Astros: Top 10 non-prospects that surprised with big impacts
By James Wehr
2. Dallas Keuchel
Coming in at number two, the University of Arkansas product, Dallas Keuchel was drafted to Houston in round seven of the 2009 MLB Draft.
Not much was thought of Keuchel when he was drafted. Many scouts only touted that he had a good work ethic. Noting that his minimal fastball speed was worrisome.
To a point, they were right. While in the Minors, he didn’t really blow bats away and didn’t really even strike anyone as a prospect. He wasn’t even listed as a Top 30 Astros prospect from 2009-2011.
Debuting in 2012, the Astros were in full rebuild mode and really didn’t understand the diamond they were about to unearth when they called for Keuchel to be the #5 starting pitcher. Let’s put it in perspective. Lucas Harrell was the Astros Ace that year.
Keuchel’s rookie campaign was one to forget and no one would have blamed you if, as a fan, you didn’t think much of Keuchel. Going 3-8 with a 5.27 ERA, 5.74 FIP, 4SO/9IP that was shown by 39 strikeouts in 85 innings pitched.
Much of the same in 2013. Almost mirrored stats really. 5.15 ERA, 123 strikeouts on 188 innings pitched, a 4.25 FIP. It wasn’t looking good.
Then, seemingly overnight, it seemed as though something clicked for Keuchel. The magical 2014 season that saw him pitch in a career-high five complete games (two of which were shutouts), an eye-popping 2.93 ERA, and 149 strikeouts in 200 innings pitched. He was becoming the ace that nobody knew he’d be. He even collected his first gold glove that year, the first of many.
Keuchel would become a key fixture for the Astros, winning his first Cy Young award in 2015, in tow came a career-high 20 wins, 232 innings pitched, and an 8.4 SO/9IP rate. A second gold glove would follow as well.
Injuries, however, have hindered his last three seasons, but he was a key fixture in helping the Astros capture their first franchise World Series title in 2017.
Over the course of his seven years in Space City, he has collected a total of four Gold Gloves, two All-Star appearances, one (previously mentioned) World Series Title, and one Cy Young Award. I’ll throw in his own cheering section too, as his beard became synonymous with Keuchel and winning as well.
While there are politics at play right now, as he is still a free agent, you will still hear a select few people say Keuchel needs to return home. And honestly, he will find a home soon, so for all his accolades and contributions to this team, he is a solid choice at number 2.