by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Houston Astros have proven willing to be aggressive with their prospects in the past, so seeing anyone thrive at Double-A means that they are going to be on radars. The fact that he is already on the 40-man roster makes the move that much easier to envision. Given the struggles that Houston has endured thus far, with their starters owning a 4.92 ERA entering play on Monday (fifth highest in the league), change has got to be looming.
One of the options could be promoting Joe Musgrove, a 23-year old former supplemental first round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays, who has opened the year at Double-A. Through his first four appearances (3 starts) all he’s done is pitch to a 0.52 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 21 K and 2 BB over 17.1 IP (he was one the mound yesterday, firing another 6.0 shutout innings). Is he that good? Obviously not, but ranked #8 on our Preseason Astros Top 10 prospect list (click here to view) there obviously is upside.
He’s shown both strikeouts (8.4 K/9) and control (1.1 BB/9) throughout his minor league career (264.1 IP). He’s also shown an ability to generate groundballs (1.37 GO/AO for his career), giving him the potential to bring the entire package that we look for.
MLB.com echoed that sentiment in this scouting report:
“Musgrove’s outstanding control is more impressive than any of his individual pitches. He has a clean delivery and repeats it at will, allowing him to pound the bottom of the strike zone. His stuff isn’t bad either: his 90-95 mph fastball plays up because of its life and command, his curveball is solid second pitch and both his slider and changeup qualify as average.”
Listed at 6’5” and 265 lbs. he certainly has the size that teams look for. It’s possible that the strikeouts don’t quite translate to the Majors, as his pinpoint control has likely allowed the number to play up against lesser competition. That said, given his ability in the other areas all he really needs is to be in the 7.0ish range to have success. Given his stuff, that isn’t much of a stretch.
The other major question is how many innings the Astros will allow him to throw this season, having never eclipsed 100.2 in a season before. That could be the biggest obstacle, as the team may not allow him to reach 150 in ’16.
The Astros need a boost and Musgrove brings enough to think that he could step in and help the rotation. Maybe he’s not more than a mid-rotation option long-term, but there’s definitely reason to believe that he can find success.
Current Grade – B-
Sources – MLB.com, MILB.com, Baseball Reference
Make sure to check out all of our Team Top 10 Prospect Lists: