A Look Back At The 2016 MLB Prospect Watch Top 30 Five Years Later

A great deal can happen in five years. Let’s see what has happened in the last 5 years with the guys who were listed by MLB Prospect Watch as the top 30 Astros prospects at the end of the 2016 season.

(Underlined players appeared for the Astros in the 2021 season, players with names in italics are still in the Astros organization at the end of the 2021 season. WAR is from Baseball Reference.)

  1. Frances Martes - Good old Franky Tuesday. Such high hopes. Such a disappointing outcome. Made his MLB debut in June of 2017. That year, he pitched in 32 games and struck out 69 batters in 54 ⅓ IP. He spent 2018 in Fresno and then had Tommy John surgery in August of 2018. In March 2019, he was suspended 80 games for using Clomiphene and then in February 2021, he was suspended 162 for using Boldenone. He was activated off the restricted list on June 19, 2021 and designated for assignment to AAA. Had 7 outings in Sugarland before being DFA’d at the end of June. He was outrighted on July 4th and released on August 17th. MLB WAR ( -0.9)

  2. Kyle Tucker - Made his MLB debut in June 2018 as a 21 year old. He struggled in 28 games with a .141/.236/.203 slash line. He spent 22 games the next year in the majors and showed improvement with a .269/.319/.537 slash. In 2020, he became a regular in the Astros outfield during the shortened season. He had a solid .268/.325/.512 and was a gold glove finalist. This season he has been outstanding! His .294/.359/.557 slash line exceeded most fans’ hopes and expectations with a 5.7 WAR season. MLB WAR 7.6

  3. Forrest Whitley - His career has been a bit of a tease. Every time he gets close to the majors, something happens that is a setback. In February 2018, he was suspended 50 games for violating MLB drug policy. An oblique injury and mechanical issues in 2019 resulted in struggles that resulted in Whitley having to start all the way over, going back to the Astros complex team in Florida to work on his delivery. 2020 he was at the alternate site the whole year but didn’t pitch in any official games. In March of 2021, it was announced he would undergo Tommy John surgery. He has started throwing again and should be available early next season. He turned 24 in September, so he is still relatively young. Has not appeared in MLB yet.

  4. David Paulino - He once appeared to be the steal of the Jose Veras trade with the Tigers. He and Martes were the poster children for the Luhnow front office (Find that guy that the team doesn’t realize is good and have him thrown in to the deal). He made his MLB debut in 2016 at age 22. He appeared in 3 games with unremarkable results. He started 6 games in 2017 and was showing some promise then he was suspended 80 games for PED use at the end of June. In 2018, he was traded to the Blue Jays in the Ken Giles deal. He pitched a bit for the Blue Jays in 2018 but injuries have caused him to miss significant time throughout his career. He was released by the Jays late in the 2019 season and with the pandemic, he wasn’t picked up in 2020. In 21, he was picked up by the Phillies and appeared in one game for them before being sent back to AAA. MLB WAR (-0.2)

  5. Derek Fisher - Made his major league in the magical 2017 season. Scored the winning run in the crazy game 5 for the 2017 World Series. He made the 2018 squad out of spring training but struggled in the majors. At the July 2019 deadline, he was sent to the Blue Jays in the Sanchez/Biagini trade. After an unremarkable tenure with the Jays, he was traded to the Brewers in February 2021 for a player to be named later and cash. He appeared in four games for the crew before being outrighted to Nashville. MLB WAR 0.2

  6. Daz Cameron - Mike’s kid was a key piece in the trade to obtain Justin Verlander in August 2017. He made his MLB debut for the Tigers in 2020. Between 2020 and 2021, he has appeared in 52 MLB games playing a good outfield but struggling at the plate (.194/.259/.325). He will turn 25 in January. MLB WAR (-0.6)

  7. Colin Moran - The Astros got him in July 2014, Martes and Marisnick (and the draft pick that became Daz Cameron) from the Marlins for Jared Cosart, Kike Hernandez and Austin Wates. He appeared in 16 games with the Astros in 16 and 17 before being traded to the Pirates in the Garrett Cole trade. He has had a solid career as a corner infielder for the Pirate hitting .269/.331/.419. MLB WAR 3.6

  8. Teoscar Hernandez - After making his debut for the Astro in 2016, he was traded to Toronto in 2017 for Francisco Liriano. He has been a regular in the Blue Jays outfield ever since. In his time with Toronto, he has hit .262/.321/.506. In 2020, he had a breakout year during the pandemic shortened season. He got a silver slugger award and a few MVP votes. In 2021, at age 28, he was an All Star and had a career high average and OBP(.296/.346/.524) and hit a career high 32 home runs. MLB WAR 8.1

  9. Franklin Perez - He was another key piece of the Verlander trade. He was the Tigers top prospect heading into the 2018 season, but shoulder/lat injuries derailed his career. He had shoulder surgery in May of 2021. He is currently on a minor league contract with the Tigers. Has not made MLB Debut.

  10. Miguelangel Sierra - Was signed for $1 Million out of Venezuela in the 2014 international class. Since coming to the states, he has not hit greater than .230 at any stop in the minors. He was at AAA for 68 games in 2021 where he slashed .193/.287/.391. He plays a solid 2B, SS & 3rd but needs to strike out less and hit more. Has not made MLB debut.

  11. J. D. Davis - In 66 games for the Astros in 17 and 18, Davis hit .194/.260/.321. He was traded to the Mets for three minor leaguers in March 2019. Davis had a very good year for the Mets, hitting .307 and knocking 22 HR. He has produced a solid .288/.373/.472 slash line over his three seasons in New York. His defense is a liability. His Offensive career WAR is 5.1 compared to his Defensive career WAR of (-3.8). MLB WAR 1.5

  12. Jonathan Arauz - He came to the Astros with Ken Giles from the Phillies in 2015. In December 2019, the Red Sox claimed him in the Rule 5 Draft. He made his MLB debut in 2020. He played 25 games in 2020 and 28 games in 2021 for the Red Sox. During that time, he has slashed .219/.310/.343 at the plate and played solid defense (5 errors in 335 innings combined at 2nd, SS and 3rd). He will be 23 to start next season, so still time for him to improve. MLB WAR (-0.2).

  13. Gilberto Celestino - A $2.5 million signing from the 2015 international class, he was sent to the Twins in the Ryan Pressly deal in 2018. He made his MLB Debut this season, appearing in 23 games at age 22. Five of his eight hits went for extra bases so he has some pop. Still a ways to go in hitting MLB pitching (.136/.177/.466). MLB WAR (-0.3).

  14. James Hoyt - The former indy ball player, who was the tag along in the Gattis trade with the Braves, got his first cup of coffee in the majors with the Astros at the end of 2016 where he pitched in 22 games. He pitched in 43 games in 2017 and just one in 2018 before he was traded to the Indians for minor leaguer Tommy DeJuneas. He re-signed with the Indians on a minor league contract and made it back to the majors in September of 2019. He was traded again in 2020 and had his best season with the Marlins (1.23 ERA in 14 ⅔ IP, 3.19 FIP). He was traded yet again to the Angels during 2021 spring training. He appeared in eight games for them this year. MLB WAR 0.8

  15. Cionel Perez - Signed with the Astros in September of 2016 for 2 million after his first contract of 5.15 million was voided due to an issue with his physical. He made it to the majors in 2018. He made brief stops in Houston in 2019 and 2020, never pitching in more than 8 games a season. In January 2021, he was traded to the Reds for Luke Berryhill who had a solid season across three levels of the minors this year. Perez pitched in 23 games for the Reds this season in relief. MLB WAR (-0.4)

  16. Riley Ferrell - The 3rd rounder from the 2015 draft has been on the radar but has never had a breakthrough. He was taken by the Marlins in the 2018 rule 5 draft but shoulder issues kept him sticking with the fish. He was returned to the Astros later that season. He pitched in 38 games at AAA for the Astros in 2021. Has not made his MLB debut.

  17. Ronnie Dawson - The 2016 second rounder out of Ohio State made his MLB debut with the Astros this year. He appeared in 3 games getting just 5 ABs but never playing in the field. He will turn 27 during the 2022 season. MLB WAR (-0.1)

  18. Freudis Nova - Signed for 1.2 million in the 2016 international class, He played 2021 in High A Asheville appearing in 73 games before injuring his knee requiring ACL surgery. He is slated to miss at least half of the 2022 season. He turns 22 in January. Has not made his MLB debut.

  19. Anibal Sierra - The Cuban defector signed with the Astros for 1.5 million in July 2016. In four seasons in the Astros farm system, he hit .216/.296/.318. He was released in February 2021 and spent the 2021 season playing indy ball. Has not made his MLB debut.

  20. Brendan McCurry - He was acquired by the Astros from the A’s in the 2015 Jed Lowrie trade (not to be confused with the 2011 or 2013 Jed Lowrie trades). He was invited as a Non Roster Invitee to 2020 Spring Training but elected free agency when he didn’t make the team. In November 2020, the Angels signed him to a minor league contract but when it was discovered in March that he would need TJ surgery, he was released. Has not made his MLB debut.

  21. Brady Rogers - The 3rd round pick of the 2012 draft finally got a chance to pitch in the majors in 2016. It wasn’t pretty. He faced 48 batters in 8 ⅓ innings. He then overcame TJ surgery to get another call up in 2019. He had one good outing and then the next day a not so great outing and he was sent back down. He continued to battle through injuries and was released in August 2019. He signed with the Orioles in 2020 but elected free agency at the end of the 2020 season. MLB WAR (-0.9)

  22. Guadalupe (Lupe) Chavez - Came to the Astros in August of 2016 from the Blue Jays as the return for Scott Feldman. After the 2016 season, he was placed on the voluntarily retired list. He came back to the Astros in 2019 on a minor league contract and pitched in 11 games for Tri-City and Quad Cities. Since then, he has only pitched in the Mexican Winter Leagues. According to his MILB page, he retired from the Astros organization in April 2021. Has not made his MLB debut.

  23. Jake Rogers - The third player on this list to be traded to the Tigers for Verlander, Rogers has seen time in the bigs in 19 and 21 for the Tigers. His defense at catcher has been solid both seasons but his offense showed improvement in 2021 before a forearm strain sent him to the DL in July. He had TJ surgery in September. MLB WAR 0.6

  24. Stephen Wrenn - The 6th round pick in 2016 out of UGA had methodically climbed the minor league ladder with solid but not spectacular years. He was released from the Astros system in February 2021. He was picked up by Seattle and hit .244/.331/.377 in AA Arkansas in 91 games this season. Has not made his MLB debut.

  25. Jandel Gustave - Signed out of the DR in 2010 (yes, you read that correctly) he had an adventurous route to the Majors. It involved a rule 5 selection after the 2014 season, a trade after that and a waiver claim after that before he was returned to the Astros. He made his MLB debut in August of 2016 and showed a fair amount of promise (16 Ks/4BBs in 60 Batters faced). He made the opening day roster for 2017 but was on the IL before April was over. He had TJ surgery that June and missed all of 2018 working his way back. He was DFA’d and then signed a minor league free agent deal with the Giants heading into the 2019 season. He pitched in 24 games with the SanFran. In 2020 he signed a minor league deal with the Pirates and was traded to the Brewers in June 2021. He appeared in 14 games for the Brewers. He finished the season on the active roster but was left off of the postseason roster. MLB WAR 0.4

  26. Yordan Alvarez - What if I told you the Dodgers signed a guy out of Cuba for $2 million dollars and traded him six weeks later for a reliever with a career ERA of 4.53 in 159 innings pitched….What if I told you that Andrew Friedman thought they were talking about Yadier Alvarez…What if I told you Yordan was the unanimous AL Rookie of the Year in 2019. Yeah, you know the rest. MLB WAR 7.0

  27. Reymin Guduan - He made his debut with the Astros in 2017, appearing in 22 games (16 innings pitched). He got a short call up in 18 and 19 before being suspended for violating team rules. He was signed by the Dodgers after the 2019 season but never appeared in 2020. He was signed by the A’s for the 2021 season and made 11 appearances in April & May before a DL stint. After he returned, he was DFA’d and outrighted to AAA. MLB WAR (-0.9)

  28. Ramon Laureano - Because of a 40 man roster crunch prior to the Rule 5 draft, Laureano was traded to the A’s for Brandon Bailey in November of 2017. Bailey pitched in 5 games for the 2020 Astros. Laureano played in 313 games for the A’s. He got a fair amount of attention for his strong arm initially and then started getting attention for less desirable baseball qualities like trying to fight hitting coaches and testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. MLB WAR 9.6

  29. Jason Martin - He was traded to the Pirates along with Moran for Cole. Martin played in 27 games combined in 19 and 20 for the Pirates. He played in 58 games for the Rangers in 2021. MLB WAR (-0.8)

  30. Garrett Stubbs - He made his MLB debut in 2019. Primarily a catcher, he has shown his versatility playing games in left field and right field in the majors, as well as playing some games at 1st and 2nd in the minors. He has also been used as a pinch runner. MLB WAR (-0.3)

In summary - Eight of the 30 are still in the Astros organization. Four of those appeared in MLB games for the Astros this season (Tucker, Alverez, Dawson, Stubbs).

Thirteen were traded to help the Astros or to avoid a 40 man roster crunch. The results of those trades added important players like - Cole, Verlander, Giles, Gattis, and Pressley. They were also traded for some players who didn’t/haven’t made as much of an impact - Sanchez, Biagini, Liriano, and several minor leaguers. Of those traded, the ones who have made the biggest impact for other teams are Ramon Lauriano and Teoscar Hernandez.

In addition one player was lost in the rule 5 draft.

Top five players in MLB WAR thus five years later:

(28) Lauriano - 9.6

(8) Hernandez - 8.1

(2) Tucker - 7.6

(26) Alvarez - 7.0

(7) Moran - 3.6

No pitcher on the list has a WAR greater than 0.8 (Hoyt). Further evidence that there is no such thing as a pitching prospect.


Thanks for this.

Ask any GM in baseball if they’d rather have Alvarez or Laureano and see what the result is.

(Then tell the one voter for Laureano that we’re not talking about Yadier)

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Great post, Steve. Thank you.


How did I not know this part of the story?

Fantastic post Duman.


The rest of the story:

Luhnow had been haggling with several clubs over the return for Astros reliever Josh Fields, a pitcher teams coveted despite his near 7.00 earned-run average. The Dodgers had already rejected requests for “several players” in return and the two sides stood at “an impasse,” Luhnow said. Then Luhnow recalled a prospect who had entranced one of his scouts that year. So he asked about Alvarez.

The answer from Zaidi was swift: No, the Dodgers would not trade Yadier Alvarez.

The misunderstanding adds a punchline to what may become one of the most lopsided trades in recent baseball memory because Luhnow was not trying to acquire Yadier Alvarez, a Cuban pitcher signed by the Dodgers for $16 million in 2015 who has a 14.73 ERA in the minors in 2019. He sought Yordan Alvarez, a lightly touted, teenage position player with questionable power, a relative unknown who has developed into one of the sport’s most promising young sluggers and a fixture in Houston’s lineup.


Thanks. I thought the dodgers thought they were trading Yadier but actually ended up trading Yordan. At least this wasn’t malpractice in filling out the right form.

No, the written report got it right. We wanted Yordan, and they barely knew who he was.

I think Yordan had only been signed for 6 weeks before the Dodgers traded him. Article in today’s New York Times gives a lot of background on his early life in Cuba and how made his way to the US.

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Right, I don’t think he had played a game in the Dodgers’ system yet.

Loved the article

What are the chances that Tucker and Alvarez are 1 and 2 on that list this time next year? rhetorical.

Haven’t had a chance to listen yet but apparently, Goldstein addresses that trade on the fangraphs podcast this week -

This is great. When the Dodgers asked about Fields on deadline day 2016, Luhnow told his guys to “find a backfields guy we like” to ask for in return. They told him about Yordan, and Luhnow texted Farhan Zaidi to ask for “Y. Alvarez.” Zaidi responded “no way, we just spent millions on him!” and Luhnow’s team had to say “no, tell him you mean Yordan.” The Dodgers immediately said yes.

Edit: continue listening for Goldstein’s thoughts on Yuli. Aside from thinking he’d be a no-doubt HOFer if he’d spent his whole career stateside (hard to argue with that), he says the Astros have Yuli call Cuban players they want to sign and they act “like they’re getting a call from Jesus Christ.”


I knew Yuli was the connection. I knew it. Houston’s really a great place for a player to be successful. The media is big enough to get recognized but not NY/Boston crap.

Another reason to love Yuli.


As if I needed another.

Viva La Piña.


Have him call Correa.


Puerto Rican. The magic may not work.


Who knew the influence Yuli has on signing talent!

Could Yuli also be showing (Correa) how to get his payday while finishing his career as an Astros: 6-yr contract, then ST contracts based on current/past (not projected future) performance?

@ 37, he earned the AL Batting Title!!!

Yuli’s dependability and has earned it - with career highs @ 35!!! (I know you guys know this but it helped my memory.)

(2019) …at 35 years old, became the oldest player in club history to have a season with40+ doubles, 30+ HR and 100+ RBI, besting Jeff Bagwell’s age-33 season in 2001…became the third-oldest player in MLB history with a season like this, behind David Ortiz’ age-40 season in 2016 and Vinny Castilla’s age-36 season in 2004.

(Course, it helped that Yuli got his money up front, when he signed during 2016, @ 32 yrs) .