We’re finally there. At the place where we can look at the brightest futures in the Houston organization and learn the names of the stars to which we will pin our hopes. I am glad to report one of the most promising top tens Houston had in quite some time..
A quick Key: LYR=Last Year’s Rank, NR=Not Ranked, Draftee=Taken in 2010 Draft, age for 2011 season in parentheses.
10. Dallas Keuchel, LHP, LYR: NR (23): Keuchel was Houston’s 7th round selection in 2009 and made it all the way to Double-A in his first full year of pro ball. His stuff isn’t overwhelming with a 6.9 K/9 in 231 minor league innings but he doesn’t walk anybody and controls the strikezone. His large frame, 6’3″, 200 lbs, shows he may be able to build a bit more muscle and add a little power to his repertoire.
9. Jose Altuve, 2B, LYR: NR (21): I LOVE this guy. I really can’t say that enough. Between Single-A and High-A ball in 2010, Altuve hit .301 with 15 HRs and 42 SBs. He’s only 20 and still a bit raw but has great power and speed potential and has shown great patience at the plate ever since he debuted as a 17 year old. Altuve doesn’t get a lot of attention due to his 5’5″, 148 lb frame but his skills are real and you can’t argue the numbers he’s putting up. I see this guy as an MLB regular.
8. Jose Perdomo, RHP, LYR: NR (20): As a 19 year old in Rookie-A, Perdomo struck out 69 batters and walked 20 over 11 starts and 59.1 innings. He posted a 1.67 ERA and .98 WHIP. He has amazing stuff and is incredibly hard to hit. If he can build up his endurance and continue to strike batters out, he will only move up this list.
7. Jay Austin, OF, LYR: 8 (20): Has the potential to be an everyday centerfielder in the majors but needs to improve his eye at the plate. If he can get on base more consistently, he could be a major-league leadoff hitter and be near the top in the league in steals.
6. Michael Foltynewicz, RHP, LYR: Draftee (19): This guy is everything you want in a pitching prospect. Young, projectable frame, and great stuff. Folty was one of Houston’s first round picks in 2010 and I can’t wait to see him in a full year of pro baseball. He pitched just 44.1 innings last summer, striking out 39 and walking 15.
5. Tanner Bushue, RHP, LYR: 6 (20): Held his own in 2009 as a 19 year old new to pro baseball and pitching in a hitter-friendly league. Bushue has a projectable frame and good control. He should be near the top of Houston’s rotation before long.
4. Delino DeShields Jr., OF, LYR: Draftee (18): I don’t want to let hype get the best of me here but I’m very high on DDJ. He more than held his own in Rookie-A this summer hitting .289/.337/.395. He was Houton’s top pick this past summer and has more tools than he knows what to do with. DeShields is polished for a player his age and has a very bright future. He has the athleticism to stick in centerfield and Houston will give him every chance to suceed there.
3. Jiovanni Mier, SS, LYR: 3 (20): You saw in my 2010 review Mier didn’t quite live up to the hype. However, he was just 19 playing his first full year of professional baseball. Scouts still rave about his potential and at a premium position, I’m not losing any hope in the guy yet.
2. J.D. Martinez, OF, LYR: (20): No one in the entire organization broke out as much as Martinez in 2010. On his way to being named Houston’s Minor League Hitter of the Year, the former 20th round pick hit .341/.407/.531 with 18 homeruns in 138 games between Single and Double-A. Incredible contact rate, decent power, and above average plate discipline make Martinez appear to be one of the surest things on this list.
1. Jordan Lyles, RHP, LYR: 2 (20): Even if Jason Castro hadn’t played the second half of 2010 with the big league club, Lyles would be my number 1. Houston’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year made it all the way to Triple-A at the age of 19. He’s got a big frame with plenty of room to add muscle at 6’4″ 185. Lyles also has swing-and-miss stuff and should be a front-end starter. There’s a chance we see him in Houston in 2011 but the Astros brass won’t rush him. I expect some growing pains to catch up with him eventually but he’s a guy Houston fans are going to love.