MLB Prospect Watch: Astros continue to showcase impressive organizational depth

The Houston Astros have dealt with a number of injuries as of late -- be it to George Springer, Jose Altuve, or even Max Stassi. Yet Houston, for the most part, hasn't missed a beat. The Astros have already won more games in May than they did in April. They have the top offense in baseball, a ridiculous pitching staff, and arguably the easiest path to the postseason of any American League team. There's a good chance the Astros are going to end up back in the ALCS for a third consecutive postseason.

Perhaps the scariest part of the Astros is they can get better -- both through internal and external means -- due to their organizational depth.

Everyone knows about Forrest Whitley (arguably the top pitching prospect in the minors entering the year) and Kyle Tucker (who has lost some prospect shine); and many know about Corbin Martin (already in the majors) and Yordan Alvarez (who has gained some prospect shine). But Houston's surplus doesn't stop there. The Astros have the means to call on a Garrett Stubbs, a Derek Fisher, a Framber Valdez, as they have -- all players who would likely be on 25-man rosters for other organizations who are essentially emergency stand-ins for this club.

Houston also has lesser-known types who could factor into the equation in one way or another: like Cionel Perez, or changeup artists Rogelio Armenteros and Jose Hernandez-Urquidy, or Myles Straw, who one talent evaluator deemed playable at shortstop -- notable since he was previously just (just) an elite runner and center fielder with a shaky bat. And that's just their Triple-A team.

There's a common refrain in baseball circles that it takes more than a 25-man roster to be a good team -- that injuries and shaky performance and whatnot necessitate having closer to a 35-man roster. The best teams are the ones who have quantity and quality. The Astros sure do.

For a look at which prospects you should be targeting in fantasy baseball, check out our colleague Scott White's take.    

Now, onto our Prospect Watch.

Prospect watch

This isn't to say Taylor Widener's seasonal numbers (9.07 ERA in Reno) are pretty or acceptable, but keep in mind that Ildemaro Vargas, Tim Locastro, and Cody Decker each have OPS over 1.000 playing in the same environment.

Former No. 3 pick Ian Anderson is having no issue missing bats. He is, however, having an issue finding the zone consistently. 

Remember Hunter Harvey? He's not having a good year, and for once injuries aren't to blame.

Scouts have concerns about Thad Ward's frame holding up as a starter, but he's having no trouble mowing down A-ball hitters.

The Cubs have a number of starting pitchers trying to get their careers back on track, including Colin Rea, who you might remember from his days with the Padres.

Luis Alexander Basabe can run, field, and throw. He's struggling to hit right now at the Double-A level.

Ibandel Isabel has raw power, as his .534 slugging percentage suggests, but nearly all of his other tools are substandard. His plate discipline is also a negative, as he's struck out 65 more times than he's walked.

At some point, you suspect Cleveland will give Bobby Bradley a look to help their lineup. He possesses good raw power, though the swing-and-miss in his game could limit his upside.

Casey Golden is another power-over-everything hitter. He's slugged .469 but has struck out in more than a third of his at-bats.

Daz Cameron has course-corrected and should reach the majors before the season ends.

As mentioned above, the Astros have a number of interesting players in Triple-A and on the fringes of their roster.

The Royals have a number of efficient basestealers, led by Nick Heath, who has 29 steals on 32 tries.

Patrick Sandoval has 24 walks and wild pitches in 35 innings. He could still reach the majors this season.

Gavin Lux is making the Dodgers look smart for not including him in the Manny Machado trade last summer. They'll continue to get asked about him this deadline, too.

Monte Harrison, part of the return on Christian Yelich, has been one of the bright spots in the system. He should reach the majors soon.

Tyrone Taylor is still around. He's disappointing in Triple-A, but his wheels and glove could see him reach the majors anyway.

It's too bad that outfielder Akil Baddoo will miss time after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Most of the focus on young shortstops in the system goes to Amed Rosario and/or Andres Gimenez. But Ronny Mauricio deserves some love, too.

Luis Gil is another hard-thrower worth keeping an eye on in the Yankees system. He's carving through A-ball hitters.

Austin Beck has the tools, but his approach is costing him. He's struck out 66 times and walked just eight times.

Former first-round pick Cornelius Randolph isn't off to a good start in Double-A.

Count on Cody Bolton making a big jump up prospect lists. He deserves to.

Luis Campusano is a 20-year-old catcher holding his own in High-A. Keep an eye on him. The Padres are loaded to the gills with good young players.

Logan Webb has a pair of above-average to plus offerings and could reach the majors next year.

All everyone talks about with Evan White is his glove. He needs to hit more before he'll reach the majors.

Dylan Carlson should be heading to Triple-A before long.

Brendan McKay has made it clear that his future is on the mound, not in the batter's box. He could threaten the majors later this year if the Rays were willing to make him a pitcher-only.

A promotion to Double-A hasn't stopped Tyler Phillips from pitching well. He has mid-rotation potential.

Griffin Conine's 50-game suspension is just about over.

Tres Barrera is looking like Washington's backup catcher of the future thanks to his defense and on-base skills.
CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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