Located in New York’s Capital District are the Tri-City ValleyCats, the Class A Short-Season affiliate of the Houston Astros. Many of Houston’s best prospects have come through Joseph L. Bruno Stadium over the years and many others will wear the ValleyCats jersey on their journey to the major leagues.
Needing no introduction, the 2015 American League Cy Young Winner was a member of the 2009 ValleyCats.
Jose Altuve, 2B
A 3-Time Major League All-Star, Altuve had a brief stay in Troy during the 2009 season.
Hunter Pence, OF
The winner of two World Series rings with the San Francisco Giants, he was also part of the ValleyCats 2004 Stedler Division Championship team. He was a solid offensive threat that season batting .296, with eight home runs and 37 runs batted in.
Ben Zobrist, INF
Zobrist has carved a niche in the major leagues as a super utility man, but spent the 2004 season in Troy, where he was teammates with Hunter Pence.
Bud Norris, P
Norris spent the 2006 season as a ValleyCat, where he was part of the Stedler Division Championship team. Pitching mainly out of the bullpen, he struck out 46 batters in 38 innings of work.
Preston Tucker, OF
Tucker was an offensive force and an important cog of the 2012 Stedler Division Championship team. He led the team with 8 home runs and batted to a slash of .321/.390/.509.
J.D. Martinez, OF
The power hitting outfielder called Joseph L. Bruno Stadium his home for the 2009 season. Martinez was an offensive leader on that team, hitting .326 with seven home runs and 33 runs batted in.
In total, 39 former Tri-City ValleyCats have gone on to make MLB debuts (click here for the full list). The Astros have had a very productive farm system in recent years and the trend appears that it’s going to continue. What players are going to be part of the next crop of former ValleyCats that go on to the majors? Here are a few players to keep an eye on going forward.
A.J. Reed, 1B
Reed is currently ranked as the 5th best prospect in the Astros system and for good reason. He finished the 2015 campaign as a runner-up for the MiLB Player of the Year award. Reed spent part of the 2014 season in Tri-City.
Joe Musgrove has the look of a pitcher. He’s big, strong and has the makings of major league repertoire. MLB Prospect Watch has him ranked as the 9th best prospect in Houston’s system. Musgrove spent 2014 in Troy, where he was a fan favorite.
J.D. Davis, 3B
Another member of the 2014 team, Davis has the potential to rise through the ranks quickly. With his solid batting and strong plate recognition, he very well could be the future third baseman of the Astros.
The ValleyCats have had some tremendous players come through Joseph L. Bruno Stadium throughout the years. If you’re in the Capital District during the summer, bring your family out to the ballpark for some great, affordable entertainment. You just never know when you will see a future major leaguer.