Astros have a new impact prospect on the top 10 for 2016
By Eric Huysman
Ten prospects ready to surge includes Francis Martes of the Houston Astros
The past two seasons, the Houston Astros have had a new player in the ten prospects ready to surge in 2016 according to MLB Pipeline writer Jim Callis. For the past two seasons, that prospect was Carlos Correa with an honorably mentioned for George Springer in 2014. This year, a new name has emerged on the top ten impact prospect list, and it’s not slugger A.J. Reed like most people would think it is. The 2016 #8 top prospect in MLB who is ready to surge, according to Jim Callis is Francis Martes, a flame-throwing starter who accelerated quickly with the Astros after a trade from the Marlins.
As I wrote in an earlier article, Jeff Luhnow and the Houston Astros have acquired four of their top five starting pitching prospects via trade. You can read the full post here: Astros Prospects: Looking at the top five starters in the system.
Let’s summarize how these pitchers were acquired.
- The Astros acquired Martes, Jake Marisnick, Colin Moran, and a pick that turned into Daz Cameron from the Marlins in exchange for Jarred Cosart, Enrique Hernandez, and Austin Wates. No matter what happens to Moran, who was supposed to be the key to the trade, the Astros won this trade by a landslide.
- The Astros traded J.A. Happ, Brandon Lyon, and David Carpenter from the Blue Jays for Francisco Cordero, Ben Francisco, Asher Wojciechowski, Joseph Musgrove, David Rollins, and Carlos Perez. Musgrove appears to be the bright spot of that trade, with Wojo still lurking around. The rest of the players are retired or no longer in the organization.
- The Astros acquired Chris Devenski from the White Sox as the lone player in exchange for the now country singer Brett Myers. Astros catching prospect Trent Woodward says Devenski has the best changeup that he has ever seen.
- The Astros sent closer Jose Veras to the Tigers in exchange for young pitcher David Paulino and Danry Vasquez. This trade could be on of the better trades in the future as Paulino is shaping up to be a great pitcher.
What do all four of these pitchers have in common? They were all in Rookie ball and the Astros identified them as potential top of the rotation pitchers down the road. You can say what you want to with the Brady Aiken and Mark Appel picks by Luhnow, but he had made up for those mistakes with shrewd moves like these four above.
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While Musgrove won the Astros Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award in 2015, Callis says that Martes and his 98 mph fastball could make him an impact rookie for the 2016 season with the Astros. Callis included in his article that the Astros were able to deal Vincent Velasquez and Appel in the Ken Giles deal because Martes could be better than both of them.
The Astros had a logjam with starting pitchers who would be ready for the 2016 season, so they used that surplus to shore up the back end of the bullpen so a guy like Martes can go five to six innings getting his feet wet at some point this season. Martes is now 20-years-old, the Astros will probably give him some time in Triple-A before they jump.
Martes’ 2015 Stats: 8-3/ 2.04 ERA/ 98 strikeouts in 101 1/3 innings.
Something that Astros’ fans have to understand is that with the emergence of Martes and Musgrove, they were not in a rush to offer a four-year deal to Scott Kazmir or anyone else. They have Scott Feldman who could be a placeholder for now. When needed, these two could be the thing that sets the Astros over the top in 2016 and beyond.
Next: Astros invite 17 non-roster invitees to spring camp, who will stick?
However, the prospect Guru Callis thinks that Martes will be the best of the two, only time will tell. Keep up to date with the latest Astros talk at CTH.
**Stats from Baseball-Reference**
**Trades from MLB.com**