Here are the Astros 2023 Organization All-Stars

Dezenzo, Loperfido lead impressive Minor League crop

December 11th, 2023

Each offseason, goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in each farm system. Next up in our 2023 Organization All-Stars series are the Houston Astros.

2023 organization summary:
Triple-A Sugar Land: 61-89
Double-A Corpus Christi: 70-68
High-A Asheville: 51-76
Single-A Fayetteville: 60-72
FCL Astros: 26-25
DSL Astros Blue: 29-26
DSL Astros Orange: 35-19
Overall record: 332-375 (25th among MLB organizations)
Midseason farm system ranking: 30

Astros 2023 Organization All-Stars

C: Miguel Palma (HOU No. 17)
ROK/A+: .285/.341/.426, 68 G, 7 HR, 46 RBI, 34 R, 23 BB, 3 SB

Palma played more first base than catcher to start the year, but he ended the season behind the plate almost every game, where he displays soft hands as one of the best receivers in Houston's system. The Venezuela native improved his plate discipline numbers in his second go-around with Asheville (0.45 BB/K ratio, up from 0.32 in 2022), and he had more hits (63) than games played (61) for the first time in his professional career.

"Finding good offensive players from behind the dish is really, really tough," Astros farm director Jacob Buffa said. "He controls the zone well and makes good decisions, limits the strikeouts and has fairly decent quality of contact."

1B: J.J. Matijevic
AAA: .244/.329/.441, 118 G, 16 HR, 76 RBI, 66 R, 54 BB, 8 SB

Matijevic has been a consistent producer for Triple-A Sugar Land since 2021, and he once again ranked among Houston's Minor League leaders in several categories. The 2017 second-rounder was second in doubles (26) and triples (6, tied) and third in RBIs. A lefty swinger, he did not display much of a drop-off when facing southpaws (.256/.333/.451 vs. righties, .217/.321/.420 vs. lefties).

2B: Pedro León (HOU No. 13)
AAA: .244/.343/.435, 128 G, 21 HR, 72 RBI, 74 R, 63 BB, 21 SB
León completed his first professional 20-20 season and set career highs in several categories, including hits (118), home runs and RBIs, while starting at second, center and right. And although his stolen-base total fell from last season (38), this was by far his most efficient year (75 percent) on the basepaths.

"We asked him to play multiple positions at a high level, and that's not an easy thing to do," Buffa said. "He's one of the rarer athletes that I've seen. He hits the ball so hard, has a cannon of an arm and just has what would be considered elite athleticism on the field."

3B: Zach Dezenzo (HOU No. 5)
A+/AA: .304/.383/.531, 94 G, 18 HR, 61 RBI, 80 R, 42 BB, 22 SB
The 2022 12th-rounder was perhaps the breakout star in the Astros system. Dezenzo lit up High-A Asheville (.407/.474/.474) and earned a promotion after 31 games, and he continued to crush the ball at Double-A Corpus Christi (.825 OPS). The 23-year-old led Astros Minor Leaguers in slugging percentage, thanks to top-of-the-line exit velocities.

"We always knew that there was a lot of juice and elite athleticism coming out of Ohio State," Buffa said. "But rarely have I seen players make such adjustments when it comes to consistent quality of contact. I really can't say enough about his work ethic and what he and his coaches did to get him on the right track."

SS: Shay Whitcomb (HOU No. 25)
AA/AAA: .240/.301/.470, 133 G, 35 HR, 102 RBI, 79 R, 42 BB, 20 SB
Plain and simple: Whitcomb mashed the ball this year. He tied for the Minor League lead in homers and was one of 10 players to rack up triple-digit RBIs. Although strikeouts remain an issue, he lowered his K rate a few ticks to 30.2 percent.

"He's just everything you can ask for in a player," Buffa said. "He brings a smile to the ballpark, he's willing to do whatever the coaches believe is best, and he's able to go out there and compete. And it's a rare quality, the kind of power that he has from the shortstop position."

OF: Joey Loperfido (HOU No. 6)
A+/AA/AAA: .278/.370/.510, 124 G, 25 HR, 78 RBI, 79 R, 65 BB, 27 SB

Loperfido built on a breakout 2022 season and set a career high in roundtrippers while becoming more efficient on the basepaths (87.1 percent stolen-base rate). The 24-year-old played all three outfield positions, as well as first and second base, and led the organization in hits (130) and doubles (27).

"I attribute all of his success to his work ethic," Buffa said. "He got into the system, and we asked him to get bigger, stronger, faster -- and he did. He made such a huge change with his physical outputs and it showed in his swing. He's able to get to consistent contact in the zone and let it fly."

OF: Zach Cole (HOU No. 10)
A/A+: .258/.380/.489, 111 G, 19 HR, 65 RBI, 79 R, 66 BB, 37 SB
Buffa says that Cole has "as close to five tools as we have" and is "probably the most explosive athlete" in Houston's system. That translated into major production in Cole's full professional season. The 2022 10th-rounder became a Single-A All-Star by finishing second in the Carolina League (minimum 300 PAs) in slugging (.494) and third in OBP (.397). He continued to hit well in Asheville (.829 OPS), where he homered eight times in 41 games.

OF: Jacob Melton (HOU No. 1)
A+/AA: .245/.334/.467, 99 G, 23 HR, 55 RBI, 83 R, 52 BB, 46 SB
The 2022 second-rounder led the organization in runs scored and was a dynamic hitter atop the Asheville lineup as one of five Minor Leaguers to go 20-40. He showed even more power in Double-A, where he went deep five times in 13 games. Buffa says the team knew Melton would be an impact hitter from his time at Oregon State, but the Astros have been impressed by how humble and great he is to work with.

RHP: Spencer Arrighetti (HOU No. 3)
AA/AAA: 9-7, 4.40 ERA, 124 2/3 IP, 141 K, 59 BB, .217 BAA, 1.25 WHIP
The 23-year-old had a breakout season as he reached Triple-A in his second full pro campaign. Arrighetti was particularly dominant during a six-start stretch from May 2-June 4 in which he gave up just two runs on 14 hits over 32 innings with 44 strikeouts. He went at least five innings in 13 of his 21 starts.

"Our staff have made some adjustments with him over the last couple of years," Buffa said. "Steadily finding little ways to improve is Spencer's biggest trait. He's never satisfied. He's always looking for incremental ways to get better over time and that adds up to what we see this year."

LHP: Colton Gordon (HOU No. 7)
AA/AAA: 7-7, 4.14 ERA, 128 1/2 IP, 151 K, 58 BB, .233 BAA, 1.34 WHIP
Despite earning an August promotion to Triple-A, Gordon still finished third in the Texas League with 121 strikeouts. He paced the Astros organization in K's and innings thanks to excellent command and a low release point. The 2021 eighth-rounder has been a consistent performer at the Minors' highest levels.

"He gets out there and there's no stopping him," Buffa said. "He's a competitor and he loves it. It's fun to see him flip that switch."

RP: Cole McDonald
A+/AA: 2-3, 3.59 ERA, 52 2/3 IP, 74 K, 22 BB, .224 BAA, 1.25 WHIP
McDonald was dominant in his first season solely in relief. His 33 percent strikeout rate ranked tied for fourth in the system (minimum 50 IP), and he registered a K in all but two outings. He closed the season on a high note at Double-A, with 14 strikeouts and six hits allowed across 11 scoreless innings.

"His progression is a testament to his work ethic," Buffa said. "He's willing to go read up on his own on trying to get an understanding of what it takes to be successful in this game. He's so intelligent and he found some things that work for him. He's dedicated to taking care of his body and you saw a jump in velo because of the work he put in. Now he's one of our top arms."