Houston AstrosOur expert from ScoutPRO.com,Shawn Childs, helps you prepare for your big fantasy baseball draft.
Houston Astros Team Projection
If you are looking for detailed fantasy baseball player profiles of the Houston Astros starting rotation and bullpen, you have come to the right place.
1. SP Scott Feldman
You know is it going to be a long year for the Astros when I can't find a better option as an ace than Feldman. He pitched real well for the Cubs over 15 starts (3.46 ERA). Scott had decent command (2.8) in 2013, but his K rate (6.5) remains short. Feldman allowed 3 runs or less in 11 of his 15 starts with Baltimore, but was racked 3 times (20 runs and 28 base runners in 12.3 innings) which led to a weaker ERA (4.27) in the AL. His AFB (89.9) was almost 2 mph lower than his previous season. Scott throws a cutter as his #2 pitch, followed by a curveball and a show me split-finger fastball. Surprisingly, both RH (.233) and LH (.235) batters had a tough time hitting him. This year, he is destined to have an ERA over 4.50. Feldman has pitched poorly as starter in 3 of 5 seasons. His low first pitch strike % (56) isn't a good sign for 2014. Avoid at all costs.
2. SP Jarred Cosart
Cosart has a live arm, but his lack of command (5.3 in the majors and 4.8 at AAA) really restricts his upside. Last year, he finished with a nice 1.95 ERA in 10 starts with Houston, but had a massive 85.9 LOB %. He allowed 2 runs or less in 8 of his 10 starts with the Astros. Jarred walked 5 batters or more 4 times and only struck out more than 4 batters once. Cosart walked 16 right hand batters in 84 at bats, while only striking out 5. Lefties had a tough time hitting him (.176), but Jarred struggled with his command against them as well (19 walks in 125 at bats). HIs AFB (94.5) is plenty strong enough to get major league batters out, but his only other plus pitch is a curveball. He does throw a changeup, but it lacks upside at this point of his career. Cosart was a high GB pitcher (54.5%) during his first season, which probably helped him get out of some jams. He has a 3.58 ERA in the minors with 388 K's in 447.7 innings. Jarred is a very dangerous pitcher in 2014. He has an upside arm, but his command and his lack of a 3rd pitch will lead to downside this year. His arm may have more value in the 9th inning.
3. SP Brett Oberholtzer
I hate it when I see results in the majors by these types of pitchers. Oberholtzer wasn't anything special at AAA last season (4.37 ERA) and wasn't any better in the previous season at AA and AAA (4.37). Somehow he managed to post a 2.76 ERA in the majors. A fantasy player that does his research will look at this type of pitcher and stay clear of him on the waiver wire, but those what have you done for me lately players will grab him after 1 good outing. He rewarded those players with 71.7 good innings in ERA and WHIP. Oberholtzer pitched 14 shutout innings in his first 2 starts in the majors with 8 K's. He allowed 3 runs or less in 8 of his 10 starts. His command (1.6) was very good, but he had a weak K rate (5.7). Brett had a higher K rate (7.6) during his minor league career. He threw a very high % of first pitch strikes (66%) with Houston, which was a very big reason for his success. Righties had a tough time hitting him (.219), which is a positive sign going forward. His AFB (90.4) isn't anything special and his # 2 pitch is a changeup (followed by a curveball). Oberholtzer clearly overachieved last season. He has a decent arm, but his minor league resume says his ERA will fall over 4.00 over a full season. His command gives him upside if he can keep the ball down in the zone and his K rate may rise with more major league experience.
4. SP Brad Peacock
Peacock pitched very well in the minors in 2011 (15-3 with 2.39 ERA), which led to a trade to Oakland in 2012. In 2012, he never had a chance at pitching with the A's. He struggled all season long at AAA (6.01 ERA). His poor season led him to being traded to the Astros. Last year, he had an nice bounce back season at AAA (2.73 ERA), but struggled in the majors in April (9.41 ERA). When Houston called him back up in August, he flashed the upside that we saw at AAA. Brad had a 10 K game against the Twins on August 4th. He allowed 3 runs or less in 7 of his last 9 starts. Peacock had a 3.64 ERA over the last 2 months with 54 K's in 54.3 innings. He pitched very well against righties all season (.184), but struggled with lefties (.286 with a .538 SLG %). His AFB was 92.6 last season. Furthermore, his 2nd best pitch is a curveball, followed by a slider and changeup. Brad has a career 4.16 ERA in the minors and questionable command (3.2 in the minors and 4.1 in the majors). He needs to find a way to get LH batters out. He made progress late in the year, so he should have a decent shot at making the starting rotation for the Astros in 2014. Low upside player with HR problems.
5. SP Asher Wojciechowski
Good luck pronouncing this guys name. Asher has pitched well in 2 straight seasons in the minors for Houston where he has moved up a level each year. Wojciechowski has a career 3.58 ERA in the minors with 348 K's in 439.3 innings. His command (2.5) has been solid, but it did take a step back at AAA (3.0) last year. His K rate (7.1) falls on the short side. Overall, his upside looks limited and he is an older prospect. Houston doesn't have many great arms that are major league ready, so Wojciechowski may get a shot in the starting rotation at some point during the season.
6. SP Mark Appel
Appel was the #1 overall pick in the 2013 MLB amateur draft. Mark went 28-13 during his college career at Stanford with 369 K's in 371 innings. His walk rate was 1.9 during his senior season (also struck out 11 batters per nine innings). Appel has a mid 90's fastball with more upside. Additionally, he throws a plus slider and a developing changeup. Mark wasn't electric in his 38 minor league innings in 2013. His command (2.1) was very good, but his K rate (7.4) fell short of expectations. For the entire year, he threw 144.3 innings. Appel has an upside arm and may make the majors at some point this year.
7. SP Lucas Harrell
2013 was a tough year for Harrell. He led the AL in losses and walks, while his lack of command (5.2) led to a career low K rate (5.2). Lucas had surprising success in 2012 due to the best command (3.6) in his career. He has a career 3.65 ERA in the minors with a 55-43 record. Harrell has always had poor command with a low strike out rate. His AFB (91.9) was less than his 2012 season. Lucas throws a cutter, curveball, and changeup about the same % of time. Last year, he showed some life in June (3.22 ERA). His success was due to a low walk rate (10 in 36.3 innings), which led to a 7.2 K rate. In May, Harrell had 21 walks and 11 K's. Over the last 3 months of the year, he had 41 walks and 25 K's. He has no fantasy value and Lucas has a slim shot at earning a shot at starting in the majors.
8. CL Jesse Crain
Crain has spent his enitre major league career pitching as a set up man. He has 4 career saves in 532 major league appearances. Over the past 3 seasons, his skill set has improved, which has led to a higher K rate (11.3 - career). His command (2.7) made a step forward in 2013 after being short over the previous 5 years. Last year, his season was cut short due to a shoulder injury. He didn't have surgery in the offseason, so Jesse may still have an underlying issue. He signed a 1-year deal with Houston in December. Crain has the most major league experience in the bullpen and his skill set looked closer worthy last year. He did struggle a bit with lefties (.275) in 2013, but Jesse handled them well in the previous 2 seasons (.232 in 2012 and .184 in 2011). His AFB (94.5) remains strong. His 2nd best pitch is a slider, followed by a curveball and a show me changeup. If he is healthy this season, I believe the closer job in Houston is his to lose. Crain now needs to prove he can pitch in the 9th inning.
9. RP Josh Fields
Fields did enough last season to show he really isn't ready to be a major league closer. He allowed 8 HR's in 38 innings. His command (4.3) was terrible and he had a brutal first pitch strike % (51%). Furthermore, he struggled to strikeout LH batters (10 K's in 61 at bats) plus lefties had a .541 SLG % against him. His AFB was 93.7 in 2013. Josh throws a curveball as his #2 pitch, followed by a show me changeup. It's tough to trust a pitcher in the 9th inning that can't get ahead of batters and allows plus HR's. Fields may improve this year, but his slow path to the majors and his poor success rate in 2013 suggests he is meant to be a set up man in the big leagues.
10. RP Nick Tropeano
Tropeano didn't pitch as well at AA (4.11) as he did the previous year (3.02). His command (2.6) was slightly improved, while his K rate (8.8) has been less as he moved up to High A and AA. His fastball can reach the mid 90"s and he has a plus changeup. Nick also throws a decent split-finger fastball, but his slider lacks value at this point of his career. Last year, he had 5 saves, so maybe he could be a dark horse to be a closer down the road. Tropeano should start the year at AAA and has a very good chance of making it to the majors at some point in 2014.