The Houston Astros have one of the best farm systems in baseball, even with recent trades of top-tier talent and the promotions of Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers and Preston Tucker eating away at some of the top names from last year's rankings. The key for Houston's farm system as we prepare for the 2016 season has been the amount of depth spread throughout their farm system.
Case in point: Albert Abreu. Many fans, even those that follow the team closely and keep up to date with the Astros' prospects may have a vague recollection of Abreu at best. Depending on who you go to for your player rankings, Baseball America or MLB Pipeline, you'll see Abreu's name ranked either 12th or 11th, surrounded by more well-known commodities like Michael Feliz, J.D. Davis and Tony Kemp.
Signed in 2013 out of the Dominican Republic, Abreu is set to enter his first full season of pro ball at the age of 20, according to the 2016 edition of Baseball America's Prospect Handbook. Abreu is listed at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds with a fastball that averages between 93-96 miles per hour, but can touch 99. Baseball America also rates his changeup as "above average" while also generating deception with his arm speed. Both Pipeline and Baseball America state that Abreu has the potential to be a frontline starter, but will need to work on repeating his mechanics to reach that potential.
With Mark Appel moving on to the Phillies, Abreu ranks as the team's 5th-best right-handed pitcher behind Francis Martes, Joe Musgrove, David Paulino and Michael Feliz, making right-handing pitching a position of strength on the farm; especially high on the list.
As you can see, Abreu's stat line doesn't necessarily jump out at you like, say, a Musgrove with his walk total, or Martes with his sheer dominance, but the scouts are sold on Abreu entering 2016. With a full season of statistics accumulated, some of these numbers will certainly have a chance to grow, and Albert Abreu could join the collective consciousness of the fan base by season's end.
The next logical step for Abreu would be to join the Tri-City ValleyCats, but if the Astros have him pegged for full-season ball, then it's more likely that he'll get to begin with the Quad Cities River Bandits, which is the same spot Musgrove and Martes began last year before rocketing up the Astros prospect lists. With a couple of years of seasoning left until Abreu is likely to make his mark in the big leagues, he could become a trade chip for the Astros around the deadline. Houston has shown that they aren't afraid to move highly-ranked players in order to improve their major league club, and a player still a couple of years away would fit a lot of team's rebuild windows, especially in the National League where there are a number of teams throwing in the towel on 2016 already.