A Minor Review of 2016: Houston Astros

Welcome to the annual series that provides both a review of your favorite teams’ 2016 season, as well as a early look toward 2017. It also serves as a helpful guide for keeper and dynasty leagues.

Houston Astros

The Graduate: Chris Devenski (RHP): The Astors saw a wave of high-ceiling, young talent reach the Majors in 2016 including Alex Bregman, A.J. Reed, Michael Feliz and Joe Musgrove but it was the under-appreciated Devenski that arguably had the biggest impact on the big league club with a whopping 2.8 WAR accumulated from (mostly) the bullpen. Devenski, 25, isn’t overpowering but he has strong command/control which makes his average heater play up. And it sets up his plus-plus changeup well. The Astros will no doubt be tempted to try the right-hander in a starting role in 2017 but he appears well suited for the pen and had a 1.61 ERA as a reliever versus 4.01 as a starter (five starts). He also did his best work out of the pen soaking up innings in low leverage situations.

The Riser: Francis Martes (RHP): Just 20, Martes spent all of 2016 in double-A ball where he showed flashes of his immense talent but also struggled with both his command and control (after walking just 28 in 101.2 innings in ’15). He’s not an overly physical pitcher at just 6-1 but he does an outstanding job at keeping the ball in the park. Martes has allowed just nine home runs in his career (321.1 innings) and four in 2016 (125.1 innings) despite playing against hitters much older than him. He’ll need some more minor league seasoning before hitting the Majors but a half season in triple-A might do the trick. He has the ceiling of a No. 2/3 starter.

The Tumbler: Daz Cameron (OF): The son of Mike Cameron, this young outfielder has a chance to follow his father’s footsteps into the Majors as a plus-fielding center-fielder. The big question with Cameron, 19, centres around how much he’ll hit. He’ll likely top out in the 10-15 home run range in his prime and could strike out a fair bit — He went down swinging 59 times in 40 games this past season. He actually opened the year in full-season ball but was sent back down to extended spring training (and later short-season ball) after striking out 33 times in 21 games (with a .143 average). Signed for $4 million, Cameron has a long way to climb to become profitable for the Astros.

The ’16 Draft Pick: Ronnie Dawson (OF): Selected in the second round of the 2016 draft, Dawson is reminiscent of another second-rounder, A.J. Reed. They both had solid reputations as strong college hitters but lacked well-rounded games. Dawson has an intriguing mix of power and speed but his game has a lot of swing-and-miss to it and his defence leaves something to be desired. Still, Houston has shown a willingness to aggressively promote players that can hit and Dawson could be a quick mover in the Astros system.

The Lottery Ticket: Gilberto Celestino (OF): The Astros have invested heavily in the international free agent market under General Manager Jeff Luhnow and the system is littered with promising, young Latin players. Celestino is one name you likely haven’t heard much although he was given a $2.5 million bonus in 2015. The outfielder has the potential to be a very well rounded player and he was promoted from the Dominican Summer League to the Gulf Coast League in 2016 despite being just 17 years old. He struggled a little bit stateside but still managed to produce a promising 33-39 BB-K rate in 56 total games. Celestino also showed excellent defence for his age and flashed some gap power (although he may never be a home run hitter).

For reference sake, here is the 2015 Review.



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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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dudley
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dudley

Thanks Marc! Any thoughts on Ramon Laureano? He’s been killing it all year, but it seems like he doesn’t have much pedigree and it looks like he’s probably a bit undersized.