The Astros not only have one of the best rosters in baseball, but they also have one of the deepest farm systems. The Astros are set for now and the future, as the franchise seems to be in a great place as they have a great minor-league foundation backing up a Major League roster already loaded with young talent.
As many of the Astros most recent top prospects have just recently debuted in the past season (Bregman, Reed, Moran, Devenski, Musgrove) the top of the Astros top prospects list is significantly younger. Players like Kyle Tucker and Daz Cameron are highly touted prospects, but are still seemingly a whiles away from making contributions at the Minor-League level.
This list solely focuses on the older, more developed prospects. Here are the top Astros pro-ready prospects that could very likely see time in 2017.
Martes is arguably the Astros #1 prospect, and perhaps the Minor-Leaguer most ready to take the next step. Originally acquired in the Jared Cosart trade in 2014, Martes made tremendous growth to become one of the Astros' and league's top pitching prospects. While he has always been able to throw heat (upper 90's) Martes has made huge strides with his control and complimentary pitches. In 25 appearances and 22 starts with the Astros Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks last season, Martes posted a 3.30 ERA, a 2.73 FIP, and struck out 9.41 batters per nine while only walking 3.38 per nine.
Martes has nasty stuff, and is considered by many scouts to have clear front-end starter upside. With just a little more polish, Martes could help bolster the Astros starting rotation, which suffered from injuries and inconsistencies in 2016.
It is very unfortunate that he shares his name with one of the more reviled figures from my Rockets-crazed childhood, but the 23 year-old has legitimate upside.
The Astros drafted Fisher with the 37th overall pick in the 2014 draft out of the University of Virginia, as Fisher possessed an interesting combination of speed and power. Yet in college his production never quiet matched his skill-set. Fisher has found a little more consistency since being drafted, as he has hit .271/.368/.459 with 45 homers and 76 stolen bases over three full seasons in the Astros farm system. In 2016, Fisher spent time with both the Astros Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, and hit .255/.367/.448 with 21 homers and 28 stolen bases overall.
There is no clear path for playing time for Fisher, as acquisitions of players like Carlos Beltran, Nori Aoki, and Josh Reddick have made even Teoscar Hernandez and Tony Kemp temporarily obsolete. However, injuries do happen, and with decent Minor-league and College experience the 23 year old could likely make his Astros debut in 2017. Probably not out of necessity, but don't be surprised if Fisher is wearing an Astros jersey at some point in the upcoming season.
- Astros Ranking: 11
- ETA: 2017
JD Davis is a power-hitting prospect that seems destined to have Chris Carter syndrome: a lot of homers and a lot of strikeouts. After being the Astros' third selection after AJ Reed and Derek Fisher in the 2014 draft, Davis has hit .282/.356/.503 with 62 homers in 126 games over his minor league career. The problem is he has struck out in 29.6% of his at bats.
Davis plays third base, and as a former mid-90's pitching prospect, has a cannon for an arm. However, he is slow and still needs to refine his game both offensively and defensively.
Davis is 23 and has decent experience in both college and minor-league ball. He finished with the Double-A Chorpus Christi Hooks in 2016, and could make his Astros debut next season.
- Astros Ranking: 16
- ETA: 2017
Riley Ferrell, a decorated college closer and the all-time saves leader for TCU, has the makeup to be a dominant Major League relief pitcher. Mainly a two-ball pitcher, Ferrell has has a mid-90's fast that tops out at 98 to go along with a mid-80's slider. Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2015 draft, Ferrell appeared for both of the Astros Single-A teams over the past two seasons, where he posted a 1.35 ERA and 10.5 K/9 before getting shoulder surgery in May of 2016.
The main thing Ferrell needs to improve is his control, as he has also walked 5.05 batters per nine during his time in the Astros' farm system. In his college and professional career he has never been known for his command, and he will need to make significant strides in that department before he is MLB-ready. If he can do that, Ferrell has the arm-strength and stuff of Ken Giles, and has proven in college to have the moxy to close ball-games. Ferrell will need to makeup ground after missing significant time to an injury, but as it stands he is one of the highest upside relievers in the Astros farm system. Definitely someone to watch in 2017.
- Astros Ranking: 20
- ETA: 2017
Yes, despite occasionally dabbling in crystal meth use, McCurray remains one of the Astros top rated pitching prospects who has not yet seen the Majors.
McCurray will begin 2017 with a 50-game suspension for use of a stimulant, but when he returns he should be close to playing at the Major League level. Acquired in the Jed Lowrie trade, in his first year with the Astros he rose to Triple-A, as he had a 3.07 ERA, 16 saves, 94 strikeouts, and 21 walks on the season.
With a low-90's fastball McCurray is more of a finesse than power pitcher, as his game is predicated on deception. He uses four pitches (fastball, changeup, curveball, slider) and a variety of release points to keep batters off balance. He owns an 11.0 K/9 in his minor-league career, and has also shown great control as he has walked just 2.1 batters per nine.
Hopefully McCurray can get his off the field life together, because he is very close to being Major-league ready and presents an interesting skill-set.
- Astros Ranking: 27
- ETA: 2017
Despite being a 6 year pro, the 24 year old lefty reliever is still very raw. Though he has a mid-90's fastball that peaks in the 100's, he has found great difficulty finding the strike-zone in his time in the minor leagues. In his time with the Astros, Guduan has walked in absurd 7.1 batters per nine.
It is disappointing Guduan has progressed so slowly, as he has the skills to fill the glaring left-handed void in the Astros bullpen. The good news is that he progressed to Triple-A in 2016, and walked just ("just") 5.9 batters per nine on the year. He was added to the 40-man roster in November, and could be in line to see some playing time in 2017.
Stretches (2018 ETA):
Ramon Laureano, OF - Laureano did not come into the Minors as a highly touted prospect, but very consistent production has helped him rise the rankings. In 2016 he led all minors in OBP, and was impressive in the 2016 Arizona Fall League. He is a dark-horse for playing time in the Astros outfield in 2017.
Jason Martin, OF - Originally drafted in the 8th round out of high-school in 2013, Martin has some of the best pure hitting ability in the Astros system to go along with solid speed. He is more of a contact hitter than a source of power, but showed impressive improvement in all facets of his game in his 2016 season with Lancaster. He batted .270 with 23 homers and 20 stolen bases on the season. Most likely won't play in the Majors in 2017 unless he develops rapidly.
Garrett Stubbs, C - Originally drafted in the 8th-round in 2015, Stubbs has been very impressive thus far for the Astros minor-league system. Being an athletic and skilled defensive catcher with a strong arm, the question for Stubbs has always been offense. However, in just his first full season with the organization, Stubbs rose to Double-A in 2016, batting .304/.391/.469 on the year. Contact and patience are his strong suits, as he does not possess much pop in his bat. Could see some playing time if catcher runs especially thin at any point in 2017.