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Who are the Future Aces for the Houston Astros?

The Astros have a stocked minor league farm system, but who are the top young pitchers who could be an ace for Houston in the future?

Every club does what they can to find a young star, sometimes a fast riser, and other times a player with a high ceiling that takes time to develop. Despite the recent call-ups of the Astros' more elite prospects, the Astros still have a hand full of players that make up of on the deepest minor league systems.

After the ’05 season the Astros went into rebuild mode. Well they didn’t admit it at first, but we all saw it coming. We witnessed the dismantling of the roster, the unloading of big contracts, legends retiring, and not much too show for it.

That’s when the new ownership came in, along with GM Jeff Lunhow. An expert recruiter and builder, as well a top tier Latin American diplomat, the genius behind the rise of the Cardinals was now on our side…..

Years later, the process has already started to bear its fruit. The Astros are in a spot to compete not only for the AL West but for a championship for years to come. The team is built to be offensive heavy, but the Astros have many prospects that could become the team's future aces. Here are a few of the Astros' top pitching prospects.

Francis Martes, SP, 21, Fresno Grizzlies

  • He is the Astros TOP PROSPECT and #20 overall.
  • He was a post season ALL-STAR and AFL ‘RISING STAR’.
  • 2016 stats: 3.30 ERA, 131K, 47 BB in 125.1 IP.

 Martes has great slider action, a fastball, and once he learns to command his fastball he should be a formidable pitcher for opponents to face. He has all the tools of a frontline MLB starter, and could be a rising star for the Astros.

David Paulino, SP, 23, Corpus Christi Hooks

  • Astros #3 prospect and #51 overall

A lot of expectation comes with Paulino, as he came to Houston in a trade deal for Jose Veras. Paulino has gone through Tommy John Surgery in his career, but has since returned to the mound. He is ranked #51 among the Top 100, but we have yet to see if Paulino will pan out.

He made nice strides in 2016; he has worked on his changeup and control, and has a strong mid-high 90's fastball that could make him unhittable if he properly develops. At 23, it's likely Paulino could get another Major-League shot at some point this season

 

Franklin Perez (HOU), 19, Buies Creek

  • The Astros #6 overall prospect
  • 2016 stats: 2.84 ERA, 10.1 K/9 in 66.2 IP.

Perez is a high upside prospect with a low-mid 90's fastball. He was once a strong armed 3rd baseman until he switched to pitching at the age of 15, and has garnered national attention for his strong pitching. He could be either a starter or reliever, and has legit big-league strikeout stuff.

Forrest Whitley, SP, 19, Quad Cities

  • 2016 stats: 4.82 ERA, 26k, 6 BB, 18.2 IP

This is one that may take a couple years to arrive. His tall 6’7” 240 lb frame and strong arm will work to his advantage, but he has some refinements to make before he'll be throwing at a Major-League level.

He has a 92-95 MPH fastball that can top out at 97, something he'll look to add on as he grows. The kid was a high school senior this year, and will have plenty of time to develop his impressive array of tools.

Bottom line we have the pedigree in the area of pitching that almost ensures long-term effectiveness.  The question is who will pan out? Who will be traded down the road or even this year? With the bats at a lull, do the Astros try to use some of their pitching prospects to bring in another solid bat?

It’s a long season, but the current staff is built solidly and the future looks bright as well.


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