At this time last year Jordan Lyles was the only Astros farmhand on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list. Lyles was drafted 38th overall by Houston in the 2008 draft. He ascended quickly through the minors and was invited to Spring Training last year at the tender young age of 20. Lyles was impressive in Grapefruit League games and forged his way into competition for the fifth starter’s spot.
The Astros ultimately decided to go with veteran Nelson Figueroa in the rotation and sent Lyles to AAA to start the season. But it wouldn’t take long for Lyles to get to the big leagues. After Wandy Rodriguez went on the disabled list, Lyles made his Astros debut on May 31 at Wrigley Field. Lyles looked great against the Cubs, pitching into the eighth inning, but wound up with a no-decision. Although he had yet to win a game, Lyles stayed in the rotation when Rodriguez returned.
Lyles doesn’t exactly light up the radar gun, but he knows how to pitch. He keeps hitters off-balance and exhibits the demeanor of a veteran on the mound. The Astros limited Lyles to 155 innings last season but will probably let him pitch more in 2012. Lyles should enter Spring Training as the favorite to be the fifth starter. Lucas Harrell and Henry Sosa could also compete for a rotation spot. Another spot could open up if someone gets traded. Either way, I expect Lyles to be in the rotation. It will be interesting to see how he does now that he has some big league experience under his belt.