Prospects In Person: Baez, first-rounder Matthews lead High-A Astros prospects

April 10, 2024

With Jacob Melton having graduated to Double-A late last season, that left plenty of room for some prospects in the lower levels of the Houston Astros organization to start making a name for themselves.

While none are on Joe Doyle’s Top 100 MLB Prospects list for FSS Plus with a largely threadbare system that’s been depleted by trades, you could find two of his top five on in the system in Asheville when they visited the Brooklyn Cyclones at Maimonides Park on Wednesday afternoon.

Luis Baez, OF (No. 5 Astros prospect)

Baez is fascinating in how his tools have varied based on his weight — he reportedly reached 240 pounds last year, but is currently listed at 225 — which has sapped his ability to remain in center field, but also added strength that may give him the best power upside in the system.

It’s a thicker frame that likely ends up at first base down the road, but the overall future is also likely dictated by what happens with the bat and if that pure power can continue to remain playable. He already has two homers in 24 plate appearances this season, and has 22 in his career over 501 trips to the plate.

Delivered an RBI single on Wednesday, and was robbed of a second hit by a diving catch in center field. As the approach continues to develop at just 20 years old and he settles down from a physical evolution standpoint, it’ll be very interesting to see exactly what the Astros have here. The clay, as they say, is certainly there.

Brice Matthews, SS (No. 3)

Well-rounded with plenty of tools to play with, Matthews was one of the darlings of last year’s Draft process, ultimately going at No. 28 to the Astros for a reported $2.48 million bonus. The former Nebraska standout was a two-sport star back in his Texas days — he was also an all-state quarterback — and has retained that athleticism, with speed you’ll see graded as high as a 60 likely serving as his best overall tool.

Make no mistake, however, Matthews broke out as an on-base machine with significant pop for his listed five-foot-ten, 190-pound frame in his junior year. P

ull-happy at times from the right side, the 22-year-old delivered with a single in which he was able to time up 96 on the inner half, as well as an RBI sac fly on Wednesday, and showed easy, athletic actions in the rare times he was tested at short; he played some second and a little bit of third for the ‘Huskers, but has exclusively been camped at 6 in pro ball thus far, and there’s no reason to think he can’t stick there.

Several others stood out on Wednesday as well. 2022 sixth-rounder Collin Price produced a four-hit day and mostly handled himself well behind the plate, while undersized reliever Franny Cobos, who got touched up for three runs later in his relief outing, had a whippy arm and was 91-93 out of the bullpen with some deception, albeit with what looks to be a max-effort delivery.

Mike Ashmore
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