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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (9) | 2012 (17) | 2011 (26) | 2010 (30) | 2009 (30)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB: [51-111] AL West
AAA: [82-62] Pacific Coast League – Oklahoma City
AA: [83-57] Texas League — Corpus Christi
A+: [82-58] California League – Lancaster
A: [81-57] Midwest League – Quad Cities
A(ss): [44-32] New York-Penn League — Tri-City

Graduated Prospects
Jonathan Villar (SS); Robbie Grossman (OF); Brandon Barnes (OF); L.J. Hoes (OF); Marc Krauss (OF); Jake Elmore (MI/OF); Brad Peacock (RHP); Paul Clemens (RHP); Brett Oberholtzer (LHP); Jarred Cosart (RHP); Jose Cisnero (RHP)

The Run Down
Jeff Luhnow, General Manager of the Houston Astros, is the best executive in the game with regard to player procurement and development.   He’s the man responsible for the seemingly never-ending stream of talent flowing up from the St. Louis farm system, and you can sure as shizz expect to see similar output from this Houston org over the next several seasons.  The fantasy-relevant arrivals actually began last summer, with prospects like Jonathan Villar (be sure to read Sky’s outlook) and Jarred Cosart.  Look for the impact to ramp up in 2014 as George Springer, Mark Appel, and Jonathan Signleton are all set for big league debut.

Top Ten Fantasy Prospects
1.  Carlos Correa, SS:  2012’s #1 overall pick made his full-season debut in 2013, and things went quite well:  .320/.405/.467, 45 XBH (9 HR), and 10 SB through 519 PA at Low-A Quad Cities (home of MiLB’s most iconic ballpark).  Think of him as a younger younger version of Xander Bogaerts, bringing impact potential in AVG, OBP, and HR from the shortstop position.  Correa is likely to begin the year at Lancaster, but he should reach the upper-levels by mid-season, on track for arrival sometime next year.  ETA:  2015

2.  George Springer, OF:  Springer came in at #8 in my top 25 for 2014, and I had this to say about the 24-year-old slugger:  “Springer is ready to start posting 30+ HR seasons at the highest level, and he’s perfectly capable of stealing 20+ bags, too.  If this were mid-March, and news from Astros camp was that Springer would break camp with the big club, then he’s #4 on this list.  For now, I’m thinking Houston, being sensitive to service time, will keep him in the minors until June.”  For more on Springer, here’s Grey’s outlook.  ETA:  2014

3.  Mark Appel, RHP:  I slotted Appel at #21 in the aforementioned top 25.  Like Springer, he’s ready to compete at the highest level now, but Houston will favor service time and give him a few months in the upper levels of the minor leagues before calling him up.  Appel has a hyped up name thanks to his #1 overall status in the 2013 draft, and he’s an extremely safe bet to develop into a quality fantasy starter in the near future, but his potential impact isn’t on the same level as similarly touted arms like Archie Bradley or Taijuan Walker or Jonathan Gray.  It’s important to keep that in mind while drafting in dynasty formats.  ETA:  2014

4.  Jonathan Singleton, 1B:  #26 in my top 50 for 2014, read my Jonathan Singleton fantasy here, and Grey’s here.  ETA:  2014

5.  Mike Foltynewicz, RHP:  Foltynewicz might actually bring a tick more upside than Appel, but he’s nowhere near as safe.  The 22-year-old brings a HUGE fastball and a front-end starter’s frame, but his secondary stuff needs to take form if he’s going to develop into that role.  For upside’s sake, I slotted Folty at #34 in my top 50 for 2014, but Houston could opt to take their time with him to allow the off-speed stuff to progress.  ETA:  2014

6.  Delino DeShields, 2B/OF:  After stealing 101 bases and knocking 10 homers in 2012, DeShields entered 2013 with enormous expectations, but his line at Lancaster (.317/.405/.468, 44 XBH (5 HR), and 51 SB in 534 PA) failed to meet the hype, and his stock has suffered because of it.  The 21-year-old will begin the transition from 2B to OF in 2014 at Double-A, which further damages the fantasy outlook, but for as long as he continues to hit and reach base, there’s 50+ SB upside here, and that kind of impact is tough to ignore.  ETA:  2015

7.  Rio Ruiz, 3B:  In his first year of full-season ball, Ruiz batted .260/.335/.430 with 46 XBH (12 HR) through 472 PA at Low-A Quad Cities — an impressive debut for the 19-year-old, who projects to post above-average marks in both power and average.  Ruiz will step up to High-A Lancaster in 2014, where he’s a prime candidate for a breakout season amid the hitter-friendly environment of the California league.  ETA:  2016

8.  Lance McCullers, RHP:  After an impressive full-season debut (3.18/1.35/117 in 104 IP), the expectations are high for McCullers, who features a filthy fastball-curve combo.  There’s big time upside here in the whiff department, but the 20-year-old still has a long way to go with command.  His changeup also has significant room for improvement.  ETA:  2016

9.  Vincent Velasquez, RHP:  It’s really a coin toss when deciding between McCullers and Velasquez, but the former is a year younger, and his stuff brings a smidge more upside, so he gets the nod on my list.  Velasquez, age 21, posted a line at 3.54/1.16/142 through 142 IP between Low-A and High-A in 2013.  He’s a fastball-changeup guy, and he’s been efficient thus far, but I expect a drag on the numbers in 2014, as he prepares for a season split between the California League and the Texas League.  ETA:  2016

10.  Domingo Santana, OF:  Santana brings a donkey-ish profile, projecting to help big time in HR and RBI, but not so much in AVG.  In a full season at Double-A Corpus Christi in 2013, the 21-year-old drilled 50 XBH (25 HR).  He’ll step up to Triple-A to begin 2014, and he should be ready for a look in Houston before year’s end.  ETA:  2014

For a retrospective look at the Astros farm, their 2013 MiLB preview is here.

From Around The Web

  1. Kobayashi Maru says:
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    What do you think Houston looks like in 2 or 3 years? I play in a hybrid dynasty/keeper league that would allow me to draft any of these guys (except Springer) for probably $1, and keep them at that price until their second year in the majors, at which point it would increase to $6, $11, $15…. I’m interested in grabbing Correa or Singleton, but I’m worried that the team won’t be good enough to produce the sort of fantasy counting stats that make it worth killing a roster spot for 3 years.

    • I see the Astros being competitive in the AL West beginning in 2015 & perhaps aiming for a division title as soon as 2016… that might sound crazy, but Luhnow creates powerhouse systems & self-sustaining success… once the talent begins to settle in, Astros should be built to win for the long haul…

  2. The Thumb says:
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    Looks like Appel is probably going to be a better real life starter than fantasy starter. What’s a good comp for him? Cain (pre 2013), or someone like Fister?

    • Cain is a decent comp… think of him as a Fister/Cain type you’re gonna want on your team, but not necessarily the ace-type starter you want anchoring your staff…

  3. Swfcdan says:
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    Great system, loaded, top 3? Definately top 5 id say.

    Think Delino is very underrated, guy has got some pop and legit speed, even as an OF rather than 2B (bit of a bummer) he brings good upside. Guy can clearly hit and get on base along with his speed *cough* take note Billy Hamilton *cough*. Got him in one keeper, if he can go 10/50 at his peak with his good average he’ll be darn valuable.

    • Top 5 for sure… and Delino should be getting more fantasy hype… AA debut will be telling, but he’d be near the top of most other fantasy-specific top 10s… Houston just happens to be stacked…

      • Yescheese says:
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        @Scott Evans: I just worry he’ll be closer to sagnof in the OF, much more valuable at 2B

  4. Yescheese says:
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    Spinning the fantasy side a little deeper, what comp do you see for Rio Ruiz? Power with average is a welcome commodity at 3B!

    • @Yescheese: I’d give him .275 & 25 upside… real nice, first division 3B profile… Ryan Zimmerman-type production..

  5. Russ says:
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    Unrelated to the Astros but I just got offered this trade, I think its risky and I should pass but I’m looking for expert opinion… Give up Adam Eaton + Chris Sale and receive Stephen Strasburg + Bud Norris.

  6. C says:
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    Hey Scott,

    Good stuff as always. I’m looking trade some prospects for help this year, pick one of the 3 I should hold onto: Profar, Springer, or Taveras.

    Thanks!

    • Wallpaper Paterson says:
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      @C: I would hold Taveras

    • @C: I’m with Wallpaper — hold Oscar…

  7. Zaclo24 says:
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    Is Stetson Allie even fantasy relevant anymore? Should I dump him off my minor league team? and pick up someone like Gregory Bird, Keon Barnum, Alex Dickerson, or Ji Man Choi?

    • @Zaclo24: I’m not quitting on Stetson just yet — he’ll be in my Bucs T10 when that comes out here shortly… also hear grumblings about him moving to catcher, which would be intriguing… that said, I like Dickerson a tick more…

  8. mindicohn says:
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    was just offered Folty/Eddie Rosario for my Reyes ($37) who if i kept in a rebuild would not be kept long…I’m assuming this is a better deal than another offer i got of

    My Tanaka/Reyes/J.Johnson for Springer/A.Sanchez/Lester (yes sadly this has me in a posting craze!)

    • @mindicohn: I wouldn’t do either… you should fetch a T40 prospect for Reyes & you’re not in the Folty/Rosario backage… Sanchez & Springer are nice prospects, but giving up a cost-controlled Tanaka throws that one off too… I’d hold out for something better…

  9. Operation Mindcrime says:
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    Play in $$$ 12 tm NFBC league and used 90 minutes I do not have to take a break and do a mock on ESPN though thats a 25rd vs. NFBC 30 rd and NFBC uses 2 catchers. 1st snapshot I guess of what I could draft with the 3rd pick. Would you be comfortable having Grienke, Tanaka, Shelby Miller, Cashner, Porcello, Beachy, Tajuian Walker, Josh Johnson, Eovaldi, Jim Henderson, Jose Veras be your pitching staff if you drafted batters in range of:

    C-McCann, Castro
    1B-Freeman
    2B-Profar
    3B-Lomgoria
    SS-starlin
    1B/3B-Hosmer
    2B/SS-Howie Kendrick
    OF-McCutchen, Wil Myers, Billy Hamilton, Khris Davis, Chris Carter
    UT-Eaton

    Would you draft slightly better pitchers or think I have enough breathing room if watching waivers like hawk for closers and emerging starters?

    • @Operation Mindcrime: Frankly, I haven’t played NFBC formats myself, but looking at this roster, I think you’ve got good balance & great upside in a 12 team league…

  10. Jeff P says:
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    I was offered a trade in my keeper league (27 roster, 13 b, 9p, 8 keepers) where I’d give up
    a 14th round pick to be able to keep Everth Cabrera for a 15th rounder). Our keeper rounds escalate, so I’d be able to keep Cabrera for 2, max 3 years.
    I’m also keeping Villar for my last rounder. Is Cabrera worth it?

    • @Jeff P: I’d roll with Villar’s upside & see what you can snag in the draft with your 14th round selection… I don’t think the difference between Cabrera & Villar is enough to justify the deal…

  11. goodfold2 says:
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    if both Blazek and Tonkin starts the season with their respective clubs i’ll be able to waiver them both, and either stash in minors or leave up (until either hits 50 innings, when they’ll have to stay up), which of these should I grab first?

  12. Ghost of the Disappeared says:
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    Scott: I wonder, how quickly we will see the top guys… I’m guessing given the Stros proven limited expectations = None of the top prospects will arrive before the MLB clock delay in June. They may be more apt to take longer looks at lesser prospects based on age and levels achieved – Ala Steve Krauss.

    Of course, pitchers are not as subject to the above statement as position player. The best AA+ arms may be rushed forward if they are looking good and the ones in Houston continue on per 2013 usual. Appel will be seen in September – best case, is my quess – even if he is doing great.
    Why rush him to come in 10 games out of 4th in the AL West instead of 15.

    Singleton needs aging (frontal lobe development) in AAA… The Stros are covered at DH and 1st for their 2014. That Wallace made through Waivers and the intriguing Mexican Monster Japhet Amador is there and ready to be looked at now ( he could WOW folks). And others to showcase too.

    Springer is going to be tough to hold back if he continues on with last year’s AAA performance – I will be surprised if they take to the Bigs out of ST. He needs another half season in AAA and his contract clock needs to be retarded for the best interests of a weak club with too many holes to fill IMO —- See Twinkies – same same here.

    They have been bringing forward many players… They deserve their good look – given the time the Stro’s circumstances allow.

    They have good MiLB system and weak teams are normally a great place to shop.

    • @Ghost of the Disappeared: Singleton could be the first to surface… Springer is a lock to arrive in June/July… Appel probably on the same schedule…

  13. Count de Monetball says:
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    Great read Scott, love the stacked minors in teams like these!

  14. Jon says:
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    Hey Scott, I have Avi Garcia, Polanco, Gausman, and Archer in 4 of my 6 minor league spots (we’re allowed to keep guys there even after they lose rookie status). I also have the option of keeping Pederson, or letting him loose before the draft. These are some of the prospects I’m looking at trying to draft to fill out the last spot (or 2 if I don’t keep Joc):

    Odor, Franco, Seager, Stroman, Sanchez, Giolito, Butler, Meyer, Ventura

    First, would you keep Pederson? Second, any of those names jump out as someone to make a priority?

    • Jon says:
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      (I’m looking long term, btw, and not just at 2014)

    • @Jon: I’d target Giolito, Ventura, Sanchez/Stroman… consider activating one or two of your NA guys if you can get more than one of these… wouldn’t bother holding Pederson if you can get any on of the group you list…

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