2021 Houston Astros Diamonds in the Rough

by Matt Wiener
2021 Houston Astros Diamonds in the Rough

Welcome to the eleventh installment of my series 2021 Diamonds in the Rough. In this article, I will breakdown two hitting and two pitching prospects from the Houston Astros farm system.

Last time out, I took a look at some of the Detroit Tigers prospects.

In deep dynasty leagues, the ability to spot high-upside lower-ranked prospects before they become household names in the fantasy baseball community can make a big difference to the long-term success of your team.

To qualify as a diamond in the rough for this series, a player must be currently ranked lower than No. 15 on their team's latest MLB Pipeline Prospect Rankings.

Check out our 2021 Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Rankings to help you dominate your leagues.

2021 Houston Astros Diamonds in the Rough

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Jordan Brewer, OF (#17)

Bats: R | Throws: R
Tools: 45 Hit | 50 Power | 70 Run | 60 Field | 60 Arm
Age: 23
Highest Level: Low-A
ETA: 2023

The Astros drafted Jordan Brewer out of the University of Michigan in the 3rd round (106 overall) of the 2019 MLB draft.

Brewer was a two sport high school standout in football and baseball. He generated interest from Big Ten programs as a wide receiver prior to suffering a dislocated shoulder his senior year, which led him to play two years of JUCO ball before joining Michigan in 2019. In Brewer's lone year at Michigan, he raked .329/.389/.557, with 12 homers and 25 steals (in 29 attempts) over 285 plate appearances. He also led Michigan to the College World Series finals and secured 2019 Big Ten player of the year honors.

In his 2019 professional debut, Brewer missed some time with a toe injury and struggled in only 16 games at Low-A, hitting just .130/.161/.185 with one homer and two steals in (two attempts), before undergoing knee surgery in April 2020.

According to MLB.com, Brewer is the fastest prospect in the Astros' system. Brewer is a natural athlete with excellent bat speed. He possesses a tantalizing combination of double-plus speed and plus raw power. Though Brewer has an aggressive approach and some swing-and-miss issues, his offensive upside cannot be ignored.

In the field, Brewer's elite speed and cannon of an arm render him an excellent defender. Though he played mostly corner outfield and first base at Michigan, he could wind up as an above average center fielder at the major league level.

After playing two sports in high school and only one season at Michigan prior to being drafted by the Astros, Brewer has a bit less seasoning than your typical 23 year old prospect. In fact, Fangraphs named Brewer, a 23 year old with only 16 professional games played, as a prime example of the type of raw prospect that was most affected by the year off.

There is no doubt that 2021 will be a big year for Brewer's development. If Brewer can improve his swing and refine his hit tool, Brewer has big time power-speed potential. Brewer has a real shot at playing everyday due to his defensive prowess. If that is the case, it would not surprise me if he puts up some 25-25 seasons. I think that Brewer has the best chance of any Astros hitting prospect currently ranked outside their top 10 to crack that club coming into 2022.

Yohander Martinez, SS (Unranked)

Bats: R | Throws: R
Tools: 50 Hit | 40 Power | 55 Run | 55 Field | 55 Arm
Age: 19
Highest Level: Low-A
ETA: 2025

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSm9Zmc-0ZU[/embedyt]

The Astros signed Yohander Martinez out of Venezuela during the 2018 international free agent signing period.

At only 17 years old during his 2019 debut, Martinez was an All-Star and dominated Dominican Summer League (DSL) competition. In 2019, Martinez hit .313/.439/.383, with one homer, 36 runs, 25 RBI and 19 steals (in 30 attempts) over 262 plate appearances. He also posted a big time 140 wRC+, the fifth highest mark for a DSL Astro since 2006.

In addition, Martinez displayed excellent plate discipline, compiling more walks than strikeouts (40 BB/27 K). That one always gets me. Moreover, Martinez posted a walk rate of 15.3% and a strikeout rate of 10.3%, both of which rate as "Excellent" (the highest possible rating) per Fangraphs Sabermetrics Library.

Though Martinez has minimal power projection, he possesses an intriguing combination of on-base skills and base-running ability. In 2019, his OBP (.439) ranked 10th highest in the DSL and he racked up 19 steals in only 66 games. Further, Martinez has a compact, uppercut swing with high-end bat speed and has demonstrated a good feel for the strike zone.

In the field, Martinez has quick hands and a plus arm. Though Martinez will likely end up on the left side of the infield, he also played a handful of games at second base during his professional debut. I love middle infield prospects like Martinez who display positional versatility at such a young age. Let's face it, he is only 19 years old and we do not know his future defensive home. However, what we do know is that his ability to competently play multiple infield positions will help accelerate his rise through the minors and positional versatility is always a plus in fantasy baseball.

While DSL numbers are not a great predictor of future success, the impressive numbers Martinez posted in his debut cannot be ignored. Martinez checks a lot of boxes for me in terms of a young infield prospect. He profiles as a high AVG/OBP, stolen base threat with some positional versatility.

It will be interesting to see if Martinez can continue his hot start during his first full season of professional ball in 2021. With his tools, Martinez has the floor of a solid future utility man for the Astros and is a name to monitor in deep dynasty leagues. But if Martinez can tap into some power as he matures and progresses through the system, he could skyrocket up prospect lists across the industry.


Jojanse Torres, RHP  (#21)

Bats: R | Throws: R
Tools: 70 FB | 55 SL | 50 CH | 40 CNTRL
Age: 25
Highest Level: High-A
ETA: 2021

The Milwaukee Brewers attempted to sign Jojanse Torres out of the Dominican Republic in 2015 . However, the deal collapsed due to an age discrepancy, which relegated him to MLB's ineligible list for a year. Three years later, the Astros signed Torres during the 2018 international free agent signing period. By that time, Torres was already 22 years and eight months old.

Though over three and a half years older than his average competition, Torres showed out during his 2018 professional debut in the Dominican Summer League. In 13 appearances (8 starts), Torres posted a stellar 2.20 ERA and 1.07 WHIP over 41 innings. Further, Torres displayed both strikeout stuff and solid command. Torres compiled an amazing 48/8 K/BB and excellent strikeout (28.7%) and walk rates (4.8%).

Torres was even more impressive during his stateside debut in 2019, where he was closer in age to his competition. In 24 appearances (10 starts), Torres posted a perfect 12-0 record with an elite 1.71 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 107 strikeouts over 94.2 innings. However, Torres also saw a drop off in his control, raising his walk rate almost 7% from 2018.

Standing at 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds, Torres possesses an intriguing three-pitch mix headlined by an electric fastball. Torres pitches exclusively from the stretch and features a winding, back-turned to the hitter delivery. While Torres ran his fastball up to 98 mph in 2018, he regularly touched 100 mph in 2019. In fact, according to MLB.com, Torres has the best fastball in the Astros system, a noteworthy honor in a system with no shortage of fireballers. Torres sits 94-98 mph with his fastball with a high spin rate and can maintain velocity deep into outings.

To go with his fastball, Torres sports a mid-to-high 80's slider that has flashed above average. Torres shows good feel for his slider and the pitch compliments his fastball as a secondary power offering. In addition, Astros coaches have praised Torres' feel for his changeup. Though the changeup is Torres' third pitch, it plays up due to its juxtaposition to his other power offerings.

Though Torres has dominated lower level competition, he will need to display better control to sustain success against more advanced competition. In addition, some scouts wonder whether Torres would be better served in a bullpen role, due to his nasty fastball-slider combination and his currently below average command.

However, according to Oz Ocampo, a special assistant who formerly served as international scouting director for the Astros, "[Torres has] a power starting pitching profile in terms of his physicality, his mechanics, his athleticism, his stuff." Further, Ocampo praised Torres' development and consistency, specifically with respect to his command. Per Ocampo, "[Torres has] been able to refine his stuff, refine his pitches and just have more consistency with his delivery, more consistency with his command."

Torres will need to develop more consistency with his delivery and command to stick as a starter. In my opinion, Torres has the floor of a high-leverage reliever. However, in any role, Torres is a special talent with overpowering stuff.

Despite not having pitched above High-A, Torres is already 25 years old. I would not be surprised to see Torres make his major league debut as a reliever in 2021. Like Brewer, I think Torres has the best chance of any Astros pitching prospect currently ranked outside their top 10 to crack that club coming into 2022.

Jimmy Endersby, RHP  (Unranked)

Bats: R | Throws: R
Tools: 50 FB | 55 CB | 45 SL | 45 CH | 45 CNTRL
Age: 23
Highest Level: High-A
ETA: 2023

The Astros signed Jimmy Endersby as an undrafted free agent out of Division II Concordia University Irvine (CA) after the 2020 MLB draft.

However, just because Endersby went undrafted does not mean that he did not draw interest from MLB teams. MLB teams were permitted to start contacting undrafted free agents at 6 a.m. P.T. the Sunday morning after the draft. According to Endersby he "had 15+ teams calling me starting at 6 a.m [that Sunday]."

Endersby started his collegiate career in 2018 as an infielder at Cal State Fullerton before transitioning to pitching. As a redshirt sophomore in 2019, in his first year serving exclusively as a pitcher, Endersby recorded 10 strikeouts in 6.2 innings with a 1.35 ERA in six relief appearances.

However, Endersby hit another gear after transferring to Concordia University Irvine (CA) for the 2020 season. In 2020, Endersby posted a perfect 5-0 record with an impressive 1.88 ERA and immaculate 0.73 WHIP in five starts. Further, Endersby had a team-high 37 strikeouts and just six walks in 28.2 innings of work. He also compiled at least seven strikeouts in each of his five starts, including two complete game shutouts.

In terms of his arsenal, Endersby features a solid fastball that sits 92-95 mph and a hard 12-6 curveball that tunnels well off his fastball. Both pitches pair excellent vertical break with elite spin rates. Endersby's four-seam fastball sits about 2,550 rpm and he has hit 2,600 rpm with the pitch. For reference, per MLB.com, the MLB team average four-seam spin rate by pitching staff in 2020 was 2,309 rpm.

There is no question that Endersby has solid stuff and according to Endersby, he landed in the right spot. According to Endersby, "[t]he Astros know something about pitching that other teams don't...[t]hey develop guys to become monsters and big leaguers, and I believe my strengths fit their philosophies."

At 23 years old, Endersby is about as mature as prospects come prior to making his professional debut. Endersby was only a full time starter in his last year of college. However, I think that he has the makeup and three-pitch mix to succeed as a starter.

Endersby may be ranked outside the Astros top 30 coming into 2021, but I expect him to make a big bang in his 2021 debut. Though he is still a relative unknown, keep an eye on Endersby in 2021. I think he has a good chance to become both a big leaguer and a monster.

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1 comment

2021 Kansas City Royals Diamonds in the Rough - Fantasy Six Pack April 17, 2021 - 11:31 am

[…] Last time out, I took a look at some of the Houston Astros prospects. […]


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