Two random thoughts related to the Astros winning their first World Series championship:• Brad Peacock, who turned the Series around with 3 2/3 dominant innings to save Game 3 and contributed two more clutch scoreless innings last night in Game 7, is the latest example of how top prospects can
Two random thoughts related to the Astros winning their first World Series championship:
• Brad Peacock, who turned the Series around with 3 2/3 dominant innings to save Game 3 and contributed two more clutch scoreless innings last night in Game 7, is the latest example of how top prospects can take a circuitous route to success. When I was at Baseball America, we ranked Peacock as the No. 36 overall prospect in baseball -- one spot ahead of Francisco Lindor -- after a breakout 2011 season in the Nationals' system, and we projected him as a potential No. 2 starter.
Following a move to the Athletics as part of a Giovany Gonzalez trade, Peacock recorded a 6.01 ERA in Triple-A in 2012 and started battling his mechanics. Sent to the Astros in a package for Jed Lowrie, Peacock got rocked as part of 100-loss teams in Houston in the next two seasons and barely surfaced in Minute Maid Park in the two after that. Then he refined a slider to go with his lively fastball, and all of a sudden he goes 13-2 with a 3.00 ERA as a swingman for the Astros this year and becomes a World Series hero.
• A lot of people play a part in building a World Series champion. He won't get a ring because he left Houston when his contract wasn't renewed after the 2012 season, but Bobby Heck helped turn around a scouting department that had unproductive Drafts from 2005-07. The Astros came away with just five big leaguers who have totaled 6.0 bWAR in those three years, none better than Bud Norris, and their farm system collapsed.
In five Drafts from 2008-12 as scouting director and assistant GM in charge of amateur scouting, Heck and his staff landed 24 big leaguers, including Jason Castro (first round, '08), Enrique Hernandez (sixth, '09), Dallas Keuchel (seventh, '09), J.D. Martinez (20th, '09), Delino DeShields Jr. (first, '10), Mike Foltynewicz (first, '10), Vince Velasquez (second, '10), George Springer (first, '11), Carlos Correa (first, '12), Lance McCullers (supplemental first, '12) and Brett Phillips (sixth, '12). Now a senior advisor with the Rays, Heck contributed a lot to Houston's first World Series title.
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I suspect Greg is less agitated about Houston's bullpen than he was when he tweeted this before Game 6. But to answer his question, yes, the Astros have a potential dominant closer in their system. Though they spent the 15th overall choice in the 2017 Draft on right-hander J.B. Bukauskas with the intention of developing him as a starter, he's a smaller guy with some effort in his delivery -- not to mention a mid-90s sinker and a mid-80s slider, both of which can be wipeout pitches when he commands them.
Another right-hander with late-inning potential is Riley Ferrell, who excelled at Texas Christian before the Astros picked him in the third round in 2015. He missed most of 2016 because he needed to have an aneurysm removed from his throwing shoulder, but he has a 93-98 mph fastball with late hop and a two-plane slider in the mid-80s when he's at his best. Ferrell's control, which has been a concern in the past, was much improved this season.
The Tigers have had one of the game's thinner farm systems for a decade, so they're a long way from elite. Having the No. 1 overall pick in next year's Draft will help but there's still much more work to do. However, they are trending up after adding significant talent in 2017.
Right-hander Alex Faedo looks like a steal with the 18th overall pick in the Draft. Outfielder/first baseman Reynaldo Rivera (second round) and catchers Joey Morgan (third) and Sam McMillan (fifth) also show promise. So does slick-fielding shortstop Alvaro Gonzalez, signed for $1 million out of Venezuela in July.
GM Al Avila added several quality prospects via trades once he fully embraced the notion of rebuilding. In four summer deals for J.D. Martinez, Alex Avila and Justin Wilson, Justin Upton and Justin Verlander, Detroit added since-graduated Jeimer Candelario and seven members of on MLBPipeline's current Tigers Top 30: right-hander Franklin Perez (No. 1), outfielder Daz Cameron (No. 5), catcher Jake Rogers (No. 6), shortstop/third baseman Isaac Paredes (No. 9), righty Grayson Long (No. 14), infielder Dawel Lugo (No. 15) and shortstop Sergio Alcantara (No. 24).
Filia currently leads the Arizona Fall League in hitting (.395) and on-base percentage (.481) after ranking third in the high Class A California League in batting (.326) and first in OBP (.407) during the regular season. He topped the Northwest League in both categories (.362, .450) and won the short-season circuit's MVP award in his 2016 pro debut after signing for $1,000 as a 20th-rounder from UCLA.
The Bruins' leading postseason hitter during their 2013 College World Series championship run, Filia missed all of the 2014 season after labrum surgery on his throwing shoulder and all of the '15 season after plagiarizing part of a paper for a philosophy class. That's why he was nearly 24 when he turned pro.
Filia is a prospect in the sense that his hitting ability should earn him a shot at the Majors. He has good feel for the barrel and easily makes line-drive contact from the left side of the plate. But Filia's ceiling is limited because he doesn't offer much in the way of power or speed, making it difficult to project him as a regular on an outfield corner.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.