Major League Baseball's owners may have locked out the players, triggering the league's first work stoppage since 1994-95 and bringing the offseason to a halt, but that doesn't mean we're letting it derail our typical offseason plans. Indeed, CBS Sports is in the process of highlighting the top three prospects for all 30 teams, as well as naming the top 50 prospects in the minors, regardless of team affiliation. That journey finds us today focusing on the Houston Astros' farm system.
Do note that these lists are formed after conversations with scouts, analysts, and player development folks from around the league. There is personal bias baked in, as one would expect from subjective exercises, so some disagreement is to be expected.
Now, onto the gasbaggery.
1. Jeremy Peña, SS
Peña may have made his big-league debut last season had he not undergone wrist surgery in the spring that wiped out most of his year. He did return for a 30-game stretch in Triple-A to close out the campaign, where he hit .287/.346/.598 with 10 home runs. (He's since hit .291/.364/.410 in 30 winter ball games, suggesting his wrist has healed up fine.) At his peak, Peña figures to offer a well-rounded skill set: he'll hit for average, some power, and provide value as both a defender and a baserunner. The one aspect worth monitoring with Peña's game as he nears The Show is his approach: between the minors and winter ball, he's posted a 3.94 strikeout-to-walk ratio; good for a pitcher, not so much for a hitter.
2. Korey Lee, C
Lee, the 32nd pick in the 2019 draft, is also nearing his big-league debut after racing across three levels in his first full professional season. (He batted .277/.340/.438 with 11 home runs and 19 doubles-plus-triples.) Lee has a big arm and above-average raw power; he's also an athletic backstop who, at least in the short term, could provide a handful of stolen bases a year. There's no doubting Lee's ability to stick behind the plate, and he projects to become a regular as soon as the second half of 2022.
3. Pedro Leon, SS/OF
The Astros signed Leon for $4 million last January with the expectation that he would move quickly through the minors despite having not played competitively since 2018-19. Sure enough, he reached Triple-A in his first professional season after batting .249/.359/.443 in 52 games at Double-A. Leon's time in Triple-A didn't go as smoothly (his OPS was .457 in 17 games), but he shouldn't be judged too harshly given the circumstances. Leon has a nice collection of tools: a fast bat; above-average raw strength and foot speed; and so on. The Astros had him primarily play shortstop last season, though they also gave him reps in center and at third base. Wherever he plays, he should end up in the majors before the 2022 season is up.