Houston Astros Top Five Prospects

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With Major League Baseball and the Players Association struggling to agree to a new CBA, the start of the major league season is in question. While we still don’t know when MLB will be in action, the minor league season is still a go. MiLB Spring Training is still set for mid-March and Opening Day at the beginning of April. When the season begins, there are a lot of prospects who will get long, hard looks by decision-makers in their respective organizations. The Houston Astros top five prospects hope to impress and provide impact on the MLB roster in the next year. Note: the prospect rankings and information is from MLB.com.

1. C Korey Lee

The top prospect in the Astros organization is catcher Korey Lee. Houston drafted Lee in the first round of the 2019 draft after falling in love with his raw power and strong arm. In fact, his arm was given a 65 on the 20-80 scouting scale. With his bat speed and strength, he has pop to all fields. Scouts believe the home runs will come naturally if he focuses on hard contact. The 23-year-old did not become a full-time catcher until 2019, so Lee still has room to grow in the receiving aspect of the game. However, scouts believe he will improve with more experience. Lee has a strong all-around game and he very well could see some MLB action this year.

2. SS/OF Pedro Leon

The second-ranked prospect in the Astros organization is shortstop/outfielder Pedro Leon. Leon was signed for $4 million in the international class and for good reason. The 23-year-old has some of the best tools in Houston’s organization. In fact, MLB.com said Leon would have been a top-ten pick if he was draft-eligible. The Cuban-born prospect has above-average power, plus speed, and an 80-grade arm. There are some swing and miss concerns, but his overall offensive package is dynamic. While scouts believe center is Leon’s best position, shortstop may be his path to the majors with Carlos Correa potentially leaving in free agency.

3. RHP Hunter Brown

Right-handed pitcher Hunter Brown is the Astros third-ranked prospect. Brown was drafted in the fifth round of the 2019 draft and he also made it to AAA in 2021. The 23-year-old has a fastball that is typically around 96-98 mph at the beginning of games. Brown also has a strong group of secondary pitches led by his curveball. His curveball has a lot of depth and has a 60-grade on the scouting scale. His slider has also shown flashes of being a devastating weapon as well. The biggest questions around Brown is his inconsistent changeup and control.

4. SS/2B Jeremy Peña

The fourth-ranked prospect in the Astros organization is Jeremy Peña. The infielder was one of the best defenders in college when he was drafted in the 2018 draft. Fast forward to today and Pena is regarded as the best defender in Houston’s organization. The Astros don’t necessarily believe he will become a major offensive force, but they think he will hit enough to be a regular starter. He has good speed and he is a quality base-stealer, which adds to his offensive game. Pena will be one of the top candidates for shortstop on the major league roster if Correa departs.

5. RHP Forrest Whitley

Forrest Whitley was once one of the top prospects in all of baseball, now he is the fifth-ranked prospect in the Astros organization. It’s been a roller-coaster ride since being drafted in the first round of the 2016 draft. In his first full season, he made it to AA, which is rare for pitchers drafted out of high school. However, a suspension and numerous health issues have derailed his career, the biggest blow being a torn elbow ligament that led to Tommy John surgery in 2021. Whitley still has a strong grouping of pitches that are, at times, plus pitches. He has a fastball, curveball, slider, cutter, and changeup that are above average. However, his control must be improved for these pitches to be as effective as they can be. Whitley still has immense upside, but he is no longer that vaunted prospect that he once was.

In the farm system rankings, the Astros have one of the weaker systems in the league. However, the Astros top five prospects have a lot of upside and can make an impact on the major league squad in the next year or two.

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Players mentioned:

Korey Lee, Pedro Leon, Carlos Correa, Hunter Brown, Forrest Whitley