Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/17/14

The Houston Astros continue to shed veteran players and General Manager Jeff Luhnow made one of his better trades in terms of prospect value, although none of the three players are A-level young stars. The additions of pitchers Rudy Owens and Colton Cain, as well as outfielder Robbie Grossman adds more depth to the rebuilding Astros and is more than a fair return for left-handed starter Wandy Rodriguez.

Owens has a modest ceiling and fits as more of a No. 4 starter; I ranked him as the 13th best prospect in the Pirates system entering 2012. The 24-year-old southpaw has spent the last two seasons at the triple-A level and made big strides this year, lowering his ERA from 5.05 to 3.14. He’s also cut his hits-allowed rate from 10.34 to 8.59 H/9. Owens could easily slide into the Astros’ starting rotation right now and pitch as well of better than Dallas Keuchel and/or Lucas Harrell.

Cain snuck onto the pre-season Top 15 prospects list at No. 15. The young left-hander shows decent stuff but he’s battled inconsistency as well as back problems. Selected out of a Texas high school in the eighth round of the 2009 amateur draft, he was given more than $1 million to forego his college commitment. Cain, 21, hasn’t been overly impressive in high-A ball in 2012. His ERA is 4.20 but his FIP currently sits at 4.85. He’s also struggled with the home run ball (1.20 HR/9) and his strikeout rate is just 6.12 K/9. Cain, though, is young and was a very desirable amateur just four years ago. He’s also a Texas native, which no doubt made him attractive to the Astros.

Grossman was one of my favorite Pirates prospects. I ranked him as the fifth best overall prospect in the system during the pre-season Top 15 prospects list, one spot ahead of Starling Marte. Grossman isn’t as flashy as his fellow outfield prospect but he has a better shot at having a decent big league career. He had a solid 2011 season and then a very impressive preformance in the Arizona Fall League but got off to a very slow start in 2012 and then hit the disabled list. He’s back now, though, and looking good with an OPS of more than .900 in both June and July while playing at the double-A level. He shows a little power and a little speed (although his base running needs a lot of polish) and gets on base at a very good clip thanks to a strong eye. The switch-hitter could be a decent platoon outfielder. Grossman turned down the University of Texas when he originally signed with Pittsburgh as a sixth round draft pick in 2008.

As mentioned, the three prospects are not necessary high-ceiling, A-level prospects but they each possess the potential to be solid big league contributors with Cain flashing the highest ceiling but he’s also the least likely to appear in a big league ball game. Both Owens and Grossman could play key roles with the organization in the next few years while holding down the fort for the next wave of (larger-impact) talent.

Breakout infield prospect Alen Hanson was originally rumored to be part of the deal but his inclusion would have definitely swung this trade into Houston’s favor. Entering 2012, I ranked him as the sleeper prospect in the Pirates system and he’s easily become one of the best 100 prospects in the minor leagues – something I can’t say about Owens, Cain or Grossman.


GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Phil Jackson to be fined for comments on college player

Rondo 'extremely unlikely' to re-sign with Mavericks

A-Rod: A con man returns to baseball

Report: Brock Lesnar has hit contract snag with WWE

MLB reportedly will try to show compassion to Josh Hamilton

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jon Gruden: Bears need to move on from Jay Cutler

Blue Jays OF tears meniscus in freak sprinkler accident

Death threats show why some fans take sports too seriously

Five bubble teams playing well heading into March

Falcons release Steven Jackson

Bill Walton has some words of advice for Derrick Rose

NASCAR driver's car stolen from hotel parking lot

WATCH: Herm Edwards breaks down infamous llama video

Rex Ryan has truck with Buffalo Bills paint scheme

WATCH: Sidney Crosby catches teammate's stick in mid-air

WATCH: Vanderbilt coach tells own player 'I'll f-ing kill you'

Are the Kings willing to trade DeMarcus Cousins?

Johan Santana signed by Blue Jays to minor league deal

Leafs trade David Clarkson to Blue Jackets For Nathan Horton

Panthers acquire Jaromir Jagr from Devils

Russell Westbrook is surging into the MVP conversation

HBO picks up The Rock’s football series, ‘Ballers’

The key offseason moves for every MLB team

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

A-Rod: A con man returns to baseball

Bostick death threats show why some fans take sports too seriously

Russell Westbrook is surging into the MVP conversation

Five-round NFL Mock Draft

Key offseason moves for every MLB team

Rousey, Arianny Celeste get into it

Dallas sportscaster back with another powerful essay

The parallels of Rose and Hardaway

Offseason breakdown for all 32 NFL teams

On Josh Hamilton's addiction and feeling alone

Judge rules against AP's suspension

Why the Lions should let Suh walk

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.