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Houston Astros Top-15 Prospects of 2009, No’s 1 – 5

March 11, 2009 BY ALEX EISENBERG No Comments Yet

For an overview of the process used to grade players, the factors used to determine where a player ranks, and other frequently asked questions, please click here. All grades are subject to change based on any new information I receive before the start of the season. If you disagree, you can make your case by contacting me or you can make a comment below at the bottom of the page.

You can find a full listing of each team’s top prospect list in the Top Prospect List Archive Page. Also, each team will have their Team Page published when their top prospect list becomes available. Team pages include team rosters, stats, payroll and front office information, past Baseball-Intellect articles related to that team, and links to some of the team’s best fan sites. We stay in the NL Central and look at the top prospects in the Houston Astros organization…

Also See: Houston Astros, Prospects 6 – 15

1. Jason Castro | C | B – L | Tri-City (SS) | Age – 21 | Drafted – Round 1 (10), 2008

Player Grades

Contact – 45 Now | 50 Future
Power – 40 | 50
Discipline – 45 | 55
Speed – 40 | 35
Defense – 45 | 55
Arm – 55 | 55
Instincts – 50 | 55
ETA – 2011
Final Grade – B/B-

I compiled a scouting report on Castro earlier this summer. In looking at his brief professional debut, I would of liked to see him hit for a little more power, but I love his 13.4 BB%. As a college hitter, I was a little concerned he didn’t come in and dominate right away, but those concerns were quelled some by his very strong showing the Hawaii Baseball League, where he hit for average and continued to display patience at the plate.

Castro has the tools to be a quality defender at the position and the scouting reports have generally been positive. But the overall defensive numbers (if accurate) makes it look like Castro needs some work. In 228 innings at the position, Castro allowed 21 wild pitches, six passed balls, and had four errors. He threw out 25% of the runners trying to steal on him though if you count the times he picked off runners, that number jumps to 40% (Source: Minor League Splits). Still, he has to do a better job of keeping balls in front of him. He has the foot work, arm strength, and actions to stay at the position. There are no concerns about him having to move the position.

Best Case Outcome – Above average offensive catcher

More Likely Outcome – Average everyday catcher

2. Brian Bogusevic | CF | Double-A Corpus Christy | Age – 25 | Drafted – Round 1, 2005

Player Grades

Contact – 50 Now | 55 Future
Power – 40 | 45
Discipline – 50 | 55
Speed – 55 | 55
Defense – 50 | 55
Arm – 60 | 60
Instincts – 50 | 50
ETA – Late 2009 or Early 2010
Final Grade – B-

Body Type – muscular and athletic

Scouting Report

It’s a small sample size, but I’m extremely impressed by the seamless transition made by Bogusevic ever since turning his sights on becoming a hitter. Even more impressive, Bogusevic has the looks of a polished veteran with a complete understanding of the strike zone and how to use the entire field.

Bogusevic walked in 11.6% of his plate appearances and sprinkled line drives and ground balls all over the field. In fact, he went the other way more often than when he pulled the ball and will need to do a better job of turning on the ball.

With Corpus Christi, Bogusevic posted an unsustainable .443 BABIP and he did the same in the AFL with a .413 BABIP, so he has the ability to make hard contact. The problem for Bogusevic is an extremely high GB% (65), which means he’ll be hitting mostly singles instead of getting hits of the extra base variety. He’s too often hitting the top half of the ball.

*Credit to David Pratt (click for more videos)

As for his swing, Bogusevic reaches his front foot out, shifts his weight forward and then plants aggressively. He maintains a short stroke and shows good bat speed by letting the ball travel deep.

Bogusevic has the added value of being able to play a premium defensive position in center fielder. His range is solid and his arm is of course, very strong.

Best Case Outcome – Average everyday center fielder…probably doesn’t have the power to be much more than that

More Likely Outcome – Solid 4th outfielder

3. Bud Norris | RHP | Double-A Corpus Christi | Age – 24 | Drafted – Round 6, 2006

Player Grades

Fastball – 55 | 60
Slider – 50 | 55
Change-Up – 40 | 45
Control – 50 | 50
Command – 45 | 50
Pitchability – 50 | 50
ETA – 2009
Final Grade – B-

Body Type – short and stocky, but an athletic build


Fastball – low-mid 90′s with good life…leaves it up in the zone a little too often

Slider – inconsistent power-type pitch which complements his fastball well

Change-Up – it’s improved since he’s been drafted, but he still doesn’t have the best feel of the pitch

Scouting Report

As a starter, Norris is at his best in the early innings before tailing off when he reaches the fourth. He’s also had a couple injury issues and probably profiles best in the bullpen.

When put in relief Norris goes from low-mid 90′s up to the mid-upper 90′s. He does a couple things well (missing bats, not walking too many guys, generating a decent number of GBs), but he does nothing great.

Mechanically, Norris uses an athletic set-up, drifts through his balance point, and enacts a long stride to make up for his lack of height. He has a tendency to rush through his wind-up at times.

Best Case Outcome – An upper level set-up guy out of the bullpen or a No. 4 starter

More Likely Outcome – No. 5 starter or a good set-up guy out of the bullpen

4. Jordan Lyles | RHP | Greeneville (Rookie) | Age – 18 | Drafted – Round 1A (38), 2008

Player Grades

Fastball – 45 | 55
Curveball – 40 | 50
Change-Up – 45 | 55
Control – 50 | 60
Command – 45 | 50
Pitchability – 50 | 55
ETA – Late 2012
Final Grade – B-

Lyles was another guy that I reported on last Summer, and he exceeded my expectations…by far. His stuff was apparently better than it was in high school and it showed up in some excellent peripherals. He walked just 4.8% of the batters he faced, while posting a 30.8 K%. He was somewhat hittable when contact was made and he needs to focus on tightening his off-speed offerings and making them more consistent. His control was excellent, but he wants to work on the command of all his offerings. He still has plenty of projection remaining, so he’s a guy to watch heading into next season.

Best Case Outcome – No. 3 starter…though at his age, it’s always a possibility Lyles blows up and becomes something better even though it’s a long shot

More Likely Outcome – No. 4 starter

5. Drew Sutton | INF | Double-A Corpus Christi | Age – 25 | Drafted – Round 15, 2004

Player Grades

Contact – 50 Now | 50 Future
Power – 50 | 55
Discipline – 50 | 55
Speed – 50 | 50
Defense – 45 | 45
Arm – 50 | 50
Instincts – 55 | 55
ETA – 2009
Final Grade – B-

Body Type – lanky and athletic

Scouting Report

The first thing that has to be noted is Sutton’s age: he’s 25 and will turn 26 in June. He played in Double-A last season, repeating the league for the first time.

The second thing to note are the improvements made by Sutton with the bat. After posting OPS’s in the mid-700′s the past 2.5 years, Sutton exploded last year to the tune of a .934 OPS. He walked and struck out a bit more, but the changes were mostly reflected in his increase in power and hard contact. His ISO-power jumped from .119 the previous year to .205. His BABIP jumped from .313 to .362.

The third thing to note is how these changes occurred. Is there a way to explain them without it just being luck because his batted ball rates were virtually identical. I looked at his swing from the time he was drafted (right) and last year (left):

*Credit to Pacific Prospect Report and the MLB Scouting Bureau

Sutton hits the bottom-half of the ball, but it’s the process that’s important here. The key differences are a more effective weight transfer forward, a longer stride, and instead of his weight being shifted toward his back side, Sutton is more balanced at foot plant and drawing more power from a firm front leg in which he turns on.

Overall, Sutton is a little better from the left side in terms of hitting for average, but he actually displays more power from the right side, one reason being that he’s an extreme fly ball hitter from the right side of the plate. Sutton’s swing plane is more linear from the left side. All-in-all, I like his swing from the left side a little more than the right side.

Sutton is wiry strong, he lets the ball travel deep, and uses the entire field well.

There are some that question his ability to hit against advanced level pitching, but his very strong performance in the AFL helped quiet some of those concerns.

Defense – he isn’t particularly good at any position, but he can play all of them except catcher.

Best Case Outcome – Above average offensive second baseman

More Likely Outcome – Super utility player that can play many positions adequately

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Also See: Houston Astros Team Page

Up Next: Houston Astros, Prospects 6 – 15

Other references used for this article: First Inning and Minor League Splits

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