Here’s the Astros’ new Top 30 Prospects list

August 17th, 2022

HOUSTON -- The Astros continue to win at an elite level in the Major Leagues despite a farm system that has been ranked near the bottom in the past few years, thanks to several trades to acquire big league talent and others, such as shortstop Jeremy Peña, graduating to the big league club.

Unheralded prospects like pitchers Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier and Luis Garcia outperformed their expectations in the Majors. Outfielder Chas McCormick and Jake Meyers also reached the Major Leagues without much fanfare. Still, some high-end talent remains.

Right-hander Hunter Brown, who was taken in the fifth round of the 2019 MLB Draft, has emerged as a legit candidate to join Houston’s stacked rotation next year and remains the organization’s No. 1-ranked prospect in the updated midseason MLB Pipeline rankings (71st overall).

Top 30s:

Outfielder Drew Gilbert, taken with the No. 28 overall pick this year out of the University of Tennessee, is the Astros’ No. 2 prospect, though he suffered a forearm injury crashing into the wall in one of his first games at Single-A Fayetteville last week. Two others in the new top five -- outfielders Pedro Leon and Colin Barber -- are out indefinitely with injuries. Leon was hit in the face by a pitch and suffered a facial fracture last week, and Barber has a shoulder injury.

Here’s a look at the Astros’ top prospects:
No. 1. Hunter Brown, RHP (No. 71 overall)
No. 2. Drew Gilbert, OF
No. 3. Yainer Diaz, C
No. 4. Pedro Leon, OF
No. 5. Colin Barber, OF

Biggest jump/fall
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the preseason list:

Jump: David Hensley, OF (Preseason: NR| Midseason: 11) -- Hensley, a 26th-round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft out of San Diego State University, is a 6-foot-6 infielder who had a slash line of .296/.415/.481 with 10 homers, 54 RBIs and 19 stolen bases through 99 games at Triple-A Sugar Land. He could be a utility player in his future, considering he has split time pretty much evenly among the four infield spots, while also playing left field and designated hitter. If Aledmys Díaz doesn’t return next year, Hensley is a candidate to fill his role.

Fall: Peter Solomon, RHP (Preseason: 7 | Midseason: 28) -- Solomon made his Major League debut last year and served in long relief for the Astros in late September and was on the taxi squad throughout the playoffs. He began the year in Sugar Land’s rotation and had a disastrous May (9.47 ERA) before pitching better in June and July. He was the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Month in July, posting a 2.30 ERA in five appearances.

New to the list
Here are the players added to the Top 30 from outside the organization:

No. 2. Drew Gilbert, OF (Draft)
No. 6. Jacob Melton, OF (Draft)
No. 8. Ryan Clifford, OF (Draft)
No. 13. Jayden Murray, RHP (Trade)
No. 17. Andrew Taylor, RHP (Draft)
No. 27. Michael Knorr, RHP (Draft)

Impact callup
Hunter Brown, RHP
(No. 1/MLB No. 71)
The Astros have an abundance of quality starters right now, so Brown will have to wait for an opening in the rotation, but his power arsenal would also play nicely in a multi-inning relief role. Armed with a mid-90s fastball that touches 99 and a power curveball with quality depth, the product of Wayne State University (Mich.) is dominating the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with a 2.45 ERA, 118 strikeouts, 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings and a .190 opponent average.

Best tools

Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.

Hit: 60 -- Yainer Diaz 
Power: 55 -- Pedro Leon (Korey Lee, Jacob Melton, Joe Perez) 
Run: 70 -- Pedro Leon (Logan Cerny) 
Arm: 80 -- Pedro Leon 
Defense: 60 -- Logan Cerny 
Fastball: 65 -- Hunter Brown (Alimber Santa, Misael Tamarez, Miguel Ullola) 
Curveball: 65 -- Hunter Brown 
Slider: 60 -- Shawn Dubin 
Changeup: 60 -- Forrest Whitley 
Control: 60 -- Jayden Murray