The Houston Astros are a team a few years away from competing and they know it. They’ve been picking near the top of the draft for a few years and they’re farm system is now loaded. Unfortunately, many of those players are still a year away from appearing in the Majors. Outfielder George Springer and former #1 overall pick, starter Mark Appel could both see time on the team at some point soon.
Here is the 2014 MLB season preview for the Houston Astros.
2013 Win/Loss Record: 51-111
Key Additions: SP Scott Feldman, OF Dexter Fowler, RP Jesse Crain, RP Matt Albers, RP Chad Qualls, SP Jerome Williams, RP Darin Downs, SP Alex White, 1B Jesus Guzman, SP Anthony Bass, RP Raul Valdes, SS Cesar Izturis & RP Peter Moylan
Key Losses: OF Brandon Barnes, SP Erik Bedard, SP Jordan Lyles, OF Trevor Crowe, 3B Brandon Laird, 2B Jake Elmore & OF Jimmy Paredes
Interleague Schedule: NL East + Arizona Diamondbacks
Projected Starters: Jason Castro, Jesus Guzman, Jose Altuve, Matt Dominguez, Jonathan Villar, Robbie Grossman, Dexter Fowler, L.J. Hoes & Chris Carter
Projected Starting Rotation: Scott Feldman, Brett Oberholtzer, Jerome Williams, Jarred Cosart & Brad Peacock
Closer: Jesse Crain
Fantasy Sleeper: 3B Matt Dominguez – I avoided picking any of the many Astros prospects that could see time in the Majors this season. Dominguez was a nice surprise on a very bad team last season. He isn’t much more than a third-string third baseman or a nice AL-only option, but there isn’t much to choose from on the Astros. I usually like good players on bad teams, since they fall in drafts. Dominguez is a guy you should keep an eye on and is most likely a streaming candidate. Also, keep an eye on Jonathan Singleton this Spring. He could make the Opening Day roster.
Prospects To Keep Your Eye On: OF George Springer – The Astros have a very good and deep farm system. That is what happens after you’ve been getting top draft picks year after year. Springer was three homers short of being baseball’s only 40/40 player. He split time between Double-A and Triple-A to amass those numbers. He’s MLB-ready, but Houston could delay bringing him up to keep him from Super-Two status (they get an extra year of team control). I have no doubt that he would be the best player on the team. He’s a guy you could draft and stash away. The other candidates are Jonathan Singleton, who was once a top prospect, but marijuana and alcohol issues have derailed his career. The other guys to keep an eye on are SP Mark Appel, SP/RP Asher Wojciechowski and top prospect SS Carlos Correa (who is still at least a year away…but you never know).
Team Analysis: Before last season, I predicted the 2013 Houston Astros would make a run at the modern day record for most losses in a season. They were a handful of losses short, but they really stunk up the joint. It was the perfect storm of a team switching leagues, joining arguably the best division in baseball and trying to rebuild through the draft. They were filled with a mix of Four-A players and young talent who could play their way into Houston’s future plans. SP Brett Oberholtzer, 3B Matt Dominguez and SS Jonathan Villar were big surprises. I expect even more from them this season. As far as the rest of the roster, it’s a crap shoot. Who knows what kind of production they will get from OF Dexter Fowler. Players have struggled after leaving Colorado in the past. SP Scott Feldman was Houston’s lone big ticket free agent. He’s a solid pitcher, but if he’s your #1 starter, your team isn’t going anywhere. I predict a few win improvement from last year, just because the minor league talent that could be called up. They are still a few years away from being competitive in a tough AL West. A 100-loss season is in their near future, but their long-term future is bright.
2014 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 63 (Prediction: UNDER)
2014 Projected Win/Loss Record: 60-102 (5th AL West)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.