A few weeks ago, Jake Seiner of MiLB.com announced his Astros Organizational All-Stars from this past season. Let’s take a look at which players were given the top spot in the organization.
Note: No Astros regulars were eligible for the award
Catcher – Max Stassi
Ranked 18th in Houston’s farm system, Stassi was acquired from Oakland in the Jed Lowrie deal in February and rewarded Houston with a breakout 2013. Finally healthy, the backstop set a career high with 17 home runs, helped in part by a July stretch during which he homered in five consecutive games. The 2009 fourth-round pick was called up to Houston late in the season and re-established himself as a potential Major League regular.
First Base – MP Cokinos
Cokinos, a 2012 31st-round pick out of St. Mary’s University in Texas, displayed a tremendous approach in his first full pro season. Primarily a first baseman (he also saw time at catcher and left field), Cokinos managed more walks (47) than strikeouts (41) while posting a .313 average, a .395 on-base percentage and a .475 slugging percentage. He posted a 1.017 OPS in April and closed the year with an .870 OPS.
Second Base – Delino DeShields Jr.
DeShields made this an easy selection with his performance in Class A Advanced in 2013. The 21-year-old did all that was required of him as a leadoff man in the making, batting .317 with a .405 on-base percentage and 51 stolen bases. The season wasn’t perfect, though, with his occasionally lackadaisical nature raising questions about his work ethic, attitude and level of energy in the field.
Shortsop – Carlos Correa
The top pick from the 2012 Draft justified his No. 1 selection with an outstanding debut in the Class A Midwest League. The Puerto Rico Baseball Academy product posted a league-best .827 OPS among qualified players and finished third in the Midwest League with a .320 average. His .973 fielding percentage was also tops in the league among shortstops (minimum 300 chances), a feat rare for a defender so young.
Third Base – Rio Ruiz
Matt Duffy made a strong push for third base honors with a .950 OPS in Lancaster, but Ruiz’s accomplishments in the Midwest League while turning 19 were just a hair more impressive. The 2012 fourth-round pick struggled in the first half, posting a .624 OPS, but was a monster in the second half, managing an .875 OPS, including a .900 mark in 28 August games.
Outfield – George Springer
The New Britain, Conn., native nearly became the first 40-homer, 40-steal Minor Leaguer since 1956 in a performance that earned him the Offensive Player of the Year MiLBY, as voted on by the MiLB.com staff. The center fielder finished with 37 homers and 45 steals across Double-A and Triple-A, and after being promoted midseason, Springer actually cut his strikeout rate from 29.7 percent to 24.4 percent of plate appearances while maintaining similar power numbers.
Outfield – Domingo Santana
Santana turned 21 in August, making him the second-youngest qualified player in the Texas League this summer. Age didn’t hold the Dominican right fielder back, as Santana finished third in the league with 25 home runs and also legged out 23 doubles despite missing a month with an injury. His .842 OPS was fourth among qualified players, and the strong-armed right fielder also recorded 11 outfield assists.
Outfield – Andrew Aplin
The 22-year-old center fielder was a dynamic contributor for Lancaster in 2013, pairing a solid offensive performance with strong base running and exceptional defense in center field. The Arizona State product hit .278 with an .800 OPS boosted mostly by outstanding plate discipline — he drew 83 walks and struck out just 63 times, posting a .376 on-base percentage. He also stole 24 bases while showcasing Major League ability in center.
Utility Player – Preston Tucker
Tucker, a seventh-round pick in 2012, has mashed at every stop since being drafted. He began 2013 in Lancaster, where he posted a .326 average and a .926 OPS with 15 homers in 298 at-bats. The 23-year-old was promoted to Corpus Christi midway through the season, where he bashed 10 homers with an .803 OPS in 237 at-bats. Merely average as a corner outfielder, Tucker’s career will go as far as his bat can take it. In that regard, 2013 was a positive step.
Right Handed Starter – Lance McCullers Jr.
McCullers, a 2012 first-round pick (41st overall), eased concerns that he may be forced into relief with his first full pro season. Boasting a monster fastball and a nasty breaking ball, McCullers struck out 117 hitters in 104 2/3 innings while posting a 3.18 ERA. That McCullers posted dominant numbers isn’t entirely surprising, but what most pleased Goldstein were the steps McCullers took toward becoming a more complete pitcher.
Left Handed Starter - Luis Cruz
Goldstein’s estimation of what makes Cruz so effective is based mostly on makeup — he described the left-hander’s mound demeanor as “nasty.” Cruz’s gamer mentality didn’t show in his California League ERA (5.16), but other numbers tell the real story. The left-hander struck out 129 batters in 113 1/3 innings, walking 40 and allowing 10 homers. The 23-year-old managed a 3.37 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), per Fangraphs, and earned a promotion to Double-A at year’s end. In four appearances (two starts) with Corpus Christi, Cruz went 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA and a 21-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 17 frames.
Relief Pitcher – Gonzalo Sanudo
Acquired from Minnesota in exchange for catching prospect Mike Kvasnicka last spring, Sanudo was dominant at three levels in 2013, posting a 1.16 ERA with a devastating 51-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 38 2/3 innings. The right-hander walked just two batters between stints with Greeneville and Tri-City, and one of those was intentional. Over three pro seasons, Sanudo’s strikeout-to-walk ratio is 106-to-13 over 95 1/3 innings.
There’s a lot more than these small tidbits, and I encourage everyone to read the rest of the article which can be found by clicking here.
With so much movement in the system on an almost weekly basis, it’s tough for some hitters to keep their groove bouncing between levels. For the most part, I believe Jake Seiner did an excellent job with this list. A lot of the choices were easy candidates for the “awards” though that’s not to say the Astros farm system is lacking depth. Looking through the numbers it’s amazing to see how good the other players were relative to the best at their position according to Seiner.
The one argument you could make is at third base. As Seiner himself points out, Matt Duffy made a strong case for the best at third base in the system. Duffy batted .309 with 24 HR and 94 RBI along with a .913 OPS, which was third highest among Astros minor leaguers. I would have put Duffy over Ruiz just for the season he had alone. Ruiz struggled mightily early on this season, though that was expected due to his age and coming off an injury. Ruiz’s strong second half is promising though as far as this award goes, it should have gone to Duffy.
The Right Handed Starter award was one that could have been given to so many different pitchers. David Martinez, Asher Wojciechowski, Michael Foltynewicz, Jake Buchanan, and Michael Feliz were all candidates that I would have been fine with receiving the award as well. McCullers gets it for both his top prospects status and his numbers as well which are certainly deserving.
One thing from this list is clear, if you haven’t been following the Astros you should probably start now as these All-Stars will likely be on the Major League Astros within a few seasons.
Tags: Houston Astros