Fall Instructional League

Jim Callis with a report on some of the players at FIL including comments from asst GM Pete Putila:

  • RHP Hunter Brown says Putila: “He’s 96-98 mph with a huge curveball, a Tyler Glasnow-type curveball, an 86-88 mph slider and a changeup. He didn’t throw the curveball until he got to us. It’s really just a matter of refining his game, working on his locations and what-not. It’s impressive watching him pitch. He gave our hitters fits.”

  • RHPs Jairo Solis and Peter Solomon “looked strong” in their returns from TJS

  • RHPs Jimmy Endersby (NDFA-2020) and Jaime Melendez (IFA-2019) both hit 95 and were among 6 pitchers who hit their highest velocities ever. [Sidenote: Melendez is listed at 5’8" and K’d 39 in 28 IP in the DSL back in 2019 as a 17 year old]

  • C Korey Lee (1st rounder-2019) per Putila: “Defensively, he looked really good. He shortened his arm action and was throwing everybody out and continued to refine his receiving.”

  • SS Freudis Nova doesn’t seem to have changed a lot: the tools are still there (plus raw power, solid speed, double plus arm) but still waiting on the bat.

  • OF Zach Daniels (4th rounder-2020) opened eyes with Putila saying “The things he does are freakish. That’s the only way how to describe it. He’s as physically gifted as they come. His power-speed combination is pretty rare.” Interesting. His numbers while at the U of Tennessee and in the Cape were absolutely fucking horrible until turning things around this spring in 17 games during non-conference play before the plug was pulled on the season.

Curious to see no report on 19 year old OF Colin Barber (4th rounder-2019). He apparently impressed enough at the alternative training site in CC that the Astros invited him to big league training camp next spring despite not having played above the GCL.

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There was also a couple of nuggets about FIL in the most recent Baseball America (behind paywall so fuck the link) including one on Barber:

  • OF Colin Barber got a Bregman comp from Putila in terms of makeup. While his exit velo and power remains high, the Astros have made some small batting stance changes to reduce the lefty swinger’s pulling the ball so much. Apparently his projection as a CFer with above average arm and plus speed remains in place.

  • Jayson Schroeder (2nd rounder-2018) has really really struggled since being drafted but has touched 95 in the FIL and has shown “drastic improvement”

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Jim Callis answered my question on Barber in the latest MLB Pipeline Inbox…

Nice jon WB! Thanks for digging and for getting the feedback.

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BA surveyed a bunch of scouts to see who they thought stood out in instructs in both Arizona and Florida. The Astros did have one player on the resulting list. Jeremy Pena, whose bat has always lagged behind his glove skills at SS, showed up stronger to camp with improved pop and “the ability to turn around good fastballs”. Good to hear for a guy whose last game action was 2019 in Arizona Fall League where he hit just .183/.248/.290 and is currently off to a 2-13 start in LIDOM.

ICYMI, below is the roster of players at fall instructional league (per the press release from the Astros sent out last month). I’ve annotated the list while also noting their MLB Pipeline prospect rankings.

PITCHERS (27)
#6 Brown, Hunter (5th rounder in '19 who can sustain a 96-98 FB)
Cobos, Franny (5’9" righty with an 0.99 WHIP in 82 IP since being signed out of Cuba for $125K)
Collado, Willy (posted a 1.10 WHIP at 3 different levels in '19 with 78 Ks in 69 IP)
#23 Conine, Brett (the 11th rounder in '18 was also at the Corpus alternate site)
Donato, Chad (11th rounder in '16 with 60K/15BB in 53 IP after being promoted to CC in '19)
Endersby, Jimmy (NDFA in '20 out of Concordia-California)
Gomez, Cesar (NDFA in '20 out of UTA)
Gruller, Kyle (NDFA in '20 out of HBU)
Gusto, Ryan (11th rounder in '19 who signed for an above-slot $422K)
#28 Hansen, Austin (8th rounder in '18 out of OU who K’d 128 in 94 IP in A-ball in '19)
#24 Lopez, Jairo (signed for $300K at 16 out of DR in '17 & posted 0.94 WHIP in 51 IP in SS ball in '19)
Lopez, Juan Pablo (LHP signed out of MEX in '16 reached QC in '19)
Macuare, Angel (with tax was signed for nearly $1.4MM out of VZ as a 16 year old in '16)
Matthews, Zack (NDFA in '20 out of OU)
Melendez, Jaime (5’8" RHP was a $195K signee out of Mexico in '18)
Pacheco, Daniel (VZ pitcher signed at 16 back in '18)
Peck, Hunter (NDFA in '20 out of Georgia Gwinnett College)
Ramirez, Manny (126 Ks in 96 IP since being signed out of DR in '17 but also 77 BBs)
#14 Rivera, Jose Alberto (the Astros have left him exposed in the upcoming Rule 5 draft)
#7 Santos, Alex (2nd rounder in '20 out of NYC HS who touches 96 on the heater)
Schroeder, Jayson (2nd rounder in '18)
Serrano, Kyle (10th rounder in '17 is oft-injured and can’t find the plate)
#8 Solis, Jairo (recent add to 40-man roster)
#27 Solomon, Peter (another recent add to 40-man roster)
Sprinkle, Jonathan (NDFA in '20 out of U of Central Missouri)
Tamarez, Misael (signed at 19 last year out of DR)
Taveras, Diosmerky (signed at 17 for 55K in '17 & has a whopping 61 BBs in 68 IP since then)

CATCHERS (5)
#5 Lee, Korey (1st rounder in '19)
Manea, Scott (NDFA of Mets who came as part of JD Davis trade)
Perry, Nathan (5th rounder in '17 & hit .244/.354/.462 at Tri-City in '19)
Rodriguez, Nerio (signed for $450K out of DR in '16 & hit .263/.391/.442 in GCL in '19)
Stubbs, C.J. (10th rounder in '19 and Garrett’s brother)

INFIELDERS (9)
Correa, J.C. (NDFA in ‘20 out of Lamar U and of course Carlos’ bro)
#11 Kessinger, Grae (2nd round pick in '19 and grandson of Don)
#18 Lorenzo, Dauri (signed as a 16 year old last year out of DR for $1.8MM)
#2 Nova, Freudis (one of the recent adds to the 40-man roster)
#4 Pena, Jeremy (3rd rounder in '18 and son of Geronimo)
Perez, Joe (2nd rounder in '17 has had injuries and a subpar '19 season at Tr-City)
#19 Santana, Luis (signed for $200K by the Mets in '16 & part of JD Davis trade)
Valdez, Enmanuel (signed for $450K in '15 at 16 & reached Fayetteville in '19)
Whitcomb, Shay (5th rounder in '20 out of UC-San Diego)

OUTFIELDERS (11)
Abreu, Wilyer (has shown little pop since being signed for $300K in '17 out of VZ)
Adolph, Ross (the former 12th rounder in '18 was another piece in the JD Davis trade w/the Mets)
#9 Barber, Colin (4th rounder in '19 received an over-slot $1MM bonus)
Barefoot, Matthew (6th rounder in '19)
Corona, Kenedy (acquired from the Mets in the Jake Marisnick trade)
Costes, Marty (22nd rounder in '18)
#21 Daniels, Zach (4th rounder in '20 out of U of Tennessee)
Dirden, Justin (NDFA in '20 out of Southeast Missouri St.)
Guerrero, Luis (8th rounder in '19)
McKenna, Alex (4th rounder in '18 coming off an injury-marred year at QC in '19)
Orr, Cody (NDFA in '20 out of Tiffin U)

And just noting some guys who were not at instructs:

Top Prospects

  • #1 RHP Forrest Whitley
  • #10 OF Jordan Brewer
  • #12 RHP Tyler Ivey
  • #15 RHP Jojanse Torres
  • #16 RHP Shawn Dubin
  • #17 RHP Tyler Brown
  • #26 RHP Blair Henley
  • #29 RHP Ronnie Dawson
  • #30 1B/LF JJ Matijevic

Whitley and Brewer were absent due to injury or recovering from surgery. Ivey was just added to the 40-man so no doubts about how the org views him. Dubin, Torres and Dawson spent the summer at the Corpus alternate site so the Astros may have decided they had seen enough and shut 'em down (although I’ll note Brett Conine was at both Corpus and FIL). Tyler Brown was the only of the 2020 draft picks/NDFAs who didn’t go. We’ll have to see if he, Henley or Matijevic were dealing with injury issues of some sort.

High Bonus IFAs

  • INF Miguelangel Sierra ($1MM - 2014)
  • INF Yeuris Ramirez ($500K - 2015)
  • RHP Elian Rodriguez (nearly $3.8MM - 2016)
  • INF Anibal Sierra (nearly $3MM - 2016)
  • INF Yorbin Ceuta (nearly $2MM - 2016)
  • INF Deury Carrasco (over $900K - 2016)

Window hasn’t closed completely on these guys but most are looking like busts at this point.

Higher Round Draft Picks

  • RHP Riley Ferrell (3rd round - 2015)
  • OF Stephen Wrenn (6th round - 2016)
  • RHP Nick Hernandez (8th round - 2016)
  • LHP Carmen Benedetti (12th round - 2016)
  • 1B Jake Adams (6th round - 2017)
  • LHP Parker Mushinski (7th round - 2017)
  • OF Corey Julks (8th round - 2017)
  • C Mike Papierski (9th round - 2017)
  • OF Jake Meyers (13th round - 2017)
  • RHP Cody Deason (5th round - 2018)
  • RHP R.J. Freure (6th round - 2018)
  • C Cesar Salazar (7th round - 2018)

Papierski and Meyers spent the summer at the Corpus alternate site so like Dubin, et al above that may have been deemed sufficient. You can speculate yourself about the rest. It wouldn’t be too surprising when the next round of cuts occur in spring training (whenever that is) that you’ll see a few of these names on the list.

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Nice to have you back.

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Deason wasn’t there for a good reason: as is discussed in the podcast below he had TJS in 2020 (didn’t give a date but sounds like it was towards the beginning of the year).

Thanks for posting that. Deason was an interesting for the University of Arizona (low 90’s FB, decent command of his breaking balls). Was a starter and a reliever for the Wildcats, although his collegiate manager believed Deason was better suited for the latter where his FB would probably be more mid-90’s.