HOUSTON -- Led by 20-year-old shortstop Carlos Correa, who's No. 3 overall on MLB.com's list of Top 100 Prospects, the Astros have four ranked among the top 100, tying them for the ninth most among 30 teams.
Correa, the former No. 1 overall pick who broke his right ankle midway through last season, is ranked behind outfielder Byron Buxton of the Twins and third baseman Kris Bryant of the Cubs. Other Astros in the Top 100 are pitcher Mark Appel (No. 30), outfielder Domingo Santana (No. 71) and right-hander Vincent Velasquez (No. 86).
The annual ranking of baseball's Top 100 Prospects is assembled by MLBPipeline.com Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. The list, which is one of several prospect rankings on MLBPipeline.com's Prospect Watch, only includes players with rookie status in 2015. Team-by-team Top 30 Prospects lists for 2015 will be unveiled in March.
Prior to getting hurt last year, Correa hit .325 with six homers and 57 RBIs in 62 games at Lancaster, with an on-base percentage of .416 and an OPS of .926. He was about to be promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi at the time of the injury and will likely open the 2015 season there.
Appel, the top pick in the 2013 Draft, went 1-2 with a 3.69 ERA in seven games (six starts) for Double-A Corpus Christi last season after posting a 9.74 ERA in 12 starts at Lancaster, where he struggled to pitch every fifth day in a hitter's environment. He finished strong in the Arizona Fall League with a 2.61 ERA, a 24:8 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a .167 opponent average in 31 innings.
It's likely Appel, 23, could begin the season at Triple-A Fresno, setting him up to get the call to Houston at some point this year.
Santana, 22, made his Major League debut last year and struggled mightily, going 0-for-17 with 14 strikeouts. That went against the solid numbers he put up at Triple-A last year, hitting .296 with 16 homers and 81 RBIs in 120 games.
Velasquez, 22, missed two months last season with a strained groin and all of the 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. When healthy, he had a nice year at Class A Advanced Lancaster, going 7-4 with a 3.74 ERA in 15 games (10 starts), and he was 2-2 with a 6.59 ERA in five games (four starts) in the Arizona Fall League before suffering a minor lat strain.