HOUSTON -- The depth of the Astros' right-handed starting pitching in the Minor Leagues is evident in MLBPipeline's Top 100 Prospects list for 2017, as Francis Martes (No. 20), David Paulino (No. 54) and Forrest Whitley (No. 84) made the list.The trio of arms was among five Astros in the
HOUSTON -- The depth of the Astros' right-handed starting pitching in the Minor Leagues is evident in MLBPipeline's Top 100 Prospects list for 2017, as Francis Martes (No. 20), David Paulino (No. 54) and Forrest Whitley (No. 84) made the list.
The trio of arms was among five Astros in the Top 100, joining outfielders Kyle Tucker (No. 35) and Derek Fisher (No. 83). Martes was ranked 29th in the midseason rankings, and he joined Tucker (50th midseason) and Paulino (70th midseason) in making sizable jumps.
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Only three teams -- the Yankees (seven), Braves (seven) and White Sox (six) -- had more players in the Top 100 than the Astros. The Pirates, Brewers, Rockies, Cubs and Dodgers also had five apiece.
• MLB Pipeline's 2017 Top 100 Prospects list
The annual ranking of MLB's Top 100 prospects is assembled by MLBPipeline.com Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. Only players with rookie status entering the 2017 season are eligible for the list. Players who were at least 23 years old when they signed and played in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba) are not eligible.
The hard-throwing Martes struck out 131 in 125 1/3 innings at Double-A Corpus Christi, going 9-6 with a 3.30 ERA as the youngest pitcher (20 years old) in the Texas League. Martes will be in his first big league spring camp next month.
Tucker, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, hit a combined .285 with nine homers, 69 RBIs, 25 doubles and 32 steals in 117 games between Class A Quad Cities (101 games) and Class A Advanced Lancaster (16 games). At Lancaster, he hit .339 with three homers and 13 RBIs.
The 6-foot-7 Paulino pitched in three games for the Astros last year after striking out 106 in 90 Minor League innings at three levels. He spent most of the season at Corpus Christi and went 5-2 with a 1.83 ERA in 14 games (nine starts).
Fisher hit .255 with a .367 on-base percentage, 21 homers and 76 RBIs in 129 games combined between Corpus Christi (102 games) and Triple-A Fresno (27 games). He hit .290 with five homers and 17 RBIs with the Grizzlies at the end of the season.
Whitley, the Astros' first-round pick (17th overall) in last year's MLB Draft, threw only 18 2/3 innings in his professional debut, allowing 19 hits and six walks while striking out 26 in eight games (six starts) for Rookie-level Greeneville and the Gulf Coast League Astros. Like Paulino, Whitley stands 6-foot-7.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.