Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Astros Minor League Depth - Center Fielders

As Spring Training approaches, I've been looking at the Astros minor league depth, position by position. Today, we look at the center fielders in the organization who had the best seasons in 2012.

The embedded chart shows center fielders in the organization ranked from high to low in terms of OPS. I have noted their current age, the last level at which they played and, if they spent significant time at multiple positions, that information is included as well. I am including Che-Hsuan Lin more for comparison purposes than anything. Lin was claimed off waivers from the Red Sox this off-season and was later assigned to Oklahoma City. I did not include Brandon Barnes as he spent a good part of the season in Houston.

George Springer excelled in his time at Hi-A Lancaster, leading to an August promotion to Corpus Christi. He struggled in his first few games with Corpus, but was catching up as the season ended (he hit .306/.390/.722 over his last 10 games). I look for him to start the season back at AA, but to move quickly to AAA. I would like to see Springer showing more patience at the plate before he moves to the next level.

Andrew Aplin, the Astros 2012 fifth round pick, spent 44 games with the short season Tri-City team before leapfrogging directly to Hi-A Lancaster to finish the season. In contrast to Springer, Aplin only struck out 38 times in 68 games. By all accounts, Aplin is a very tough out and a plus defender in center.

Robbie Grossman had a solid season both before and after he came to the Astros organization in the Wandy Rodriguez trade. His total of 77 walks for the season would have ranked him fourth in the Astros system.

Trevor Crowe signed with Houston this off-season as a free agent. Although he has some major league experience, he spent all of 2012 in the minors, first for Cleveland and then for the Angels.

Drew Muren finished the season with Lancaster, but he started it at Lexington and spent a good chunk of the season at Corpus Christi. He showed his value and versatility everywhere he went, filling in for injured players and fielding all three outfield positions capably.

Brett Phillips, the Astros 2012 sixth round pick, hit the ground running ... literally. In his first few games, he had four triples. His production trailed off later in the season as a knee injury slowed him down, but he is going to be an exciting player to watch. He won't be 19 until May.

Another player to keep an eye on is D'Andre Toney. Toney came to the Astros organization as the PTBNL in the Humberto Quintero/Jason Bourgeois trade with Kansas City. Toney started off a little slow and ended a little slow, but in between he showed great promise. He profiles to show a good combination of power and speed. I look forward to seeing what he will do in 2013. Finally, I'll be interested to see what Javaris Reynolds does in 2013. The 7th round pick from 2011 was sidelined after playing in only 11 games in 2012.

Tuesday: Left Fielders
Coming Thursday: Right Fielders

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