Houston Astros: 5 Minor League Players Who Will Make an Impact This Year
The Astros are off to an unexpected start and are currently sitting in a tie for second place in the NL Central, with a 4-6 record.
A number of young prospects from last season have stepped up this year, including second baseman Jose Altuve and outfielder J.D. Martinez.
The farm system for Houston has been a joke for years, but thanks to Ed Wade, it has become respectable with a number of young players. Add in the youth movement the Astros are going with this year, and Houston could be calling up more than its fair share of prospects.
Here are the top five candidates to be called up this season.
P Jordan Lyles
This is certainly not a reach and is almost a guarantee. Barring an injury, Jordan Lyles will be pitching with the Astros at some point this season.
Lyles pitched the majority of last season with the Astros going 2-8 with a 5.36 ERA.
He has been off to a fast start this season with Oklahoma City going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 13 innings of work. If he keeps pitching like this, Houston will have to move him up.
P Paul Clemens
Paul Clemens was traded by the Braves to the Astros last season in the Michael Bourn trade, and the initial reviews were not good.
Last year with Oklahoma City, Clemens had a 15.43 ERA and finished with six walks in only 4.2 innings of work.
It has been a completely different pitcher this year, as Clemens is 1-1 in three starts with a 1.59 ERA. He has 13 strikeouts and only four walks in 17 innings.
Jordan Lyles is still No. 1 in line to be called up to help the rotation but Paul Clemens is a close second.
1B Brett Wallace
Brett Wallace is another player who spent the majority of 2011 with Houston, but he starts 2012 with Oklahoma City. Spending some time in the minors could help him going forward.
Wallace spent some time in Spring Training working at third base, and if Chris Johnson struggles, Wallace will most likely be the replacement.
He has hit one home run and six RBI through nine games.
P Henry Sosa
Henry Sosa was part of the Jeff Keppinger trade with the Giants last season, and he had a 5.73 ERA in 10 starts last season. Just like Lyles and Wallace, he starts the new season with Oklahoma City.
He has played pretty well in two starts this year and hasn't registered a win or a loss. He's also struck out nine in nine innings. If or when Sosa is called back up, he will most likely be used as a long reliever out of the bullpen.
P Dallas Keuchel
This is one prospect some fans may not have heard of, but he could play a big role for Houston by the end of the season.
This lefty has been dominating the Pacific Coast League in the early part of this season.
He is 2-0, striking out eight in 13 innings of work, and has not given up a run or walk yet this year. The University of Arkansas product was a seventh-round pick by Houston and has been working his way up through the system since 2009.
If Dallas keeps pitching this way, Houston will have no choice but to call him up to the majors.