Houston Astros 2014 Spring Training Profile: Michael Foltynewicz

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At the major league level, the Houston Astros are going through some hard times. Houston has finished with the worst record in the league in each of the last three seasons. During that time, the franchise has also changed leagues and is arguably in a tougher division than before the switch. It is fair to say that Houston is experiencing many growing pains during this transition and rebuilding stage.

One thing that the Astros do have going for them is their farm system. The organization has seven prospects ranked in the MLB top 100, which is tied for the second-most in the league and only behind the Boston Red Sox‘ nine. Can a top-five farm system be enough to turn things around down in Houston? At the very least, it is a step in the right direction for the franchise.

One of those top prospects is right-hand pitcher Michael Foltynewicz. Houston drafted the 6-foot-5, 200-pound pitcher in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft with the no. 19  pick. Foltynewicz joined the Astros’ organization straight out of Minooka High School in Illinois and decided to forego the opportunity to play at the University of Texas down in Austin.

Folty was named the Astros’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2012 after going 14-4 with a 3.14 ERA. Near his home town in Illinois, he was also honored as the 2012 Chicago Area Minor League Player of the Year by the Pitch and Hit Club of Chicago. He finished the 2013 season at double-A Corpus Christi, and is likely to start 2014 there before continuing up the ranks. He is likely still about two years away from potentially reaching the big league level.

Foltynewicz is a power pitcher with a fastball averaging in at the mid- to upper-90s while occasionally reaching triple digits. In the minors, he will strive to continue developing his command and off-speed pitches, which will turn him into a more complete pitcher. Since being in the Houston organization, Foltynewicz has gained experience both as a starter and reliever.

As he progresses with his development, time will tell what role he will ultimately fall into long term. The Astros also have fellow right-hand pitcher Mark Appel from the 2013 draft also progressing through their system. Currently ranked no. 54 on the top 100, Foltynewicz is a promising young pitcher with a live arm and someone to keep an eye on down the road.

Nick Schaeflein is a sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.

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