30th-23rd Top Astros Prospects
Feb 26, 2015; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Houston Astros infielderNolan Fontana
poses for a picture during photo day at Osceola County Stadium Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
#25 Nolan Fontana
Fontana plays almost all the infield positions except for first base. His main tool that stands out is his on-base ability, despite the low batting average. He has struggled recently to find playing time with Johnathan Villar, Tony Kemp, and Matt Duffy on the Fresno roster. He has fallen into what his eventual role could be with the Astros, as the Marwin Gonzalez type of utility player.
He has a good eye and has the ability to do everything at the plate, while not being great at any skill. He has shown a good ability to draw a walk in his minor league career. Fontana was drafted with the 61st overall pick in the second round of the 2012 draft by the Astros. He has dropped from the Astros 17th top prospect to the 25th.
Triple-A Fresno Stats: .231/ .365/ .360/ .725 slash line, with three homers, 35 RBI, and five stolen bases. He has also walked 62 times while striking out 84 times.
If Fontana can keep getting on base at a consistent rate, he should be able to compete at AAA for a spot in the majors once September call-ups happen. The Astros need more guys who can get on base, and all Astros fans know that third base is a position of need right now for the Astros. Jed Lowrie is there, but he could potentially move to DH if Fontana impresses Astros management enough to get the call up to the bigs.
#24 Andrew Aplin
Aplin has split time in AA and AAA this season, dominating AA ball and playing very average in AAA. His defense has been very good at both levels, but there has been a definite difference in production at the plate from AA to AAA, and that’s why Aplin is “stuck” in the minors right now. His instincts in the outfield are just enough to keep him in AAA, but his aggressive style at the plate has hurt him at times.
He doesn’t really have any tools that stand out, but is a high-energy outfielder whose energy adds another dimension to his game. He hustles, goes after every fly ball like it’s his last, and doesn’t take many plate appearances off. He’s no George Springer, but his scrappy style makes it easier to compare him to Jake Marisnick.
Here are Aplin’s stats at AAA Fresno: .254/ .368/ .328/ .696 slash line, with two home runs, 18 RBI, and 14 stolen bases. His strikeout to walk ratio is even, at 32 strike outs to 32 walks.
If Aplin continues to be a patient hitter, draw walks, and hit singles, he could be a nice fourth outfielder for the Astros one day. I wouldn’t have any expectations for Astros fans to see him in Houston in 2015, but perhaps in 2016 when an Astros outfielder gets injured or falls in a slump.
#23 Brady Rodgers
Rodgers has been a real innings-eater for the Grizzlies this year, completing 102 innings of work, which leads the team. Growing up an Astros fan in Texas, Rodgers was really pleased to be drafted by his favorite team in the 3rd round of the 2012 MLB draft. Since then, he has been steadily working and improving to make his first start in an Astros uniform.
The strength of Rodgers’ game is his control. While not possessing great velocity on his fastball, Rodgers has been very efficient in controlling the strike zone and walking very few batters in his minor league career. He’s a lot like Dallas Keuchel in the sense that he can get a lot of ground ball outs, but sometimes his command of the strike zone makes him very hittable, and opposing batters are able to rough him up a bit.
Here are Rodgers’ AAA Fresno stats: 9-5 record with a 4.59 ERA, 102.0 IP, 21 BB allowed, 75 Ks, 12 home runs allowed, and a 1.40 WHIP.
Rodgers’ great command will get him a chance in the majors, but I don’t think that chance will come in 2015. If any pitcher gets called up this year, it’s going to be Appel just because he’s the top prospect. Rodgers has put in the work in the minors to deserve a shot, and he will definitely get a chance in 2016 Spring Training to compete for a spot at the back end of the Astros rotation. I think he’s better than Asher Wojciechowski, and maybe even Scott Feldman. It should be an interesting next few months in the Astros organization for Brady Rodgers.
Next: 22nd-10th Top Astros Prospects