Lee, Leon atop new Astros prospect rankings

August 19th, 2021

KANSAS CITY -- The Astros have a new top prospect. , a catcher selected with the 32nd overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, has assumed the team’s No. 1 ranking in MLB Pipeline's midseason Top 30 Prospect rankings unveiled on Thursday.

Lee, 23, is slashing .288/.359/.464 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs in 74 games at Double-A Corpus Christi. He’s one of the Astros’ best catching prospects in years and is expected to make his Major League debut in 2022, assuming the oblique injury that landed him on the injured list earlier this week isn’t serious.

Right-hander Forrest Whitley, who has been the Astros’ top-ranked prospect the past few years, fell out of the Top 100 overall list and is now the club's No. 5 prospect, behind Pedro Leon (No. 2), Hunter Brown (No. 3) and Jeremy Peña (No. 4). Whitley underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this year. The Astros told teams leading up to the Trade Deadline that Lee, Leon and Brown were untouchable.

Houston has no prospects ranked in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100.

Leon, signed out of Cuba in January, hasn’t played for Corpus Christi since fracturing his finger on June 24. He’s expected to return to game action soon. Signed as a center fielder, Leon has made the transition to shortstop. He’s slashing .249/.364/.434 with nine homers and 35 RBIs across two Minor League levels this year.

Brown, a hard-throwing right-hander taken in the fifth round of the 2019 Draft, is Houston’s top-ranked pitching prospect. He’s 3-4 with a 3.84 ERA with 91 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings across two Minor League levels this season. Brown has appeared in three games (two starts) at Triple-A and has a 2.76 ERA in 16 1/3 innings.

Pena underwent left wrist surgery in April, but he is close to returning to game action. He’s been taking live batting practice while on rehab in West Palm Beach, Fla. With starting shortstop Carlos Correa facing free agency, Pena could get an opportunity to play in the big leagues next year.