What other prospects could we see in 2019?
After Corbin Martin's call-up, who's next?
After Jose Altuve was sent to the Injured List, the first position player of the year to end up there, the Astros took the opportunity to call up Corbin Martin to make his Major League debut. While Houston fans should hope that there aren't too many more players going to the IL to create these opportunities, George Springer and Aledmys Diaz are both nursing injuries that need further evaluation. So it's fair to ask, who else might we see in 2019?
Let's start with the obvious candidate that has the most buzz surrounding him right now, Yordan Alvarez. He has been DOMINATING in the minors this season, currently batting an incredible .411 average with a 1.378 OPS. He has 18 home runs and 55 RBIs over 39 games this season, placing him firmly on top of the minor-league batting charts.
Yordan had the opportunity to get some major-league action this spring, making the Spring Training roster and getting 49 at-bats with the big-league team. He didn't light up the scoreboard, hitting for a .265 average with 7 RBIs and 14 strikeouts, but his performance since then has shown that his upside is very much worth a chance.
The Astros will likely take their time with Alvarez to avoid any early arbitration or free agency situations, so if they do call him up, it'll likely be in June. Yet, with Tyler White off to a slow start in his DH role, it has many understandably wondering why Alvarez can't be given a shot.
Kyle Tucker was in a very similar situation as Alvarez last year when he got his highly-anticipated call up in July of 2018. He had been putting together great offensive numbers in the minor leagues, however, when brought up to the majors couldn't quite replicate that success.
Tucker was invited to Spring Training this season, where he hit a respectable .276 average, but he still has not quite gotten back to the performance that earned him his debut last season. Still, his ceiling is incredibly high, making it no surprise that he was in pre-season Rookie of the Year prediction talks. He could easily go on a tear and earn another shot at the majors.
Similar to Tucker, Forrest Whitley finds himself struggling recently to live up to his big expectations. Whitley, who is Houston's overall top prospect and ranked number 9 in the league, has had a lot of buzz as being a future starting pitcher for the Astros, especially after being designated as one of the few players Houston would simply not give up in any trade.
Whitley also was brought to Spring Training to get a little major-league exposure. During the spring he pitched 15 innings, over which he allowed five runs giving him an ERA of 3.00 while striking out 11, a respectable result. However, after being sent to the minors to continue improving for his inevitable promotion to the big-league roster, he's struggled heavily. In his 22.1 innings this season for Round Rock, he's allowed a surprisingly high 26 earned runs, giving him an ERA of 10.48. Whitley has very high upside, so he too could turn things around quickly and still make his way onto the Astros' roster, but for now, he needs more time to turn things around in the minors.
Another player currently spending time developing in a Round Rock Express uniform is Myles Straw. Straw made his major-league debut as a September call up in 2018, brought in to give the Astros some speed on the base paths for the playoffs. While he definitely still warrants consideration for his speed, he continues to develop as a hitter, too.
Straw was another invitee to Spring Training, where he hit for a strong .378 with 1 home run and 2 RBIs in his 45 plate appearances. He's continued to do well at the plate in the minors this year, sitting with a .308 average with 15 RBIs over his 38 games. He's not one of the most renown prospects, but his speed and versatility make him a good fit if the Astros should need some depth in the outfield this season.
The Astros are fortunate that these are just four of the many prospects they have in their system that could have big impacts in this and the coming years. All of the years of prospect hoarding in the down years has paid off in a big way, and it's showing via the good problem to have: having major-league caliber players that have to be slowly moved into the big-league system.