Astros Top Prospects: MLB Pipeline Top-30 Part 2

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20th through 16th top Astros prospects

Mar 6, 2015; Jupiter, FL, USA; Houston Astros catcher Max Stassi (12) at bat against the St. Louis Cardinals during a spring training baseball game at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

#20 Danry Vasquez – OF (Stock decreased, #19 in 2014)

You might remember Danry Vasquez as being the minor league hitter the Astros received for Jose Veras in 2013. Vazquez entered the top-20 for 2014 after the trade of Rio Ruiz and Michael Foltynewicz. While he is still a young player, he is now 21-years old, and he broke into professional baseball at 17-years old. He has always been one of the youngest players at each level he has played with. He is a line drive hitter who has the potential to hit for a decent average. The knocks against him is that he may not ever hit for enough power to justify being a corner outfielder and he has below average speed. When the Astros traded for Vazquez, he was near the top of the Tigers prospect list.

2014 Stats: 423 AB/.291 Avg/ 123 hits/ 30 doubles/ 2 triples/ 5 homers/ 47 RBI/ 1 stolen base.

MLB Pipeline ETA: 2017

Ceiling: Alex Rios (without speed)

Floor: L.J. Hoes

Position blocker: Preston Tucker

#19 Max Stassi – C (Stock decreased, #16 in 2014)

Max Stassi was one of the players the Astros got back in the Jed Lowrie trade, along with Chris Carter and Brad Peacock. Stassi was a highly regarded catching prospect before he came to the Astros and took off in his first year in the minor leagues. He even made his major league debut in 2013, but a pitch to the face shortened his debut. Solid play from the catchers in 2014 prevented Stassi from a big impact last year.

Stassi had a down year in 2014, but did become a September call-up at end of the season. He should still be important in the Astros plans, especially with Jason Castro reaching free agency in 2017 season. The question that the Astros have to figure out is what to do with Stassi in the meantime.

Max Stassi Profile by Kennon Riley

Could Max Stassi change positions? by Jason Burke

2014 Stats: 392 AB/.247 Avg/ 91 hits/ 20 doubles/ 2 triples/ 9 homers/ 45 RBI/ 1 stolen base.

MLB Pipeline ETA: 2015

Ceiling: Travis d’Arnaud

Floor: John Buck

#18 Kyle Smith – RHP (Stock decreased, ranked #13 in 2014)

Kyle Smith was acquired from the Royals for Justin Maxwell. Smith was drafted in the fourth round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of high school by the Kansas City Royals. He moved quickly through the lower levels with his pitching ability. The Astros liked what they saw and traded for him. He pitched last year at AA, so he should start at AAA in 2015, and could be recalled by the Astros at some point.

He is not a hard thrower, tops out at 90 mph, but he has good command and a Roy Oswalt like curveball. He may not be the top Astros pitcher in its system, but he could surprise people.

2014 Stats: 9 wins/ 5 losses/ 3.95 ERA/ 127 strikeouts in 123 innings.

MLB Pipeline ETA: 2015

Ceiling: Roy Oswalt

Floor: Tim Redding

Position blocker: Mark Appel and Josh Hader

#17 Nolan Fontana – SS (Stock decreased, ranked #14 in 2014)

Nolan Fontana was drafted by the Astros in the second round of the 2012 draft from the University of Florida. He’s a natural shortstop with average skills across the board except for his lack of power. He also has a great eye, walking almost as many times as he strikeouts out over his career. His tools don’t wow you, but he profiles more as a utility player versus an everyday player. With his patient approach at the plate and ability to hit for a good average, he will be a plus player off the bench. Last season he walked 61 times while striking out 76 times.

2014 Stats: 229 AB/.262 Avg/ 60 hits/ 21 doubles/ 1 triples/ 1 homers/ 26 RBI/ 5 stolen base.

MLB Pipeline ETA: 2016

Ceiling: Bill Spiers

Floor: Marwin Gonzalez

Position blocker: Joe Sclafani

Feb 26, 2015; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Houston Astros infielder Nolan Fontana poses for a picture during photo day at Osceola County Stadium Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

#16 Joe Musgrove – RHP (Stock on the rise, unranked in 2014)

Joe Musgrove was acquired in the ten player trade that sent J.A. Happ to the Blue Jays. He had a slow start to his career, but broke out in 2014 with the Tri-City Valley Cats. The 2011 first round pick, with his tall frame 6’5″, pitches with a downward trajectory on his fastball due to his height. As 2015 approaches, he appears to be ready to start heading up the food chain. He needs some growth, but he should be able to quickly move through the Astros farm system at the age of 22.

2014 Stats: 7 wins/ 1 losses/ 2.81 ERA/ 67 strikeouts in 77 innings.

MLB Pipeline ETA: 2017

Ceiling: Roy Oswalt

Floor: Wade Miller

Position blocker: Mark Appel and Josh Hader

Next: 15th through 11th Astros top prospects