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Houston Astros Top-10 Fantasy Prospects

In recent years the Astros have traded away a number of top prospects, but what remains is still a top system full of intriguing, dynamic young players.

Minor League Baseball: Arizona Fall League-Scottsdale Scorpions at Glendale Desert Dogs Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Our Basis

With fantasy prospect rankings, the key to knowing the usefulness of a specific player is how large and deep of a league you would need to be in for them to end up as a fantasy starter. We will be ranking 10 prospects in each system, but that doesn't mean that every one of them is useful if you play in a 12-team mixed dynasty league. With that said, we're aiming to provide useful information whether you play in a 10-team mixed, a 15-team AL-only, or a 24-team mixed.

Prospect rankings also come with the same caveat that must be rehashed every year. They represent a snapshot of how we view the players at the time of publication. There will inherently be more information published throughout the off-season, and so how we view a player may evolve significantly over time. We're going to get some of these right, we're going to get some of these wrong, and in general my reminder is to find information you trust, and use it to your advantage. If that comes from us, that's great and we're happy you're here. If it doesn't, we'll continue to work and hope that you'll keep checking in to see how we're doing.

The Tiers

The tiers are here though to provide some clarity when comparing players between different teams. It's by no means a perfect system, but the goal is to give you a general idea of which players we think are in a similar range in terms of value and ranking. Since the tiers are also expected to be relatively consistent across teams, there may be tiers that do not have prospects for certain teams.

Tier 1 - The Elite Prospects

These prospects are expected to be in the top-50 prospects overall, and have the potential to be among the top options at their position regardless of format or league size.

#1 - Francis Martes (RHP)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 21

ETA: 2017

In 2014 the Astros stole Martes from Miami in the trade that sent RHP Jarred Cosart to the Marlins. Today, Martes ranks among the top pitching prospects in all of baseball. Featuring a double-plus fastball, a double-plus curveball, and excellent control, the young righthander has the look of a future ace. He spent all of 2016 at Double-A Corpus Christi, where he finished 9-6 with a 3.30 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 125.1 IP--all of which is particularly impressive considering that he began the season as the youngest pitcher in the Texas League. In stature and stuff, he draws comparisons to RHP Johnny Cueto. Martes will head to Triple-A Fresno in 2017 with a chance to arrive in Houston later in the year.

#2 - Kyle Tucker (OF)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 20

ETA: 2019

The fifth overall pick in the 2015 draft, Tucker is the younger brother of current Astros OF Preston Tucker. Though Preston has more raw power, Kyle is considered the better all-around player. Kyle’s sweet left-handed swing already produces an advanced hit-tool and has the potential to develop above-average power. As he grows into his 6’4” frame, he’s likely to lose a step, but for now he’s more of a threat on the basepaths than with the longball. He played most of 2016 at Low-A Quad Cities and then spent a few weeks at HIgh-A Lancaster. He slashed a combined .285/.360/.438 with 9 HR and 32 SB. Fantasy owners should keep an eye on those counting numbers as Tucker advances through the minors, for he should emerge as a 20-20 threat.

Tier 2 - The Top 100 Candidates

These prospects are expected to be in the discussion for the top 100 prospects overall, and are expected to be starting options in all formats.

#3 - David Paulino (RHP)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 23

ETA: 2017

While Martes is the Astros’ clear #1 prospect, Paulino might be every bit as exciting. 6’7” pitchers with dynamite stuff and excellent control do not grow on trees, but that’s exactly what Houston has in Paulino. Acquired in 2013 in exchange for reliever Jose Veras, Paulino boasts a plus fastball, a plus curveball, and a developing changeup. In 2016 he finished 5-4 with a 2.00 ERA and 106 strikeouts against only 19 walks in 90 IP. Assuming he can handle the workload, he has the ceiling of a frontline starter. Fantasy owners should watch his innings as he heads to Triple-A Fresno in 2017.

#4 - Derek Fisher (OF)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 23

ETA: 2017

The 37th overall pick in the 2014 draft, Fisher offers a tantalizing combination of power and speed. In fact, he was the only player in the minor leagues to hit at least 20 homers and steal at least 20 bases in both 2015 and 2016. All told, between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Fresno, Fisher’s 2016 numbers look very impressive: 21 HR, 76 RBI, 28 SB, and 83 BB. Only his .255 batting average stands out as something of an albatross for fantasy owners; in his first three seasons his average has declined while his strikeout rate has increased. If he shows improvement in either of those areas in 2017, then he could emerge as an above-average fantasy outfielder, though his path to playing time is now blocked by the signing of OF Josh Reddick.

#5 - Forrest Whitley (RHP)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 19

ETA: 2019

You might have heard that 6’7’ pitchers with dynamite stuff and excellent control do not grow on trees. Houston has two such pitchers: #3 prospect David Paulino and Whitley. The 17th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Whitley features a double-plus fastball, a plus curveball, an above-average changeup, and a developing slider that could become his wipeout pitch. His outstanding stuff, coupled with his control, gives him the ceiling of a frontline starter. He should open 2017 at Low-A Quad Cities and, like Martes, has a chance to move quickly through the system.

Tier 3 - The Next Group of Starters

These prospects would likely slot into the 100-200 range on an overall ranking list, and would be starters in mid-depth formats, like 12 and 14 team leagues.

#6 - Daz Cameron (OF)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 20

ETA: 2019

The 37th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Cameron has gotten off to a slow start in his professional career. Son of former major-leaguer Mike Cameron, Daz gets high marks for his tools, especially his center field defense, but his offense has been slow to develop. In fairness, 2016 was an injury-riddled season in which Cameron appeared in only 40 games. He did finish the season strong, batting .359 with 2 HR and 4 SB in his final ten games, so he has some positive things on which to build. 2017 will be a critical year for his development. If everything comes together, he could emerge as a perennial 20-20 threat.

Tier 4 - Single League and Deep Format Plays

These prospects would likely slot into the 200-300 range on a ranking list, and would have the most value to mixed leagues with 16+ teams and single-league formats with 12+ teams.

#7 - Franklin Perez (RHP)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 19

ETA: 2020

Like most of the young power pitchers on this list, Perez already boasts a plus fastball and a plus curveball. He also has advanced control. If his slider develops as expected, he’ll give the Astros another potential frontline starter. Although he pitched the entire 2016 season as an 18-year-old in Low-A ball, his stats support the glowing evaluations of his stuff and pitchability: 3-3 with a 2.84 ERA, 75 K and only 19 BB in 66 IP. As is the case with Houston’s other elite pitching prospects, there’s real potential here for high strikeout totals, something fantasy owners should watch as he advances to High-A Lancaster in 2017.

#8- Teoscar Hernandez (OF)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 24

ETA: 2017

In 2016 Hernandez played 41 games with the big club, so he barely qualifies as a prospect. Prior to his arrival in Houston, he put together a fine 2016 between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Fresno, where he slashed a combined .307/.377/.459 with 10 HR and 34 SB. Those numbers represent Hernandez at his best: good batting average, double-digit homers, and excellent speed on the basepaths. He has not always been at his best, as evidenced by a dreadful 2015 campaign that saw him slash .219/.275/.362 at Double-A, albeit with 17 HR and 33 SB. The Astros have a crowded outfield, so it’s difficult to project Hernandez’s 2017 role with the team. There is, however, no doubting his potential to become a solid power-speed contributor.

#9- J.D. Davis (3B)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 23

ETA: 2017

Houston’s third-round pick in the 2014 draft, Davis has some of the best raw power in the system. In 2016 at Double-A Corpus Christi he slashed .268/.334/.485 with 23 HR and 81 RBI, both of which were good enough for third in the league. There’s some swing-and-miss to his game, as evidenced by his 143 strikeouts, which also ranked third in the league. Furthermore, with Alex Bregman and Yulieski Gurriel on board, it’s difficult to envision a path to playing time. Still, Davis’s raw power is a valuable commodity, one he’ll continue to flash as he moves up to Triple-A Fresno in 2017.

#10- Miguelangel Sierra (SS)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 19

ETA: 2019

Sierra entered 2016 as a solid Top-30 prospect in the Houston system. He then opened eyes at rookie-level Greeneville of the Appalachian League, where he slashed .289/.386/.620 with 11 HR and 6 SB in only 31 games. His pace slowed considerably following his promotion to Tri-City of the New York-Penn League, but those Greeneville numbers give fantasy owners something on which to dream. He’s still a long way from the majors and will have to tackle full-season ball as a teenager in 2017.