With the constant influx of new talent, new names, new statistics, it can be easy to lose sight of a prospect who’s fallen from grace. A little more than a year ago, in their 2012 Prospect Handbook, Baseball America ranked Joe Benson as the #2 overall prospect in the Twins organization. Benson was coming off a 2011 in which he hit .285/.388/.495 with 16 homers at Double-A New Britain, finishing the year with a call-up to the big club and a spot on the 40-man. He was on the fantasy radar before injuries delayed his 2012 debut, but he hasn’t been relevant since then. Across four levels in 2012, the former 2nd round draft pick managed a line at .202/.288/.336. And after watching him hit .192/.256/.285 through 43 games at Triple-A Rochester this season, the Twins had seen enough and released Benson to make room for P.J. Walters. The Rangers claimed him have assigned him to Double-A. At 25 years old, there’s still a glimmer of hope for the toolsy outfielder, but that will fade quickly if the horrendous hitting continues.

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We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2013 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2013 Astros Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy James from Astros County.

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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 Players — Mesa 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.

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Well, it’s not how the Nationals envisioned the arrival, but Bryce Harper is here.  The promotion is based more on necessity than performance – Harper’s hitting just .250/.333/.375 in the early going at Triple-A Syracuse.  Looks like he’ll occupy the 7th spot in the Washington batting order while Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse are shelved on the DL. 

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Houston Astros 2011 Minor League Review

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America:

2011 (26) | 2010 (30) | 2009 (30) | 2008 (29) | 2007 (22) | 2006 (20) | 2005 (22) | 2004 (29)

2011 Affiliate Records

MLB: [56-106] NL Central

AAA: [68-75] Pacific Coast League – Oklahoma City

AA: [50-90] Texas League – Corpus Christi

A+: [55-85] California League – Lancaster

A: [59-79] South Atlantic League – Lexington

A(ss): [33-42] New York Penn League – Tri-City

R: [25-43] Appalachian League – Greenville

The Run Down

Having revamped their amateur scouting department in 2008, Houston finally seems to be on a better track with their farm system. 

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Today is the trade deadline so we’ll look at a few of the prospects that have been on the move before jumping into minor league player news.

As of this writing (3 pm CST), the trade of Hunter Pence for right-handed pitchers Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid, first baseman Jonathan Singleton and a PTBNL between the Phillies and Astros has been the largest trade based primarily on the value of prospects.

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Philadelphia Phillies 2010 Minor League Review
Overall Farm Rankings via Baseball America (2010)
2010 (5) | 2009 (12) | 2008 (22) | 2007 (21) | 2006 (22) | 2005 (20) | 2004 (21)

Record of Major and Minor League Teams
MLB: [97 – 65] NL East
AAA: [58 – 86] International League – Lehigh Valley
AA: [69 – 72] Eastern League – Reading
A+: [67 – 72] Florida League – Clearwater
A: [84 – 55] South Atlantic – Lakewood
A(ss): [43 – 33] New York Pennsylvania League – Williamsport
R: [32 – 24] Gulf League

The Run Down
The Phillies 2010 farm system ranking is prior to acquiring Cliff Lee.

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