Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (17) | 2011 (26) | 2010 (30) | 2009 (30) | 2008 (29)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [55-107] NL Central (AL West beginning 2013)
AAA: [78-65] Pacific Coast League – Oklahoma City
AA: [81-59] Texas League — Corpus Christi
A+: [74-66] California League – Lancaster
A: [69-69] South Atlantic League – Lexington (Quad Cities of MWL beginning 2013)
A(ss): [15-25] New York-Penn League — Tri-City

Arizona Fall League PlayersMesa Solar Sox
Jarred Cosart (RHP); Chia-Jen Lo (RHP); Alex Sogard (LHP); Nick Tropeano (RHP); Jiovanni Mier (3B); Jonathan Singleton (1B); George Springer (OF)

Graduated Prospects
Marwin Gonzalez (SS); Matt Dominguez (3B); Lucas Harrell (RHP); Dallas Keuchel (LHP); Rhiner Cruz (RHP); Fernando Abad (LHP)

The Run Down
Jeff Luhnow is so flippin’ awesome.  I cannot stress this enough.  In little more than a year at the helm of the Astros, he’s turned the organization into one of the most fascinating franchises in the sport.  Obviously, they’re not among the better ball clubs — not at the MLB level, at least — but by surrounding himself with baseball bloggers and NASA engineers, Luhnow has created an environment that celebrates new ideas and is well ahead of the curve in terms of analytics.  Houston had a few nice prospects in place when he arrived, but the system as a whole was shallow and weak.  Luhnow spent his first year cutting big league payroll, adding depth to the farm via trade, and spending big in the draft.  I imagine more of the same is in store for 2013, so expect another sub-60 win season as Houston joins the AL West.  It might be a few years before they’re competitive again, the Astros are transforming much more quickly than I thought was possible.  They’re building cost-controlled depth, and waves of promising prospects are set to arrive in Houston beginning this year.  So even if Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio aren’t voted into the HOF this afternoon, Astros fans can sleep soundly.  The future is bright, indeed, for Houston.

Top Ten Prospects
1.  Carlos Correa, SS:
  The No. 1 overall pick last June, Correa is overflowing with tools.  He projects for plus power, plus hitting, plus speed, and folks tend to think that he has the arm, hands, and range necessary to stick at shortstop.  He’s a Manny Machado-like prospect and he should reach full-season ball in 2013, on track MLB arrival in 2015 if things go well.  With his skill-set, it’s difficult to imagine things not going smoothly, but keep in mind that Correa won’t turn 19 ’til late September — a rough month or two early in the season wouldn’t be too concerning.  ETA:  2015

2.  Jonathan Singleton, 1B:  Singleton broke out in 2011 after being traded from Philly to Houston.  He posted an OPS north of .900 at High-A Lancaster after the swap, but many folks attributed the statistical spike to the hitter-friendly environment of the California League.  The 21-year-old squashed that skepticism in 2012, however, hitting .284/.396/.497 with 52 XBH (21 HR) in 555 PA at Double-A Corpus Christi.  He’s ready for the bigs now, but the Astros  are in no rush to start his clock, so don’t expect to see him in Houston before June.  ETA:  2013

3.  Delino DeShields, 2B:  If it hadn’t been for Billy Hamilton’s preposterous year on the base paths, DeShields’s year would’ve garnered quite a bit more attention.  The 20-year-old stole 101 bags and cracked 12 homers in 2012 — the first player in MiLB history to post triple-digit steals and double-digit long balls.  He’ll should start 2013 in Lancaster where he’ll offer exciting offensive numbers across the board.  Expect another huge year from DeShields.  ETA:  2015

4.  George Springer, OF:  Whereas Singleton’s impressive production persisted after moving past High-A, Springer’s did quite the opposite.  After hitting .316/.398/.557 through 500 PA at Lancaster, the 23-year-old was promoted to Double-A and was thoroughly exposed:  .219/.288/.342 in an 81 PA stint with Corpus Christi.  Springer will return to the Texas League this year, where the toolsy outfielder will hope to rediscover his Cali League form.  ETA:  2014

5.  Lance McCullers, RHP:  Houston took McCullers with the 41st overall pick in June and inked him with a bonus worth $2.5 million.  The 19-year-old features fastball and curve, both of which project as plus offerings.  His changeup, however, is lagging behind at the moment.  There are delivery concerns, and some wonder if McCullers will end up in a late-inning role, but there’s ample time for him to round out his repertoire and improve mechanics.  ETA:  2016

6.  Jarred Cosart, RHP:  Many baseball folks see Cosart as a high-leverage reliever, but the Astros are content to keep him in a starter’s role for now.  At 6-3, 180, the 22-year-old generates heat in the mid-to-upper-90s, but mechanical shortcomings have resulted in inconsistent production.  Cosart will look to steady his command at Triple-A, before joining the Astros at some point in 2013 — for fantasy’s sake, let’s hope that’s as a starter.  ETA:  2013

7.  Mike Foltynewicz, RHP:  Where McCullers and Cosart are weak, Foltynewicz is strong.  The same is true, vice versa, so in essence, what the Astros have here is a durable/plus command/smooth delivery/so-so stuff  kind of guy.  That all adds up to a mid-rotation, innings eater profile.  The 21-year-old is coming off a nice year at Low-A, and there’s been talk of skipping High-A and heading to Corpus Christi out of camp.  ETA:  2014

8.  Domingo Santana, OF:  No doubt a beneficiary of the hitter-friendly California League,  Santana posted a line at .302/.385/.536 with 55 XBH (23 HR) in 525 PA at Lancaster in 2012.  The big-swinging 20-year-old is prone to the whiff, and also to some cold stretches, but if he continues to impress as he moves into the upper levels, he’ll move up prospect boards in a hurry.  ETA:  2014

9.  Rio Ruiz, 3B:  A seemingly firm commitment to play ball at USC, as well as some health concerns caused Ruiz to slip to the fourth round of the draft last June.  That’s where Houston happily nabbed the 18-year-old and talked him out of college — $1.85 million can be very persuasive.  By all accounts, Ruiz figures to develop into a plus hitter with good pop and enough athleticism to stick at third, but many around baseball are weary of the health risk.  There’s a long way to go here, but the upside is real.  ETA:  2016

10. Nick Tropeano, RHP:  In 158 IP between Low- and High-A in 2012, Tropeano posted a 3.02 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP, and a K/9 at 9.5.  At 6-4, 205, his frame profiles well, and with a bit more seasoning, he could have a nice four-pitch arsenal too.  For now, Tropeano works primarily as a fastball-changeup guy, but his splitter and slider are progressing.  He’ll move up to Double-A in 2013, putting him on track for 2014 arrival.  ETA:  2014

  1. Great article. The ranking of 17th includes the major league talent, right? That would lead me to guess that the minor league ranking is much higher. Can you speculate on where the Astros rank minor league only?

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
      (link)

      Thanks! BA’s org rankings only evaluate prospect-eligible players, but the #17 ranking you see above was released pre-2012. I don’t have my hands on the new BA handbook just yet (should be coming soon!), but my guess is with all of the improvements over the last year, Houston will be somewhere in the 5-10 range… wouldn’t surprise me if they were ranked better than that, though.

  2. Thanks! I’m excited to see where they rank with all of Luhnow’s great work. Glad to see other people recognize the innovative work he is doing.

    • thefaketom says:
      (link)

      @Scott Evans: you’d think guys would get the hint after their first positive test.

      • Scott Evans

        Scott Evans says:
        (link)

        Exactly. You don’t see a lot of suspensions involving pot for that very reason. Now he takes a 50 game hit, and it’s reasonable to assume that he’d be making MLB minimum for a decent chunk of those games… lotta money, lotta valuable time down the drain.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
      (link)

      At his draft, Snoop Dogg’s gonna stash him anyway…

      • Scott Evans

        Scott Evans says:
        (link)

        Ha! The whole idea of Snoop in a roto league is hilarious …

        Snoop: [rips blunt] Wit da #1 pick, I take Tim Lincecum [exhales HUGE cloud]

  3. Inge would be a good invite to camp for these guys….

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
      (link)

      I think they’ll be content to roll with Matt Dominguez at third, but wouldn’t surprise if they added depth with a veteran like Inge. A little competition for the 3B job in camp might accelerate Dominguez’s development too.

  4. YoMommaSoUggla says:
    (link)

    As a resident St. Louis Cardinals fan, I cannot possibly communicate how flippin’ much I already miss the flippin’ awesome Jeff Luhnow…..

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
      (link)

      Word. He left his protege in STL, though… Assistant GM Mike Girsch is pretty flippin’ awesome in his own right, but I have to assume he’ll be getting a GM job elsewhere before long. Mozeliak is a super-savvy dude too. It’s amazing how many brilliant baseball folks were employed by the Cardinals as recently as 2011. Guess that explains why they have a World Series contender at the MLB level AND baseball’s best farm system. Swoon…

  5. scooter jacobsen says:
    (link)

    They only test for pot at the Minor League level…but not in the Majors. So lay off the pipe until you are in the Show.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
      (link)

      Another incentive to rush to the bigs as quickly as possible.

Comments are closed.