. He has struggled to stay healthy a bit, but when he has been healthy he has performed well (.851 OPS in 79 games). He has a patient approach at the plate and the ability to hit the ball all over the park. Baseball America said his work ethic has been rivaled to that of Alex Bregman’s from within the organization.
8. Justin Dirden, OF
Level: Triple-A DOB: 07/16/97
Dirden was an undrafted free agent following the 2020 draft but has dominated in the Astros system to a tune of .939 OPS in 207 minor league games. The lefty swinger has above average power and has shown the ability to drive the ball to all fields. Despite his size, he is a really good athlete and could stick at center field at the big league level. He is a strong runner and has an above average arm in the outfield. He has put together a strong spring training and is looking like a favorite to get a chance sooner rather than later. Read more on Dirden here.
9. Spencer Arrighetti, RHP
Level: Double-A DOB: 01/02/00
Arrighetti has had an interesting ride to this point. He college career consisted of three different schools with him ultimately getting drafted in the 6th round of the 2021 draft out of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. He has a low to mid 90s fastball which has topped at 98 MPH this season, and a plus slider to go with it. He has an improving curveball and changeup as well. Arrighetti’s fastball also has a lot of ride on it creating an advantageous approach angle for him. In 2022, the right-hander led the Astros system in strikeouts with 152 in just 106.2 innings. Read more on Arrighetti here.
10. Ryan Clifford, OF
Level: Single-A DOB: 07/20/03
The Astros drafted Clifford in the 11th round of the 2022 draft out of Crossroads FLEX HS in North Carolina, but don’t let his draft position fool you. He was a Vanderbilt commit and the Astros went way over slot signing him for $1,256,530, the second highest bonus of their draft pool behind Drew Gilbert. Clifford is a big lefty standing at 6’3” and 200 lbs. Clifford has the ability to hit for average and power with a beautiful left handed swing. He may profile for the corners and some scouts referred to him as an athletic Seth Beer.
11. Joe Perez, INF
Level: MLB DOB: 08/12/99
Perez made his big league debut in 2022 with an early call-up due to injuries. He went back down to Double-A and had a .731 OPS before finishing the season in Triple-A, and he finished hot. Perez hit .483 in 8 games in Triple-A to finish off a year where he hit .290 overall in 83 games. He has a great arm at the hot corner and is still only 23 years old. Perez showed plus power to all fields and after an adjustment period in Double-A, he held up well against competition well above his age. The Astros have also experimented with him in the corner outfield spots. Read more on Perez here.
12. Joey Loperfido, OF
Level: High-A DOB: 05/11/99
Loperfido was drafted in the 2021 draft after putting together a really good senior season. The lefty hitting Loperfido has the ability to work counts, draw walks and make a lot of contact. In 2022, he slashed .316/.408/.492 with 25 2B, 12 HR, 32 SB. Loperfido is a plus athlete that should be able to provide above average defense. He has some power which he is still getting into in the games but has seen an uptick over the last few months. Loperfido possesses above average athleticism which shows on the bases and in the field. In 2022 he has played at first and second base as well as all three outfield positions. Read more here.
13. Misael Tamarez, RHP
Level: Triple-A DOB: 01/16/00
The Astros signed Tamarez out of the Dominican Republic in 2018. He pitched in rookie league in 2019 but broke out a big way in 2021. As a 21 year old between Low-A and High-A, Tamarez posted a 3.76 ERA with 103 K in 76.2 innings. He followed that up with 142 K in 121.1 innings last year, though walks were a problem. Tamarez has a strong frame at 6-1 and over 200 lbs. Tamarez possesses a heavy fastball sitting miod 90s hitting and touching 97 MPH. He also possesses has a changeup and improving slider that can give him a deadly three pitch mix. He has the making of another under the radar pitching prospect who can make an impact in the next couple years.
14. Miguel Ullola, RHP
Level: Single-A DOB: 06/19/02
Ullola is a young flame throwing right hander. The 20-year-old features a plus fastball that sits mid-90s and touches 99 MPH, even when in multi-inning spots. While he has some command issues, he has overpowered the hitters in lower levels with the fastball/slider combination. He might end up in the bullpen, but that may not be a bad thing given what kind of stuff he could have in one innings spurts. The fastball and slider are his two best pitches, but he does throw a curveball as well.
15. Colton Gordon, LHP
Level: High-A DOB: 12/20/98
Gordon was an intriguing draft pick in 2021 after a good college career, but went into the draft after having Tommy John Surgery. After recovering and making his way back, Gordon dominated on the mount in 2022. He started in Single-A and had a 2.21 ERA with 3 BB/27 K in 20.1 innings. He was promoted to High-A where he had a 2.66 ERA with 3 BB/29 K in 20.1 innings. He won’t over power hitters with his fastball in the low 90s, but he has phenomenal command and pitchability with his secondary offerings making him an uncomfortable at-bat.
16. Forrest Whitley, RHP
Level: Triple-A DOB: 09/15/97
At this point, everyone knows who Forrest Whitley is. After a dominant 2017 which saw him strike out 143 over 92.1 innings while reaching AA at just 19 years old, he has struggled a bit to recapture that magic the last couple seasons. A suspension and a few nagging injuries has held him back. Whitley possesses a fastball that has nice life and gets up to 98 MPH which he pairs with a devastating changeup. He also has a very good curveball and solid cutter. Forrest had Tommy John surgery ending his 2021 season but made it back to Triple-A in 2022. I still believe in his upside and despite the setbacks, he has still shown some filthy stuff this spring.
17. Andrew Taylor, RHP
Level: Rookie DOB: 09/23/01
The Astros nabbed a tall right hander in Andrew Taylor, who stands at 6’5″ and 190 lbs, with their compensation pick for losing Carlos Correa. Taylor has a low 90s fastball but generates a ton of swings and misses with high spin rate and carry, which is throws the majority of the time. The righty had an impressive college career for Central Michigan posting a 2.45 ERA with 261 K in 195 innings. Taylor also possesses a solid changeup and two breaking pitches.
18. Will Wagner, INF
Level: Double-A DOB: 07/29/98
Wagner was an 18th round pick by the Astros in 2021, but looking like a steal to get him so late. The son of former Astros closer Billy Wagner, Will is a right handed thrower, lefty swinger. He plays primarily second and third base in the infield, but has moved around a bit. He is an advanced hitter who has a good command of the strike zone and makes a lot of contact. Wagner played in 117 games between High-A and Double-A in 2022 and slashed .261/.374/.394 with 19 2B, 10 HR, 53 RBI. He also put up a really good walk rate (13.5%) and strikeout rate (19.7%) as he made his way up the system. He will have to hit for a little bit more power but the bat to ball and on-base skills will take him far too. Read more here.
19. J.P. France, RHP
Level: Triple-A DOB: 04/04/95
France was drafted by the Astros in the 14th round of the 2018 draft. The right hander had a solid 2022 season striking out 136 in 110.2 innings. He was also added to there 40 man roster this off-season. France has a really good blend of pitches and has shown improved command over the last few months. He mixes a slider, cutter and chanegup off of his fastball that has been up to 95 MPH last season season. Read my interview with France here.
20. Jaime Melendez, RHP
Level: Double-A DOB: 09/26/01
Melendez was signed by the Astros out of Mexico and he has made a quick rise in the system. He was a quick rise in 2021 making his way to Double-A at just 19-years-old. He is a smaller pitcher (5-8) but is built well at 190 lbs. Melendez has a fastball that he can run up to 95 MPH consistently and a good slider but also pitches with deception thanks to his vertical approach angle on his pitches. He has a ton of upside making it up to Double-A already.
21. Logan Cerny, OF
Level: Single-A DOB: 09/28/99
Cerny was acquired by the Astros in the deal that sent Garrett Stubbs to Philadelphia. Cerny is a toolsy prospect who comes with a power/speed combination. The wiry outfielder, drafted in the 10th round by the Phillies, has plus speed on the bases and in the outfield. He has some swing and miss in his game but was still able to post an OPS over .800 in his first full season and have success on the bases stealing 35 in 86 games. This also included 15 HR and a .472 SLG. His speed and defense will allow him to stick in center field as he moves up the system.
22. Edinson Batista, RHP
Level: High-A DOB: 05/19/02
Signed a free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2019, Batista struggled a bit early on but has had a breakout season in 2022. The right hander has a low to mid 90s fastball but features a wipeout slider that generates a ton of swings and misses right now. He also has a curveball and a changeup which are still a work in progress, as is his command. But the size and pitches are there for him to succeed at the higher levels.
23. Michael Knorr, RHP
Level: Rookie DOB: 05/12/00
The Astros drafted Knorr in the 3rd round of the 2022 draft. Knorr spent his first three seasons at Cal State Fullerton before moving to Coastal Carolina for his senior year where he struck out 86 in 69 innings. Knorr has a fastball that reaches 98 MPH and a good changeup. He also has some deception in his delivery and if he can command his fastball a bit better, he can move up the system pretty quickly with his fastball/changeup combination.
24. Kenedy Corona, OF
Level: High-A DOB: 03/21/00
Corona was acquired in the deal that sent Jake Marisnick to the Mets. He is listed at 5’11” and 184 lbs, but is built really well and packs a punch in his swing. In 2022, the right-hander had a .857 OPS with 24 2B, 19 HR, 28 SB in 107 games between Single-A and High-A. He possesses above average speed and some sneaky pop. He will be one to watch this year as he should start in Double-A.
25. Shawn Dubin, RHP
Level: Triple-A DOB: 09/06/95
Dubin was drafted by the Astros in the 13th round of the 2018 draft after attending two different JuCo schools. He is smaller stature listed at 6-1, 155 lbs but he has added about 20 lbs and is sitting around 175 now. His fastball sits in the mid 90s, touching 99, and he has a plus slider. Dubin has enough pitches to be a starter but if the Astros decide to use him in the pen, he could be electric running it up to triple digits. He has struggled with some injuries last year and didn’t perform to his previous standards. You can read my interview with Dubin here.
26. Luke Berryhill, C
Level: Double-A DOB: 05/28/98
Berryhill, originally drafted by the Reds, was acquired via trade before the 2021 season. After making some adjustments on advisement from Astros coaches, he has turned in some really good numbers. In 2022, Berryhill got on base at a high clip, .380 on-base percentage, despite battling a few injuries. Berryhill has flashed above average raw power and the potential to work counts and draw walks. Behind the plate, he has above average arm strength and is a good receiver. You can read more on him here.
27. Quincy Hamilton, OF
Level: Double-A DOB: 06/12/98
Hamilton was drafted as a 5th year senior after some great numbers at Wright State University. The advanced lefty has done nothing but hit in the Astros system making his way up to Double-A in his first full season. He draws walks, doesn’t really strikeout, and has some solid power. He also is an above-average runner showing the ability to steal bases and play solid defense in the outfield. In 2022 he posted a .857 OPS with 17 HR, 27 SB between three levels.
28. Tyler Whitaker, OF
Level: Single-A DOB: 08/02/02
With the Astros first pick the 2021 draft, the Astros took Whitaker out of high school. Whitaker was ranked the #37 prospect by MLB. Scouts noted that he has a plus arm in the outfield and big raw power. He has played both outfield and shortstop this season. Whitaker is a good athlete for his size. He has some swing in miss to his game but has the upside to be a big run producer at the major league level. He is 6-4 and 190 lbs. In 2022 he has struggled to make contact but finished the season better posting a .762 OPS with 8 2B, 6 HR over the final 35 games.
29. Trey Dombroksi, LHP
Level: Rookie DOB: 03/13/01
Dombroski was drafted by the Astros in the 4th round of the 2022 draft after a standout career at Monmouth University, including 14 BB/130 K in 95 innings as a junior. The lefty stands at 6’5” and 235 lbs. While he doesn’t blow you away with his stuff, he really knows how to pitch and has very good command. He has a low 90s fastball but mixes in two very good breaking pitches. He immediately becomes one of the better command pitchers in the Astros system.
30. Alex Santos, RHP
Level: Single-A DOB: 02/10/02
Santos was drafted by the Astros in the 2nd round of the 2020 MLB draft but due to COVID, he was unable to make his professional debut that season. Santos has a low to mid 90s fastball with a high spin rate and pairs that with two solid secondary offerings, a curveball and a growing changeup. He has a good build at 6’4”, 195 lbs. He struggled some last year in Single-A but has looked better on the backfields this spring sitting 94-96 with the fastball.