Minors : : General
Monday, December 03, 2012

Houston Astros Top Prospects

David Rawnsley        
Photo: Perfect Game
Perfect Game Minor League Page | Perfect Game player profiles linked in bold

1 Carlos Correa SS SS Greeneville A Quad Cities
2 Jonathan Singleton 1B AA Corpus Christi AAA Oklahoma City 2013
3 George Springer OF AA Corpus Christi AA Corpus Christi 2014
4 Delino DeShields, Jr. 2B A+ Lancaster A+ Lancaster 2015
5 Jarred Cosart RHP AAA Oklahoma City AAA Oklahoma City 2013
6 Jonathan Villar SS AA Corpus Christi AAA Oklahoma City 2013
7 Domingo Santana OF A+ Lancaster AA Corpus Christi 2014
8 Lance McCullers RHP SS Greeneville A Quad Cities 2016
9 Nick Tropeano RHP A+ Lancaster AA Corpus Christi 2014
10 Mike Foltynewicz RHP A Lexington A+ Lancaster 2015

Others considered:  Teoscar Hernandez, Adrian Houser, Paul Oberholtzer, Rob Rasmussen, Rio Ruiz, Vince Valasquez.


It could be reasonably argued that no team in recent baseball history has undergone as much turmoil and change as the Houston Astros over the past two years. The franchise was sold to Houston businessman Jim Crane, the roster completely gutted, the front office, scouting and player development departments reorganized, and to top it all off, the 1962 National League expansion franchise was moved to the American League.

It should probably be mentioned that the team lost 106 and 107 games the last two seasons as well, often fielding a lineup in 2012 that looked straight out of AAA.

You would probably have to go back to the purges of the Connie Mack led Philadelphia A’s in 1915 and again in the early 1930’s to find a similar wholesale jettisoning of talent that has taken place in Houston over the past two seasons. Virtually every Major League player with value has been traded for prospects.

What makes the Astros approach under Crane, former General Manager Ed Wade and current GM Jeff Luhnow so unique is how brazen the rebuilding has been. Organizations will say they are rebuilding but will still sign some veteran second tier free agents and give the illusion of trying to compete. There were no such illusions in Houston the past two seasons.

The danger of that dramatic an approach, of course, is completely alienating one’s fan base. It remains to be seen how the Astros fans, never among the most rabid in Major League Baseball, will react in the long term.

The good news is that the trades of veterans such as Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn, Wandy Rodriguez, Mark Melancon, Carlos Lee and Roy Oswalt, along with a series of solid drafts, have brought in a tremendous amount of young talent to an organization that was virtually void of prospects previously. The Astros certainly rank among the top 10 organizations in baseball for minor league talent and perhaps even in the top five.

2012 Draft

The spotlight was on the Astros in 2012. The team held the first pick in initial draft held under the new draft rules that created a bonus pool based on suggested values for each pick in the first 10 rounds. How Houston handled the first pick and its $7.2 million bonus pool value could set a precedent for other teams both for the 2012 draft and future drafts.

By virtually all accounts, the Astros handled the mixed blessing of having the top pick perfectly. They signed high ceiling Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa for a well under slot $4.8 million bonus and then used the savings in the bonus pool to go way over slot to sign compensation pick right-handed pitcher Lance McCullers ($2.5 million) and fourth round pick third baseman Rio Ruiz ($1.8 million). As both McCullers and Ruiz, high school prospects and former Perfect Game All-Americans like Correa, were considered potential first round talents, the Astros essentially picked up three first rounders for the price of one, something that is strongly consistent with their overall plan for restocking the organization’s talent base.

The rest of the Astros draft list tended strongly to the conservative college approach, with an emphasis on major college position players with a strong performance history. Second round pick shortstop Nolan Fontana (Florida) and third round selection right-handed pitcher Brady Rodgers (Arizona State) are both relatively low ceiling talents who have a very high chance potential to play in the Major Leagues; both also enjoyed strong professional debuts. Rodgers teammate at Arizona State, fifth round outfielder Andrew Aplin, also had a tremendous debut and spent the last month of the season in the High A California League. Eighth rounder catcher Tyler Heineman from UCLA opened some eyes, hitting .358 with a .883 OPS in the New York Penn League after signing with a reputation as a defensive whiz with a light bat.

Overall, the Astros spent $11.3 million on draft bonuses, going fractionally over their allotted budget. That expenditure was not much less than the Major League team's total payroll at the end of the season and a good sign that the team is not taking any financial shortcuts when it comes to acquiring young talent.

Future Outlook

While the Astros near term goals are still very modest, the organization can look at the talent they’ve collected and have a real sense of optimism. There really are some outstanding prospects in the pipeline and they run deep and wide. The scouting department will be looking to repeat their successes of 2012 while holding the No. 1 overall pick and the bonus pool extravagance that goes with it.

So Astros fans, or at least those who remain, should be cautiously optimistic. And that will be owner Crane’s biggest challenge moving forward in many ways, convincing his fan base that there is both hope and a future in Houston.

Even if it is in the American League.

Also see:  Baseball Prospectus Houston Astros Top 10 Prospects

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