2021-22 International Reviews: Houston Astros

The Astros have developed an impressive pipeline from Latin America over the years, particularly with lower bonuses, often “old” signings of players such as Luis Garcia, Frumber Valdes, Cristian Javier, Jose Urquidi and Inoli Paredes. This year’s Astros class relied heavily on eligible signing and Cuban players.

first in class

Outfielder Luis Baez is 18 and was eligible to sign the previous year, but the Astros made him their top signing for this year’s class that opened on January 15. He’s a strong, physically mature player at 6ft 3, 205lbs, producing some of the best raw energy in the class. Bayes must have at least extra power, as his top scouts also praise his ability to translate that power into game situations, with a right-handed swing and directed approach to pull the ball through the air. Bayes has an arm that gains 55 to 60 degrees of scouting, with navigation now where he can post average running times. That’s good enough for him to play on the right field now, although he’s likely to slow down considerably and, with some risk, could end up on first base depending on his physical development.

Names to know

Alberto Hernandez, SS, Cuba: Like Baez, Hernandez was also eligible to sign during his previous signing period, but he waited until January 15 of this year to sign with Houston. He’s 6-foot-1, 170 pounds and was a substitution hitter, although some scouts think he might end up hitting exclusively from the right side. He shows good control at bat and a strong awareness of strike zone against live throws, with mostly stinging power that can be gained as he gets stronger. He’s a 55-year-old runner whose hands work well on a short pit stop, and some scouts think he might overtake center and land on third base in the long run.

Kenny Gomez, Cuba: At 5 feet 11 and 185 pounds, Gomez is a plus runner who reads the ball well off the bat and makes good routes in midfield. He has a lower-than-average arm, with a body whose speed can drop, so some see him in left field. He’s a right-handed hitter with a flat path through the hitting zone, resulting in a high contact rate with some sneaky juice that could allow him to develop into over 20 hitters at home.

Samuel Capellan, SS, Dominican Republic: Capellan is one of the top athletes the Astros have signed this year. He’s a skinny 5ft 11, 155lbs with the extra speed and skills to stay short. Capellan showed signs of approaching the patient, but he would need to add more force to do more damage.

Carlos Espinosa, RHP, Cuba: At the age of 20, Espinosa is more advanced than the rest of the class, hitting the strike zone with a fast ball at speeds of up to 95 mph. He’s a potential starter throwing a wide variety of secondary pitches, leading a low slide into the mid-’80s, his best weapon. It also throws a mid-to-high 70s curve ball well as well as both change and split.

Rafael Ramirez, SS, Dominican Republic: Ramirez has a 6-foot-1, 185-pound average tire with a chance to develop into a power racket on the left side of the court. He drives the ball well now from the right side of the board, letting the power drop to grow to medium to extra power upon maturity. Ramirez has a chance to play a short role, but given his build, he could end up at third base, with arm strength at either point.

Axel de Paula, Dominican Republic: Di Paola is a center player with medium speed and arm strength. He’s 5 feet 10 175 pounds with a strength in his chassis that helps him drive the ball well for his age off the right side of the board.

Watch the sleeper

less reward jug, Raymond Rodriguez He is a Dominican right-wing man who has a lot of drop arrows pointing in the right direction. He’s young for his class, has more of a physical side left in his 6-foot-1 long-tailed wireframe and throws punches in the high section with a fastball that hits 91 mph and should climb higher. Rodriguez also shows a sense of spinning a hard ’70s curved ball.

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