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2018 Organization Report: Houston Astros

by Alec Dopp

Organization Grades

Hitting: B- ... Pitching: C+ ... Top-end Talent: B+ ... Depth: C+ ... Overall: B-



Minor League Affiliates

Triple-A: Fresno (Pacific Coast League)
Double-A: Corpus Christi (Texas League)
High-A: Buies Creek (Carolina League)
Low-A: Quad Cities (Midwest League)
Short-season: Tri-City (New York Penn League)
Rookie: GCL Astros (Gulf Coast League)
Rookie: Greeneville (Appalachian League)



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1. Kyle Tucker (OF) ... 6-4, 190 ... L/R ... 21 ... 2015 (1) HS (FL)
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2015GCL Astros (GCL)119.210/.264/.3196880.572/4
2016Quad Cities (Midw)373.276/.348/.40210800.536/31
2016Lancaster (Calif)59.339/.435/.66114901.673/1
2017Buies Creek (Caro)177.288/.379/.55412750.539/13
2017Corpus Christi (Tex)287.265/.325/.5127780.3416/8
Comments: Tall, lean OF with a chance to impact multiple categories. Started tapping into power with aggressive approach in AA, but swing remains fluid and compact for quality bat-to-ball skills/BA value. A good athlete who can run with enough arm for any OF position. Good makeup and feel for the game. He's coming quickly.

Development Path: One of the youngest hitters to appear at AA, Tucker should start 2018 back in the AA-Texas League, where he will aim to get stronger and shore up his approach. Houston's depth may keep him in the minors until September, at which point he'll look for a full-time 2019 role.

Fantasy Impact: The combination of power, average and speed is always a valued commodity regardless of format, and Tucker has a chance to impact each. Still just 20 and filling out his lean frame, he projects to have 25-HR ability combined with an above-average BA output and 10-15 SB at his peak. Time to invest.

Upside Grade: 9B


2. Forrest Whitley (RHP) ... 6-7, 240 ... 20 ... 2016 (1) HS (TX)
YearTeam (LG)IPERAWHIPCtlDomCmdOppBA
2016GCL Astros (GCL)4.110.381.6204.212.53.0.278
2016Greeneville (App)11.13.181.2402.410.34.3.244
2017Quad Cities (Midw)46.12.911.3604.113.03.2.232
2017Buies Creek (Caro)31.13.161.1802.614.45.5.230
2017Corpus Christi (Tex)14.21.840.8202.516.06.4.154
Comments: Towering SP who moved through 3 levels in 2017. Misses bats with hard-biting mid-70s CB and complements with good plane on FB. CU and SL are both raw; will need to develop to remain SP. Smooth delivery, repeats arm slot, but often struggles to hit his spots. Could find role as late-inning RP if command doesn't improve.

Development Path: The Astros aggressively promoted Whitley from Low-A to AA last season, and his swing-and-miss stuff didn't skip a beat. Odds are they dial it back a tad in 2018, starting him in High-A as he looks to work deeper into starts and establish more confidence in his CU while ironing out his command.

Fantasy Impact: Whitley's ability to miss bats will make him a valued asset regardless of his long-term role. If he can hone his command and develop his CU and SL, he should be a quality #3 SP option with Dom upside. As a reliever, his FB/CB combo would rack up Ks as a eighth or ninth inning-type arm.

Upside Grade: 9D


3. Yordan Alvarez (1B,OF) ... 6-5, 225 ... L/L ... 20 ... 2016 FA (CU)
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2017Quad Cities (Midw)111.360/.468/.65817680.649/2
2017Buies Creek (Caro)224.277/.329/.3938820.463/6
Comments: Natural-hitting prospect who excelled in Cuba and hit .300 in Class-A last season. Sprays ball to all fields with smooth LH stroke and possesses advanced strike-zone discipline. Still tapping into his power, but long levers, ct% skills, bat speed point to HR upside. Not much of a runner; likely relegated to 1B/LF. A name to watch for in 2018.

Development Path: Alvarez will likely start 2018 in High-A Buies Creek after scuffling slightly toward the end of last season at that level. Still only 20, expect the Astros to remain patient with his development as he eyes a big-league promotion sometime around 2019 or 2020.

Fantasy Impact: In an era where swing-and-miss has become the norm, Alvarez could flourish into a quality BA contributor once he breaks into the majors. Given the plus bat-to-ball skills here, there's also reason to believe he could reach 25 HR as he learns to drive the ball with 1B and OF eligibility, to boot.

Upside Grade: 8C



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4. J.B. Bukauskas (RHP) ... 5-11, 200 ... 21 ... 2017 (1) University of North Carolina
YearTeam (LG)IPERAWHIPCtlDomCmdOppBA
2017North Carolina (ACC)92.22.531.0703.611.33.1.182
2017GCL Astros (GCL)4.00.001.0002.36.83.0.200
2017Tri City (NYPL)6.04.501.3306.09.01.5.182
Comments: Top collegian who pitched sparingly in his debut. Short, muscular build and quick arm speed produces lively mid-90s FB, but often struggles to maintain velo. SL can miss bats, though command is spotty and will require significant CU work to stick as SP. Arm action and frame suggest future late-inning RP who can provide some Ks.

Development Path: Bukauskas likely starts 2018 in the Low-A Midwest League, where his to-do list will include finding the zone on a more consistent basis and developing his CU into a respectable offering. A realistic timeline for a big-league promotion would be September of 2019 from the bullpen.

Fantasy Impact: All signs point to Houston developing Bukauskas as a starter until further notice, though his combination of velocity and flashes of (and trust in) a plus SL suggest his future home is the bullpen, where he could thrive as a closer-type arm with Dom upside.

Upside Grade: 8B


5. Freudis Nova (SS) ... 6-1, 180 ... R/R ... 18 ... 2017 FA (DR)
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2017Did not play in the US (--)0.000/.000/.0000000/0
Comments: Wiry and athletic, his strong tools are headlined by plus speed and quality defensive range and arm to stick at SS. Added bonus of bat speed and fluid RH stroke conducive to contact and at least average power. Still a long ways from reaching his potential, but skills make for an intriguing profile worth monitoring.

Development Path: Given his youth and inexperience, Nova figures to be developed slow as he prepares for the rigors of a full season. Additionally, he will require ample time to mature physically and fill out his still lean frame, so expect Houston to remain patient in the hopes of a big return down the road.

Fantasy Impact: Nova possesses an intriguing overall skill set, one that could return impact in multiple categories. He has the athleticism and speed necessary for SS and 10-15 SB. His contact skills and approach should net a solid BA/OBP combo, too, and his bat speed and added strength should yield 10-15 HR.

Upside Grade: 8E


6. David Paulino (RHP) ... 6-5, 180 ... 24 ... 2011 FA (DR)
YearTeam (LG)IPERAWHIPCtlDomCmdOppBA
2016GCL Astros (GCL)12.00.750.9201.510.57.0.200
2016Corpus Christi (Tex)64.01.830.9101.510.16.7.197
2016Fresno (PCL)14.03.861.5703.912.93.3.276
2017Fresno (PCL)14.04.501.4305.88.41.4.208
2017Houston (AL)29.06.521.4802.210.64.8.293
Comments: Tall, lean RH missed latter half of 2017 from PED-related suspension. Once touched 98 mph with FB, but now sits 91-94 with downhill plane. Wields big-bending CB as primary whiff pitch; CU has improved and will flash plus; SL is more of a complementary average offering. More control than command, but effectively fills zone and has good Dom history.

Development Path: With little left to prove in his pro development, Paulino will likely rejoin Houston's staff after serving his 80-game suspension.

Fantasy Impact: Paulino's combination of Dom/Ctl is exciting for fantasy purposes. However, it is important to temper expectations, as the 6-foot-7 righty has yet to pitch 100-plus innings in a season as a pro. If he can prove he can pitch 150-plus frames with a quality Dom at the next level, he'll have value.

Upside Grade: 8C


7. Colin Moran (1B,3B) ... 6-3, 180 ... L/R ... 25 ... 2013 (1) University of North Carolina
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2016Fresno (PCL)459.259/.329/.3689730.3810/3
2016Houston (AL)23.130/.200/.1744650.130/0
2017Quad Cities (Midw)10.100/.250/.20017600.500/0
2017Fresno (PCL)302.308/.373/.5439820.5618/0
2017Houston (AL)11.364/.417/.8188911.001/0
Comments: Former 1st-round pick bounced back from down 2016, hit .300 against PCL arms. Combines terrific plate skills with great feel for the barrel and contact. Has plus power to pull side, but likely a strong shift candidate at next level. Strong arm for 3B but lacks athleticism for the position. Future home is 1B, which limits his overall value.

Development Path: With little left to prove developmentally, Moran will likely crack Houston's opening-day roster and look to establish himself as an everyday contributor to start 2018.

Fantasy Impact: With the bat to hit for at least a solid average and 20-25 HR at his peak, Moran will have a chance to have some impact. The trouble is that his eventual defensive home is likely first base, which puts his overall fantasy value to nothing more than average.

Upside Grade: 7A


8. J.D. Davis (3B) ... 6-3, 220 ... R/R ... 24 ... 2014 (3) Cal State Fullerton
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2015Lancaster (Calif)485.289/.370/.52010680.3426/5
2016Corpus Christi (Tex)485.268/.334/.4858710.3123/1
2017Corpus Christi (Tex)351.279/.340/.5108740.3421/5
2017Fresno (PCL)61.295/.370/.62313700.505/0
2017Houston (AL)62.226/.279/.4846680.204/1
Comments: Muscular 3B with track record for power in minors. Strong forearms, lower half produce hard line-drive contact to all fields and will have HR impact at next level. Downside is aggressive approach and below-average contact skills and will likely be a BA/OBP burden. Plus arm fits him well at 3B, but build and lack of range figures to land him as DH.

Development Path: After tearing up AA, Davis made a brief stint with the big-league roster toward the end of last season and produced well. However, considering the depth of Houston's infield, expect him to return to AAA, where he will aim to produce more contact and shore up his defensive chops at third.

Fantasy Impact: There's no question Davis has the power required to make HR/RBI impact as a middle-of-the-order type bat. Fantasy owners will likely need to stomach some growing pains, however, in the form of sub-par BA/OBP in the short-term. If everything comes together, expect him to become an average fantasy 3B.

Upside Grade: 7A


9. Corbin Martin (RHP) ... 6-2, 190 ... 22 ... 2017 (2) Texas A&M University
YearTeam (LG)IPERAWHIPCtlDomCmdOppBA
2017Texas A&M (SEC)87.23.801.4503.99.82.5.253
2017GCL Astros (GCL)5.00.000.2001.89.05.0.000
2017Tri City (NYPL)27.22.601.0102.612.44.8.194
Comments: Second-round pick who was strikeout machine at Texas A&M and impressed at Cape. Good athlete with short, quick arm action that produces good run on mid-90s FB. Quality feel for spin on power CB, which could evolve as a real weapon; CU remains raw. More control than command at this point. FB-CB combo makes him a good candidate for late-inning work.

Development Path: Martin split time as a starter and reliever in his short-season debut, and was effective in both roles. If the changeup and command don't progress in a timely enough fashion, however, expect Houston to move him quickly as an RP with the hope of developing an eighth or ninth-inning type of arm.

Fantasy Impact: Martin has always maintained swing-and-miss stuff dating back to his college days, and his pro debut was no different. He is a good athlete and will have a chance to improve his command to at least average, so there's reason to believe he could support owners in Dom as a solid closer or setup man.

Upside Grade: 8D


10. Cionel Perez (LHP) ... 5-11, 170 ... 21 ... 2017 FA (CU)
YearTeam (LG)IPERAWHIPCtlDomCmdOppBA
2017Quad Cities (Midw)55.14.391.2502.88.93.2.239
2017Buies Creek (Caro)25.12.841.2601.86.43.6.262
2017Corpus Christi (Tex)13.05.541.5403.56.92.0.278
Comments: Young Cuban scooted up three levels in 2017. Requires pitchability and feel for spin and will miss bats with CB/SL. Lacks premium velocity, but should gain a few ticks as he adds mass to lean frame. Low-effort delivery and stays around the zone; size will be biggest obstacle in his quest to remain SP. High floor rather than high ceiling.

Development Path: The Astros tested Perez with two promotions mid-season in 2017, and he handled his brief stint in AA well. Expect the young left-hander to start 2018 in High-A, however, where he looks to get stronger before being challenged by upper-minors bats. He could make his debut as a 2019 September call-up.

Fantasy Impact: Perez's best chance for impact will be as a back-end starter, where his potential for four average pitches, advanced command and feel for spin should allow him to return solid-average Dom totals.

Upside Grade: 8E


11. Hector Perez (RHP) ... 6-3, 190 ... 21 ... 2015 FA (DR)
YearTeam (LG)IPERAWHIPCtlDomCmdOppBA
2016Tri City (NYPL)28.21.571.0803.811.33.0.181
2016Quad Cities (Midw)31.14.601.6006.312.62.0.230
2017Quad Cities (Midw)18.02.501.1105.512.02.2.143
2017Buies Creek (Caro)89.13.631.5206.810.51.5.205
Comments: Hard-throwing RH with quality FB/SL tandem but also major control issues yet to hammer out. Track record for Dom is from explosive life to FB and hard slider that will miss bats. Splitter acts as CU substitute and is still raw. High-effort delivery makes Ctl, WHIP totals both concerning moving forward, but is still young with time to remain SP.

Development Path: The Astros have been patient with Perez's development as a pro, so expect him to return to High-A to start 2018. He'll still need significant work on his control and splitter to remain a starter, so he is still a ways off from contributing in a meaningful role for the big-league roster.

Fantasy Impact: Aside from Whitley, this may be the best bat-missing arm in Houston's system, so the Dom upside here is intriguing regardless of his future role. Odds are he transitions full-time to the bullpen, and if he can even grow into average command, this will be a late-inning arm worth a look for owners.

Upside Grade: 8E


12. Gilberto Celestino (OF) ... 6-2, 175 ... R/L ... 19 ... 2015 FA (DR)
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2016GCL Astros (GCL)55.200/.308/.29113710.500/6
2017Greeneville (App)235.268/.331/.3799750.374/10
Comments: Makes tons of contact and has advanced feel for strike zone; knows how to draw walks and get on base; picks spots well and will steal some bases at the next level. Lean, wiry frame produces bat speed and athleticism required for plus range in CF with quality arm for RF. If and when the power comes, could be a name worth watching.

Development Path: Celestino will transition to full-season ball in 2018, starting in Low-A Quad Cities. He'll be one of the youngest players in the Midwest League next season, so expect the Astros to bring him along slowly as he adds strength and drives the ball with more consistency.

Fantasy Impact: With the foundation for good bat-to-ball skills and above-average speed, Celestino projects to be a solid BA/SB contributor down the road. There likely isn't much more than 10-12 HR here, but he should have modest impact in deeper formats as an everyday outfielder.

Upside Grade: 8E


13. Garrett Stubbs (C) ... 5-9, 150 ... L/R ... 24 ... 2015 (8) USC
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2015USC (Pac12)228.346/.435/.43411860.871/20
2016Lancaster (Calif)206.291/.385/.44212820.786/10
2016Corpus Christi (Tex)120.325/.401/.51710911.274/5
2017Corpus Christi (Tex)263.236/.324/.33111830.734/8
2017Fresno (PCL)77.221/.341/.28613810.730/3
Comments: Short, athletic CA with quality defensive tools and chance for an average bat. Framing skills, plus arm and blocking ability will allow him to get regular PT behind plate. Makes consistent contact and draws BBs; can run a bit and picks spots well for SB. Not much pop, but could run into 10-12 HR. Think glove before bat, but still a decent stick.

Development Path: Stubbs is just about ready to contribute to the big-league roster, but he'll start 2018 back in AAA. With Brian McCann and Evan Gattis in front of him, his debut may have to wait until next September. A more meaningful role may emerge in 2019.

Fantasy Impact: While Stubbs' fantasy upside is limited, catchers collectively slashed just .245/.315/.406 in 2017, so the bar is pretty low. He's athletic enough to return double-digit SB coupled with a solid BA/OBP tandem, so he'll have modest overall value when it's all said and done.

Upside Grade: 7B


14. Jandel Gustave (RHP) ... 6-2, 160 ... 25 ... 2010 FA (DR)
YearTeam (LG)IPERAWHIPCtlDomCmdOppBA
2014Quad Cities (Midw)79.05.011.5603.39.32.8.284
2015Corpus Christi (Tex)58.22.151.3003.87.52.0.225
2016Fresno (PCL)57.03.791.2103.68.72.4.212
2016Houston (AL)15.13.521.1102.39.44.1.220
2017Houston (AL)5.05.402.40012.63.60.3.250
Comments: Strong-armed reliever blew out elbow with big-league club in April, underwent TJS in July. FB sits in upper-90s and will touch 100, but often lacks movement to miss many bats. SL produces empty swings in upper-80s and will be legit weapon. Considerable risk involved post-TJS, but could be effective setup/closer type if he returns to full health.

Development Path: Gustave cracked Houston's Opening Day roster last season, so his skill development in the minors is finished. How quickly and effectively he returns from TJS to his former self will determine a lot for him and his role moving forward.

Fantasy Impact: While Gustave lacks eye-opening Dom numbers as a pro, his combination of premium velocity and a quality bat-missing breaking ball bodes well for his ability to remain a late-inning RP. There's risk involved with his injury, but he is at least a name to keep an eye on as a potential Sv candidate.

Upside Grade: 8E


15. Jason Martin (OF) ... 5-10, 175 ... L/R ... 22 ... 2013 (8) HS (CA)
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2014Greeneville (App)164.274/.363/.41513820.800/8
2015Quad Cities (Midw)396.270/.346/.39611810.648/14
2016Lancaster (Calif)400.270/.357/.53312730.5123/20
2017Buies Creek (Caro)174.287/.354/.49410760.487/9
2017Corpus Christi (Tex)300.273/.319/.4836730.2311/7
Comments: Shorter, athletic OF with well-rounded skills but lacking standout tool. Uses compact swing to make solid contact and sprays balls to all fields. More power than body lets on; lifts ball enough for 15-ish HR. Plus runner who will be SB asset. Lacks arm for RF and will be average defensively in CF. Chance to be an average contributor offensively.

Development Path: Martin spent the bulk of 2017 in AA, where he figures to land to start in 2018. There's still work to be done on his routes in center field, and he'll need to prove he can handle upper minors arms more consistently, but he has an outside shot of getting a September call-up.

Fantasy Impact: Martin's best chance to contribute comes with his legs, as he is a good runner with a track record for getting on base. He's somewhere between a .260-.275 BA hitter long-term considering his solid but not great contact skills. His power gets overlooked a bit, and he has the potential for 12-15 HR.

Upside Grade: 7C


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