Monday, November 25, 2013

Five Under-The-Radar Pitchers In The Astros Farm System

The Houston Astros have one of the best farm systems in the MLB, and have a very bright future. Prospects such as George Springer, Jonathan Singleton, Carlos Correa, and Mark Appel are the players that the Astros hope to build their team around, and propel them to a postseason run in the near future. However, at the same time, Houston's farm system is stacked with a ton of under-the-radar prospects - especially pitching prospects. Here are five under-the-radar pitching prospects in the Astros' farm system that I believe will one day have an impact in the big leagues:

5. Kyle Westwood

After being drafted in the 44th round (1316th overall) by the Baltimore Orioles in 2009, right-handed pitcher Kyle Westwood decided to attend college at the University of North Florida instead of going pro. In 2013, his senior season, Westwood battled a hamstring injury, as he went 4-1 with a 3.75 ERA while striking out 71 batters and only walking 12. His K/9 ratio was an impressive 10.75 in his senior year. The 22-year-old was drafted in the 13th round (377th overall) by the Houston Astros this past June and played in Class-A Short-Season for the Tri-City ValleyCats, where he posted a 0.81 ERA in 44 2/3 innings of work.

Westwood doesn't have "blow-it-by-ya" stuff, as his fastball will generally sit in the 88-92 mph range. He only struckout 29 batters last season, but his groundball/flyball ratio was a solid 2.09. His command and consistency is something that can move him up through the minors with ease. He would fit in well in the back of the Houston rotation, but will probably be used as a long-reliever out of the bullpen for the Astros in the future.

4. Jordan Jankowski

Drafted by the Astros as a catcher in the 34th-round in 2008 out of Catawba College, 24-year-old right-handed pitcher Jordan Jankowski was drafted in the 34th-round again in 2012, this time as a pitcher. He has been fairly consistent while pitching in the minor leagues, as this past season in 89 2/3 innings of work for the Quad Cities River Bandits (Class-A) he posted a 2.61 ERA while striking out 83 batters and walking just 17.

I think his consistency is something that will move him up through the minor leagues and he should have success in majors when he arrives.

3. Mike Hauschild

Drafted in the 33rd round by Houston in 2012, out of the University of Dayton, Hauschild has been an interesting pitcher to watch in his first few years in the minors. Last season, while playing for the Gulf Coast League Astros, Hauschild went 2-2, posted a 1.78 ERA, struck out 39 batters and walked nine in 30 1/3 innings, and had a ground ball-to-fly ball ratio of a whopping 5.25.

If he could duplicate his 2012, he will certainly be a front-runner to get a big-league call up in a few years. His ability to get hitters to hit the ball on the ground will be very useful in his path to the majors.

2. Andrew Thurman

Drafted in the second-round (40th overall) in 2013, the 21-year-old right-handed pitcher out of UC Irvine is certainly a guy to keep an eye on in the Astros farm system. He can pump his fastball up to 94 mph, as it sits comfortably between 89-92 mph, but his velocity should improve in the coming years. He struckout 43 batters in 39 2/3 innings of work while holding down a steady 3.86 ERA this past season. His 6'3" 205-pound frame gives him the potential to be an innings eater in the back of the Houston rotation in the future.

Being drafted so highly this year, the Astros will certainly have high expectations for him, but I think he will live up to all of them.

1. David Rollins

Born in Deberry, Texas, southpaw David Rollins was drafted out of high school in the 19th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008, but decided to go to junior college instead of the pros. He was drafted out of junior college twice, both times by the Seattle Mariners, before finally going pro after being drafted in the 24th round (1392nd overall) by the Toronto Blue Jays out of San Jacinto CC North in 2011. He was acquired by the Astros on July 20th, 2012 in a 10-player deal that sent J.A Happ and Brandon Lyon to Toronto.

Rollins may not be a top prospect, but in my opinion, I feel like he can be a future big leaguer. He can throw his sinker in the 89-92 mph range and mixes his pitches very well. His off-speed command will be something he will have to improve on if he wants to play in Double-A or Triple-A on a daily basis, let alone the majors. If he can improve on his off-speed command, expect him to be part of Houston's future plans.

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