Projecting Future of Astros’ Top Three Prospects in 2022

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Houston Astros, Korey Lee
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Korey Lee — September 2022 Forecast: Astros Minor League System.

Despite the fact that the Astros’ tandem behind the plate of Martin Maldonado and Jason Castro have been, to put it politely, less than stellar, Korey Lee has not come close to forcing the Astros’ hand in calling him up to replace them.

He’s batting .212 while striking out 55 times against 11 walks in 184 plate appearances. If your strikeout rate is 30% against Triple-A pitching, there’s no reason to assume you’ll make a jump against the best pitchers in the world.

He has shown power with seven home runs, but that’s not enough to overcome his other flaws much less supplant the veteran presence and defense Maldonado provides. I also don’t see Lee being traded for two reasons.

One is the age of the Astros’ current backstops who will sooner rather than later be out of the game. The Astros can’t afford to trade away a catching prospect who — while he may be struggling now — will be needed in the immediate future with the team.

The other reason is that because of his struggles his trade stock is lower than what it could be. He may be the Astros’ number two prospect, but he’s not in MLB Pipeline’s top 100 as he once was. There are other teams who have four or five prospects on the top 100 beating out Lee’s value.

Were the Astros to trade Lee, it would not hold as much weight as another team’s No. 3 or No. 4 prospect, and it would further deplete an already weakened farm system. Lee will be an Astros’ minor leaguer where hopefully he can raise his value for the team whether it be on the trade market or as the eventual replacement for Maldonado.