Erik Castro, 3B (22); Castro was originally a third baseman before being forced to catch while at school in San Diego State. What makes catching even harder when it’s not your natural position? Catching every one of Stephen Strasburg’ starts. Castro was a 10th round pick for Houston in 2009, and immediately moved back to third base. (He threw out 42% of runners trying to steal on him so keeping him behind the plate wouldn’t be a terrible decision either). Castro had a great inaugural season at Tri-City hitting .266/.351/.453 with 7 homeruns in 192 at-bats. He also showed a pretty good eye at the plate with 26 walks to go with 38 strikeouts. However, he missed the entire 2010 season with a shoulder surgery. Next season Castro will be 23 without any experience above the low-A level, vastly diminishing his prospect status. If he can progress quickly form his rehab, he could still be at least an average major league hitter.
Arcenio Leon, RHP (23); A 23 year old reliever pitching well in A ball doesn’t sound too exciting. And it wouldn’t be except Leon looked awful at the same level in 2009 and had a great bounce back year before his Double-A promotion where he struggled mightily. For Lexington, he struck out 60 batters in 54 innings with a 2.33 ERA but then walked 22 batters in 23 innings leading to a 7.83 ERA for Corpus Christi. Right now, Leon looks like a long-shot to be more than an extra bullpen arm.
Jonathan Mejia, SS-3B; Houston signed Mejia in July 2009 when he was 16. At the time, Baseball America cited scouts who said Mejia has the chance to standout at the plate. Originally a shortstop, Mejia played second and third base in 2010 for the DSL Astros. He hit .235/.283/.344 in 221 at-bats but this was just his 17-yr old season and he was learning a new position. Mejia didn’t wow anyone in 2010 but he still has the same upside he always has.
Daniel Meszaros, RHP (24); Another decent relief prospect but nothing exciting. Struck out 42 in 32 Double-A innings this season but also walked 16 as a 24-yr old. Meszaros then struggled in 8.1 innings at Triple-A with 5 strikeouts, 5 unintentional walks, and 5 earned runs (very small sample size). In 2011 he’ll be 25 and in Triple-A for a full season so he will be better evaluated then. With some of Houston’s bullpen woes, if he returns to his Double-A version of himself, he could see some time in Houston. But he doesn’t have anything beyond middle-relief stuff.
Yuri Perez, RHP (19); Of the pitchers in this post, Perez has by far the highest ceiling. In 2009, over 51.2 innings at Rookie-A Greeneville, Perez struck out 60 batters and walked just 19. He also gave up just 43 hits. And he was only 18. In 2010, Perez was only able to throw 8.1 innings due to injury so missing a prime year of development hurts his prospect status but he’s young and has great stuff. Yuri Perez could be a huge sleeper-prospect in 2011.