Houston Astros Blockbuster Trade Hauls: How Will the New Hitters Do
In the span of a calendar year, the Houston Astros traded the four best position players and the best pitcher in franchise history. The primary reason was to cut payroll.
Jim Crane and associates are due to take over the team pending MLB approval. They made their wishes known that they wanted the 2012 payroll to come in around $60 million. The obvious caveat was that they weren't going to compete anyway, so they might as well prepare for the future.
Now that the minor league season is over, it's time to check in on the hitters they got for these five players. They will be ranked in order of which ones are more than likely to experience long-term success.
No. 6 Jimmy Paredes
The Astros acquired Jimmy Paredes as one of the principal pieces in the Lance Berkman deal in 2010. He is currently playing third base in Houston, but the numbers may be a bit deceiving.
He hadn't played above Double-A prior to his call-up, and the numbers are mixed to say the least. He stole 29 bases for Corpus Christi and hit at a decent clip (.270), but the peripheral numbers are just a little scary.
He struck out in 20.6 percent of his plate appearances but walked in only 3.7 percent of his plate appearances. He is only 22 and has experience in the middle infield as well as third base. There is some hope that he can be productive, but his minor league career is littered with similar strikeout to walk ratios.
He homered in 17.2 percent of his fly balls. That could be promising as he never showed that kind of power before last season. However, odds are that he might pull a Chris Johnson in 2012. Still, he is young enough to adjust.
No. 5 Brett Wallace
Brett Wallace was touted as a hitting machine when the Astros flipped Anthony Gose for him. He technically isn't part of the Roy Oswalt trade, but most people will associate him with that trade.
Wallace improved some in 2011. He's currently hitting .266 and is making better contact than he did a year ago. His strikeout rate went down to 23.6 percent and his walk rate improved to 9.7 percent. Unfortunately, his power disappeared, and it didn't reappear in a recent trip back to Oklahoma City.
Supposedly, the Astros wanted him to focus on contact this season, so it is possible he will steadily add the power we saw in the minors. Yet, that power isn't as impressive as we might think. They can hope for another year of growth, but he is likely keeping the spot warm for Jonathan Singleton.
No. 4 Jonathan Villar
Jonathan Villar was the prize of the Roy Oswalt trade. He is still only 20 years old and already made it to Double-A Corpus Christi. The good news is that he developed some power this season.
He homered in 16.1 percent of his fly balls. He also saw an increase in his walk rate (9.5 percent). Unfortunately, his batting average took a big hit when he moved to Corpus. He hit .237 overall between Lancaster and Corpus Christi. He is still only 20 years old.
He likely will begin the 2012 campaign in Corpus again, and we can expect some improvement. If he grows at the same rate as he did this season, he will become a viable candidate for the shortstop job.
No. 3 Jordan Schafer
In 2008, Michael Bourn hit .229, stole 41 bases and had a strikeout-to-walk ratio higher than 3-to-1. He was 25 at the time. Schafer is only 24 and already producing better numbers than that.
He only strikes out in 19.6 percent of his plate appearances and already walks at a better rate than Bourn did back then. Neither of them have any power to speak of and both rely on their speed.
If you translated Schafer's numbers to a full season, he would have around 40 steals. Of course, Schafer needs to grow before he can equal the 2011 Bourn. Then again, they got Schafer AND three pitchers, so the deal may not be as bad as we thought.
No. 2 Domingo Santana
He was the player to be named later in the Hunter Pence deal. Baseball America rated him as the Phillies No. 9 prospect. Santana right now is more potential than reality, but he is also only 19 years old.
He went to Lexington and proceeded to go nuts. He added five home runs and hit nearly .400 in about a month's time. Scouts expect him to gain more power as he grows into his body. At the moment, he is a batting practice marvel.
Next season, he will likely be promoted to Lancaster where he could put up some huge numbers. He has a 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. That might derail any kind of a big league career he may have, but he has legitimate 30-home run potential.
2013 or 2014 could be his time.
No. 1 Jonathan Singleton
For an Ed Wade run operation, Singleton sticks out like a sore thumb. He actually brings plate discipline to the table in addition to raw power.
Some will be disappointed in his 2011 output, but he is only 19 years old and is ready for Double-A next season. He still homered in 11.3 percent of his fly balls. Most expect him to grow into his body and produce as many as 30 home runs per season.
Even if he doesn't develop to that level, he can play first or left field and projects to be one of those 100 walks per season players the Astros haven't had since Lance Berkman left town. Expect him to arrive in Houston in 2013.