I looked through all of the current Astros minor league players and identified some of those who either showed early promise before getting bitten by the injury bug or who have not been able to make a decisive step to the next level. I looked at those who have played in at least parts of three seasons and I capped it at age 22. The pitching candidates I came up with follow:
LHP Brad Dydalewicz (turns 22 on Saturday)
An 8th round draft pick in 2008, Dydalewicz first started playing in 2008 and showed great promise as a starter in Lexington in 2009, going 8-5 with a 3.93 ERA and 1.309 WHIP in 22 starts at age 19. After struggling somewhat in 2010, his progress stalled out completely in 2011 as he battled injuries, going 0-5 with a 10.86 ERA and 2.315 WHIP in 18 games (7 starts) between Lexington and a rehab assignment with the GCL Astros. The key to a comeback is not only staying off the DL, but getting his walk rate down and his strikeout rate up.
RHP Jose Perdomo (20)
A native of Venezuela, Perdomo first played for the DSL Astros in 2009 with impressive results (particularly for a 17-year old). At 18, he started 11 games for the GCL Astros with a 4-3 record, a 1.67 ERA, a 0.978 WHIP and 10.5 SO/9. I am assuming Perdomo was injured in 2011 as his last of five starts was July 18th and he didn't pitch again last season. In those 5 starts at Greeneville, he was 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA and a 2.278 WHIP. Despite getting lit up in the hit column, he still managed a 10.5 SO/9. His continued development, if healthy, should be worth watching.
RHP Juri Perez (21)
Another Venezuelan product, Perez first played in the VSL in 2007. His best season, at age 18, was 2009 when he was 3-1 at Greeneville in 15 games (8 starts) with a 2.79 ERA and a 1.200 WHIP. After spending the majority of 2010 on the DL, Perez was unable to recapture his earlier effectiveness in 2011. However, he had a very successful winter campaign in the Venezuelan Liga Paralela, going 3-2 with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.418 WHIP in 10 games (7 starts). I'm looking for a strong comeback from Perez in 2012.
RHP Ross Seaton (22)
A third round pick in 2008, Seaton's most effective season to date was in 2009 in Lexington when he was 8-10 with a 3.29 ERA and a 1.288 WHIP in 24 starts. He wasn't bad in 2011, but he wasn't third round good either. He ended the season at Corpus Christi with a 4-9 record, a 5.23 ERA and a 1.387 WHIP over 28 starts, but there's more to the story. At 21, he was young for the AA level and he did show some improvement over the season as he compiled a 3.00 ERA and a 1.000 WHIP over his 6 starts in August. I would like to see improvement in his strikeout rate, his groundball out rate, or both, but the key to a more effective season in 2012 may have already been accomplished - he'll be a year older.
RHP Tanner Bushue (20)
Bushue, who will turn 21 in June, was a second round draft pick in 2009 and immediately impressed by going 1-0 with a 2.42 ERA and a 1.030 in 5 starts with the GCL Astros that year. He also managed a very respectable 7-8 record with a 4.11 ERA and a 1.324 WHIP in 25 starts in 2010 at Lexington. His 2011 campaign wasn't bad by any means, but his inability to stay off the DL tempered his results. He only managed 85.1 IP in 2011, down from 133.2 IP in 2010. It will be a significant breakthrough for Bushue if he can manage to stay off the DL for an entire season.