The Astros Organization is extremely deep in outfield talent which is the main reason these first two prospects failed to make any high profile lists coming into 2010:
Telvin Nash, OF (19); Nash has as much power potential as just about anyone in Houston system. Nash hit 13 homeruns in 240 at-bats with a .268/.346/.531 line between Rookie and Low-A while being named Rookie-A Greeneville’s 2010 MVP. And he’s only 19 years old. Nash will start 2011 in Single-A Lexington.
Jack Shuck, OF (23); Plate discipline is Shuck’s biggest asset and it’s been unbelievable for a player his age. The left-handed outfielder got his first taste of Triple-A this year and held his own hitting .273/.348/.317 in 139 at-bats. The slugging percentage is concerning as it’s dropped with each of his four promotions in his pro career. Overall, Shuck has a career MiLB line of .303/.380/.391 in 335 games with 161 walks to 160 strikeouts. However, without very good project-able power or speed, it’s hard to see him as more than a fourth outfielder at this point.
Ben Heath, C (21); Ben Heath is one of my favorite sleepers on this list and I can’t wait to follow him in 2011. In 2010, his first pro season, Heath played 61 games between low-A Tri-City and Double-A Corpus Christi and posted a .276/.387/.495 line. He also hit ten homeruns, showing the power that made him Penn State’s single-season homerun record holder. Patience is also a plus with him as he had 32 walks to go with 56 strikeouts. Heath’s 6’2, 220 lb frame show his power is legitimate. The question, as with all catching prospects, is if his defense is good enough to keep him behind home plate. If he’s able to stick as a catcher and continues to show the bat he has throughout his career, Ben Heath could be a huge asset in Houston.
Tommy Manzella, SS (27); Old to be considered a prospect, Manzella started 2010 as Houston’s starting shortstop due mainly to a lack of other options. Never a big prospect, Manzella’s best season came when he hit .289 in 2009 during his time in Triple-A. However, he managed little else with a .339 OBP, 9 homeruns, and 12 stolen bases in 530 at-bats as a 26 year old. I think Manzella’s time as more than a fielding replacement and pitch hitter against lefties is over. Manzella has hit .198 against major league right-handed pitching in 210 plate appearances.
Jose Perdomo, RHP (19); One of the most exciting arms in the entire organization. Perdomo took a great debut season in 2009 and followed it up with a stellar 2010 posting a 1.67 ERA over 11 starts and 59.1 innings. The right-hander is extremely hard to hit. In 2010 he averaged 5.8 H/9 compared to 10.5 K/9 in the Rookie-A Gulf Coast League. From 2009 t0 2010, he decreased his ERA, WHIP, H/9, and BB/9 while increasing his K/9. By the end of 2011, Perdomo could be at the top of a lot of organizational top prospect lists.
Michael Schurz, RHP (24); After being selected in the 44th round in 2009, the 6’2 righty opened a lot of eyes in his first taste of pro ball. In 2009, between Rookie-A and Tri-City, Schurz struck out 37 and walked 13 in 29 innings while posting a 1.52 ERA. However, he took a huge step backward in 2010. Between A and High-A, he posted a 7.71 ERA over 60.2 innings. And his BB/9 and HR/9 both increased dramatically while his K/9 decreased from 2009. A longshot to make any ‘top prospect’ lists for 2011, Schurz has quickly regressed back to organizational filler.