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Astros 2020 Rookie of the Year candidates

CLEVELAND, OHIO - JULY 31: Starting pitcher Jose Urquidy #65 of the Houston Astros leaves the game in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on July 31, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - JULY 31: Starting pitcher Jose Urquidy #65 of the Houston Astros leaves the game in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on July 31, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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Which Astros players could make a run at the Rookie of the Year Award in 2020?

Several Astros players took home some hardware following the 2019 season, including young slugger Yordan Alvarez. He was unanimously named the league’s Rookie of the Year, which is a remarkable feat. Now the question turns to whether the club could capture the award in two consecutive years.

There’s more than one potential candidate for this, though one player who won’t be is Kyle Tucker. The outfielder exhausted his rookie status this year, so he will not be eligible for the award in 2020. The same goes for Myles Straw, so neither of them will be in the running.

But the Astros have had a strong farm system for the past several years and still have some talent that could step up to make a big impact next year.

The Frontrunners

The most obvious candidate is right-hander Jose Urquidy, who is currently penciled in to the big league rotation to start the season. If he can deliver a full season’s worth of effective pitching in the rotation, he could easily tally double-digit wins and vault into the conversation.

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Of course there’s also top prospect Forrest Whitley. It’s highly unlikely he begins the year in the majors, but we’ll know more about his trajectory when we see him in Spring Training. He could start out either in Double-A or Triple-A, depending on how he looks in the spring and where the club feels like he’d be the best fit.

He had a difficult 2019 season, pitching to a 12.21 ERA at Round Rock before sitting out with injury for a while. He was better upon his return, though still not quite where he should have been. The good news is he pitched well in the Arizona Fall League, so perhaps the 22-year-old is back on track.

His ceiling is so high that he doesn’t have to pitch the full year in the majors in order to be in the running for Rookie of the Year. He boasts four plus pitches including a lively mid-90s fastball and a “devastating” changeup and has the makings of an ace if he can put it all together.

The Dark Horses

Bryan Abreu could be a candidate as well, depending on how the Astros intend to use him. He was sharp in his first seven big league relief appearances this year, allowing just one run in 8.2 innings with 13 strikeouts.

If the club tries him out as a starter in Spring Training and he makes the rotation, the opportunity is there for him to push himself into that conversation. If he makes the team as a reliever, he still has a chance but it’s a rather slim one. His chances are even slimmer if he starts the year in Triple-A.

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You also can’t count out Abraham Toro, though it would probably require an injury to an established infielder in order to get him enough playing time. If everyone is healthy, he would probably be stuck in Triple-A, but if he can somehow find a way into an everyday job, he’d have the opportunity to put up some numbers and get himself into that conversation.

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