2021 Houston Astros Top 5 Prospectsby John Lepore March 9, 2021 0 comments
It was only three years ago that the Houston Astros had a solid farm system with players like Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez, and Framber Valdez. Those players have since made it to the big club. Now the Astros don’t have much left in the minors especially when it comes to position players. While Forrest Whitley still ranks number one, he has had some issues including a suspension and injuries. The latest of which could require Tommy John Surgery and put the tall righty out until next summer. Aside from Whitley, let’s take a look at who ranks in the top 5 among the Houston Astros prospects.
Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Team Top Prospects.
#1 – Freudis Nova – SS
Nova came to the Astros as an international signing in 2016. He is still only 21 years old and has a chance to improve with the bat as he profiles as a glove-first shortstop. Nova has a high ceiling if he can tap into his power without sacrificing speed. A few 20-20 seasons aren’t out of reach for the young Dominican. Of course, to achieve that at the major league level, he needs to improve his plate discipline.
Now, about his glove. He has what it takes to be a Gold Glove shortstop in the future. His range is above average and his footwork is excellent. His arm is an absolute cannon. He has been clocked at 97 mph across the diamond and that can turn infield singles into outs. He profiles to stick at the position long-term easily and could see regular time at short by next year, either with the Astros depending on Carlos Correa, or with another team in a trade.
#2 – Bryan Abreu – RHP
Here is another player in the system with a high ceiling. Abreu has incredible stuff but struggles with control. This is evidenced by his small sample in the big leagues where he has thrown only 12 innings. He struck out 16 and walked 10 while allowing only five hits and hasn’t let a ball out of the yard in the regular season. His four-seamer runs around 94-97. He has a plus slider and a hammer of a curveball. Abreu just needs to harness his arsenal, especially his curve which is a true out pitch with great spin and excellent depth.
The Astros may look to bring him along as a starter which is why he may start in the minors this year. The 23-year-old could help the bullpen in the short term but may be better served refining his control and getting stretched out a bit in Double-A or Triple-A. Either way, if he can throw strikes, Houston will find a way to get him to the big club at some point this season.
#3 – Jeremy Pena – SS/2B
The son of former major leaguer Geronimo Pena was drafted in 2018 out of the University of Maine. He was originally seen as a glove-first shortstop, but that perception has changed. He still has excellent range due to a quick first step and good instincts. His arm has gotten mixed reviews but profiles as at least average from shortstop. It is Pena’s bat that has truly come around.
He struggled in a couple of summer leagues with the wood bat in 2016 and 2017. Even in 2018 in the New York Penn League, Pena only hit .250 with an OPS of .649 and one HR in 156 PAs. However, he added some strength in 2019 and at two stops in A-ball slashed .303/.385/.440 with seven bombs in 473 PAs. While he is still not a masher, he could find 10-15 HR power and has the quickness and enough speed to swipe 20-25. Along with Nova, the Astros could be looking at their future double-play combo after Correa and Jose Altuve have moved on.
#4 – Pedro Leon – OF
The Cuban outfielder signed just a couple of months ago with the Astros for $4 million. He is considered a five-toll player and was #7 on the top 30 international prospects list. While we have yet to see Leon in action here in the states, his Cuban batting line is impressive. In the Serie Nacional, which is Cuba’s top professional league, Leon slashed .359/.420/.678 with 21 HRs and eight SBs in just 65 games over two seasons. He has a short, compact swing and generated plenty of bat speed despite being listed at 5’10 and 170 lbs. He could stick in center field and has an incredible arm reportedly reaching triple digits. If Leon impresses, don’t be surprised to see him blasting some balls into the Crawford Boxes this summer.
#5 – Luis Garcia – RHP
The 24-year-old from Venezuela made his major league debut last year and did not look overmatched tossing 12.1 innings, only surrendering one long ball, and striking out nine. He has increased his velocity to around 93-95 and his changeup is an above-average pitch. Garcia has impressed at every stop in the minors over three seasons. Over 205 innings, Garcia has struck out 284 batters and allowed only 144 hits. The problem lies with the 95 walks.
Another issue is that Garcia doesn’t have much else in his repertoire. His delivery is inconsistent which could be leading to his lack of control. If he can quiet down his mechanics a bit and even develop a third offering, he could be a backend starter. Otherwise, his solid two-pitch mix and ability to get swings and misses will be coming out of the bullpen.
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