Two Houston Astros named top 100 prospects
For as poorly as the Astros' farm system has been rated over the last few seasons, the machine just continues to churn out elite pro after elite pro.
Last season saw Jeremy Peña emerge from widely unknown to ALCS and World Series MVP. According to Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects, the Astros now possess two of the top 100 prospects in the MLB.
Hunter Brown was named the 28th best prospect in the game while Yainer Diaz cracked a top 100 list for the first time, ranking 82nd.
Brown continues to climb up top prospect lists, and for good reason. He was recently named a top-10 right-handed pitching prospect by MLB.com, which we wrote about here. The reigning PCL pitcher of the year debuted in September after embarrassing AAA hitters all season, and only top prospect Corbin Carroll was as successful in a September call-up role as Brown was in his short stint. It wouldn't be the slightest bit surprising to look back at this list in a few years and realize Brown was still woefully underrated, even as a top 30 prospect.
Diaz came to Houston in the Phil Maton-Myles Straw trade and has done nothing but rake since arriving. There are some questions about what position Diaz will play in the bigs. Does he catch, is he a designated hitter, or can he even play first base?
Whatever the case ends up being, Diaz performance at the dish ensures the Astros will need to find somewhere to slot him in the lineup. Across 340 minor league games, Diaz has hit .321 with an .868 OPS. He really tapped into his power last year upon debuting in AAA, hitting 16 big flies in only 48 games. HIs .930 OPS at the AAA level is something well worth getting excited about. He was given a 60-hit grade and 50-power grade from MLB scouts, who noted his high-contact, low-strikeout rates.
It is not known yet if he will begin the year with the big league club as the backup catcher, or if he will start in AAA to get some consistent at-bats. Either way, there is much to be excited about with the young backstop.
MLB.com actually ranks Drew Gilbert ahead of Diaz in the Astros farm system, but he did not crack the Baseball America Top 100.