Opening Day 2022: Houston Astros Three Biggest Strengths
The Astros have minor-league prospects at positions where the major-league roster needs help.
While the Astros farm system is ranked towards the bottom in terms of overall talent, the one thing they are fortunate in is that where their holes are on the major league roster, that’s where their top talent is in the minor league system.
The Astros top prospects are Jeremy Pena (SS), Korey Lee (C), Hunter Brown (RHP), Pedro Leon (CF/SS) and Forrest Whitley (RHP). If ever there was a top five prospect list perfectly set up considering the major league roster, it’s this one.
We all know now Pena is getting his shot to start at shortstop after the departure of Correa, but each one of the top five prospects are in the exact positions you’d want them to be in in terms of major league roster weaknesses (A forthcoming article on that.)
The Astros have veterans Martin Maldonado and Jason Castro behind the plate, but they’re definitely not there for their offensive capabilities. Not to mention with their age it’s entirely possible one of the two gets injured. That would mean Astros number two prospect catcher Korey Lee can come up and get his opportunity to impress at the major league level.
The Astros back end of the rotation is questionable, especially now that Lance McCullers Jr. is out indefinitely moving Jake Odorizzi into the five spot. Odorizzi was famously not known for being able (or allowed to) go past five innings.
The Astros not only have Cristian Javier looming and hovering from the bullpen like a vulture just waiting for his chance to swoop in and pick that spot up, but they have two high end prospects (albeit at very different points in their minor league careers) in Hunter Brown and Forrest Whitley who could make a difference if need be.
While Whitley has struggled with injuries and consistency, if he can put it all together and regain his form that got him to Double-A at the age of 19, it would be a real boon to a team that does have questions around its starting pitching depth.
And Pedro Leon is a natural center fielder who the Astros have played at shortstop more recently. If Pena thrives but the tag team of McCormick/Siri/Meyers struggles in centerfield, Leon can go back to his natural position and get his shot. And should Pena struggle, Leon can get his opportunity to come up and earn the shortstop position for himself.
Obviously this is all dependent on these prospects actually performing up to potential, but the Astros at least don’t have any of their top prospects blocked or being needed to move to another position just so they can get their chance.
Fortunately they all are right in the spots the Astros need them to be should anything go awry on the major league roster. The Astros are looking like they are poised once again to make a run to the playoffs with a potent offense, reliable bullpen, and organizational depth at the exact right positions.