By Illya Harrell on August 17, 2014
Even after slugger George Springer debuted for the Houston Astros on April 16, their farm system remains one of the strongest in the majors. Here's a look at their top-five current prospects.
Picked in the fifth round of the 2011 MLB draft, Nick Tropeano has carved a fine minor league career. This season, pitching triple-A ball in the thin air of the Pacific Coast League, he owns a 3.31 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, .207 BAA with 106 strikeouts in 108.2 innings. Tropeano displays above-average control, throwing a low-90s fastball, a plus-change and a work-in-progress slider. He will get a September call and have a shot at the 2015 rotation.
Domingo Santana is trying to prove himself while currently playing with Astros. In six games he has no hits and 14 strikeouts in 17 at-bats. He did smack 14 home runs at triple-A and was hitting .290/.376/.465 in 396 at-bats. For Santana to succeed at the major league level, he must improve his pitch recognition.
Colin Moran entered the season ranked by 'Baseball America' as the No. 2 prospect in the Miami Marlins organization. He was dealt to the Astros near the 2014 trade deadline for Jarred Cosart. In his second year as a pro, he's never hit less than .294 at any level. Moran boasts a career .299/.349/.417 line with 11 homers in 569 at-bats. His hand-eye coordination project him as a .300 hitter with good gap power in the majors.
Appel has yet to show the minors the talent that made him the 2013 No. 1 overall pick out of Stanford, but in his first full season as a professional, there is no reason to wave a red flag. Appel stands 6-foot-5, and throws a mid-90s fastball, a plus-slider and a potentially plus-change. Houston hoped he'd move faster through their system, but there is little reason not to expect him in the Astros rotation sometime next year.
The Astros chose Correa as the No. 1 overall pick in 2012. MLB.com ranked him as the mid-season No. 2 prospect, trailing Minnesota's Byron Buxton. With injuries to Buxton, Correa will grace covers of 2015 preseason prospect publications. He hits for both average and power, and has a firm glove with a great arm at short. As far as prospects go, Correa falls into the "can't miss" category. He will be Houston's Opening Day shortstop in 2016.
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