This Astros prospect moving swiftly in system

June 1st, 2024

This story was excerpted from Brian McTaggart’s Astros Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox

HOUSTON -- It took only four starts into the season at High-A Asheville for the Astros to decide that right-hander Jake Bloss (ranked as Houston’s No. 10 prospect by MLB Pipeline) needed another challenge. So far, Bloss is proving the competition in Double-A hasn’t exactly been able to slow him down, either.

Bloss, who was the club's third-round pick (No. 99 overall) in last year’s MLB Draft, began the season with a 2.08 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 25 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings with Asheville, earning him a promotion to Double-A Corpus Christi. He’s made five starts for the Hooks -- going 1-1 with a 2.42 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 25 strikeouts and nine walks in 26 innings.

“I don’t think there was ever any question about the arm talents,” Astros senior director of player development and performance science Jacob Buffa said. “Obviously, that’s why we took him. The thing that he has done faster than we anticipated is his overall maturity and little things as far as how he develops the routine, knowing what time he needs to start throwing, knowing himself and what pitches he has a feel for.

"It’s the art of competing. He has matured tremendously in that respect in a really, really short amount of time.”

Bloss, 22, earned his degree from Lafayette College and watched his classmates enter the real world well equipped for success. He played baseball for three years at Lafayette and had eligibility remaining, so he transferred to Georgetown University, pursued a master’s degree and blossomed into a prospect.

His maturity and genetics were never in question. Bloss’ grandfather attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he had an uncle who rowed while attending the Naval Academy and his great uncle played football for the Air Force Academy.

Bloss decided to take a different route, though still very challenging -- majoring in economics and mathematics at Lafayette while pursuing a baseball career.

“His ability to handle information, that was a skill set that was there that we just did not know about it,” Buffa said. “It really shined through and allowed him to progress very quickly.”

What impressed the Astros the most and gave them the confidence to move him up so quickly was Bloss’ ability to respond when things didn’t go his way on the mound. That wasn’t always the case. Bloss gave up three hits, including a homer, and walked two batters in 1 2/3 innings in the Astros’ Spring Breakout game on March 17 in Jupiter, Fla.

“He showed that, albeit in a small sample over three or four games [in Asheville],” Buffa said. “At the time, we had also seen some things in the games where even when he had been punched in the mouth a little bit, that in years past, he may have unraveled. He was able to get in control and pitch around things that were possibly out of his control.

"When we saw those things in a game, those were signs to us that he needed to be challenged again.”

Bloss came to the Astros with a good fastball and breaking ball. He now throws a four-seamer, slider, curveball, changeup and cutter. The changeup has been a really beneficial pitch for him and he’s honed the consistency of the slider.

“I think having five weapons he can throw against both bat sides is a luxury that not a lot of pitchers have,” Buffa said.

As he cruises through Double-A lineups, the question becomes: Can Bloss perhaps be pushed up another level this year and be the first player from the team’s 2023 Draft class to reach Triple-A?

“We have no hesitation pushing him to the next level when we see he needs to be challenged against the better competition than he’s currently facing,” Buffa said. “We have no hesitation to moving him to the next level and making room for him when he shows us he's ready.”