*Projections are based on the author’s sole opinion of how the players listed are currently in line to produce during the upcoming season. Projections can and will change in the future based on player news, injury reports, team transactions, etc. Make sure to check back later in the offseason for faketeams.com more detailed player updates and projections for the upcoming baseball season.
The Astros endured one of the toughest seasons in franchise history in 2013. The team compiled 111 losses, good enough to earn the top pick in the 2014 MLB Player Draft. Although the current major league roster doesn’t contain any early round fantasy options, there is plenty of help coming in the next few years from the minor leagues. Management has done an incredible job of restocking the farm system, selecting Carlos Correa and Mark Appel in the last two drafts with the top overall pick. And in 2014, the Astros could add Carlos Rodon to their core group of top prospects with the top overall selection. Although the outlook for the 2014 season isn’t much better than it was in 2013, the future of the Astros’ organization is headed in the right direction with possibly the best collection of minor league talent in baseball. Let’s take a look at the top fantasy options for the 2014 baseball season.
1. OF – George Springer
The Astros GM, Jeff Luhnow, has already stated that Springer will have every opportunity to earn a starting spot on the ball club in spring training. And after the season the young OF prospect just put up, there isn’t much left for Springer to prove in the minor leagues. Many will label Springer’s strikeout totals as an area of concern, but the 23 year-old hit over .300 for the second consecutive year. Between Double-A and Triple-A, Springer accumulated 37 HR’s and 45 SB’s in 2013. If the Astros’ top OF prospect can put up just half of the HR/SB totals next year that he accumulated during 2013 in the minors, that would make him an 18 HR / 23 SB fantasy option for 2014. And as an older, more polished top prospect, there is always the possibility that he provides much more.
2014 Projection = 535 AB, .270 BA, 23 HR, 82 RBI, 84 R, 24 SB.
2. 2B – Jose Altuve
The 23 year-old spark plug has already logged 2 full seasons with the big league club. Altuve’s 2013 stat line looked very similar to the numbers he put up in 2012. You know what you are getting here: nice speed/little power. The 5'5" second baseman followed up 33 SB’s in 2012 with 35 SB’s in 2013. He also hit for a batting average in the .280’s both years. But there are two downfalls when it comes to Altuve: 1) He will only hit about 5-to-10 HR’s a year. 2) The Astros poor offense will bring down his RBI and R totals. But with the lack of quality options at 2B, Altuve can still provide fantasy managers with a very useful SB contributor. In yearly leagues, target Jose Altuve in the middle rounds as your starting 2B. In keeper leagues, add a few dollars to his value, as his counting stats should improve each year as he gets older and the Astros lineup improves around him.
2014 Projection = 592 AB, .284 BA, 5 HR, 54 RBI, 76 R, 34 SB.
3. 1B/DH – Chris Carter
The former Oakland Athletics’ prospect earned his first full-time starting job in 2013 as a 26-year-old. Carter was able to demonstrate the power that he displayed in minor leagues during his first season with the Astros. Carter was able to connect for 29 HR’s in 2013, while totaling an even more impressive 82 RBI’s for this offense. Jonathan Singleton should become the starting 1B for the Astros in the near future, and the ball club has a handful of outfield prospects led by George Springer that should be arriving shortly, so Carter could find himself relegated to the DH role soon. But the power bat spent time at 1B, OF, and DH in 2013, and will carry multi-position eligibility into the 2014 season. The position flexibility will boost this power options value and adds to what already makes Carter an interesting option for next season.
2014 Projection = 518 AB, .232 BA, 28 HR, 79 RBI, 66 R, 2 SB.
4. C – Jason Castro
This young backstop made his 1st All-Star Game appearance in 2013 while putting up the best offensive numbers of his career. After Castro’s first few seasons were derailed by injuries, he finally started to live up to the expectations that made him a 1st round pick back in 2008. Catchers generally develop their offense later in their careers, so there will be room for Castro to improve down the line. He will also turn the prime breakout age of 27 years-old during the 2014 season. The catcher position looks to have a lot of very intriguing options that could be available in the middle-to-late rounds, and Castro just adds to the depth here. Wait and draft Castro after the top catchers have been off the board for a few rounds, and expect solid numbers with the chance of a breakout.
2014 Projection = 442 AB, .272 BA, 19 HR, 58 RBI, 62 R, 2 SB.
5. SS – Jonathan Villar
The speedy 23 year-old got his call to the majors in the 2nd half of the season, and displayed the speed on the bases that allowed him to steal over 30 bags in the minor leagues each of the past 4 seasons. Villar accumulated 18 SB’s in just 210 AB’s after his promotion to the big league club. The low batting average will hinder his value, but if he can get on base enough to provide fantasy managers with nice stolen base totals, he will be an interesting option from the SS position. Villar might spend the year continuously looking over his shoulder, waiting for the arrival of Carlos Correa. Correa would be best served to spend the entire 2014 season developing in the minors, but there are already rumblings that he could join the Astros’ wave of prospects to roll into Minute Maid Park during the upcoming season. If the organization’s top prospect makes his debut during 2014, Villar will be pushed to a utility role, or even worse, back to the minors. But as long as he can hold down the starting SS job, Villar should provide fantasy owners with a low-end option capable of being one of the top SB contributors at the SS position.
2014 Projection = 502 AB, .239 BA, 2 HR, 32 RBI, 68 R, 43 SB.
*Honorable Mention: Jonathan Singleton
Singleton is considered the Astros 1B of the future. The young 1B prospect had a down year in 2013 that saw him miss part of the season with a suspension and then fail to produce the numbers that were expected of him. Had 2013 been more in line with the expectations, Singleton would have most likely been promoted to the majors already. If Singleton gets back on track in 2014, he could join the big league club soon, with an outside shot at breaking camp with the team. He could develop into an above average fantasy 1B in the near future.
What do you think? Is everyone above listed in the correct order of fantasy value?
What would your Top 5 Astros Fantasy List look like?