A Minor Review of 2015: Houston Astros by Marc Hulet December 14, 2015 Welcome to the annual series: ‘A Minor (League) Review of 2015.” This series is a great way to receive a quick recap of the ’15 minor league season for your favorite club(s), while also receiving a brief look toward the 2016 season and beyond. It can also be a handy feature for fantasy baseball players in keeper and Dynasty leagues. A Minor Review of 2015: Houston Astros The Graduate: Carlos Correa, SS: The Astros recently traded another first overall pick (Mark Appel to the Phillies for young closer Ken Giles) but you won’t see them flipping Correa any time soon. The 21-year-old shortstop was an offensive force for the surprisingly-successful Astros in 2015. He was worth more than three wins for the club and slugged 22 home runs and adding 14 steals. He also showed an advanced approach at the plate and promise in the field. The Riser: A.J. Reed, 1B: The club recently parted ways with all-or-nothing slugger Chris Carter and that could open a door for Reed to seize the first base job in Houston at some point in 2016. The role won’t just be handed to him, though, and he’ll have to go through former top prospect Jonathan Singleton and maybe Luis Valbuena. A second-round pick of the Astros in 2014, the first-base prospect has already reached Double-A and slugged 34 home runs last year. He’s shown an ability to hit for a high average despite striking out a lot. Reed has a decent chance to develop into an impact hitter in Houston. The Tumbler: Teoscar Hernandez, OF: Hernandez, who signed in 2011, started to make a name for himself as a prospect to be taken seriously in 2014 when he slugged 21 home runs and stole 33 bases. However, that breakout took place in the potent California League. As a result, analysts and scouts are wary of those potentially being one-year outliers and Hernandez did himself no favors by following up that campaign with a dud at the Double-A level in ’15. Hernandez even passed through the Rule 5 draft recently and went unclaimed. Working in his favor, though, is that he has the raw tools to actually be a 20-20 man in the Majors with a little more polish. The ’15 Draft Pick: Alex Bregman, SS: Holding the second overall pick, Houston basically knew it was going to get a talented college shortstop with either Bregman or Dansby Swanson (who has already been traded by Arizona to Atlanta in the Shelby Miller deal). Bregman had a nice debut in A-ball, although he also spent a good portion of his first season in pro ball in the offence-boosting California League. The 21-year-old infielder is no doubt on the fast-track and a strong spring showing might even earn him an assignment to Double-A to open the 2016 season. With Carlos Correa entrenched at shortstop in Houston, though, Bregman will likely relocate to another position, such as third base. The Lottery Ticket: Jonathan Arauz, SS: When outfield prospect Derek Fisher (allegedly) failed a physical during trade negotiations with the Philadelphia Phillies it may have been a blessing in disguise. He was replaced in the deal by pitcher Mark Appel (and Harold Arauz) and the Phillies, in turn, added the young shortstop to the deal. A 2014 large bonus international free agent signee, the 17-year-old Arauz jumped right to North America for his first pro season in ’15 and showed an advanced approach and solid tools. The Astros system is now loaded with premium shortstop prospects.