The Arizona Fall League wrapped up on Saturday, Nov. 20. Seven Houston Astros prospects participated in the roughly five-week league, which historically finds a high percentage of players eventually reach the Major Leagues.
How did Astros prospects do in the Arizona Fall League?
While a 24-year-old, 2019 second-round pick out of the University of Mississippi, Grae Kessinger played all over the infield for Glendale, seeing time at first base (12 games), second base (one), shortstop (one) and third base (four).
Kessinger slashed .258/.378/.419 with two home runs and 10 RBI across 62 at-bats. While those aren’t bad numbers at the plate, the intriguing part is where Kessinger played most of the time – first base – where he made only one error in 101 innings.
Kessinger’s previous professional experience at the position consisted of four innings in one game for Low-A Tri-City in 2019. This experience adds to his versatility, and it’ll be interesting to see which positions he sees time at in 2022.
The fast-rising, 23-year-old minor-league star, Korey Lee, played tree positions for the Glendale Desert Dogs: 14 at catcher, one at first base and one at third base. Lee slashed .237/.338/.322 with a homer and six RBI in 59 at-bats with 19 strikeouts and nine walks
Lee committed four errors (all at catcher), which led to a .969 fielding percentage at the position. The Astro’ 2019 first rounder, selected 32nd overall, finished the 2021 minor-league season in Triple-A.
The 23-year-old Pedro Leon, who finished 2021 in Triple-A as well, slashed .250/370/.338 across 19 games and 68 at-bats with a homer, nine RBI and three stolen bases. There were plenty of strikeouts (20), but also plenty of walks (12) in 81 plate appearances.
The native of Cuba played mostly center field, handling 23 chances without an error. Leon also saw action in seven games at shortstop where he committed three errors and fielded .885.
The 26-year-old, Cypress Woods High graduate, was an 11th round pick of the Astros in 2016. Chad Donato pitched in six games, starting four, while throwing 20.0 innings for Glendale, compiling a 1-1 record and a 6.30 ERA.
Donato was tagged for 26 hits and six walks leading to a 1.600 WHIP, but he also struck out 17 and didn’t give up a home run. Donato spent May with Double-A Corpus Christi before moving to Triple-A Sugar Land for the remainder of the year. Between the two clubs, the right-hander compiled a 3-5 record with a 4.50 ERA over 56 innings while striking out 52.
While a 24-year-old University of Pittsburgh product, R.J. Freure struggled in Arizona, seeing action in eight games and compiling a 1-1 record with a 7.98 ERA in 14.2 innings.
Freure gave up 14 hits and struck out 12, but walked 14 of the 70 batters faced, leading to a WHIP approaching 2.000. He split 2021 between Asheville (A+) and Corpus Christi (AA) where he combined to strike out 104 in just 81.1 innings, but also walked 53.
The 21-year-old, Angel Macuare, pitched the last month of the season for Double-A Corpus Christi where he compiled a 3-1 record and 1.80 ERA.
In Arizona, Macuare only gave up one hit in six innings across three games, but that old bugaboo – walks – raised their ugly head, as the young righty walked four of the 23 batters faced. This continued a pattern similar to Corpus Christi, where Macuare walked an average of 6.1 per nine innings pitched.
Joe Record, an original 28th round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins, was claimed by the Astros in December of 2020 and had the best fall by far of any Astros’ prospect in Arizona. Record pitched 13.2 innings across nine games, giving up only five hits and zero runs, and striking out 14 while walking four.
The 26-year-old right-hander out of Anaheim and UC-Santa Barbara finished the ’21 season at Corpus Christi with a 5-2 record and 3.36 ERA. Record was limited to 61.2 innings by a couple of trips to the injured list.