This choice was probably the easiest of the minor league awards we’re going to give out and, no, it isn’t Ed Wade. No Astros’ minor league pitcher did better or made a bigger leap in 2012 than Mike Foltynewicz. The former 1st round pick, finally was able to put all that talent together. Mike posted an impressive 14-4 record with a 3.14 ERA but it was under 3 for most of the year. He improved his strikeout ratio as well, which is a big factor in becoming the pitcher that Ed Wade and Bobby Heck thought he’d become when they drafted him.
Foltynewicz had what many considered a disappointing 2011 season and quite a few Astros’ fans quickly began to wonder if this was going to turn into a blown pick by then GM Ed Wade. Reality was that Mike was a high school kid who needed to adjust. His strikeout ratio was an issue and he was getting hit around but those concerns lessened quite a bit in 2012. Even though he repeated the low A level, he was clearly one of the more dominant pitchers in all of the minor leagues, Foltynewicz is now looked upon to be part of a strong crop of arms coming up for Houston over the next half decade.
What is Mike’s full potential, that is still widely unknown. Just as he progressed from a struggling high school arm into a top prospect, a regression could happen once he moves up the system. His stats all point to success though and he appears to be getting stronger. The Astros will have a curious move to make come next minor league season, should the young guy go to high A Lancaster or be skipped and move straight to AA Corpus Christi? Lancaster has seen many a young arm die and the Astros have been known to skip Lancaster for some of the better arms in the past. That said, new regime and maybe new mentality as we saw with Nick Tropeano. Nick had a very good season in Lancaster and is now positioned as another top Astros arm in their minor league system. Could Foltynewicz thrive or even survive in Lancaster, we shall see?
Mike is a clear example of not to over react either way on a young arm. He will have his moments where he might dazzle and others not so great but that is part of being a young pitcher. The Astros old regime saw something special in him when they drafted him and now we begin to see what that was. If all goes well, fans at Minute Maid Park will get to see Foltynewicz pitch around 2015 but for now, enjoy the ride and his development.